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If I had a redo day, this would be it.  I’m not going to complain since Scout is doing well, and I’m unemployed and homeless, but I have to say all my mishaps resulted in a frustrating day.  I began the morning in the park where I camped last night.  The park is almost 16,000 acres and the largest in Indiana.  It had three separate entrances…the southern one was specifically for horse campers.  The entrance I came through had a covered bridge.  I drove for miles within the park.  It was quite nice.  As I said yesterday, I finally had cell service, so I opted to go caching to make up for lost time in Missouri and Illinois.  The geocaching website showed 5 caches around Ogle Lake.  After reviewing the trail map, I opted for trail #7, the Ogle Lake Trail.  The first cache, which I found, ended up being on the upper ridge and I had to climb up a steep, slick incline to get to it.  I tried with the dogs, to no avail, so I tied them to a tree, ran up there, signed the log, and ran back.  In the process, I rolled my ankle, but it seemed fine.  We proceeded along the 1.2 mile loop to the area where the next cache was supposed to be.  It was on trail #4, 500 feet from trail #7 in a hollow tree.  I searched and searched and then decided to reference the logs as the logs state if other cachers found it or not.  At least 4 in a row didn’t find it, but the last person said he did.  Huh, well I looked in every hollow tree in the vicinity, it was getting hot, and the dogs were going to need water soon, so I aborted the search…there were a handful more in the area, or so I

Ogle Lake

thought.  Anytime I got near one, the GPS always showed them hidden up on the ridge, thus virtually none of the caches were on trail #7.  Ok, so if that is the worst part of your day…not so bad…there were other places in the park.

As I drove toward the exit, I navigated to a cache at a scenic overlook…number two found!  I really wanted to find three (one each for my failures in Illinois and Missouri and one for Indiana).  So as I continued toward the exit, there was another one hidden on trail #8.  It was only 0.2 miles away.  The dogs just had a long hike, so I thought I would just leave them in the car and jog down the path…I haven’t gotten much aerobic exercise aside from slow paced strolls.  At about 450 feet away, I stepped on a root, heard a

Scenic Overlook

pop-pop-pop, and felt a searing pain in my ankle…yes a severe sprain, and I’m 0.2 miles from the car with my dogs locked inside.  It’s amazing what adrenaline can do.  After a few seconds of hobbling around, the pain dissipated and I returned to the mutts promptly.  The best thing to do for an ankle sprain is to leave the shoe on, apply ice, take ibuprofen, and prop it up above your heart.  My best solution was a cooler pack that I had in the refrigerator – not exactly as cold as ice, but still cold.  I had to briefly remove my shoe to wrap the cooler pack on my ankle so it would stay on while I was driving…OUCH…the throbbing kicked in!  Of course, I had every type of medicine you can imagine, except Advil.

My next stop was supposed to be Nashville, Indiana because I wanted to try the Nashville House’s famous fried biscuits.  I thought it would be a nice change of pace from hiking and history, and it was time to test the local flavor.  Outside of my free fish dinner, I haven’t ventured out to the local restaurants which I really like to do.  For some reason, however, I got it into my mind that I was supposed to try fried biscuits in Ohio tomorrow, so I didn’t even stop in Nashville because the town didn’t look that historic.  I didn’t figure out that I missed out on my chance until I was almost to Chillicothe, OH, so there was no turning back.

I skipped Nashville to go to the T.C. Steele State Historic Site.  T.C. Steele was a painter, who was inspired by the local scenery and the barn at his home site, which Steele used as a studio, displayed his paintings.  At this point, my ankle felt like it was on fire, so I just took a picture of the barn, limped back to the car, and took The Reader’s Digest’s suggested route to Bloomington, home of Indiana University.  I’m not sure why I really kept going that direction, because I didn’t intend on touring the campus looking for the Auditorium Hall of Murals or the Art Museum which display works by Picasso, Rodin, and Warhol.  And while I think it would be fun to watch the Little 500, a bicycle race at the University, it doesn’t take place until April!  After driving around the town, I typed Chillicothe, OH into my GPS.  It promptly led me to a dead end into the campus, so I drove farther away from the University area and tried again.  Before backtracking right past Nashville again, I picked up some long overdue Aleve, an ACE bandage, and a McDonald’s burger for Scout.  I find it doubly annoying that not only did I have to backtrack (I don’t like that), I unknowingly had a second chance to try the fried biscuits!!

