Thursday, October 4, 2018

Going Home

Our last stop was at Colleton State Park. We visited here before but this time we just did an overnighter without going into town. The park is on Edisto River that is part of a 57 mile blackwater trail (the river is dark with tannins).

My morning hike took me on a nature trail and a search for three geocaches.

This was a two month trip. To me, full-timing is easier than part-timing. We moved campgrounds more since we were trying to see more in a short period. That can be more stressful versus staying at places longer. Plus you are thinking about things going on at home and what you need to do when you get there.

Part of the reason for this trip was to visit Minnesota and Michigan, our 43rd and 44th state to see in an RV. I thought visiting in August and September would be great since it would be warmer and then kids would be back in school. It was warmer and it rained only a few times during our trip. However, we missed a few places since they closed after Labor Day. Most places stay open until sometime in September, but I had to keep checking to see if a place would be open or what their fall hours were. I guess there is no perfect time anywhere when campsites are plentiful, museums are open, and the weather is perfect.

We’re planning on some shorter RV trips over the winter so it may be awhile before I post again.

We saw a lot of places during this trip. Here are my personal favorites:
1.    The balls-of-twine! (1 and 2) – These are something we’ve talked about for years and we finally got to see them. Extra points to us for talking to the guy making his in Wisconsin.
2.    Canoeing the Mississippi – Wonderful day and how many people can say they safely canoed on the Mississippi River?
3.    Itasca State Park – Walking across the Mississippi River was a great part of the visit to this park. But we really enjoyed the bike trails here. There are lots of places to visit within one park.
4.    Spring Mill State Park – So much to do in one park: finding Donaldson Cave while lost and wandering through a pioneer village. The best for me was the Gus Grissom Memorial.
5.    Clear Lake State Park – The town is great here. Biking into town was fun. The area had some interesting stops but top stops were the Surf Ballroom and the Buddy Holly Crash Site which were both sad and fascinating.
6. Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park - Fabulous falls at one end of the park. At the other end was a great campground, walking the beach, and Lake of the Clouds.
7. Gooseberry Falls State Park - Falls, hikes, and even an outhouse! What's not to like at this state park?
8.    The geology – The Soudan Mine trip was great to see with both hematite and jasper together. The potholes at Interstate showed the work that water melting from the glaciers can do. The rocks around Lake Superior made for a fun walk on the beach.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Camp Creek State Park

We’re in West Virginia staying at Camp Creek. This is an excellent state park where we have full hook-ups (one of the few times we’ve had that the whole trip) plus wifi and a great view.

I’m trying to figure out if there is a different phrase between babbling brook and roaring river. Perhaps a chuckling creek? Anyhow, the creeks here are full of rapids and falls. More than babbling but only roaring at a couple of the waterfalls in our park. Just by our bedroom is a little creek with several small waterfalls. Very restful! 

My morning hike was exciting. The Piney Ridge Trail is only 1.5 miles but rated Most Difficult. It’s a lot of elevation change. The trail isn’t in great shape with trees down in several locations. The trail is difficult to find since leaves cover everything. At least there are lots of signs to keep you on the trail. I “only” got lost on the trail twice. I did see three deer though.

John and I walked from the campground to two different waterfalls. This one was on Camp Creek.

While this one was on Mash Fork.

I wanted to mention that taking a hike or just a walk around the campground can be quite interesting. We get into a discussion with other campers from around the country with all types of stories. Just another perk of traveling!

Monday, October 1, 2018

Hopewell Culture National Historical Park

I like how we hear different parts of a story at different places. I’ve been to the Hopewell mounds in Newark and at Old Stone Fort but this was the first time to the Mound City Group near Chillicothe Ohio.

The mounds were built from approximately 0 – 500 C.E.  The section we saw had 23 mounds along with an earthen embankment surrounding all the mounds. Most of the mounds were used for cremated burials.

Mound 7 is the largest and included 13 cremated burials. No one really knows what the original height was of these mounds. Trees grew on and around the mounds for 1500 years after the Hopewell stopped using this area. The mounds were farmed for 50 years and then the military came in during WWI to build Camp Sherman for training that flattened most mounds. What is here is a restoration of the original mounds.

This elliptical mound had only 4 people buried here but several hundred flint spearheads. The majority of the pieces were broken before burial.

Apparently smoking was big back then. One mound had almost 200 pipes with all sorts of designs.

Archeologists have found quite a few artifacts within the mounds. The range of the material sources is amazing. There were several spectacular copper pieces. The copper and silver came from mines in the Great Lakes area. We visited some small mines there. 

The mica pieces are the biggest I’ve seen. These are from North Carolina. There is flint that may have come from the Newark Flint Ridge. Obsidian came from Wyoming and Idaho. Shells came from the Gulf of Mexico and sharks teeth came from the Atlantic Ocean. The amount of trade that this required is fascinating.

