Three-Day Spring Break at McCormick’s Creek

Spring break started with a sunny 50 degrees on Friday, March 23. Saturday we got ice followed by 6 inches of snow. Sunday we drove down to McCormick’s Creek State Park in Spencer, Indiana, where they also had snow, but significantly less than we had.

We had reservations for two nights at the Canyon Inn so ROC could sit in front of the fireplace and read while SAC and I hiked.

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Sunday afternoon we struck out on a short hike to the old Statehouse Quarry, then drove to Bloomington for dinner at Big Woods Brewery. They make some amazing burgers, and SAC enjoyed her Six Foot Blonde American blonde ale.

Monday we started with breakfast with the birds at the inn restaurant. Then SAC and I started out the first of our hikes for the day. We drove to the nature center and hiked Trail 8 (paved) until it connected with Trail 5 to Wolf Cave and Twin Bridges.

We saw lots of cold wildflowers, including these bloodroots…

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…and some harbinger of spring.

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The thrilling moment of that hike was when I spotted a Barred Owl fly to a roost. SAC managed some shots of it, even though it was pretty far away. Then it swooped silently off. We had been hearing an owl earlier, so it was nice to see it too.

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We checked in on ROC and then headed back out on Trail 3. The creek was up and there was a hiker with an off-leash dog, so we turned around and went to the other end of Trail 3 before deciding we didn’t want to climb that many stairs, anyway!

We headed back to the Wolf Cave parking lot to pick up Trail 7. We hiked all of that and got rather muddy in the bottoms along the White River. The upper portions of that trail were carpeted with snow trilliums!

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Then it was time for a late picnic lunch in the lounge, followed by Trail 9, which goes through the historic Peden Farm Site, where limestone foundations show the large barn and small house, and the springhouse has been restored.

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After that we limped back to the inn for a late dinner at the restaurant, followed by reading and writing in the lounge (until it got too loud). The rain moved in while we were in the lounge.

The next day it was still raining, so we took a leisurely drive home. A short spring break but a fun one!

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Great Backyard Bird Count 2018

On the second day of Great Backyard Bird Count we were surprised to see our first American Robin of the year!

robin

The American Robin seemed surprised too…

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Maybe he thought it was supposed to be spring since on Tuesday we had hit a state-record high temperature of 77!

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Are you moving in?

We’ve had screech owls living in one of our oak trees as long as we’ve lived here. They usually nest in this hole.

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A few years ago we built and posted a kestrel box and an owl box. The owl box is just below this hole, but they’ve never shown any inclination to move in.

The other day while I was doing dishes, I looked out the window and saw this:

Screech Owl in Box

Hopefully, he’s moving in to stay!

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Walking in the Snow

Daughter and I walked to the creek at dusk during the snowfall on December 29th.

It left six inches but what a magical walk!

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Finding the Limberlost

I have long known of Gene Stratton-Porter and her amazing life as naturalist and writer. We have visited her home sites several times over the years. During the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum’s Golden age of Literature Exhibit in 2016, I became involved in their book club. One of the books we read was Girl of the Limberlost.

I determined to try to read all her books. I purchased her Moths of the Limberlost at her Rome City home and enjoyed it greatly! She alternated between writing nature books and writing novels, many of them set in Indiana and featuring the landscape she loved. Most of her books can be found and read online or downloaded to an e-reader for free due to being out of copyright. I spent hours devouring them and being transported to another time and place.

At some point, I discovered the Limberlost blog and found that they have a Rent-A-Naturalist option! I asked my husband and daughter if they would arrange a hike for my birthday. We had a commitment at the ACPL Author Fair in Fort Wayne the day before (which was my actual birthday) so it wouldn’t be too far out of the way to come home that way.

We left our Fort Wayne hotel by walking across a parking lot very slick with sleet! Ugh! Not very inviting hiking weather, but we had hiked in inclement weather before.

We drove towards Geneva with a slight detour to see the Deam Oak. I had seen this as a child and wanted them to see it. The sleet and rain had stopped and at one point the temperature went up to 48 degrees. Maybe the weather would cooperate!

Deam OakWhen the State Historic Site opened at 1 PM, the drizzle started again. Oh, well!

Loblolly signAs we talked with Curt Burnette, our naturalist, we devised a loose plan because of the rain. We drove in our own cars, both with walkie-talkies and he explained various sites as we drove, stopping and walking a little at some of them. He has done an amazing job of researching Gene’s books and writing down clues of various locations in her books and then locating them on the early maps of the region.

