Trip to Indiana – Achieving a Major Milestone

Moving from Kentucky north through Indiana with two stops. The area in red ink is Elkhart and Goshen Indiana which are important for RV repairs and upgrades.

We moved on from Kentucky for two Indiana stops. First time I towed the RV around or through two major cities on the same move day, those being Louisville and Indianapolis. After 10,088 miles of towing this big rig, I’m starting to feel comfortable with traffic and lane changes in big cities. The keys to big city highways are knowing what lane to be in for exits before you leave on the trip, travel between 10 am and 2 pm and to some degree, on Sundays. Although it seems to me that anymore Sunday traffic is busy in the afternoon. As a side note, it also seems the campgrounds start to fill up on Thursday evening rather than Friday afternoons. So now we plan our travel days to public campgrounds, such as state parks, accordingly. You don’t want to arrive when the rest of the herd is showing up.

We have camped in Indiana before, so it’s not on the list of new states visited. Our first stop was just north of Indianapolis at the White River Campground located in Cicero Indiana. We exited off Interstate 69 North onto Indiana Highway 37 that’s easy to navigate. If you are traveling, especially in a larger RV, I want you to stop reading and write down this campground on your list of possible visits. Not only is it a great County Park but it is within striking distance (130 miles) of Goshen and Elkhart Indiana where 80% of all RVs are built. We would notice dozens of new RVs headed southbound, presumably being delivered from the factories. If I had not booked our camping spots on this spring trip weeks in advance, I would have made our next stop Affinity RV Group in Goshen for some routine maintenance. Oh well, we scheduled a stop at our fifth wheel brand’s service center for later this year in Mississippi. Those of you planning to travel fulltime in an RV will appreciate ideas as to where to get quick and reliable service while on the road. It’s a big deal. I phoned Infinity to verify what rigs they work on. They work on all brands, to include where the customer pays or has an extended warranty. They provide factory paid warranty work for Keystone, Heartland and Forrest River. They do have a spot for campers to park if they are there more than one day, but space is limited. So if they must have you back the next day to finish the work, you might be referred to a local campground. At the time of this posting Infinity is booking appointments for September (three months from now) or later. When I called, the phone was answered on the second ring. Anyone else have a special place to get RV service while traveling?

White River Campground – Cicero Indiana

We stayed in site 18 at White River Campground, a full hookup that backs up to a gentle river where it was common to see kayaks and canoes. The campground can refer you to a service that will transport you to a put-in point.
The county dismantled two historic bridges and relocated them to the White River Campground/park area. Walk over the bridge to a trail.
The town is connected to a city lake that is part of the river system. We spent time driving into the countryside to check out rural Indiana communities. Some will appreciate a good place to buy meat which is the small Cicero Market. Get the smoked pork chops!

Some time ago I commented about using Google Earth to measure campground roads and camping spots that might be visible through the trees when viewed on the computer. Well, I conducted a test while at White River Campground. I found the measurement tool in Google Earth to be surprisingly accurate. Our site measured 50′ deep and the road in front was 22′, both when using a measuring tape and the Google Earth tool. We hung the back of the RV about five foot off the pad to gain a little more room to park the truck.

Taylor Center of Natural History at Strawtown Koteewi Park

I’ll have to wrap up the report about visiting this part of Indiana to save room for the next stop. Especially as I still want to describe how Karen and I achieved a major milestone where we have embraced the lifestyle.

This Cicero area county park consists of several plots of land that you can ride a bike or drive between. We were lucky to have spent a good hour talking to a retired history teacher who worked at a replica American Indian Village. Once you have seen one old Indian artifact then they all seem the same at the next museum. But not in this case as it got my attention when the teacher described Indiana Native American history. Darn if I can’t recall his name. Older guy that looks young because he is a runner. Look for him at the Strawtown Koteewi Park – you won’t miss him. We talked about how the county combined land from different owners to establish the large park, to include an inland lake. We talked about excavation of at least one Indian Village on the same ground. We talked about the little old lady who lived in the house across the street from the Taylor Center of Natural History and how she rode her lawnmower over to the center for visits before she passed away. She described to the teacher of growing up in the area and the fun things they did on the property as children, which are now memories that will be lost in time unless the stories are told. We visited the original settler cemetery on the backside of the property. The older lady’s 1920’s bicycle is still located in a resorted 1800’s barn on the property and now owned by the county.

There were only two other visitors at the Indian Village, one had a dog and the other did not mind if we let them off leash. Wyatt had a hard time catching his new friend. The dogs ran until they were tired and found a shade tree as we kept them out of the structures.
Very interesting – a mockup of a pit where archaeologists dug when excavating the village. Replica artifacts are imbedded in the concrete walls, depicting where they were found.
This is a photo of a late 1800’s barn, the one where the old lady’s 1920’s bike was left. She was married to the kid on the right. The next photo is the same barn but restored. The little old lady (Mrs. Morris) told the museum folks they painted the shutters the wrong color.

