Wednesday, August 12, 2015

On the Second Day....

We left for the epic road trip on the morning of July 26, and ended up staying the night at East Harbor State Park in Lakeview-Marblehead, Ohio. The wifi there was decent enough that I managed to cobble together a short blog about that day already.

I don't know if it was sleeping in the RV or something else, but I was awake shortly after six, and that's pretty much completely atypical for me. Still, it was a good thing, as it allowed us a quick breakfast of mini-bagels and bananas before the short drive to the Kelley's Island Ferry.

I'd never been on a ferry before, so I was pretty intrigued by the whole process. We got there just before the departure, and in fact were one of the last vehicles to load up.
Cars, semis, bicyclists... it was all on the ferry
Morning sun on the water
Arriving on the island
We left the ferry and headed north to Kelley's Island State Park, where the glacial grooves could be found. These were evidently originally discovered when Kelley's Island was being quarried for limestone, and while they are very impressive (and mom was saying she'd never seen such a large glacial grooves formation), there used to be even larger and more striking glacial evidence that was destroyed in the quarrying process.

From the grooves, we went back to the south side of the island to see Inscription Rock, which had evidence of petroglyphs on it.
The petroglyphs are faint and hard to see.
From there, it was back to the ferry.
The Garmin GPS indicates that we're on a boat
Next up on the itinerary was the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. We stopped by the visitor center so that mom could get the stamps in the National Parks Passport book, then decided to go to the Chellberg Farm/Bailly Homestead area to park and wander around.

The path was wide and fairly level, so mom didn't have too many issues navigating it up to the farm area, which was only a few tenths of a mile away.

We continued on a little ways towards the Bailly Cemetery, until we came to a bridgelike area.
Mom decided she wasn't going to do well with steps, hills, etc., so she said she'd meet me at the Bailly Homestead. I continued on while she turned back the other way towards the homestead. The cemetery turned out to be pretty far. Only four people were interred.

I hustled back towards the Chellberg farm, stopping only to try to take a few photos of frogs or other critters along the way. When I got back to the parking area past the farm, before I could continue on to the homestead, I see mom outside the RV, so I go over to find out what's up.

We'd left the generator running while we went up to the farm, and it had stopped. She noticed it before she had been able to continue on to the Bailly homestead, and was trying to figure out what was wrong. We chalked it up to there being less than a quarter tank of gas, and then hiked to the homestead.

Joseph Bailly had started a fur trading post here after moving from French-Canada, and been quite successful. The Little Calumet River was in his backyard, and the local Indians used the river to get to his site for trading purposes.

Over a mile of hiking had been a stretch for mom, so she was pretty achy when we got back to the RV. We discovered that the fridge was beeping a warning because not only was the generator not working, but the gas-power that was supposed to be an option for the refrigerator also wasn't functioning properly. We chalked it up to lack of use over the last two years, and drove up to the Lake Michigan shore so that I could say I'd been to two of the Great Lakes in one day.
An actual dune
A lot of people were enjoying the nice day

We finished up the Dunes leg of the trip with a jaunt to the Cowles Bog trail, where I'd hoped to be able to see some pitcher plants. Alas, I journeyed over a mile, fought with some of the hugest mosquitoes I've ever seen, but saw no pitcher plants. :(

From the Indiana Dunes, we traveled through Chicago and up to near Rockford before calling it a night at an RV park. It was here that I began to suspect two things : 1) all RV parks have railroad tracks next to them, and 2) RV park offices close at 6PM, making checking in and/or finding a site after that time difficult.

The next morning, we again woke early and were on the road by seven. As we traveled through Wisconsin, the overcast skies looked threatening. We were a little behind on my proposed itinerary, and I didn't exactly have anything in mind for Wisconsin, so when we saw the sign for the Omaha Trail, I asked if we could maybe check it out. I was thinking that it might be something historical, like the Oregon Trail. Then I saw that there was supposed to be a tunnel, so we tried to find it.

Turns out that the Omaha Trail is a bike trail that runs along a former railway (so, a rail trail). While it's scenic and all, I didn't have my bike, and the Tunnel Hill Road we were following eventually turned into a dirt road, so we gave up on the tunnel.

The Omaha Trail is wide and semi-paved
Former railroad bridge

Berries along the path
The clouds decided to start a light rain shortly thereafter, and coupled with the construction in La Crosse and the directions being given by the Garmin GPS, it appeared that our first itinerary stop -- Lock and Dam 7 on the Mississippi River -- was inaccessible. So, we pushed on until Blue Earth, Minnesota.

Blue Earth provides many of the peas and other vegetables used by Green Giant
We originally just stopped in Blue Earth for gas, but saw the statue and had to take a photo. Across the traffic circle from the statue, we also found a great beer and wine store that had an awesome selection. That's where we grabbed some of the Deschutes Black Butte, as well as Surly Furious and an imperial red from another Minnesota brewery.

The Blue Mounds State Park was supposed to be next.

Well, we arrived after the visitor center was closed, and once we parked at the non-camping parking, it turned out that the actual blue mounds cliff was over a mile of hiking away. While I was fine with that, mom wasn't; her knee was still bothering her from the walking at Indiana Dunes. So, we took a few photos of the bluish purple stones that we could see.

Lots of the blue-purple stones in the rise across the water.
We started off towards Pipestone after that, but then called it quits and turned around because the visitor center there would have been long closed, and there was no point without being able to see the pipestone pipe displays housed there. So, I was disappointed overall with the day, and hoped it wasn't foretelling the rest of the trip.
A green locomotive in Luverne, MN
We called it a night shortly thereafter, opting for a KOA Kampground in Mitchell, SD. I was upset about the failure of the day, and she was agitated, partly due to the pain from her knee, but also because she'd just put an offer on a house and was trying to work with the agent and the inspector and the appraiser via email, text and phone -- not a good idea in some of the areas we were in and were going to visit.

It was a stressful day, but it ended with the promise of Badlands.

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