Monday, April 17, 2017

Southern Indiana - 2017 Easter Trip

On Friday April 14, 2017 we left home for Southern Indiana, destination Charlestown State Park, in Charlestown, Indiana along the Ohio River.  We were supposed to go to our son’s for Easter Sunday, but due to the weather forecast our son’s family came to our campsite on Saturday for a cookout and Easter for our grandkids.

Friday night dinner consisted of gourmet pizza cooked on the grill followed by a nice fire.  The weather was great for the weekend, mid-80's for the day and mid-60's at night. 

In 1941 the land along the Ohio River between Jeffersonville and Charlestown, Indiana was home to the Indiana Army Ammunition Plant.  Indiana Ordnance Works Plant 1, 3,565 acres made smokeless powder.  Indiana Ordnance Works Plant 2 2,757 acres made rocket propellant.  Hoosier Ordnance Plant, 4,327 acres manufactured and loaded propellant charge bags.  The three plants were combined as the Indiana Arsenal under War Department Circular No. 329 on November 30, 1945. It was renamed the Indiana Army Ammunition Plant in August 1963 by Department of the Army General order No. 35.  Several different private companies took over running the facility and operations continued until April 1972.  After disposal of Plant 2, the plant had 10,655 acres, 1,700 buildings, 30 miles of fence, 84 miles of railroad tracks, and 190 miles of roads.  The ammunition manufacturing facility, placed into modified caretaker status in 1992.  Recreational facility development began in 1995.  The park opened in 1996, with picnicking, fishing, and hiking available.  The modern campground opened in 1999 and expanded in 2002.  In 2007 4,500 acres were transferred to the State of Indiana and is operated by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources as Charlestown State Park.  There is still a significant amount of explosive residue threat removal and building demolitions operations that should be completed by 2018, with the land being developed as manufacturing and warehousing.

The Ohio Valley was glacier formed beginning 2.5 to 3 million years ago.  The earliest Ice Ages occurred at this time and dammed portions of north flowing rivers.  The Teays River was the largest of these rivers, and the modern Ohio River flows within segments of the ancient Teays.  The ancient rivers were rearranged or consumed by glaciers and lakes.

The new east end toll bridge now called the Lewis & Clark Bridge opened in December 2016

Saturday morning we were up and I grilled bacon and blueberry pancakes , while Susan made coffee in the coffee press.  Following breakfast we took 1.5 mile hikes which lead us down into ravines  and along the Fourteenmile Creek, which flows into the Ohio River.

 Fourteenmile Creek

 Exausted after a long hike.  A piece of firewood came in handy as a place to rest her head.

Late Saturday afternoon our son, daughter-in-law and two granddaughters came for a visit and cookout.

 "Grandma, this is like a bunk bed"

We grilled hotdogs, filets, and Italian sausages, and had ice cream sandwiches for desert.  They left around 8:30 p.m. and with rain forecast over night packed everything up, so all we had to do is remove the rear awning and drop the top and head for home.

It was a nice trip.  Indiana State Parks charge some of the highest fees of any parks that we are aware of.  We paid $38.60 per night.  I think this will make us rethink our weekend trips in Indiana, unless we can find some boondocking sites or lower fees.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Texas 2017 - Spring Trip

We departed home on Thursday, March 16th for our annual trip to Texas.  We were on a family mission for a good part of the trip.  After spending the night in Forrest City, AR we headed for Austin, TX and McKinney Falls State Park.  We arrived on Friday, March 17th around 6pm so we didn’t have a chance to get out and explore the park.  On Saturday morning we hiked to the camp store and then on to the Upper Falls.  Later in the day Susan’s nephew and wife along with their 16month old son joined us for a cookout.  We spent the afternoon visiting and playing with the little one.  The big music fest, South by Southwest was occurring in Austin and Susan’s nephew won tickets to the Garth Brooks concert so they had to leave to get their son home for the babysitter.


  Susan's nephew Steve with Callen

McKinney Falls - Upper Falls

On Sunday morning we drove down to San Antonio, and stayed at the Riverwalk RV Park.  After getting everything set-up, we took Uber down to the Pearl Brewery Complex and had lunch in the Boiler House Restaurant.  We met another of Susan’s nephews and his wife at the new Emma Hotel, which was built in the old Pearl Brew House.  Susan’s nephew had arranged a private tour of the hotel with the architect of record and now the hotels historian.  Susan’s father had been the assistant brew master and then head brew master for 36 years until he passed away of a heart attack on the golf course at the age of 53.  One of the suites was named after him and we got a chance to walk through the suite.  Much of the old brewery equipment from the original brewery can be found throughout the many re-modeled buildings on the Pearl Brewery site.  There are seventeen restaurants and a culinary school, apartment buildings and shops.  The complex can be also reached by the water taxi from downtown San Antonio.

