...at Brown County State Park when it's been raining and trails are muddy unless you are experienced. I'll tell you why later...
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A month and a half ago, in May, my husband took me to a quaint little log cabin on Greasy Creek Road in Nashville, IN. It was our 14th wedding anniversary. We had 3 glorious days with no children! What to do? What to do?
The first day we drove into Nashville. We found out it's not a place to drive around. You must park and walk. Parking in a lot will cost you $3.00. We were lucky enough to stumble across a free space on the side of the road. The specialty shops are endless. One after another. There are several art galleries, including a Thomas Kinkade Museum. You can ride a horse carriage around town. There are several antique and garden shops. It's really quite nice. Of course, everything is expensive. After a few hours of that, we were ready to go back to the cabin for a nice relaxing evening alone. Then it was Saturday. What to do? What to do?
Brown County State Park is only about 2 miles from downtown Nashville. We had been informed there was a neat old covered bridge at the entrance to the park. I wanted to see it. You can see a picture of this bridge at the Brown County State Park Website, which is http://www.browncountystatepark.com/. That's exactly the bridge we saw and that's the north entrance to the park.
It did cost us a few dollars to get into the park. I can't remember exactly how much, but I know we paid a higher price because our vehicle was out of state. The ranger who greeted us was very nice and friendly. He gave us a map and told us there were over 30 miles of roads. We checked our gas gauge. Whew! We had enough.
BCSP is the largest park in the State of Indiana. It has 15,696 acres. It's just unreal how big this place is. Right inside, in a big field to the right, there was a car show going on that day. Hundreds of Ford Mustangs to see. I'm not a car fan, but it was neat. Then we drove past the Olympic size swimming pool. Nice.
The first place we stopped was the Saddle Barn to check out the horseback riding. For ages 8 and up it was about $8.50/person for the short trail. The short trail was 2.2 miles long and took 40 minutes. The long trail was 3.3 miles long and took 1 hour for about $10.50/person. (I use the word "about" because we couldn't remember the exact price.) It was rainy and chilly and had rained the night before. I could wait. Besides, I had never ridden a horse before in my entire life. It wasn't going to hurt me to wait a little longer. Pony rides were available for kids under 8. The parents have to put their kids on the ponies and walk them around the ring. They also had hayrides through the park at certain times.
We drove on down the road and saw lots of pull off picnic areas, shelter houses and beautiful views. It's quite mountainous in Brown County. I felt like I was in Tennessee.
We passed a Fire Tower that you can climb and look out over the countryside. Saw some more picnic areas, and even some ballfields. On down the road a ways we came upon a lake. Strahl Lake is 7 acres. You couldn't see it from the road or parking area. Walking trails led back to it. No boats are allowed on this little lake, only fishing from the bank. We saw several hikers and backpackers. BCSP has several walking and hiking trails marked on the map. There are 12 miles of easy, moderate and rugged trails anywhere from 1 to 3 miles long.
Next, we saw the Horsemen's Campground. We weren't allowed to enter. It's a private campground for horse people. They take their horses, camp, and ride the trails.
OK, now we're at the South end of the park. The covered bridge entrance is clear to the north. Around some curves and up some hills, ride the brakes down, and we headed on down the road. Saw some beautiful scenery. Whoops! There went a wild turkey across the road!
We passed several campgrounds - Taylor Ridge Campground, Raccoon Ridge Campground, Buffalo Ridge Campground, and Rally Campground. We stopped in one of the camp stores to get a snack and a drink. They had lots of neat souveneirs too.
There is a Nature Center that we went into, next. There were stuffed specimens in there of all the types of wild animals and birds you could see in the park. Lots of squirrels, foxes, turkeys, raccoons, snakes, and owls.
We headed on around the road to Ogle Lake. This lake is much bigger at 17 acres. We got out and hiked about a third of the way around it. People were fishing in little row boats. Then it was lunchtime. It's not hard to find a picnic table in BCSP. We ate lunch and decided we were definitely going to go horseback riding. On the way we passed several more lookout towers and lookout points. We found a road that went back into the area where the Family Cabins and the Abe Martin Lodge and Cabins were. The Family Cabins are log cabins you can rent. They have 2 bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, a bathroom and they sleep 8. Very nice.
Did you know Abe Martin was not a real person? He was a character in a cartoon strip. The artist lived in Nashville, IN. The lodge is named after Abe Martin, the character, and each of the other cabins is named after a different character in that cartoon strip.
To the Saddle Barn. We paid our money and waited only about 15 minutes to saddle up. We lucked out and only had 4 people in our group, plus the guide. Up we go, into the saddle. OK. This isn't so bad. I was last in line, bringing up the rear behind my husband. He looked like he was sitting crooked in the saddle. He was. Did I mention that he'd never been on a horse before either? We had an absolute ball! But...about 10 minutes into the ride, I'd had enough. You know that inner part of your thigh that gets sore? My inner thigh felt like I'd been on that horse 10 days instead of only 10 minutes. Not to mention the fact that I have a disintegrated disc in my lower back.
These horses kept wanting to stop and bend down and eat the grass. A couple times they turned sideways on us. Then the guide said, "Gallop."
What?! OK. I galloped. "Don't ask me to do that again!" I yelled back at him. Pretty soon I hollered, "Who's had enough?" And the girl in the other couple raised her hand with me. The trail was muddy. OH! And did I mention this park was MOUNTAINOUS? That means the trails go UP and the trails go DOWN. The guide told us to push our feet clear forward and "LAY BACK" in the saddle. OH REALLY!! My horse lost his footing more than one time and slipped down about a foot or so. I think I lost something too!
40 minutes is too long to be on a horse riding up and down muddy slippery trails if you aren't use to it. The next morning, SORE comes to mind. It was the day we had to go home and that was OK. We had to go home anyway. We couldn't move.
I loved going to BCSP. I even loved going horseback riding. I'll never do it again, but I want to take my kids to the park. They will love it there. I think my husband and I are going to make a habit of going every May for our anniversary. We have access to this cabin we stayed in, and I want to see Brown County again.
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