Michiganders are Wolverines and Ohio folk are Buckeyes. We ALL know what a buckeye is and what a wolverine looks like but what about a Hoosier? In 1833 it was said that Indiana folks would answer a knock at their cabin with “Who’s Yere?”. Someone else said there was a contractor named Hoosier and his laborers were referred to as Hoosier’s men. Then there is the rumor that the pugnacious habits of some early settlers who were enthusiastic fighters would gouge, scratch and bite off noses and ears. It was so common an occurrence that a settler coming into a tavern the morning after a fight might touch it with the toe of his boot and ask “Whose ear?” Whatever its origin, the nickname “Hoosier” has had a lasting appeal for Indiana folks! For more than 100 years it has continued to mean friendliness, neighborliness, an idyllic contentment with the Indiana landscape and life. We were going there to go find out!
Sunday, June 14 we set our course for south central Indiana and the Brown County State Park, with a brief stop on the way for ice cream at the historic old canal town of Metamora. Brown County as a whole is almost as magnificent as the Smoky Mountains of Appalachia with her hills, valleys, ridges and gorges, babbling brooks and waterfalls, deer, turkey and even fox that peek out at dawn and dusk! The park is Indiana’s largest state park at 15,000 acres of dense forest, winding roads, 500 campsites and the Abe Martin Lodge.
While based at the park we returned to walk the quaint streets of Nashville and saunter in and out of all the eclectic shops! Out exploring the backroads down off of St Rt 446, we stumbled upon the Hoosier National Forest campground at the Hardin Ridge Recreation Area and drove thru with the approval of the folks at the gatehouse. We picked out our 1st choice for a campsite and said we would return the next morning! Instead of returning to the state park on the highway that we now knew – we dared venture off the well-paved and well-marked road to trek down a “shortcut” to enter the state park from the other side. Sometimes the “road” was just a bit wider than a 2-track path. Sometimes it went east, sometimes north, several times west and even curved a lot to the south! It seemed like the mileage, via the GPS, kept growing instead of decreasing! But we finally made it back to the park and we each released a big sigh.