Pearl Brewery Complex

Old stairs and elevator to the upper level of the brewhouse

The matador picure used to hang in my father-in-laws office.  It is now proudly hung just inside the Men's Restroom in the hotel lobby.

One of the suites named after Susan's father

The stein room where Susan and her twin would do their homework after school

Looking out from the stein room to the door to my father-in-laws office, now the bridal changing room

Early Monday morning we headed for Galveston Island State Park.  This marks the third straight trip to Galveston Island S.P.  Susan’s twin sister made several trips over from her home in La Marque, TX and we either went out to dinner or grilled at our campsite.  The weather was beautiful all four days and we had an amazing sunrise each morning.  Long walks on the beach and sitting in our chairs catching the rays took up most of the days.  On Wednesday we met Susan’s older sister, her husband and Susan’s twin for lunch.  It was a great time to catch up on Susan’s family.

 Susan's twin sister Sally with Maggie Mae

 Blue Heron at sunrise
 Anyone recognize the foot print, something eating off the log

Susan's twin sister Sally and older sister Bobbe

Portuguese Man O War

Shells, Shells, & more Shells

Small crab moving across the sand

Turtle crossing the road.  The turtle withdrew into his shell.

On Thursday, we had GetMe (like Uber) pick us up and take us down to the Strand.  We spent the day shopping and found a place Little Daddy’s Gumbo Bar where we had lunch.  The Gumbo and the Shrimp Po-boy were the best I have ever had.  We bought chocolate and salt water taffy to take home, and had some homemade ice cream before heading back to our campsite.  We grilled out Tuesday thru Thursday nights and enjoyed the weather.

The Strand in downtown Galavestion

 Little Daddy's Gumbo Bar

 Historic buildings that survived the 1900 hurricane

Entrance to the Galveston version of Mardi Gras

On Friday morning we headed to Richardson, TX, just outside Dallas to visit my mother.  She had moved into a new assisted living place the week before.  They had a piano player for a 1 hour show and many of the residents were already seated when we walked in.  Mom had a table so we joined her, accompanied by our yellow lab, Sarah.  We settle in for a wonderful hour of old songs.  Following the show Sarah immediately became the hit if the day as numerous people stopped to pet her and say how much they enjoyed having her there.

We visited with my mom and she went to dinner and Susan and I grabbed a Uber to get dinner and then return for another visit.  The assisted living place was kind enough to allow us to camp in the parking lot.  We had the lot to ourselves.  In the morning we said our goodbyes and headed for Memphis, TN to visit Susan’s brother. 

 I-40 bridge over the Mississippi River

Memphis Skyline

We camped in the driveway.  Susan’s sister-in-law prepared an amazing dinner and around 10pm it was time to get some sleep as we had a long drive home.  We forgot to take pictures while we were at Susan's brothers.  We had breakfast and left around 8:30 a.m. for the drive home.  We arrived back in Carmel, IN  around 5:30 p.m. and unloaded the camper.
They say things happen in three’s and I tend to agree.  On the way down as we passed through Texarkana, TX the temperature hit 81 and we turned on the A/C.  Guess what there was no A/C.  The vent would have to suffice.  I need to get the truck in and have this checked.  Hopefully it is nothing more than a fuse.  The first night of camping Susan turned on the hot water heater.  After dinner she went to do the dishes and discovered there was no hot water.  In the dark, even with a flashlight, I did see anything.  The next morning I opened the panel and discovered the cut-off melted and the four wires in the wire bundle melted.  The gas tube must have been partially blocked.  I contacted Attwood and they provided me a list of repair places in Indianapolis.  I posted this with a photo on Wander the West.  The third issue was my pulling in my brother-in-laws driveway on the circular drive with low hanging pine branches, and not pulling in at the clear drive to the garage.  Needless to say my brother-in law and Susan were trying to hold branches back from the truck and the camper.  My right rear wheel became stuck off the driveway.  Even in 4-wheel drive, I was unable to move forward.  I decided to back out very slowly and ended up backing into a tree, bending the cargo carrier, no damage to the truck or camper.  The camper had some pin strips and a very small dent at the driver’s side of the cab over.  I will have to figure out a way to straighten out the cargo carrier.

All in all we had a great time and great weather,  We missed some very damaging storms with golf ball and softball size hail that hit Texas and Arkansas on Saturday and Sunday.