Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Waterfalls & More at Clifty Falls State Park

             Hey folks! For our 5th Indiana state park adventure, we decided to visit Clifty Falls. Myka seems to enjoy waterfalls almost as much as I do (and who DOESN'T like waterfalls?), so this was the logical choice for our next adventure after her enthusiasm visiting Cataract Falls a couple weeks before. (Yes, believe it or not, Indiana has quite a few waterfalls!)
             Clifty Falls is a pretty popular park in our state for obvious reasons, but we went at a great time. It was the last week of April on a Tuesday afternoon and there was hardly anyone there! I like visiting places when they're not busy because I'm an introvert. Plus Myka gets overwhelmed by crowds a lot of times. Anyways...
             It's a bit of a drive for us (about 2 hours and 15 minutes), so our first pit stop was the bathroom as soon as we got to the inn. Instead of doing a picnic lunch like we usually do, I thought it would be fun and novel for the kids to eat at the restaurant there. They had a nice random selection of items for a reasonable price. We had two meals and two drinks and the total came to a little over $15, so I didn't think that was too bad.

             Myka and I attempted to check out the gift shop on our way out, but Ripley was a little too enthusiastic about running around after being stuck in the car for so long and the high chair while eating, so we wandered around back to check out the view, as I promised Myka. I wish I could have gotten a better picture, but you can kind of make out the town of Madison and the Ohio River. You could definitely tell it was up even from that far away!

 These crazy people have not 1, but 2 Copperhead snakes!
 There is an area for turtles off to the right and the kids area off to the left.
 Looking in from the main entrance. Most of the "grown up" displays were down this hall as well as the bird watching room to the right and some toads and a garter snake at the end, if I remember correctly. I'm kind of weird about wanting to know what to expect at a nature center before I go (Is it geared more towards adults, children, or both?), so I hope this helps for those of you who are the same!

             Since the hotel is at the very south end of the park and the main waterfalls are at the very north part, we backtracked after leaving the inn and visited the nature center next door. I was really impressed with this one. It had plenty of exhibits for adults and kids alike. There's a little walk-through of it included in the video at the end. 

             Out of 10 trails at Clifty Falls, only 2 are listed as moderate and easy. This was a bit intimidating, so naturally, I decided to stick to the short, .75 mile easy trail to do with the kids. This was quite possibly the most boring trail I've ever been on. I know, I know, you're just supposed to relax and whatnot out in nature, but...There just wasn't anything spectacular about it. I guess I'm getting spoiled? We made up for it later, though, and then some!
             John got me all excited about going camping this year (we haven't been in probably 7 years!), so I decided to check out the campground in case I felt like the park was worthwhile to make another trip with all four of us and stay at. We just checked out the tent camping loop since we're “crazy tent campers”. It seemed pretty nice. At least half of the spots had shade of some sort and none were too far away from the shower house, so that's a plus!
             I love lookout areas, so we had to stop at one we passed on the way in. We got our first glimpse of the actual, big Clifty Falls there. It was also where two insane looking trails, 6 and 7, I believe, meet up.

             We finally reached the main attraction as it was getting late in the afternoon. Big Clifty was easy enough to get to. Little Clifty was another story. Stairs, stairs, and more stairs! One was so steep that I initially didn't want to go down it, having the kids and all. But, Myka and myself wanting to get some better shots talked myself into and it was worth it!

Staircase? More like SCAREcase! At the top, this one looks like it just vanishes halfway down!

             After we got back up to the top, I let the kids play at the playground for a little bit to burn some last remaining energy off before being stuck in the car again for several hours. We had a good time (Myka didn't even drive me that crazy! ;) ) and we got to do everything I had wanted to, but I would definitely like to go back and be able to do some more things/spend some more time at things we did do. There were at least 2 other waterfalls we didn't get to see!

             I thought it was a funny coincidence that we received an Outdoor Indiana magazine (It came with the state park pass package we received for Christmas. Pretty sweet!) that had a big article on waterfalls in Indiana around the time we went to Cataract Falls. In case you can't tell, I'm on a waterfalls kick now too as well as state parks! Anyhow, I saw there was one that would just be a little bit out of the way on our way home, so we visited Anderson Falls out in the middle of nowhere Jennings county too.

             Definitely be sure to check out both of these destinations, if you can, and come back next week for details on mine and hubby's anniversary weekend getaway to Spring Mill State Park!
This Is How We Roll Thursday Party

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Monthly Crafting Book Club: A Camping Spree with Mr.Magee

             Hey folks! Who's ready for another round of Monthly Crafting Book Club?! Instead of a particular book or series, this month's theme is camping. I'm a walking contradiction and in some areas of my life, I really, really, need help in the organization/having-my-crap-together department. In other areas, I'm really on the ball. Having a game plan for the types of books I want to look for at the library is one of the random things I actually have a list ready for beforehand. With that being said, A Camping Spree with Mr.Magee is the only camping book I came across in my quick search through the Vacations and Summer Activities bins. But, it actually turned out to be really cute and was well-suited for Myka.

