A Treasure in the Middle of Indiana

My interest in the Canals of Indiana and Ohio have led me to Delphi, IN. This is the “home” of the Erie-Wabash Canal. It is the location of the Canal Park which is right on the canal. It is the only navigable part of the canal that is left.

The park features an interactive museum detailing the history of building and maintaining the canal from 1828 to the 1870’s. Also it describes life in the United States during this period. There are lots of exhibits about living along the canal, what was transported, the different kinds of boats, and the people who worked on them. The museum has a wealth of information, displays, and hands-on activities that kids (and some adults .. ahem) love.

Along with the museum there is a pioneer village that preserves several buildings that would be in a canal town. Alas, they are only open on weekends so I did not get inside, but peeking in the windows proved they are furnished to perfection. Also on weekends they have a real canal boat that you can take rides in.

My education was improved, especially pertaining to Fort Wayne, which is my home base. I’ve lived there for 35 years and I knew it ran through Fort Wayne, but I never knew that the groundbreaking for the Canal was there. And  the opening of it was also there, at the Settlers House, a Summit City landmark.

There are several walking trails along the canal and through Delphi which point out historical sites. They all interconnect to form a trail system of 10 miles. I went to Sunset Point where the Wabash River intersects with Deer Creek. The canal went over the creek here to bypass the river.

I find the lives of the people living on the canal and working on it to be fascinating. Like the fact that sometimes men would flag down a passing boat at suppertime, jump on, eat the meal, and then get off so they wouldn’t have to pay a full fare.  I have developed a “research itch” about canal life. And that can only mean there is  possibly will be  might be a book in the future.

One of the best things about the park is that they have a camping area. With free wifi – bonus! The camp hosts were wonderful. Told me all about the place, and even came over to tell me there would be someone coming in at 11 pm, so that I wouldn’t be worried since I was the only one there at the time.

So if you’re thinking that Indiana doesn’t have much, (besides corn  har har) think again. And go exploring!

 

 

Fun with Family

Last week I attended a family reunion for my paternal grandmother’s descendants. We do this every two years in a different location. This year we all met in Dayton, OH which was where Grandma Emma lived and raised her family. She had four boys  All the original sons have passed, so my generation of cousins and their families are the group.

We started the reunion with a dinner. We love to eat! The next day we took a bus tour of Dayton, seeing the houses, churches, and schools that we all heard so many stories about.

Then we journeyed to Ripley, OH, on the Ohio River, which our great-great-great? grandfather helped build. We toured the Rankin House where his family lived after the Civil War. But BEFORE the Civil War, John Rankin lived there. He was a minister, but the reason it’s a historical landmark is that he ran his house as a major station on the Underground Rail Road. Among other things, he left a lamp burning in the living room window for years. It was to let slaves trying to get to freedom know that the house up on the hill was a safe place.  This tour was fascinating. Howard, the guide, was a talented storyteller and he really made the history come to life.

  

After that we gathered for another dinner. The last day we spent at various venues. My daughters family and I played at an entertainment center that had games like Chuckie Cheese, as well as go-karts, bowling, mini golf, virtual reality games (my grandson spent a half hour on Fortnite), and my favorite – Skeeball! Other people went to a brewery, and an Air Force Museum. That night we attended a Dayton Dragons baseball game. They’re a minor league feeder team for the Cincinnati Reds. They lost, but we sure had a great time.

The final morning we all met for breakfast. In between all these events, we talked and talked and talked and talked……

After the reunion, I decided to return to one of my favorite places, Hoosier National Forest in southern Indiana.

I camped for a few days and relaxed. eing an introvert, the past two weeks have been a bit over stimulating.

*the first one was given up for adoption (long story, maybe a later post) and he found us later on.

How Vincent Broke a Leg and Family Time

One nice thing about retirement is that when family needs you, you can be there for them.

Last week Vincent broke his leg. I was driving through a downpour and didn’t see an object on the road. It blew a hole in a rear tire and so I had to stop. Fortunately I was about 500 yards from a gas station, where I pulled in and called the Roadside Assistance Program that I have through Good Sam.  They changed my tire and I drove to the nearest Walmart to get a new tire. Then my sister called.

My brother had a small health scare which resulted in a trip to the emergency room. I was wandering around Indiana and about a hundred miles from where he lives. My sister, who lives there also, called me and asked me if I could come. So I did.

He’s fine and came home the same day, but I’m spending some time with them now. I probably won’t be traveling for a while.

I had originally envisioned my retirement to be all travel with a few stops for family events. But now, it is nice to realize that travel is not the all consuming passion I had thought it would be. Family time is so important and I am grateful for the way my life has evolved so that I can spend time with them when they need me.