Chillicothe was about four hours away…cool, I could drive just past there to Hocking Hills State Park and pull in around 6:30 or so.  Mind you, my friend Page had two people lined up for me in Cincinnati, but I decided it would be best for me to get farther on my route because the next two days I have to cover a lot of ground.  It was time for David Baldacchi’s First Family books on tape.  I listened to the first disc, but then needed to concentrate on where I was going.  The GPS wanted to take me a different way to Hocking Hills State Park which bypassed Chillicothe, and I wanted to at least drive through the town if I wasn’t going to stop .  On the way to Chillicothe, I passed the first Dental School in America and Margie’s Crafts (I don’t think my Margie would have liked them).  According to Reader’s Digest, Chillicothe is the Shawnee Indian word meaning town.  It was the first capital of the Northwest Territory and in 1803, the capital of Ohio.  The town was smaller than I expected and was home to several historic buildings.  I was glad I rerouted my GPS up until I got to the road construction…a long delay.  I kept thinking, what are you getting so uptight over…you just have to get to camp and you know the reservations line confirmed 70 sites available.

I guess I could feel the ACE bandage tightening, and I wanted to get my ankle up with some more “ice”.  Furthermore, I had reached for my point and shoot camera to take a picture of the Ohio State Line Sign and noticed it wasn’t around.  When I stopped for gas, I still couldn’t find it.  For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out where I would have left it.  I looked under every seat, under the dog beds, in the seat pockets.  I was only going to have one picture to post from my good camera.  Not only would I have lost my pictures, it would have been the 3rd time something had happened to this model camera.  I was beginning to think it was jinxed, and I was irritated with myself for being stupid once again (I lost one and waterlogged another).  Furthermore, it is much easier to have on the trails than my good camera, and I have to buy it used because technology has improved with newer models that don’t fit in my underwater camera case, thus it is harder and harder to find and more expensive than a new model (but the case is more expensive than the camera and cases for the new models tend to be designed a year behind).  If that wasn’t a run on sentence, I don’t know what was!

So, it’s getting late, I’ve driven for four hours, I’m in traffic in the middle of nowhere, I have a sprained ankle, I missed the fried biscuits, and I’ve lost my camera.  I was starting to get frustrated and to add fuel to the fire I got lost!  Now it is dark and a black cat crosses my path.  My GPS wants to take me all over these back roads with no lights.  The map shows the same route, but there isn’t a sign the Hocking Hills State Park anywhere!  There are signs to places in the park, but not a park entrance to the campgrounds.  After circling around and backtracking I don’t know how many times, I found a convenience store and the lady there confirmed it was just a mile away…FINALLY.  So the fee station is generally closed at night, so the procedure is to pull in, pick a spot, and pay in the morning.  Lucky for me, I found a ranger near the entrance, and he gave me a map.  He said, if I didn’t have a reservation that I could only pick from the 12 or so “walk in” spots.  Since reservations said there were so many spots available, I didn’t make a reservation because I wanted to be able to look at the locations before I picked one.  At this point, however, I didn’t really care how many choices I had, as long as there was one (and hopefully near the bathroom because I didn’t want to walk far on my ankle).  I get all set up, go look for the water pump which I can’t find, and then realize the bathrooms don’t even have running water…nice…no flush toilets, no showers for the “walk ins”.  The shower house is in the reserved area.  Furthermore, my electric didn’t work and my camera was still missing…UGH…and it was all in the dark.  With my headlamp attached, I went to work, and I am happy to say, everything is in working order…electric on…and camera found – hiding between the back seat and the storage cabinet.  I think I set it on the back seat when I was wrapping my ankle, and it must have slid to the side.  I’m very relieved now, but as you can tell from the number of pictures and the story, I didn’t do a whole lot of sightseeing.  I did manage, while I was lost, to stop, take a deepbreath, and snap a picture of the moon because it was pink from the sunset.  It was so cool.  Now, after having cell service virtually all day, none is available on the campgrounds!  Maybe I should have stayed in Cincinnati!

Websites: www.dnr.state.oh.us/parks/hocking/tabid/743/default.aspx, www.tcsteele.org, www.browncountyinn.com/content/nashville-house-restaurant, http://www.notablenotecards.com, http://www.etsy.com/shop/nichenotecards

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