I visited Shipshewana, Indiana, on Tuesday to specifically be there when the flea market was open. On my previous visit, not only was it raining but I missed the flea market by a day. The flea market has little of the flavor the local shop owners pervade, however, as flea markets go it is excellent! It was a very hot, sunny day and I only made it three quarters of the way through before I was just worn down. I got my truck from the flea market parking lot, drove over to the restaurant and had a very nice late lunch.

Returning to my truck I saw the “It’s A Masterpiece” shop across the street. I had enjoyed swopping stories with the son of the artist, and hoped to see him again. I got another treat this time, I got to meet the artist, Mary Master.

As with her son we talked about her husband’s Alzheimer’s, and the heavy burden this terrible disease puts upon the victim’s families. And the incredible sadness it brings.

She looked younger than I imagined, but time and worry was still etched upon her face. She had a wonderful smile, and so unjudgmental, as her son had been, when we spoke about our cultures and the differences. Kevin had told me about “the trail of death” and she and I spoke about the local controversy regarding renaming the Goshen High School from “Red Skins” to something more ethnically sensitive.

She asked if I knew what “Red Skins” really meant, and I said “No.” She said it refers to a time when the government offered a bounty for Indian Scalps. The Scalps of men, women and children would still be bloody when the whites took them in to collect their bounty, hence the term “Red Skins.”

The mental image was so appalling, and all I could say was, “I’m sorry, never knew.”

A Gooder Spot

The first time I was at Hoffman Lake I had a small incident (not accident) involving my failure to chock the wheels before I unhitched the camper from the truck. Two fellow campers, whom I later learned were Jason and Wanda, ran around the trailer to check if I was alright. I was pretty embarrassed to say the least, but “chocking” is another of those “lessons learned”. Jason and Wanda occasionally stopped to chat as they walked around the campground.

When I came back to Hoffman I requested a full-hook up but one wasn’t available until four days after I arrived, so last Sunday I moved my camper. Not having to worry about the tanks filling up was worth the move. Trust me on that one.

The new campsite was dryer, flatter, shadier and just “gooder” all the way around. So before my move, I drove up to check it out. I like to look at new sites to determine how best to position the trailer, how can I bring it in, will I need to level it, etc. And while I was checking it out I discovered Wanda and Jason would be my next door neighbors!! They and their family were just hanging out in the shade enjoying some beverages, the guys were shirtless, some were shoeless, and some were in swim suits on this hot summer day.

Now, I think they are very nice people, the perfect example of American Campers. But if you have ever done anything stupid, as I have, in front of someone you are just a little apprehensive about seeing them again. I tend to want to go hid under a rock so as not to remember my embarrassing blunder.

So, guess what I did in front of not only Jason and Wanda, but their family as well . . . . I ran my truck over a fire ring . . . . . yep, jammed that sucker right up between the tire and my bumper before their “Stop! Stop! Stop!”s caught my attention.

“Oh, God, can’t you just swallow me up into the earth and let me disappear???”

No such luck. I felt the fire of embarrassment and humiliation flame across my face. “Chit, chit, chit!”

After a little conferring and yanking, the guys muscled it out from between the tire and the bumper with no damage. Except to my ego.

I am so grateful they stopped me in time, and pulled the fire ring free. I hope they know how much I appreciated their help.

I looked Jason in the eye and asked, “Why is it every time I see you I do something stupid?” He’s such a gentleman. His only response was, “I dunno. Maybe I should put my shirt back on?”

Cowboys

Here I am back at Hoffman. I was pretty green the first time I was here. Made lots of mistakes and was a little bit scared and paranoid. I feel comfortable, composed, and relaxed this time. I notice that about myself, when Ralph and I traveled, we frequently went back a second time because we liked it. We noticed it was better the second time in New Orleans, or Hawaii, or the Caribbean. We felt more relaxed because we knew where we were, and what to expect.Featured image

I came here to reflect on what I was doing, did I want to continue or pack it in. I had a very comfortable drive, no mishaps, no Interstates and very little stress. I enjoy taking the long way, through the little towns. Something to add to my “ponder” list.

I met some very nice people at my last stop, Grandpa’s Farm. Debi and Derrick, they travel together with their work at a well-known department store. He reminded me of a modern day cowboy, long legs, jeans, rugged tanned features, a OBX cap. She was one of those people who has taught me not to stay with first impressions. I’m thinking marketing displays – she’s a carpenter! She’s done all kinds of work all over the US, very interesting, and anyone who knows the difference between a Cedar Wax Wing and an Osprey can’t be all bad! I was envious of their comfortable companionship. I’d like to find me a cowboy! Hahaha (imagine that as a wicked laugh!)

They were easy to talk to, to share a couple of beers with, and another example of nice camping people. I was sorry we had to part ways.

Staying with the cowboy train of thought, while I was in Richmond I took a couple of drives out through the checkerboard cross-country roads, looking for photographs to take.  One photo I chose not to take was of this Harley Dude, standing on a front porch. He totally looked the part, black muscle shirt, worn jeans, black boots, a doo-rag over long scraggly hair. He was taking a deep drag on a vapor cigarette, sucking at it as if it was his last breath on earth. Maybe it was, but . . . . . come on, Dude! Where’s your pride? Where’s your Marlboro?! That song by Paula Cole comes unbidden into my head:

Where is my Marlboro man
Where is his shiny gun
Where is my lonely ranger
Where have all the cowboys gone?

