RV Trip 10.22 – Lake Glendale (IL), Brown County SP (IN) Ouabache SP (IN), Algonac SP (MI), Home – Apr 21–26, 2023

After Arkansas we were on the single night stops plan with an average of 400 kms per day in order to reach home by April 26, so I researched new state parks for us to check out. The one advantage of waiting until later in April was that campgrounds further north were open and the night time temperatures were at or above zero, so we didn’t need to winterize the RV. As we left Mammoth Spring we entered Missouri and did some grocery shopping where Sharon bought some Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream (Jimmy Fallon flavour) which she started into since our freezer doesn’t keep ice crem very well. She soon regretted this as we were taking a back road 142 to get to our next stop. This road was very scenic, but it was also extremely twisty with tons of small up and downhills, almost like a roller coaster. Soon Sharon wasn’t feeling too good, so she took a snooze. This road would have been incredibly fun to take in Sharon’s car😉 We drove all the way through Missouri with only a stop for diesel. Then we crossed the Mississippi River into Illinois and on to our destination Lake Glendale Recreation Area in the Shawnee Forest. This was a relatively small campground with only first come first serve sites but when I called them earlier in the day, they said there would be no problem getting a site (we were a little concerned since it was a Friday). Lake Glendale had some new MTB trails but the host didn’t have any maps of them, so the next morning we decided we would just walk around the lake on the hiking trail (7 kms). This turned out to be fairly tricky as there were 2 river crossings and there had been a fair amount of rain the prior days. However, we survived without getting too wet. I would like to return to this park to try the MTB trails although there was a fair amount of poison ivy so we would need to wear long pants.

The following day we were heading to Brown County SP in Indiana, but Sharon had read about the Ohio River National Scenic Byway that was close to Lake Glendale, so we decided to check that out. Our first stop was Golconda where we climbed the embankment to see the Ohio River and then went to see the Alexander Hall Buel house built in 1841 and the John Thomas Davidson Cabin purchased in 1882 and donated to the Historical society in 1993. Next stop in Elizabethtown was the historic Rose Hotel, which is the oldest hotel in Illinois still operating, although it didn’t seem open when we looked around.

The main thing we wanted to see on this scenic byway was the rock formations called Garden of the Gods since it was listed as one of the most photographed places in Southern Illinois and it certainly didn’t disappoint. The main rock formation everyone wants to see is the one that looks like a camel with a monkey face looking at it, but really everywhere you turned there was something cool to see. The one I liked best was the Devil’s Smokestack since it was hidden away. It took about an hour to do the loop trail but mainly due to taking so many photos. This would definitely be a great place to come in the fall when the leaves are changing colours.

After the scenic drive we had a fair distance to cover to get to Brown County SP in Indiana. Luckily, we had read that RV’s must enter through the west entrance because the north entrance has a covered bridge that only has 9’ clearance (our GPS wanted to take us to the north entrance). This was a really large park with an expensive daily use fee and a fee to ride the MTB trails but again we were just stopping for one night to check it out. The Buffalo Ridge campground that they assigned us to was not really that pretty. It was like a field with sites fairly close together, so the next time we might try one of the other campgrounds. The following morning, we walked over to the visitor centre, and they had some excellent displays and a very knowledgeable and friendly ranger who gave us other information, like where we could see the rare Yellowwood tree. One display talked about how to treat poison ivy exposure and it included: Wash area with alkaline soap, squeeze the juice of jewel weed on the rash, or more practically apply baking soda, epsom salts, or alcohol. The centre also had a bird feeding area that was quite active. On our way out of the park we stopped to climb the forest fire tower but were surprised when we climbed the 90’ shaky tower that you couldn’t actually go into the observation level because they had converted it to a cell phone broadcast tower!

Our plan was to go from Brown County SP to Ouabache SP (pronounced O-ba-chee) also in Indiana and this was a slightly shorter driving day. However, we didn’t want to drive through downtown Indianapolis so skirted around it on some country roads. The state park started as Wells County State Forest and Game Preserve in the 1930’s. At one time the park was widely acclaimed as the “Greatest Wildlife Laboratory in the United States” for its raising of pheasants, quail, raccoons, and rabbits. In 1962 it became a state recreation area and then in 1983 it became a state park. The park has Kunkel Lake (25 acres) for boating and fishing, hiking trails, a paved bike trail, and an exhibit featuring American bison.

The Indiana state park check in system is nothing short of disastrous. We experienced it at Brown County and then again at Ouabache. We’ll know the next time to book online instead. Even though our information was already in the system it took close to 20 minutes to check us in! It was a problem at Brown County as we had a huge line up behind us but at Ouabache no one else was checking in so we just patiently waited.