Traveling South and Short Stops

We’re traveling south now and it is interesting how things change. Up north in Minnesota and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, the temperatures are quite cool (50’s during the day, 30’s at night). The leaves have changed and in some places are past the peak. Gas prices are high (we paid up to $3.09). In Ohio and West Virginia it is still in the 70’s in the day and 60’s at night. Some leaves are falling but there isn’t a major change in colors yet. We saw gas prices as low as $2.60. We’ve adapting to the change and will have to pull out the shorts again and definitely enjoy the lower gas prices.

We stayed overnight at a Cabela’s in Michigan. Here’s the outdoor statue for the store.

I’ve heard about Tamarack: The Best of West Virginia but never stopped. It’s advertised as a showcase for West Virginia artists along with excellent food. Well, the line for food was too long so we skipped that. There’s some wonderful baskets, woodwork, glass, etc.


However, the Best of WV is extremely expensive. We absolutely loved Matt Wilkenson’s woodwork but this chainsaw in wood is $16,700!

If you haven’t heard of the Mothman legend, the short version is that a creature was seen in Point Pleasant West Virginia in 1966-1967. The creature was most frequently described as a man-sized bird with red eyes. There were about several sightings with multiple people seeing this thing. After the December 15, 1967 collapse of the nearby bridge killing 46 people, it wasn’t seen again in this area. The thought is that the Mothman either caused or perhaps was warning about the bridge collapse. There was a book and a movie about it.

We visited the town seeing the new bridge…

…the exterior of the museum (we were too early)…

…and the Mothman Statue.

Going with the Flow

Things happen all the time while RV’ing. The big lesson seems to be to accept that things aren’t going to go your way all the time but to enjoy what you have.

Our preferred stop of Delaware State Park in Ohio was full. So we stopped at nearby Alum Creek State Park. We didn’t have reservations and it was a weekend, but the online reservations seemed to show openings. Nope, it was full! We stopped in the parking lot and starting checking for alternatives. There were a few openings in some nearby parks but the sites were without electricity. Then we saw several electric sites were available in Scioto Trail State Park two hours down the road so we headed that way.

The park seemed a bit out of the way, but we had no idea! After we arrived we were told that several people had died on the route our GPS gave us due to the sharp curves where you can’t see oncoming traffic. They don’t recommend that path to the park at all. However, even on the way out on the recommended path the curves were sharp. The route we took in also had a spot that google calls Deadman Crossing which might have been an old town. I couldn’t find any history about the town except that maybe it’s due to a story about a ghost soldier.  Quite exciting routes both in and out of this park.

The park itself was quite nice. It had wifi which is difficult to find in a state park. The campsite was excellent.

The trails, though, were quite a challenge. We are in the edges of the Appalachian Mountains. The campground is set in a flat valley but on either side the hills are steep and that’s where the trails are located. Lots of ups and downs on my morning hike.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Fish at Sleeping Bear Dunes

On our second day we biked out to a fishing weir on Platte River. There were no signs or displays to explain what was going on but we talked to a few people that seemed to know what they were talking about. There is a hatchery near here that brought salmon eggs from Oregon back in the 1960’s. Salmon adapted to the area and are still doing well in Lake Michigan. The adult salmon come in from Lake Michigan to spawn in Platte River in the fall and luckily we were here at the right time. They control the flow of fish back to the hatchery from this weir and only allow 20,000 or so fish in during a season. The center gate is opened to allow a few thousand in every few days. Somehow they keep a count of them. A sign said they had let in 10,000 so far.

The rest are harvested at this weir.

The day we saw them (9/27/18) there were several thousand salmon trying to get up the river but stopped by the fence. The solid dark mass is all the fish with some swimming separately on the edges. 

Everyone once in a while a fish would jump up in the air. We've never seen so many fish in one area and these were big fish so it was quite fascinating.

There were kayakers who were floating just outside the ropes. We were told this stresses them and isn’t a great thing for the fish.

Upstream were a bunch of people fishing (we saw 22 people). The fish they catch can be huge. The salmon were ~3 feet long and can weigh 30 pounds.

The Dunes of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

This is our 133rd national park or monument that we’ve visited. First thing we saw after the visitor center were a couple of deer crossing the street. There were several sightings of bear near the campground, but we never saw them.

While there are a lot of places to visit in the park, the thing- to-do is called the Dune Climb. Everyone goes out to the section with the tallest dunes and climbs them.

If you are hard-core, you hike 3.5 miles climbing 9 different dunes to get to Lake Michigan. We weren’t that hard-core since John was tired from the drive and we just wanted to get to the campground to set up. But we climbed a couple of dunes.

There was a crew filming while we were there. I think it was a local group.

I walked out to Lake Michigan from the campground. The part I hated was that they called it a Beginner's Trail. Walking very far through sand does not feel like “beginner”.