Hello Warsaw Indiana – Located 40 Miles South of Elkhart – We Arrive to a Different Attitude of Where We Are in Life.

We stayed over a holiday at Pike Lake Campground which is owned by the City of Warsaw Indiana alongside a small lake and nearby city park. They actually have large pike and walleye in the lake. I thought about getting a five day out-of-state fishing license and using the kayak but we were to busy relaxing. Yes, sometimes you don’t get a lot done when you are visiting with the neighbors. Or drinking a beer at 2:00 in the afternoon on a weekday, sitting outside looking at what passes by and wondering what everyone is doing back at your old workplace:)

This was not the type of RV camping spot we necessarily look for. In the center of a larger community, down roads flanked by residential streets where locals wonder over to the city park to stare at all the RVs at the campsite. But they dare not enter because park management are ex-fulltime RVers and don’t tolerate anything but making sure the campers have a good visit. By the way, if you go here, let Camp Host Linda give you hand signals while backing the RV if she insists. The spots are laid out in a way not common to most campers with the driver’s side within feet of the next camper. Our particular pull-through spot required the RV straddling the sewer connection where I climbed underneath to attached the poop shoot (sewer hose). Sessional campers rent spaces for the spring and summer. Our dirt/gravel/grass spot in the sun turned out to be fine. A few months ago we would have had been disappointed with the accommodations, calling the place a parking lot. But something happened, maybe because we spent a couple weeks away from the RV while in Nashville or maybe because we are finally embracing the lifestyle after 21 months of living it. Although we began to really appreciate where we were at while parked on the high plains of Kansas last year. When I wrote the following comments about what we were feeling:

“It is now apparent this lifestyle is not just about driving around! You can not experience these landscapes in a museum! Envision cresting a hill which opens to a landscape, painted by God, where you can see over what appears 10 miles in the distance. Imagine stepping outside your home to just sit in the lawn chair, surrounded by the same landscape but up close. Sitting on a hillside overlooking prairie grass, singing birds flanked by a gentle lake that stands out from a background of rolling hills. Just sit there and hear nothing but nature in a cool breeze under a massive blue sky. There is no time for worries because the mere experience of this takes your mind away with all your senses occupied just to take in the beauty of the moment.”

This is no way described our current camping spot. The comments while in Kansas do not describe the feelings we had once we arrived at Pike Lake Campground in Indiana months later. Between now and then the hassles of living this lifestyle were somewhat overshadowing the good parts. Maybe trying to negotiate issues around the pandemic created roadblocks to finally letting it all go and embracing the lifestyle. Maybe, finally as a couple, having our individual expectations come to a crossroad and merge into one thought happened to arrive at this juncture. I know from experience others who will take to the road will not get this far along. They will burn-out in the first few months. Their plan to spend a year traveling will be a battle, or not, which will lead to giving up before they also embrace (surrender) to the lifestyle, making whatever adjustments are necessary or at least opening ones eyes to the good parts while minimizing the hassles.

I write long posts, longer than you know because I go back and cut a lot out. Not this time. Many blogs and YouTube video I have used for research over the past eight years don’t bother to totally explain concepts. I think some just use words like embracing the lifestyle and think the reader/viewer will eventually figure it out on their own. At times I thought others were just being lazy when they did not bother to explain something in detail. Writing is much harder than recording a video. Because you have to think about every sentence you type so as not to confuse the reader. There just is not enough space in a short article that will keep a readers attention long enough to “over explain” the point the writer is trying to pass along. I write in detail, as do others, because somehow it feels rewarding to put it in print and we feel a sense of responsibility to get the entire story out.

Permit me to paint a picture of what “embracing the lifestyle” means to Karen and me after the two of us discussed it. This is our story as we arrived at Pike Lake:

Just another stop on our way to a final destination. We were happy to have a weekend spot over a holiday. We could see the campers parked close together, many separated by mowed weeds. I was just glade not to have missed any turns or hit any parked cars. Time to once again setup our camping spot and plan for the next. That’s what this eight day stay was to be in our minds. But not so!

We were hit by sudden and unexpected thoughts, stepping out of our now leveled and ready to live in RV with power and water attached to the campground supply. Time to walk around and check out our surroundings. We might have been 15 feet from the RV when we noticed the ancient cemetery on a nearby hillside. We enjoy exploring the lives and markers of those buried. Around the corner, to our surprise was a half mile boardwalk through a wetland habitat. Down the path from our home is a small residential lake – with boat docks and a pile of kayaks management says we are free to use, just stop by for a key to the lock. Overlooking the lake are two comfortable porch swings from which we could watch a mother Swan leading her young. What fine details the experienced camp hosts have considered to include telling us to make sure and come by Saturday at the camp shelter for a holiday breakfast. Locals, with their rigs parked for a few months on sessional lots, even wondered how the heck we found the place. Parked next to us are Fred and Stephanie. Fulltimers for years who are in town for a longer stay with family. Their dog is the camp mascot.