After we were in our site we decided to go for a short hike on the trails. We walked by the tennis courts and through the forest and eventually ended up by the bison enclosure. Little did we know that there was a huge event happening in the bison pen. Apparently, a school group had come in the morning, and they found that one of the bison’s was stuck in the mud by the fence. They immediately informed the park rangers who started to figure out what to do to get the bison out. They really didn’t know how long he had been stuck but he seemed totally exhausted. The other 6 bison had been trying to push him out and had actually scrapped off some of his fur.  They said even though his “friends” were trying to help him get out, they probably hurt him more than helped him. The rangers separated the other bison into another pen so it would be safer to try to help the stuck one. When we arrived at around 5 pm they had just finished pulling the bison out with ropes and a tractor. They had a vet there as well giving guidance and she indicated that it was possible the bison’s legs were too numb from being stuck for so long. The park workers brought him water and then also brought a large bag of food to try to help him regain his strength. We watched for about a half hour and he couldn’t get up but we hope that he recovered later.

Next, we went to another fire tower on the grounds and Sharon decided to climb this one as well while I took photos😉 At least on this one the top was open so you could get a better view of the Kunkel Lake. As we walked back to the campground, we saw a deer and also a raccoon and enjoyed the Eastern Redbud trees in bloom.

When we were planning our trip home in Google Maps it kept routing us across the St. Clair River in Algonac Michigan. We thought it was making a mistake as we’ve always taken the Bluewater Bridge to Sarnia or the Ambassador Bridge to Windsor, but it turns out there is a little ferry that goes from Algonac Michigan to Walpole Island. We didn’t know anything about it but after researching we decided we would try that option. Therefore, we decided we would stay at Algonac SP (very close to the ferry) in Michigan for our last night in the US. It was a long driving day from Ouabache to Algonac but mainly because it was raining off and on all day, and we had to drive through the core of Detroit which was under construction and heavily back logged. It was likely the most stressful drive for our entire 6 months away!

When we arrived at the park there was no check in office, so you had to go online and reserve a site. When we had driven past the park, I had seen one site facing the St. Clair River with no site in front of it so we booked that one. We had a phenomenal view to watch all the freighters go up and down the river, it’s a very active channel! On top of the freighters there were also lots of small fishing boats who would drift down and then motor back up, just like we saw on White River.

The next morning it was very foggy, so much so, that first thing we couldn’t even see the other side of the river. It gradually started clearing and we began our packing up. We would drive all the way home on this day so we had to do a thorough clean of our Black and Grey tanks since the RV wouldn’t be used for another month. Once we got that completed and arrived at the ferry terminal it was close to 11 am and it turned out good that we were later because the ferry didn’t start operating until 10 am due to the fog. When we arrived, there was just one pickup truck in front of us and Sharon got out to find out how we paid. She spoke with the ferry attendant, and he said just drive on and I will process your payment as we cross the river. Just a 2-minute wait to get on the ferry! The crossing just takes 8 minutes, and he only charged us $18 to cross, which really isn’t that much more than taking the bridges. When we arrived at Walpole Island in Canada there were 2 customs staff waiting so 1 person took the pickup truck and the other took us. He asked how long we’d been away and how much we were bringing back. Then he asked how much alcohol we had and if we had any guns or ammunition. Then we were free to go!!! This literally was the fastest crossing we’ve ever had going either direction. We’ll definitely keep this in mind for future trips. We’ll just need to find an alternate route around Detroit, so we don’t get stuck in traffic like we did.

Once across we decided to take the scenic St. Clair Parkway along the water up to Sarnia. We had read that the S.S. Keewatin was being tugged down the river that day on it’s way to Kingston. We had been on this ship/museum when it was on Manitoulin Island. Unfortunately, we must have missed it somehow, perhaps in the fog earlier in the day. We stopped in Sarnia for lunch with our friends Donna and Jim and had a great visit. Then we completed our drive along the Lake Huron shoreline on highway 21. We stopped in Port Elgin to get groceries and we were blown away by how high the prices were in comparison to what we had been paying in the US, even when you factored in the exchange rate. We got Plankton backed into her home and emptied key things by 6 pm and then settled into our house which seems massive after living in the RV for 6 months😉

This concludes RV Trip 10, our 6-month adventure covering 13,050 kms. Here is a link to the full map of where we went: RV Trip 10 Full Map . We had decided to leave earlier and return home later so we wouldn’t have to winterize our RV (and so we could camp while traversing the northern states) but as it turned out we had cold weather at Christmas in Texas and needed to winterize there for 4 days. We got fairly accustomed to having cold night time temperatures and very reasonable day time temperatures. In our RV Facebook group, lots of people were complaining about the weather in Arizona, California, and even Florida at times so we were glad to be in Texas. We visited 31 out of the 89 State Parks in Texas and thoroughly enjoyed them. This still leaves us lots to see although some of them are in the northern part of the state where you would have to time the weather. We also enjoyed a short visit to both Kentucky and Arkansas which were new states for us. We found new places to visit in Louisiana, New Mexico, and Arizona. We filled up on diesel 47 times for a total cost of $2,150 USD. For accommodations we stayed 134 nights in State/National Parks, 18 in RV parks, 8 nights with friends, and 16 at Harvest Hosts. We didn’t keep track of the number of bottles of wine we drank😉 We walked about 505 kms on hiking trails and did about 425 kms of Mountain Biking. It truly was another great adventure. Time to start planning the next trip😉


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