This is our third stay at Horseshoe Lakes Thousand Trails, near Clinton, Indiana. This is a good spot for a quiet stay. If you like fishing, though, it’s a destination campground with several lakes of varying sizes. We’ve seen folks out trying their luck every day that we’ve been here. One lady told me that they had enjoyed a fish dinner made up of fresh caught fish from that day. It appears that there are fish to be caught at Horseshoe Lakes!
I was really looking forward to visiting with my brother Jim and sis-in-law Phyllis during our stay in western Indiana, but we also got in a couple of fun sightseeing adventures – one in Illinois and the other in Indiana.
We went the Vermilion River Fall Festival in Danville, IL. There were many fall oriented handcrafted items along with a variety of food booths. I think this is the third time this year that we stumbled on to a great car show with many nice older cars and trucks. My favorite was a 1912 Ford car that looks like one in a picture I have of my Dad as a small child in 1914.
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Our most enjoyable sightseeing excursion was a visit to Turkey Run State Park near Marshall, Indiana. We have both enjoyed hiking across the years and decided to visit this popular state park. We took a short hike down steps, across a suspension bridge over Sugar Creek and down to Rocky Hollow to see a small waterfall. The water has carved the rocks and it is fun to walk along the bottom of the gorge by the stream. We took a break there in that pretty spot and had a picnic lunch. From there we turned around and came back, because I couldn’t scramble up the first set of rock “steps” without help; and that was the easy part! We walked back to the suspension bridge and followed a different trail that took us through the woods on what I expected to be an easier trail to a covered bridge built in the early 1900’s and across the creek heading back to the nature center. We encountered many steps and scrambles going up hill and down. Some were man made and had rails but several were natural and more difficult for me. However we made it and I am glad we took day to enjoy the beauty of nature.
Thousand Trails offered a new add on this year called “Trails Collection.” The upgrade makes over 100 more campgrounds available to members (on a more limited basis). The price we paid ($199) makes it a good deal even if you intend to use it only a week or two during the year. Twin Mills Camping Resort is our first Trails Collection campground.
The campground itself is an older campground with over 500 sites. Most, if not all, of the sites have electric and water. Many have full hookups. The main clientele is made up of seasonal campers. One man told me that they have been coming here seasonally over 20 years. There are many nicely done spots, with park model trailers and attractive landscaping. There are also many sites for traveling/weekend campers. Less of them are FHU, but many of them are. The campsites are in a primarily pine forest with lots of shade (and pinecones).
There’s a big pool, a few playgrounds, and limited lake access. Only a very few spots actually afford lake views and they have been occupied by permanent residents for many years.
Over the weekend the place was very busy. The campground, while not full, was well used and there were activities, mainly for the kids. It seemed that everyone had a campfire and at times the smoke was so thick it looked as if a heavy fog had descended on the place. Once the weekend passed the majority of the campers left and the air cleared.
Our only big complaint was associated with our arrival. Unlike Thousand Trails which is (supposedly) first-come-first-served so far as campsites are concerned the Trails Collection campgrounds let you specify your site amenities, if available. At least that’s how it is supposed to work. Here’s the deal: the Trails Collection campgrounds are supposed to set aside 10 campsites for the program. When we arrived, we were told that Thousand Trails is way overbooking those 10 sites. Because of that, we were told, there weren’t any more FHU sites left out of the allocated spots. That didn’t work well for us, especially since we were in for a longer stay. The folks in the office insisted that, in spite of the many vacant FHU sites that there was nothing available to me, a lowly Trails Collection customer. I decided to phone Thousand Trails service center to see if they could help. However, while I was on hold the folks at the front desk found a few FHU sites I could pick from. We moved into a nice spot among the seasonals and settled in. From what I was told by other travelers this is not an unusual situation for this particular campground.
Aside from the challenging situation upon our arrival we have no complaints about this campground. It’s a nice place in an interesting area.
We spent time in this area last year as we headed to an event in Indianapolis. This year we are working our way east and passing through this area again.
We drove a short distance to Elkhart to visit the RV/MH Museum. It was a nice way to spend a hot day. The museum displays highlight the evolution of RV from early days to current century. The early canvas tents on wheels were fascinating to me. Seeing the outdoor cooking gear and utensils was fun too. We saw a RV belonging to Mae West and the one owned by Charles Lindbergh. The variety in size and and how they were decorated inside was fun to see. The museum is well worth the price of admission and I highly recommend it.
We went to the flea market in Shipshewana last year. This year we decided to skip it and do a little shopping and a bit of “recreational eating” instead. We looked around and made purchases on Main Street and then enjoyed pastry and coffee at one of the many bakeries. Before we left town we bought some delicious meat and cheese to bring home. From there we drove some of the back roads and enjoyed seeing the many Amish farms. It was a pleasant drive on a hot day.