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The remains of the school where Elnora (the “Girl of the Limberlost”) might have attended classes

We saw bald eagles, a great blue heron sitting on a beaver dam, cardinals, sparrows, kestrels, blue jays, and a flicker.

Eagle at Loblolly Marsh

Curt talked about different mammals, amphibians, and birds that can be seen at other times of the year.

We had a wonderful time and didn’t get too wet or cold even though we walked for a while at one time after the temperature had dropped again. We are determined to return in spring and early fall to enjoy more nature and hiking at this amazing site.

 

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It’s hard to tell, but the heron is standing on top of a beaver dam!

 

I encourage anyone who enjoys Gene Stratton-Porter’s books to engage this knowledgeable guide for a few hours – money well spent! It gives a very different feel to her books now and I’m anxious to read the few of hers that I have not yet read.

 

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Lemons to Lemonade – November 27, 2017

So today we decided to go hiking at Shades State Park. Our first stop was the post office. SAC had a huge Etsy mailing for her Redhead Paper shop that needed to go out today. Without going into a long explanation, it took forever and it cost more to mail than she had envisioned and her business card wouldn’t work there! Oh, well. Live and learn.

Second stop was grabbing a lunch to go. SAC forgot to order a large iced tea. No biggie. We had water.

Finally got to Shades. Closed due to deer reduction hunting. “But you can go to Turkey Run.”

No!

Turkey Run is beautiful and all that, but we don’t go there unless it is out of season. It’s way too crowded otherwise. We decided to go somewhere else, but Turkey Run was on the way, so we stopped in to use the facilities. It turned out the parking lot wasn’t very crowded at all, so SAC suggested we hike to Camel’s Back.

It was another beautiful day – almost 60 degrees and sunny. We walked out Trail 10 and back Trail 3. We always try to stop and take a deep breath to clear away all our troubles and concentrate on the beauty of Creation.

What a beautiful late fall day! Just enjoying the crunching leaves – no sneaking up on birds right now!!!

We saw the usual goldfinch and titmice, nuthatches and chickadees. We also saw both black vultures and a turkey vulture.

Woodpeckers were the birds of the day – Red-Bellied, Hairy, and lots of Red-Headed woodpeckers. We were stumped for a while on a noise coming from all around us. I had almost decided it was a blue jay or squirrel, but it was multiple Red-Headed Woodpeckers – more than I had seen and heard in a long time.2017-11-27 14.30.42

We peeled off our long-sleeved shirts and were walking in t-shirts until we got to the canyon part of the trail. Just an FYI – don’t hike Trail 3 backwards! It’s very awkward to go down the narrow steps carved out of the canyon walls!

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It’s amazing how much the temperature can vary in the ravines at Turkey Run and Shades. The carved handholds along the rock cliffs in Rocky Hollow made me wish I had gloves on and the water in the creek that I washed my muddy hands in was frigid! We could even see our breath!

As we drove back by a McDonald’s, we ordered an ice cream cone and a mocha frappe. We got the ice cream in a bowl with the cone on top and a chocolate chip something or other instead.

All in all, it was a gorgeous day where we were able to make lemonade out of all the lemons the day had tried to shove our way!

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Crazy Weather!

A long spell of unusually warm weather with temps in the 60s has really changed up when we see things. Stephanie was going to the mailbox and spotted this garter snake on the gravel drive.

snake

 

I went to the mailbox on November 22nd and saw that the forsythia bush was blooming. It was still blooming on November 29th.

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Doing yard work on November 4th, I noticed that one of our apple trees was blossoming! This doesn’t bode well for next year’s crop

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#OptOutside or Hike Friday

Shades State Park- This is how I enjoyed the day after Thanksgiving!!!

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Happy Thanksgiving

Today as we gather with family and friends today, let us remember the bountiful blessings God has given us. Let us share those blessings with others throughout the whole year.

I saw this flock on my way home from work a week or two ago. They brought traffic to a stop on the local state highway!

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Huge Fungus

My husband was mowing a couple weeks ago and found this huge fungus under the Spruce windbreak. You can see how big it was.

I don’t know many fungi names, but I enjoy seeing them. It has been a good year for them due to the amount of rain we’ve had!

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