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Archive for the 'Family' Category

Rambling around the Pine Loop

Monday, July 15th, 2013

While I was in school, I found it hard to balance school, work and my hobbies — especially outdoor recreation. Which is to say that, especially my last semester (this spring), when I had 17 credit hours, I made very little attempt to get out. I even stopped biking to class. It wasn’t ideal, but I went into survival mode and … well, I survived. I should post about the end of school sometime in the near future.

Inertia can be a powerful force. Once I got in the habit of staying indoors, it became easy to keep doing so, and for a while, I found little motivation to get out.

But, lately I’ve been putting forth some effort into trying to get back outside, mostly on the bike, but Saturday I suggested to Sarah that we go hiking. We headed out to Brown County State Park to hike the Pine Loop, which was built for mountain biking but is also great for hiking purposes.

First we made a stop at the nature center, which we had never visited together, even though we’ve been going to Brown County for years. There, we learned more about the area and saw some live, native creatures including turtles and snakes. Outdoors they had a demonstration involving a large red-tailed hawk. We watched that for a while before going down to the trail.

We headed out, on a short trail with no epic expectations, just wanting to spend some quality time together in the woods. We didn’t even bring ┬ácamera aside from our phones, but we didn’t use them much, either. It was a warm, sunny July afternoon, though it was several degrees cooler in the woods.

After our hike, we drove back toward town but took a detour on 446 to eat an early dinner at the Scenic View restaurant, overlooking Lake Monroe, then took a very scenic and remote route home, getting lost along the way and discovering some great new roads in the process.

It was a wonderful way to spend our day, and I look forward to more opportunities for days like this. School was a great experience, and I’m glad I finished, but in some ways it was a setback as far as taking a couple more years of my life goes. And it certainly ate into my recreation time more than I would have liked. I’m glad to be finally getting back on track and trying to reclaim the direction I want to take. It involves a lot more lollygagging around our countryside with my beautiful wife.

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Mother’s Day Hike

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Several years ago we went for a picnic and a hike with my mom on Mother’s Day, and it’s become something of a tradition. It hasn’t happened every year, but we try to do it when possible.

This year, we went to McCormick’s Creek State Park and hiked Trail 7. We had only hiked this trail once before, way back in 2007 if my memory is correct.

Here is mom, just starting down Trail 7.

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The trail starts out following a ridgetop alongside the gorge that contains the creek and waterfall, with some nice rock outcroppings where you can look out over the ravine.

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Naturally, my nephew, Avery, went right to the edge.

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We also had a couple nice views of the creek.

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Including a great place to throw rocks …

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Next we walked on a boardwalk across a muddy area thick with foliage.

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Before long, we reached the White River.

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From there, the trail looped back toward the start.

I had forgotten how great this trail is, with some diverse views and enough ups and downs to be interesting, but not overly strenuous.

More importantly, it was a fun way to spend Mother’s Day. I hope my mom enjoyed it as much as I did.

Canoeing on Lake Monroe

Monday, August 29th, 2011

Sarah and I have been canoeing a few times in the past. This summer I’ve been bugging her to go, but of course it was extremely hot for a while, and it’s not terribly pleasant to be out, exposed to the sun, when it’s super hot.

But, the weather has been incredible lately — lows in the 50s and 60s, highs in the 80s. Saturday the high was in the upper 80s, and Sarah suggested a canoe trip. A great idea!

We figured Lake Griffy would be our best bet — Griffy is a small lake on the north side of town — within city limits, if I’m not mistaken. It’s a beautiful lake, and canoe rentals are cheap there, so we headed up to go paddling.

Unfortunately, we found that the water level was quite low and the shallow, stagnant water was disgusting, covered in algae and who knows what else. Suffice it to say, it looked unappealing.

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So, we headed out toward Lake Monroe instead. First we tried to rent a canoe at Cutwright SRA, which lies east of the causeway. This is significant, as the east side only allows idle speeds, whereas the west side has speedboats and the like. But, we came up empty-handed. They only rented pontoon boats at that location. They suggested we try Paynetown SRA, which is not far away but is on the other side of the causeway.

We headed to Paynetown instead, and indeed, they did have canoe rentals. We rented one for two hours. It was overpriced, at $35, but we really wanted to get out on the water, and the water looked great, so we went for it.

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We’re not terribly experienced at canoeing, and it had been a while since our last trip, so it took a little while for us to figure out how to work together to move forward and, more difficult, steer. We were having a good time. We weren’t sure which direction we should go in, so we checked out a little inlet.

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After some hemming and hawing, we decided we would make our way over to the quiet side of the lake. This meant we had to cross the lake, and then go under the causeway. It didn’t look too far … we were mostly worried about speedboats.

We were a little surprised how much the wake of the boats affected us on the water. The waves didn’t look big but they were rocking our canoe. Or if we were headed straight into the waves, the front of the boat would tip up and then smack back down, which Sarah found a bit frightening.

I think it’s a lot like riding a bicycle on a gravel road. It’s disconcerting the first few times your tires start to slip, but once you get used to a little float and realize it’s not the end of the world, you start to feel more comfortable. Sarah was a good sport about it, even though I know she was a little stressed during this part.

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Pretty soon, we realized that it was a lot further across the lake than it looked. Also, we had to contend with some wind. We kept paddling and eventually we were going under the causeway. It’s a little weird paddling under it, as I have crossed it many times by car and bicycle, but I had never seen it from this perspective.

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Once we were on the other side of the causeway, things did calm down considerably. It was much quieter and I would have loved to explore further east, toward Hoosier National Forest and some other areas that are familiar from land, but by this time we were getting tired. We made a small loop on the “quiet side” and headed back.

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Our return trip was a lot more pleasant than the trip out. Instead of cutting directly across the lake, we more or less followed the causeway and the land. We did cut across a bit but it seemed like once 5:00 rolled around, about half the boats left the lake and it was much quieter, even on the side that had been hectic before. We enjoyed a peaceful paddle back.

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We saw this crazy house, which I guessed (and later confirmed) is owned by John Mellencamp.

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We returned back at the rental place in almost exactly two hours, having traveled 4.3 miles. ┬áHere’s a map of our trip.

After that, we decided to head out to the Scenic View Restaurant, which was right on our way home. We had heard good things about the place, but had never actually been there ourselves.

It was Saturday night, and there was a long wait for a table. At least the View was excellent, as promised.

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I did think this statue was a little over the top …

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However, once we got our table we really enjoyed ourselves. There was a live jazz band playing and the lake looked beautiful as the sun set.

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We enjoyed some beer samplers (the beers are not all the same, I swear, even though it looks that way), some great food (including a corn fritter appetizer that was amazing) … and great conversation, of course.

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Once the sun set, the torches were lit and the environment continued to be just wonderful. We’ll definitely be making a return trip, both to Lake Monroe and to the restaurant.

In the future, I’m considering renting a canoe from IU, which we could then take to any location we want. There are quite a few areas I’d like to explore by boat, and I’d rather not have to put in at such a busy location again, if we can avoid it. Plus, IU’s rates are cheaper for a whole day than what we paid for two hours …

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