Adios, Michigan. Sayonara, Snow.

wpid-20131230_101440.jpgAfter two days of packing, cleaning, and loading the truck, we finally hit the road this morning. Destination: Mounds State Park near Anderson, IN. We choose this spot for its not-too-distant location from Grand Rapids, not wanting to get too confident about our ability to actually not the road at a reasonable hour. We actually left the house just 45 minutes past our loose schedule. Not bad.  We waved goodbye to the snow.

Indiana is F-l-a-t. Relatively uninteresting at this time of year. To make miles speed by, we listened to a David Sedaris audio book Dress Your Family in Courderoy and Denim. He is hilarious and has such a curious voice – imitating his father’s and brother’s Southern accents to such an exaggerated degree that we were totally entertained for the entire drive. So good, in fact, that I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s drive to Nashville.

We decided to make a bbq stop in lieu of making dinner in camp. Bird’s BBQ in Anderson fit the bill perfectly (except for not having beer). Delectable baby back ribs, a shared baked potato, and spicy baked beans hit the spot after a long day in the truck. Would like a return trip to try other items but that’s certainly not going to happen for breakfast tomorrow.

Took a long hike with Jezzy once we got set up here. wpid-20131230_161142.jpgViewed the Circle Mound, which is actually a horseshoe shape, which aligns with the sun on spring and fall solstice days. This mound was apparently completed around 250 AD. Tomorrow, we will investigate the Great Mound before taking off for Tennessee.

We’re plugged in to electric power, and have the temp near 50 inside the Fireball. Add hot coffee, a chilled porter, fleece pants, and we’re all snugged in for the night. No water, but that’s OK for a day.

Day 1. In the books!

One quick note. We spent yesterday at John’s sister’s house. She has a one-legged turkey that has been hanging around her bird feeder for a week or so. He was pretty skinny to start with, but she’s fattened him up quite a bit. Mostly hops on one foot, with a few very painful-looking, one-footed steps in-between. She says he’s markedly better in the last week. This is a pretty poor shot, through a window and a fair distance from the feeder, but you can see how large his right leg is near the foot..wpid-20131229_144033.jpg He was feisty enough to give a squirrel that was trying to chase him away from the feeder, the business!  Hope this poor guy makes it. He’s lucky to have his Aunt Phyllis looking out for him.

Utopia?

Utopia probably conjures up different thought to different people. To us, it was being welcomed into the warm, beautiful home of Don and John R in Evansville.  Everything in Evansville is in full spring bloom – their yard is bursting with azaleas, dogwood, and early spring flowers.  The trees are in their most brilliant, varied green hues – a splash of color against elegant brick and stone homes.  It’s great to have someone else to share stories with.

We decided to try a new ‘small-plate’ restaurant in nearby Henderson, KY called Commonwealth Bistro.  What a wonderful dinner.  John C took charge of ordering plates of food that we all shared, and it just kept on coming.

Appetizers of spicy spring rolls and flatbread hummus, followed by scallops, the most amazing Brussels sprouts, pig wings (meaty little shanks with a mustard-y sauce), porcini mushroom ravioli, sea scallops with chipotle sauce (awesome), and seared skirt steak.  Some we liked more than others, but all were tasty and beautifully served.  If you’re a foodie, check out the photos below.  Oh man, what a feast.

Sunday afternoon, we decided to check out another Utopia, the community of New Harmony. The original settlement failed in 1824, after 10 years, and was purchased by Robert Owen with the intention of establishing a utopian community.

Original structures remain standing in New Harmony

Original structures remain standing in New Harmony

This experiment apparently lasted only a few years as well.  Some of the original structures from the original settlement have survived.  They’ve been augmented by homes from the last 200 years, all which blend harmoniously in this small village, which also includes a small hotel and conference center.  It’s peaceful and gorgeous.  We wandered around in the labyrinth and the Roofless Church.

The Roofless Church

The Roofless Church

The gardens at the Church are peaceful

The gardens at the Church are peaceful

The Wabash River is still rising alarmingly in that area.  A hovercraft glided from the river right up on to the main street, a sight probably not seen every day.

Never seen a hovercraft before.  This guy looked like he was having fun.

Never seen a hovercraft before. This guy looked like he was having fun.

We headed home Monday.  Sad that our first retirement odyssey has ended, but somewhat anxious to get back to our own home & friends.  On the way back to Michigan, we note that we have run ahead of spring – the trees here in Michigan have not yet leafed out, and there are few daffodils and tulips to be seen.  But, we will get to enjoy the blossoming of Spring as it happens here.  Perhaps, that’s our own Utopia.