             The story takes us on a camping trip with Mr.Magee and his little dog, Dee, that ends up not going quite as planned! Complete with a bear who can't see very well and has a sweet tooth, you, your kids, or both of you are sure to get a giggle out of this book. I enjoyed the rhythm and rhyme to this story as well. And, it wasn't too long or wordy for Myka and she seemed to enjoy it as well...Especially since we are planning on going camping as a family for the first time this year and she's very excited about it!

 Indoor camping. Good time. ;)

             Since marshmallows are a big part of our book and the fact that it's just not camping without a campfire, I thought it would be fun to make an edible "craft" this month! This would be great for camping (of course), a backyard firepit, when your kids have friends over, or, like we did, when it's too crummy to do any of that fun stuff outside, so you pretend camp indoors! Plus, if you added some graham crackers in for some "sticks" or something, you would have everything you need to make smores!
             I hope you enjoy this. Let me know what you think in the comments. :)
             P.s. Not responsible for sugar comas. ;)

Recommended for: Kids of all ages!

What You'll Need:

-a plate
-cow tales
-Reese's pieces
-Kit-Kat bars
-chocolate bars

*Make a teepee out of some Kit-Kat bars.

*Make a “fire ring” out of your chocolate bars.

*Carefully disperse your Reese's pieces as “fire”.

*Push some marshmallows onto your “roasting sticks” (aka cow tales).

*Enjoy your treats!

Check out what the other bloggers have come up with below:

This Is How We Roll Thursday Party

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Fishing Fun & More at Shakamak State Park!

             Hey folks! Before I jump in to today's post, you may have noticed I decided to just start a series of sorts with all of my state park visit posts. I can't promise I'll have a “Travelin' Tuesdays” post every week, but from here on out whenever I have a state park, camping, road trip post, etc., that's when you can expect them!
             I'm really excited about today's post. Not that I haven't enjoyed all of the other state parks we've visited so far, but, in a nutshell, I have nothing but good things to say about Shakamak State Park! The funny thing is, I had never even heard of it until I was looking up a list of all the state parks in Indiana. Why is that funny? Because, other than McCormick's Creek, which is only about 15 minutes away, it is the closest to us at 38 minutes! Given, we've only lived down here not quite 2 years, but still. You would think we would know about another park that close!
             I read online that Shakamak is known for its fishing with THREE man-made lakes. So, I've been putting off going there for a month or two because I wasn't sure they would have much else to keep us entertained and, if I remember right, the nature center is open seasonally, so figured it probably wasn't open yet. As it turned out, the nature center WASN'T open, but...They were replacing the roof. So who knows whether that was the only reason.
             As for the fishing, well, let's just say we were having such good luck the first evening that we decided to go back again the next day! But, before I start getting into too much detail about our excursions, let's let the pictures do some of the talking. ;)

             Since the nature center was closed, we started off by checking this nice fishing pier out. We didn't actually end up fishing from it since it had no shade at all...And the guys we talked to out there said they hadn't had much luck.

             After that we drove to a picnic area/shelter on the next lake (Lenape) and ate lunch, then went for a walk down part of trail 3. There were lots of bridges and a fair amount of stairs!
             When we got back from our walk, we tried some fishing at the dock there without much luck. We drove to the campground after that and tried the dock out there with no luck either. (Unless you count snake sighting. Blegh!) BUT, it was mid-afternoon, to be fair.

             We then took the long way around the big Kickapoo lake. I wish I had gotten it on video. It was a pretty drive with the way the trees were hanging over the road. We didn't do any fishing on that lake, but ended up back on Lake Shakamak on the boat rental dock and that's where the real magic happened. ;)

             We ended up catching a lot of crappie. (I actually caught the most the second day!) John somehow managed to catch a single bass. No one else caught any, which I thought was kind of strange. But, even Myka caught a fish! We ended up staying way later than we probably should have, but it was well worth it.

             Mini monster doesn't look very amused here, but she actually did really well! Surprisingly well! I still need to remember to bring more toys next time.

             The next day started off with some time at the playground for the kiddies. Then we went for a short stroll down parts of paths 1 and 2. It was time for lunch after that at a different shelter than the day before because why not? Plus, it was close to a restroom. Their actual restrooms (not those silly outhouse things) were very clean! I was impressed. I love me a good, clean restroom that has actual toilets and not holes in the ground!
             Since we had such good luck the day before, we decided to go back to the same dock on Lake Shakamak with the boat rentals. We didn't catch nearly as many, but altogether we had a good amount for a nice fish fry. :) Oh. And I don't really have any experience with fish cleaning stations, but the ones at Shakamak seemed nice. There were kind of like a little cabin with screen windows, cutting board surfaces, garbage disposal, one of those big sprayers like you find in kitchens at restaurants, big drainage trench, etc. I guess I should have gotten some pictures, huh?

