Trip Report – Turkey Run State Park

I took an opportunity towards the end of May to take a day off work and go exploring at Turkey Run State Park. It had been years since I last visited and I really didn’t remember it very well.

The weather was just about perfect and I was surprised how close the park actually was to Indianapolis. When I arrived I was one of the only cars in the lot and the Nature Center was just opening. I settled on what’s called the “5-Mile Challenge” which in reality is 5.9 miles of combined trails around the park with photo ops along the way to complete the challenge (and get a sticker).

I was excited to try my new trail shoes and Merino Wool Socks that I reviewed in a previous post and set off towards the suspension bridge that takes you across Sugar Creek. There are a LOT of stairs at Turkey Run and you encounter them almost immediately when you leave the parking area.

As I started off on the first trail it was obvious that this was going to be a wet day. The trails were pretty sloppy but overall well groomed and marked. Some sections required some creative use of the trekking poles to navigate between trees and over rocks.

As I climbed in elevation the trail started to dry out and I was able to relax and enjoy the sounds of the woods. After 3 miles things started to get interesting when the trail descended into the various ravines and sandstone cliffs. At times the trail was part of the stream bed and it was nice to clean the shoes off in the cold water and have the socks instantly warm up my feet as the water worked its way out.

The final stretch of the loop was the most technical as well as the most beautiful. The sandstone walls towered above and the water continued to etch its way through the canyons towards Sugar Creek. It’s really hard to believe this park is only an hour outside Indianapolis. The crowds were starting to increase and I was starting to feel the effort to get up, down, in, and around the trail.

Overall I’d say Turkey Run is a great place for a day hike and has enough variety that it would take several trips to see it all. Camping is available and was completely sold out when I drove over to check out the sites.

I have some more gear to review in the upcoming months as well as a multi-day trip to the south that I’ll be blogging about soon! Thanks for reading and be sure to leave any comments or questions you might have.

Gear Review – Altra Lone Peak 4 Trail Runners

I’m back!  I kind of lost interest in the blog over the winter and made the (mistake?) of purchasing Red Dead Redemption 2.  That game is a HUGE time suck but amazing and I don’t regret it.

I also got hooked on some new YouTube channels* over the winter and it’s rekindled my desire to be outdoor more often.  I already enjoy cycling and kayaking but haven’t really been camping/backpacking/hiking since I was in Scouts.

After a long winter of watching these channels I could not help but be ready for better weather and a chance to get outside again.  Several of the YouTubers are through hikers and have either hiked the Appalachian trail or are in the process.  While I think that would be an amazing accomplishment It’s not something I see myself doing in the near future.  I’m just fine with shorter adventures.

A piece of gear that’s critical when hiking is footwear.  I’ve always worn traditional hiking boots.  They provide great ankle stability but they’re heavy and, if waterproof, make your feet hot and sweaty.  They also really suck if you happen to get water IN them.

A new category of footwear called the “Trail Runner” was introduced to me over the winter.  These are a hybrid between a boot and a running shoe.  The most popular appear to be from a company called Altra and the model mentioned more than anything else was the Lone Peak 4.

Altra Lone Peak 4

After a few hikes around Indy in my traditional hikers and a pair of low rise boots I realized my feet were going to be an issue.  I already have a pair of custom orthotics that I wear in some of my shoes but they’re not very comfortable to walk in for miles at a time.

A review in Outside Magazine help me decide to purchase these shoes and then it happened…  REI had one of their big sales & I was able to pick up a pair of Lone Peak 4’s for 30% off!  I wasn’t the only one taking advantage of the sale.  REI was selling these things like deep fried Oreos at the State Fair.

In the store the Lone Peak’s felt a little weird at first because the front (toe box) of the shoe is very wide and they have what’s called a “Zero Drop” which puts your foot level with the ground vs raised in the back.  They also fit different and I ended up going 1.5 sizes larger than I typically wear.  I was a little concerned this was going to be an issue and worried about blisters which I got a lot in Scouts with traditional hiking boots.

Altra Lone Peak 4

Following the advice in the Outside review I ordered a couple of pairs of Merino Wool Socks for breathability and the ability to keep your feet warm and dry.  I’ll detail it more in an upcoming trip report but let’s just say the combo worked better than anything I have ever tried.

I decided to try the Altra’s out on a 6-mile rugged loop at Turkey Run State Park (I’m planning on a trip report soon).  As soon as I started walking I could feel an immediate difference.  The Merino Socks were a little slippery and the shoes were “Squishy” (technical term).  

After the 2nd mile on the trail I was a fan.  My feet felt amazing and the rock guard build into the sole kept the bottoms of my feet protected and comfortable.  I usually have issues with rocks (gravel especially) bothering the balls of my feet when trail walking.

Then came the ultimate test.  Time to get my feet wet as the trail went up, through, and along a stream (several in fact).  The Outdoor review was totally right.  As soon as you leave the water the shoes pump the water out and the wool socks help you feet dry out and stay warm.  I’ve NEVER had so much FUN getting my feet wet!  Normally this is something you want to avoid when hiking but I was stomping through the water like a little kid and enjoying every minute of it.  

Traction was excellent and after finishing the loop my only complaint was some knee pain which I later found was a result of descending the numerous hills, and something I can help with some more conditioning and maybe some better insoles.