Scary Overnight Trip

This past weekend I joined a group of friends and went to Winchester, IN to spend the night at The Randolph County Infirmary. This building is an abandoned nursing facility. It is haunted.

The history of the place indicates it has been several types of facilities… A poor farm, a TB sanitarium, an asylum for the mentally ill, and most recently a nursing home. It burned down once and was rebuilt. There are reports of cruelty to patients, accidents, and of course, death from disease.

The organization running the event is Ghost Hunters, USA.  They gave us a history tour. Then we had three sessions with their staff who incorporated equipment that let us hear voices, supposedly of the spirits who haunt the building. (I’m not sure I believe it was real cause the machines were run by a computer program) One session was in the basement, where there is a large kitchen where “Mary” the cook hangs out. Then there was a session in one of the activity rooms. And the other was in the attic, where supposedly children still play. They have toys up there for the children to interact with.

Then we were given free run of the entire building. We stayed up till 3:00 am checking out rooms and trying to contact a spirit. We were allowed to use equipment the staff had or take pictures to see if a ghost showed up in them. We were told we could sleep anywhere, but we chose one of the bedrooms that was for the servants.

I do not have any pictures of ghosts because I did not see any. Nor did I hear anything in the halls, or sense any kind of presence.

The event was fun and interesting, but I don’t think I’d do it again.

Then it was back to Fort Wayne for a visit from my older daughter who lives in Ohio. She gave me an idea for my next trip. There’s a place in Wisconsin called the House on the Rock which is full of collections, oddities and it has a carousel.

On a sad note, Vincent has a leak! The back window seal must be loose because there’s a wet spot just inside the hatch door. If it’s not too bad I’ll wait to get it fixed when these darn storms are over.

Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge

Today I added a new item to my favorite places list. Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge is a fantastic place. It’s in southern Indiana, just east of Seymour, on Highway 50.

Not only is it well maintained, but it’s really educational. There’s an old farm that has been restored with a house and a barn. The restoration was done by volunteers in the 1990’s. The farm was owned and occupied by the Meyer family from the 1880’s until the Refuge was created in 1966.

  

There are information stations all over the refuge, including these at the farm. The house is open as a museum.

The wildlife can be seen on an interpretive auto tour (pick up a brochure at the entrance to get the full experience) and along hiking trails.

And speaking of trails, there is a children’s discovery trail and one that is paved  which makes it wheelchair accessible. The trails are easy, fairly level with gravel and grass pathways. And in the marshy areas, they provide boardwalks.

I spent the whole morning wandering around, soaking up history and wildlife knowledge. Definitely a place to go many times again.

Then in the afternoon all the hiking of the past few days hit me. I was tired of driving so I stopped at a campground and took a nap. Am I getting THAT old?!

Hoosier National Forest

I think if I ever come into a lot of money (in other words win the lottery)I would like to live in a national forest. What a great backyard! Indiana has no National Parks, but it does have Hoosier National Forest. It includes several counties in the southern part of Indiana. French Lick is on the northern edge of the forest. There are lots of villages and towns throughout the area. And I don’t know if it’s naiveté, but I didn’t realize there were so many farms inside the forest boundaries.

The first night I stayed at Initial Point, which has a small area for tents. There’s a trail that leads down the hill to the Pivot Point, which is the place where all the measurements for Townships begins. Something I never knew. Yay Trivia!


The next night I decided I needed a shower so I rented a site at the Patoka Lake State Park campground. Since it’s early in the season there are not too many people here. I scored a delightful site right on the lake. Well, it’s above the lake on a ridge, but it looks out over the water. A trail leads down to it.

          
It was so good that I reserved the site for 3 days.

After I set up camp, I visited the Nature Center and did a short hike.  The trail had the most amazing rock formations.


The rocks form overhangs that were used by the Native Americans as shelters when hunting. And apparently there are 100’s of caves in this area.Here’s a small cave I passed.


The trail eventually goes to the lake, which is actually the second largest reservoir in the state. Unfortunately with such a warm winter, and not a lot of snow melt, the water level is very low.

Rain is in the forecast but I hope to do some more hiking.

Heading South

On my way to Hoosier National Forest, I stopped for lunch at a nature preserve. McVey Memorial Forest. It’s a 249 acre forest out in the middle of farm fields. This land was deeded to the DNR by Edna McVey in her will. She loved the woods and wanted others to enjoy it.


Several trails wind through the forest, there’s a small pond, and it’s a wildlife sanctuary maintained by the Red Tail Nature Conservancy. Further in the forest is a small cemetery that is all that is left from a community called Stubenville.

  
You can find it on Highway 1 just north of Farmland, IN.