Camping solo is, in many ways is like being a cowboy (girl). Lots of alone time, guarded conversations, being alone in a crowd. I have noticed how I could (theoretically) slip into a community and pass through virtually unnoticed. If I were up to something illegal, I could slip away into the night like a puff of smoke. I have an article written many years ago by Linda Ellerbee about invisible women. Basically, she said when we are young and vital we get the whoops and cat calls, but by middle age no one takes notice and eventually it is like we are invisible. We can come and go without a second look.

Gee, and me an honest law-abiding citizen!

On the Road

When I was a little kid, eight or nine maybe, our family was traveling up north. We were in Canada, or Michigan; I don’t really know for sure, just that there were lakes. One night after traveling all day we couldn’t find a place to stay for the evening. There were no motels without “NO Vacancy” flashing on their marquees. So Dad stopped at the local police station to ask where he could get a room for his family.

The local constable told him about a little old couple who occasionally let a room for an evening and we drove on over to the house. Mom was concerned, Dad was adventurous and I remember me and my brother being urged to be quiet!

Mom was sure we would be murdered in our sleep and Dad thought she was funny. Once we arrived, money was exchanged and we were ushered into a single room with two large beds and a couple of night tables. The couple closed the folding door across the doorway and left us alone.

With no way to lock our way to safety, Mom was certain we would be murdered in our sleep by these seeming innocent strangers! We were told to hop into bed with our clothes on while Mom and Dad lay down in the next bed and soon my Dad’s loud snores echoed through the room.

Above the bed where I lay was an open window and the sound of passing cars on wet pavement went on most of the night. Locust began to do their chee-chatter evening sounds and I listed to the cars in fearful silence for a long, long time before I finally fell asleep.

We weren’t murdered in our sleep and Mom admitted she had lain awake all night waiting for the couple to come back! Dad always got a big laugh when he told the story and how afraid Mom had been.

Anytime I hear that car/pavement/locust sound it always takes me back to that little room, my family, and the big adventure we were on!

Damsel in Distress??

Yesterday afternoon I pulled in to Grandpa’s Farm Campground RV Park in Richmond, Indiana. The literature says it has been here 50 years and is a tidy 95 unit resort sitting between the Middle Fork of the Whitewater River and State Highway 227. I was smart enough to not get a spot by the road this time! I am nestled up under a hickory tree that drops a nut every onceFeatured image in a while and I immediately think we’ve been shot!! It is very level, in fact the most level spot I have had so far. Trees and satellite dishes don’t mix, but somehow I have TV!

Not only does my driving aggravate the truckers, it must aggravate the men who have to watch me try to back my trailer in to the spot. Initially, I was scared to try backing into a camping spot, now I don’t back in any better but I just keep trying until I get it where I want it!! It seems to only take me three or four tries before the “nice gentlemen” have to get up off their recliners and come help me. I don’t know why they feel obligated, they seem resigned to saving me.

Now days, I don’t cuss or cry in frustration, and I have managed to NOT be rude to the “gentlemen” who have offered their assistance. (Sorry, Tom, but I have improved!) Unfortunately, just as I am getting a clear vision of how and when to turn, and I almost got it wrangled in the space, the guys come out and take over.

Lord. I know they mean well, but . . . .

Move Over Big Rigs!

As awesome as Hillsboro, Ohio was it was time to move on, or get a permanent address. I probably would have moved sooner but the rain was constantly driving me inside! The lake was beautiful and the birds abundant in the area. The people who worked at the camp store were super nice and the facility was top rate. Ohio does a great job with its state parks. Indiana could take some pointers from them.

I had such a difficult time trying to decide what direction to head next. I knew I didn’t want to head across the Appalachian Mountains because I was afraid of the toll it would take on my “rig”. I’m just not that confident towing a trailer for that to be comfortable for me.

Of everything I am doing, I find driving on Interstates the worse. The “wake” created by the eighteen wheelers seems to suck my rig toward them as they pass, and having that happen on both sides at once is quite scary! I hadn’t really noticed it until a trucker honked as he was passing and I saw how close we were. I am trying to make sure I drive part of the way on the interstate just to gain some comfort. I really need a driver!!

Hillsboro, Ohio

Hillsboro, Ohio is east and a little south of Cincinnati, and is nestled in rolling wooded hills. Rocky Fork Lake is a man-made recreation area operated by the state. There are a number of marinas and campgrounds surrounding the lake. Hillsboro is another of those rural communities that looks like it has fallen on hard times, lots of older houses and abandoned mom and pop businesses. Lots of hoFeatured imageuses up for sale.

Ohio 62 and 50 cross paths in the center of town and people drive West on Highway 50 to Cincinnati for their cultural entertainment, concerts and of course Cardinal Baseball! If you drive south of town you can spot the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains!

Center of town is pretty much like every other town created in the 19th century – courthouse in the center, war memorials on the surrounding grounds and businesses radiating out from there. A newer version of town is north of the historic downtown, and it is nice they are separated. North you will find the ubiquitous Lowes, Kroger’s, fast food restaurants, etc.

Hillsboro would be a great weekend camp destination, and right now the real estate is ripe of the picking!