September 17, 2009—You may have noticed that I never visited Graham Cave while I was staying at Graham Cave State Park. Similarly, I'm not going to get to see the white water from which Whitewater Memorial State Park takes its name. I'm sure it's there, if they say so... I just won't be around long enough to find out.
Especially not at twenty bucks a night for dry camping—no hookups of any kind. I wasn't expecting to find Colorado-style premium pricing in Indiana! Oh, it's an OK park, but I could have stayed in a commercial campground with full hookups for less money. (Although, to be fair, not in such nice surroundings.)
I have to say that looking at the photos of my last three campsites, it's hard to tell them apart. Deep woods... check. Paved roads... check. Lots of shade and not much solar power... check. In New Mexico, it seemed as if every campground looked dramatically different. Well, I guess that shouldn't be a surprise, since as I'm fond of saying, New Mexico contains six out of the Earth's seven climatic zones. But for the past five days I've been in one zone: prairie. No wonder all the campgrounds look similar. No wonder my drive passes through mile after mile of farms growing the same vegetables.
Oh, dear. I can see this is turning into a "boring midwest" rant, and I'm sure that's unjustified. No doubt there are lovely, unexpected places in this vast heartland, just as there are lovely places in New Jersey, despite its bad reputation. I'm just not taking the time to seek them out, because my mind is on getting to my friends and family on the east coast. I apologize to any midwesterners reading this... I know I'm not doing your homeland justice.
Before somebody says "It's because you're staying on the interstates, and you can't see anything from there," let me say that about a third of my driving has been on local roads, including some pretty small ones. And you know what I saw from these local roads? A closer view of the cornfields. The whole interstate vs. "blue highway" thing is bogus, in my opinion. Drive the interstates through Colorado, and you'll see magnificent scenery. Drive county roads through Iowa, and you'll see cornfields. It's not the road that matters, it's the terrain it passes through.
Probably the most interesting thing I saw today was this horse at a rest stop. Not that I haven't seen horses before... but this one's owners were as nice to it as if it were a pet dog or cat. They had obviously cut this crude door in the side of its trailer just so that it could stick its head out and be petted, which was exactly what they spent ten minutes doing while I ate my lunch. I'd never seen anyone treat a horse with such affection. It was heartwarming—and I'm not a horse lover.
Aside from that, my drive today was uneventful. I listened to the rest of "The Railway Children" and enjoyed it immensely. I know I'll be downloading more audiobooks to listen to on the rest of this trip, now that I know where to get them free. Tonight I grabbed the first five chapters of Mark Twain's "Roughing It," which I've never read. That should help pass the time on tomorrow's 176-mile drive to Ohio.
Today's Dumb Signage Award goes to Whitewater State Park. Suppose you've registered for site #200, and once inside the campground area, you come to a fork in the road and see this:
Clearly, your destination is to the left. Equally clearly, you must not turn left into a one-way street. So why does the directional sign tell you to turn left when turning left is illegal? I drove in circles for ten minutes (on pygmy-sized 8' wide roads, I'll have you know) and ended up facing the same choice again. So I looked carefully... and then turned left. How else could I get to my campsite?
Same thing happened the next morning as I was leaving, only this time the directional sign said the campground exit was on the left... up another "DO NOT ENTER" one-way street. Once again I had to ignore the warning and drive the wrong way in order to get out of the park. I'd love to know what they were thinking of when they placed these signs.
Assuming they were thinking at all, that is.