Shortly after arriving in this area one of Scott’s cousins told him that we were close to his home town and that he had several relatives nearby. On Sunday we attended Sturgis, Michigan Nazarene and met several of his family. Scott says there were 2nd, 3rd, and 4th cousins there and then together for an enjoyable lunch. This was an unexpected bonus for us!
Again, there is a lot to see and do in this area – all to the more reason for us to return on a future adventure.
Being close to South Bend, Indiana and having heard of Notre Dame University all my life we decided to drive down and tour of the campus. I was impressed with beautiful well kept grounds. The famous Gold Dome and statue Of The Virgin Mary on top is a well known landmark. We toured the bookstore and saw the many items ranging from text books to Fighting Irish themed clothings. We took a walking tour with a friendly young lady who is a sophomore at the University. She said they have about 16 female dorms and 17 male dorms. The Basilica of the Sacred Heart is a beautiful ornate place of worship with the stained glass windows first installed In 1893. Our final stop was The Hesburgh Library featuring Jesus depicted in a famous mural as the “Word of Life” facing Notre Dame Stadium. This giant mural is better known as “Touchdown Jesus”. There is much more to see on campus should you decide to visit.
We also enjoyed our day in St. Joseph, Michigan. This city is at the mouth the St. Joseph River on Lake Michigan. Many people were enjoying the Silver Beach County Park. This park offers wide beaches with playgrounds for kids of all ages. There were several volleyball nets. We saw lots of children playing in the water at the Whirlpool Compass Fountain. They were having a blast being sprayed with with water shooting up from the floor for them to run through and stand under and huge water cannons shooting across the park on timers. There is also a paved trail above the shoreline with benches to sit on and enjoy lake view.
From the river walkway we could see the two lighthouses called Range lights at the mouth of the St.Joseph River. They were built in 1907 when the pier was lengthened.
A major attraction of the Park is the Silver Beach Carousel open year around and along with unique handmade horses. It features a rocking peacock and sea serpent benches that are wheelchair accessible.
This is a great area to visit and I know there is much more to see. In fact, I’ll have another review of the area as we continue our visit in the vicinity at a different campground next week.
Cedar Lake Ministries, located about an hour southeast of Chicago in northwestern Indiana, has roots reaching back over 100 years when Chicago’s Moody Church took over management of a railroad recreation destination on a large lake. The ministry at this retreat center continues to this day. The Center has a nice RV park that is open to the public and that is where we have been the past few days. The RV park offers FHU back in sites, some with 50 amp electric service. The sites aren’t especially deep, but there is adequate parking for extra vehicles. The bathhouse is nicely done and clean. Water spigots are on shared hookups between every other site, equally unhandy to those on both sides so extra water hose will likely be needed. WiFi was pretty good although we did get frequent drops requiring us to reconnect. The sites on the north side of the road in and out are most likely to be satellite friendly. While we were at the campground there was a Christian music concert that we were welcome to attend. We thought the music was pretty good. There is no direct lake access but it is just a short walk to the public portion of the retreat center where there are benches along the lake, affording us nice views. My Verizon signal was good. We give this retreat center campground two thumbs up and would happily return.
I think we like Horseshoe Lakes Thousand Trails, near Clinton, Indiana better than we liked it on our first visit. When it comes to campgrounds it’s basic real estate: location, location, location. We felt like we got a better site than we had on our previous visit and because of that, we liked the campground better than we did then.
Honestly, things are pretty much the same as they were when we were here four years ago and that’s not a bad thing. The setting is beautiful and most of the campsites available to those of us who travel are nice while not the best ones. The best spots with wonderful views of the lakes are taken by long timers. Many of these folks have made lots of upgrades to their sites, turning them into showplaces.
As I said, we liked our site. It sits on a finger of land with drop offs on either side, giving us some really nice separation from those on either side of us. While it isn’t one of the really great spots overlooking a lake, it was one of our favorite spots so far this year.
This being Independence Day weekend there were lots of people around. However, I think I counted two empty spots (although they may well have been due to no-shows). The campground was in great shape and there were some nice events including a “zoo” with interesting animals and a barbecue with the meat provided by the campground.
Our Verizon signal was good and I was able to get 2 of my 3 Dish Network satellites through the trees. We had one low voltage episode in which our Surgeguard cut power to the camper for a few minutes.
This is a pretty campground and we’ll likely return when future travels bring us to western Indiana.
Lake Haven Retreat in Indianapolis, Indiana was a good place for us to stay while attending Nazarene General Assembly at the Indiana Convention Center in downtown. From the campground to our parking lot was less than 15 minutes! Because we were in the city for the convention all we wanted from the campground was a good place to park the RV and Lake Haven Retreat fit the bill nicely.
