Saturday, September 26, 2015

We're in Illinois

We are at Eldon Hazlet State Park in Carlyle, Illinois.  From the back window of our rig we have a wonderful view of Carlyle Lake, the big deal here at the park. The lake is huge; in fact, the campground brochure says at 26,000 acres it's the largest man-made lake in the state. We got here yesterday afternoon and plan to kayak, hike, and watch football. 

Backing up a bit: We left my Mom's (thanks, again Mom!) on Monday and made a quick overnight stop at Buck Creek State Park in Springfield, Ohio. Springfield is where 4-H clubs started. I also read that in 2011 Springfield was named "the unhappiest city in America" by a Gallup poll that used some sort of formula including exercise, asthma, and smoking. Whatever. The campground was nice.

From there we went to Leiber State Recreation Area near tiny Cloverdale, Indiana, a town of what seemed like a hundred Protestant churches. And only one liquor store, as Jim observed. I'd called the campground to see if they had any camping spots available. The man who answered the phone laughed a bit and said "We've got plenty."  And how. Leiber has over 200 camping spaces and we were one of four campers, including the camp host. By Friday morning a handful more had arrived for the weekend. Until then it was mostly us, some very fat wood chucks, and a woodpecker who sounded like he was pecking on a tom-tom drum. Plus the raccoon you'll see below.

At Leiber we kayaked, walked around the park, and made a side trip to Terre Haute. Terre Haute is the home of Indiana State University, the alma mater of Larry Bird, and is where John Wooden coached before he went to UCLA.  It's also home to the Hulman family who emigrated to Terre Haute from Germany in the early 1800s. The Human's sold baking products including what became known as "Clabber Girl" baking soda.They later bought the Indianapolis Speedway, which the family still owns today.
Jim looking at a Halloween mobile at Buck Creek State Park in Springfield Ohio.  Ohio must have a Halloween Decoration Fund, because Buck Creek and the state park near my Mom's house (Findley) were decorated to the hilt.
Our lonely campsite at Leiber State Recreation Area in Cloverdale, Indiana. The big draw to the park is the reservoir called Cagles Mill Lake, created when the Army Corps of Engineers built a dam in 1953. 
Cooper was outside with his dinner when the guy above and his friend slowly approached, hoping for a snack. Jim hollered at them. Instead running away, they went straight up -- where they stayed until Jim took Cooper for a long walk. 

A Leiber State Recreation Area heron.  These awkward-looking, graceful-flying birds are everywhere. Leiber SRA is named for Richard Leiber, the father of Indiana state parks. In 1916 Leiber encouraged Indiana's governor to create a state parks committee.  Leiber chaired the group and began buying land with private funds (including money from the Clabber Girl folks).
Jim saw a "no wake" buoy at the edge of the Leiber SRA's Cagles Mill Lake (named for a local grist mill that burned down) and towed it back where it belonged.  He said it was heavier than it looked.
Cataract Falls, a series of cascades with the largest one being about 20 feet high, is at the north section of Leiber.  Jim saw a sign that called it "Indiana's Niagara."
A covered pedestrian bridge crosses the Eel River near Cataract Falls at Leiber SRA.  Built in 1876, it features a special truss that was more similar to future metal bridge frames than wooden ones at the time. Built in Toledo, Ohio, it was disassembled, transported, and rebuilt at its current location. The bridge carried buggy and vehicle traffic over the river until a nearby concrete bridge was built in 1988.
In Terre Haute we visited the Clabber Girl museum, which included a section of the Hulman family's original Terre Haute mansion, and a display of some of the products Hulman and Company produced.  Hulman  introduced Clabber Girl baking powder in 1899 and bought the Indianapolis Speedway in 1945. You see the Hulman name all over Terre Haute:  the local airport, a golf course, buildings at Indiana State and more carry that name.
Two Terre Haute buildings:  The Vigo County Courthouse and St. Benedict's Catholic Church.  Terre Haute is on the Wabash River on the border of Indiana and Illinois.  Terra Haute means "highland," which probably refers to city's position above the river.

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