             We will definitely be going back. There is plenty to do and keep everyone busy and all of the facilities seemed well-kept. We're probably going to have to rent one of those paddle boats next time because Myka was obsessed with them. (I used to be too as a kid. It's about the only kind of boat I like.) Unfortunately, a storm was rolling in the second day, so I didn't want to chance it!

             Sorry for the lengthy post! Join me again next week for our adventure to Clifty Falls State Park!
This Is How We Roll Thursday Party

Monday, May 22, 2017

Add "The Fifteenth of June" to Your Summer Reading List! (Review)

            Hey folks! With relaxing pool or beach side season upon us, it's time to be adding some books to your summer reading list! This debut novel from author Brent Jones is the perfect title to add to it. Here is The Fifteenth of June in a nutshell:

Twenty-eight-year-old Drew Thomson is haunted by a troubled past. After struggling for years with alcoholism and antisocial behavior, he ends a stable relationship with his girlfriend and finds himself without a home, job, or purpose.

Just as he learns that his father is terminally ill, he meets a stranger who offers him a flicker of hope for a better future. But is he ready to bury the past?

Rich with dark humor and a keen insight into the human condition, this debut fictional release from author Brent Jones delves into life’s most pressing trials—destructive relationships, love, loss, and pursuing happiness.
             I tend to stick to the same genres when it comes to reading for pleasure and this story does not fit any of them so, admittedly, I wasn't sure whether I would like this book or not. I quickly found the story and main character sucking me in, though. I actually had a hard time “putting it down” and was disappointed and irritated the days I just didn't have the time or energy to read any at the end of the day.
             I feel like I have a pretty twisted and dark sense of humor myself, so The Fifteenth of June was right up my alley. Who doesn't love a good story that can make you laugh out loud at parts, right? Being a “family-friendly” blog, I feel like I should mention that there is crude and foul language in this book as well as drug and alcohol references. The latter two actually end up being an integral part of the story, but I felt I should warn those of you who do not like reading about such things.
             While not an alcoholic and definitely not a drug addict, I felt like I could really relate to the main character, Drew. We're roughly the same age and I'll admit I've been known to drink too much back in the day. Being an introvert, I definitely have some anti-social tendencies, so that aspect of his character was relatable to me in a big way as well. You can see why it was easy for me to get attached to this story right away!
             Even if you might not personally identify much with Drew's characteristics, I'm sure we've all experienced his insights and outlooks on life at one point in our lives or another. Wanting to just be left alone, wanting to find happiness and be happy, and wanting to change your path in life for the better, but not really knowing where to begin are all major themes of this novel. 

             If you're looking for an easy, yet entertaining and introspective read, I highly recommend The Fifteenth of June. You can find it on Amazon or, if you're still not quite sure whether you would like it or not, you can get the first two chapters to sample for free on Brent's website. You can stay up-to-date with him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
This Is How We Roll Thursday Party

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Afternoon Exploration at Lieber & Cataract Falls SRAs

             Hey folks! Have I mentioned my husband and in-laws love mushroom hunting? I'm guessing a lot of you might be too, so we all know this is the perfect time of year for finding morels. (So I've heard.) I could care less about mushrooms because I think they're disgusting, but I love any excuse to go walking in the woods! We recently went “mushrooming” at Lieber SRA and Cataract Falls SRA, so, even though they are not state parks, I thought I would share some pictures from them in this week's “travel post” anyways. They are definitely worth visiting as well!

             Communication is not exactly my husband and his family's strong point, so I will admit I was disappointed (read: pissed off) when, on the way, I found out we were going here instead of Cataract Falls like I thought. I didn't really have a good time when I went with them last year because I couldn't really fish with the kids being the age they were at the time, there were no trails where we went (that I know of, at the dam), and there were a ton of people over by the playground having a get-together or something. Anyways...
             We ended up going to the actual SRA this time and walked down an old access road. It was beautiful out that day, so I went a little overboard with pictures. It was a much more pleasant experience this time. The kids also got to play on a different playground for a little bit before we took a walk. Oh. And in case you're wondering, no, they didn't find any mushrooms.

             I love this place. Who doesn't love waterfalls, right? I'm not sure why we don't go more often. It's only about 20/25 minutes away. (Lieber/Cagles Mill Dam is only about 10/15 minutes from Cataract Falls, in case you're wondering. You can totally make both in a day!) I meant to go last fall and never got around to it, for some reason (Life, amiright?) because I'm sure it's extra awesome with all of the leaves changing colors!
             We did the “usuals” here: Checked out the upper falls, attempted to go on a trail we've never been on (We had to turn around. It was too steep and the kids were with us, of course!), walked over the covered bridge, checked out the lower falls, and walked the path between it and the picnic area.

             I didn't really include much about any amenities, so if you have any particular questions, you can either visit each place's website by clicking their names above or ask me in the comments below! What is your favorite lake or waterfall to visit?

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Thinking Outside The Pot