It’s urban camping, although the small lake does add at least a bit of a camping feeling to the place. Most of the campsites are pull through “back to back” sites. Our neighbor on the driver’s side, then, was very close. On the other side there’s a strip of grass that is shared with the folks on that side. Again, we were in town for the convention, so having a level site with good utilities (including WiFi) worked for us.
Arriving at the campground might be a bit confusing. Arriving on Hwy 37 one turns onto Edgewood. The very first driveway is for the campground even though it looks as if it’s just a house. That house is the office. Beside the office is the laundry and showers. This makes them pretty much equally unhandy for most everyone. Just past the driveway for the campground is a fire station. We could hear the trucks going out once in a while, but I think they must delay the sirens till they are down the street a ways because they weren’t ever a big issue for us.
The campground has several long term residents, evident by the big propane bottles. However, everything is kept reasonably neat and orderly. We paid a bit more than we usually pay, but again, this campground is all about location.
If you need a spot in Indy, especially on the south side or near downtown, this campground is likely your best bet.
Pla-Mor Campground, Bremen, Indiana is just south of the South Bend/Elkhart metro areas of northern Indiana. This is agricultural country, filled with corn and soybean fields; farmed by Amish and “English” alike. The campground is a big one with lots of leased sites plus plenty of room for travelers, rallies, etc. Most all the sites are on grass and many are “rally field” types of sites with full hookups. Most of the sites are level. We managed to get a spot in the trees rather than the field and with the big trees came roots and with the roots an un-level, sloping spot. In our case, we didn’t mind that because we had a new leveling system to try out. It worked great. Had we arrived prior to the camper upgrade I would have likely asked for a different spot. Generally, with campers scattered around the place feels roomy. Over this mid-June weekend, though, the place filled up and we had people at close quarters all around us. That was no big deal to us, but we were glad to get a bit of breathing space back on Sunday afternoon when all the poor working people had to go home to reality. The campground has pretty decent WiFi that worked fine for us until the weekend when it was overloaded. Even the local cell tower was impacted and I had a usable but slower data stream. For some reason the slowdown continued on Monday. The shower rooms/bathrooms in our area were usable but very dated. I’m not sure about others. The property has a swimming pond that got lots of use by the kids. A new pool is being built and will be in use by next year or even sooner. The campground has a nice mini-golf and driving range available for an extra charge. Probably the biggest issue we had was that the water tasted metallic and stained our sink and commode.
One reason for the full campground over our weekend here was a Civil War reenactment group. They pitched tents and set up camps reflective of that era. Their biggest draw was a couple of cannons. Everyone enjoyed their demonstrations, especially the night fire on Saturday night.
This is not only Amish country, but is also RV country. The Numar factory and other RV industry related businesses are just a few minutes away in nearby Nappanee.
We liked Pla-Mor and would return for a future visit.
Right off let me say that there’s a lot more to this area than we saw. Also, we enjoyed just driving around the area, looking at the many Amish farms and small school houses. These aren’t intended to be “attractions” but they are, indeed, “attractive” and add to the general ambiance of the area.
We had a fun, if hot, day at Shipshewana, IN. This town, surrounded by Amish farms, caters to tourists and features lots of Amish history, crafts, and food. We started our day at the very popular Flea Market and found hand crafted items along with most anything you can imagine for sale. There were many food booths but there was also an Amish restaurant along with a terrific meat and cheese market. We bought summer sausage, Swiss cheese and bread. The butcher sliced the meat and cheese for us at no extra charge and we had a delicious lunch with left overs to take home and use later. I also enjoyed going to the air conditioned Davis Mercantile building where I saw the restored working Carousel on the 3rd floor. There were many other shops including stores selling things like candy, clothing, furniture, fabric and toys. There was an elevator and plenty of seating for people like Scott who would rather sit than shop!
We enjoyed our visit to Amish Acres in Nappanee,IN. We started our visit with a tour of the original house when it was a typical Amish farm. It was a fascinating tour giving us insight into how the early Amish settlers continued living in their chosen ways even as progress such as electricity and gas engines became common in the area. Through the years they continued doing house and farm work by hand using animals. We took the wagon tour of the farm and saw many buildings including a carriage shed, ice house, and syrup barn. At the school house children learned High German for worship, how to read and write in their daily language of Pennsylvania Dutch, and English so they get along in the world outside of their own. We saw a very interesting video about the history of the Amish and learned about the Amish and Mennonite religious practices. We visited the meat and cheese store, candy store/soda shop and the bakery. There is also a well-known restaurant and theater that has ongoing plays. All in all a very nice afternoon.
I found it interesting to see so many horse and buggies traveling the roads or hitched up at various businesses (like Dairy Queen). Also, as we drove to church on Sunday morning we passed the Amish farm that was hosting their church services that Sunday. There were several parked horse and buggies as well as a lot of bicycles. Apparently, the various farms in the area take turns hosting worship services followed by a big meal.