I’m pretty much sold on the Trail Runner concept and I look forward to putting a few more miles on these shoes this weekend. If you’re looking for an alternative to the traditional hiking boots you should give these a try. They make different versions for different situations but I’ve found the Loan Peak 4’s to be a great all around shoe for my needs.

*The YouTube Channels that hooked me (in no particular order):
Outdoor Adventures
The Outdoor Gear Review
Dan Becker
Homemade Wanderlust
Darwin on the Trail

Indy – The Donut Shop

In 1997 Nuvo Magazine* said The Donut Shop Bakery & Restaurant on North Keystone had the best omelet.  In 2005 it was awarded the “Best Chocolate Iced Cake Donut”*.  

An old Indianapolis Monthly article* mentions the area used to be a rare and ancient peat bog that was drained in the 60’s as well as a 385-acre dairy farm and part of the Freedom Trail.   I was unable to find an exact year it opened but I assume The Donut Shop has to have been around since the early 70’s.

Photo from Yelp

Let’s just say this place isn’t new. And it doesn’t feel new when you arrive, which is OK with me. It’s clean and well kept for sure (except for that squeaky kitchen swing door) and that says a lot. I stopped in on a workday while making my way downtown and the crowd was light but steady.

I’ve been driving past this place for a long time and only really noticed it about 2-years ago. I must have been looking at all the car lots that used to be across the street in the area.

Photo from Yelp

After being really disappointed with the last few places I’d stopped for breakfast (looking at you Wild Eggs & Yolk with your $13+ disappointment platters) I thought I’d see if a so-called greasy spoon could fill the void. I’m not asking for much. Scramble some eggs, crisp up some shredded potatoes and do more than partially cook some bacon. Toast or a biscuit is a nice addition but don’t call it homemade/scratch when it’s clearly previously frozen and delivered on a truck twice a week.

Upon arrival at The Donut Shop I was promptly seated, had a menu in hand, and coffee on the table in about 30-seconds. Oddly the napkin wrapped flatware only contained a fork and knife. No spoon for my single pack of sugar & container of half and half. I made the fork pull double duty today.

My #2 Combo

This place has a nice list of breakfast combos & I choose the #2 consisting of Two Eggs; Potatoes; Choice of Ham, Bacon, Sausage, or Turkey; and Toast for only $5.25 I picked Bacon & Rye toast this visit.

As I waited for my food I noticed this place seemed to have a lot of regulars eating in and carrying out (food and donuts). The phone was pretty busy too with call in orders.

After about 5-6 minutes my breakfast arrived and it looked great. The bacon was very thin and crisp and the hash browns were about as perfect as you can get. The eggs were scrambled nicely and the toast nicely buttered. The potatoes were probably my favorite closely followed by that toast. It was a proper rye bread that was cut on the thick side which I like.

That Rye Toast…

This was a solid meal for the money and I was out the door for under $10 with coffee and tip (CASH ONLY). I hear this place is crazy on the weekends and I can totally see that. Not sure where everyone parks as the parking situation is pretty sparse. I’m sure people get creative and “entitled” (don’t get me started on how people park around Indy).

When I have the time and if I’m in the area I’ll happily stop back in and I look forward to trying out some other combos on the menu.

The Donut Shop
5527 N. Keystone Ave.
Indianapolis, IN 46220
317.255.3836
http://www.thedonutshoponline.com

*Info from the Donut Shop’s website – http://www.thedonutshoponline.com/buzz#

Indy – North End BBQ

I’ve had a craving for that Kentucky staple called a Hot Brown for the past week and the closest place to get one in Indianapolis is at North End BBQ in Nora.

The Kentucky Hot Brown is made up pf the following:

  • Bread
  • Turkey
  • Tomato
  • Bacon
  • Mornay Sauce

The order of the ingredients often changes but when assembled you get something that looks like this:

Hot Brown at North End BBQ in Indianapolis, Indiana

This dish checks all the boxes for me. It’s rich and salty and the turkey is moist and smoked just right. The thick cut bacon has some chew and the Mornay sauce is something you want more of, even through the dish is covered in it. This is one of those meals thats best ate on a cold or rainy day and kind of defines comfort food for me.

For my side I choose Mac and Cheese topped with Bacon Jam. I was pretty underwhelmed with this side. It was very bland and somewhat dry. The Bacon Jam was a nice addition but it could not save it. I’m usually disappointed with the Mac and Cheese I get when I’m out and I’m not sure why I even ordered it this time! It’s not like I needed any more starch or carbs with this meal. The bottle of Lone Star beer I ordered went really well with this dish.

Mac and Cheese at North End BBQ

My son also ordered the Hot Brown and opted for the hand cut fries covered in smoked bone marrow butter. They fry thin slices of jalapeños with the fries for a nice little bit of heat. These were delicious and will be my side of choice when we return to satisfy our next Hot Brown craving.

Hand cut fries covered in smoked bone marrow butter at North End BBQ

North End BBQ serves up some really good food. Their pulled pork and brisket are some of the best in the area and their Moonshine cocktails are delicious. If you’re a Bourbon fan North End BBQ has an amazing selection and even offers flights if you want to sample multiple spirits.

If you’re in the area and in the mood for some great BBQ you should check out The North End BBQ!

1250 East 86th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46240
http://thenorthendbbq.com