None of this was expected! As we walked down the path of the boardwalk Karen and me were thinking the same at the time. This is wonderful. Who cares about where we parked the RV or what it took to get here. We were a notch above happy. We had embraced the lifestyle for what it offers. It no longer is so much about what we left behind and comparing that against our current situation. Yes, we know there will be challenges ahead. There always is no matter where you call home. I anticipate those challenges will be few and far between. The hassles will be quickly overcome and will not overshadow the unexpected joys of this lifestyle – once one has sincerely embraced it.

The Photos from Pike Lake Campground, Warsaw Indiana

Fred and Stephanie’s wonderful Keystone Montana. This is their yard. When you park campers close together on the driver’s side, back to back, it opens up the yard between the next camper. If you guys are reading this blog – thank you for the friendship and the camping spot suggestions on our future trips. We might see you in Texas for winter someday!
Maybe this is a sign Karen was embracing the lifestyle. She finally is making the place her own and had me install spice racks. Na – Stephanie gave them to her.

Tour of Historic Cemetery and Boardwalk Through a Wetland

Oakwood Cemetery, Warsaw Indiana. Just a walk up the hill from the campground. This is the Civil War Circle. I’ve never seen so many dead Yankees in one place since we left Andersonville Prison Camp. 17,000 town people and many soldiers are buried here.
Black squirrels running everywhere. Did not seem to be afraid of the camera.
Tommy Hubler, Section 2 of the cemetery. The youngest person to serve in the military during the civil war for the longest period. He was said to have been at 26 battlefields. Joined when he was nine years of age.
The trees are changing. We know we are getting closer to Michigan.

We are currently parked near Howell Michigan visiting family. We will be heading north from here.

I’d like to ask for prayers for my blogger friends, Dee and Jim. He is suffering from a brain tumor. She is moving closer to family while he is in treatment at a nearby hospital. Dee – I’m thinking about you guys everyday. Click here for her post titled Life Can Take a Turn Fast. That way you will have more information for your prayers.

Only a few friends knew my wife Karen was on a ventilator, nearly dead, the year before we were to leave on our fulltime journey. I never wrote about it because it was too personal. God is great. Karen woke and here we are now. Prayers work. So say one for Jim and Dee.

8 thoughts on “Trip to Indiana – Achieving a Major Milestone

  1. What a great post Mark. I love your comments on “Embracing the Lifestyle”. So happy for you and Karen. It is a new adventure. We still enjoy our travels and are looking forward to heading west sometime in July. I know it may not be the best time but we have a grandson that we haven’t got to spend much time with, and he’s calling us to visit. LOL! From there, the roads are open to many beautiful and wondrous sites!

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    • We have a large loop planned heading out west ourselves. After the upper peninsula of Michigan will be heading west to Roosevelt National Park, on to Montana – stopping at the Bighorn Mountains and then south to Wyoming. Then back to KCMO via north tip of Colorado and Kansas. 2800 miles will be our longest ever.

      I noticed you jumped over and posted at Tumbleweed. Thank you – for all the prayers for Karen at the time as well.

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  2. Thanks for the write up on Cicero. We will be there in a few days. May have to check out those pork chops! Pike Lake sounds like it turned out pretty good. What nice things you found to do. Embrace, you have. We find it’s the little things that often add up to a fulfilling stay. I’m sure Karen’s health has rebounded. We will be Affinity for a checkup. Enjoy Michigan! Have some cherry pie for me!

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    • Wanted to get that post done before you guys arrived in the area 🙂 Glad I made it in time. Navigation can be challenging in city parks, as you know. Went in one way at Pike Lake and took another way out per a fellow camper’s instructions, thereby avoiding a one-way street and an area notorious for cars parking close to street corners. Was absolutely no problem. And yes, Karen improved 110% since then. We will talk about it around a campfire someday!

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      • We arrived at Cicero in time for a nice thunderstorm. 15 degrees cooler today though. Nice. We hope to check out the park and bike paths if the weather cooperates today. So glad Karen is better and we’ll have that campfire at some point! We’ll stop one other place after Goshin then maybe a week at Lake Shellbyville before meandering west. Maybe mid July? Where will you be after Michigan?

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      • So glad you arrived at Cicero. Don’t forget to get the smoked pork chops at the market. We are heading to Roosevelt National Park after Michigan. Will post soon with our travel plans. Where you going afterwards? Can text me at 816-985-9280

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