Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Heading Home

Our Winter Journey for 2014-2015 is now complete.  We left in the cold chill of December and have returned in the cold chill of  . . ..   March?!
When we left Florida, the trees were all leafed out in their beautiful spring greens and the flowering bushes were in high gear – when we arrived in our corner of Ohio and Michigan, the spattering of snow was trying to make things look drearier than they already were!   The world was dull – no leaves, no wildflowers dotting the roadsides and NO colors other than GRAY.  No more shorts and sandals it was now long pants and winter coats.  OH NO!

Knowing we had reached the end of the road on Santa Rosa Island in the western corner of Florida, we had no choice but to head north thru Pensacola and follow the trail to Montgomery Alabama for our first night on our long road home.  H had found the Gunter Hill Campground, which is a US Army Corps of Engineers project, located on a wide section of the Alabama River.  Further upstream the river had been dammed up which formed the wide areas of lakes and the nooks and coves when the river fills in the valleys around the higher jagged hills.   The campground was covered in brown and tans – no longer the tiny live oak leaves but the way bigger oaks and maples like you would find in the north.  The 2 camping loops faced each other across one long narrow notch of brown water.  At the end of the other, newer loop was a wooden Overlook Deck that gave a good view of the waterway that stretched out before it.
Gunter Hill campground

Up early and on the road, with the sun shining brightly, we approached Birmingham.   Between the growing volume of massive semi trucks zooming by us and the condition of the roadbed getting worse and worse, we still managed to enjoy the neat looking skyline as we cautiously worked our way thru the town.  The middle lane was bad – and the outside lane was horrid!  But we made it and H’s white knuckles slowly started to turn pink once more. 
Birmingham, Al

Henry Horton St Pk Tenn.
Then came Tennessee.  I 65 was still a bad road with uneven asphalt patches, cracks and traffic but also came the Henry Horton State Park, just south of Nashville and between Lewisburg and Chapel Hill.   Set in the rolling hills of Middle Tennessee, the 1140-acre park is located on the former estate of Henry H Horton, 36th governor of Tennessee and sits on the banks of the historic Duck River.  The park has golf, an inn, hiking trails, a pool and  - - - a trap and skeet range!  Too bad it was closed.   The campground itself is going thru a renovation period.  The wiggly winding road is blacktopped but still narrow.  The parking pads are also blacktopped and long enough but in those hills – NOT anywhere near level!  While the immediate 3 feet next to the parking pad had been filled in and supported – the area around each site is definitely on a down hill run!   At the bottom of the hill behind our site was a very old, very rickety barn that housed 2 very sad looking horses. This picturesque old structure was surrounded by a moat of muck left behind from all the winter snow and sleet that the region had endured in the last several months.   While the main color in the park was still brown – tiny shoots of Trilliums were struggling to push thru the rocks, soggy leaves and dirt. 
Henry Horton St Pk Tenn.

On thru Nashville – more construction, more lane changes and MORE semi traffic!   The skyline was impressive also but there was way too much else going on to snap a picture!  Then came Kentucky – and more of the same!  Hopefully, Indiana would be an improvement – not so!   We bounced and jounced along till we could not take the battering the truck and trailer were taking and we left I 65 way south of Indianapolis.

What a relief to calm down and enjoy the rural countryside that we were traveling thru as we still headed north and east.  Indiana State Parks are open and ready for spring campers.  Hardy Lake State Recreation Area is Indiana’s smallest state operated reservoir but it has the state’s largest state owned dam.  The campground has 149 blacktopped parking pads, winterized facilities and several hiking trails.  To stretch our legs, we carefully traversed the very damp trail that led down to the waters edge and the steep boat ramp that entered it.   As we carefully made our way down the steep wet embankment to the floating dock, there was a truck pulling a boat up the same ramp.  The boat was spewing water from the two round holes in the stern.  On our way back up the now very wet ramp, H engaged the 2 men in a conversation about their dilemma.  One stream of water was the empting of the live well.  And the other - - - YEP!  – They had forgotten to put in the drain plug!  Laughingly, they admitted they realized their problem only after they were leaving the launching cove! 

Staying on two lane roads till we reached Ohio’s newly finished 4 lane I 24 we enjoyed the smooth roads and slower pace of travel.   As we approached I 475/23 the sky turned gray again and dusted the world with fine soft blowing snow.   Yeah, Welcome Home.   It is still winter in Michigan!