Welcome back to part-2 of the first camping trip of 2022. Last week we continued south in search of some famous pretzels after both Disc Golf courses we planned to play were too wet…
Tell City is an interesting little river town. However, if you follow the traffic pattern (towards the Ohio River Bridge), you’ll miss the best part of the town, the downtown area. I’d estimate 95% of the traffic traveling on Indiana 66 (The Ohio River Scenic Byway) bypasses Mainstreet and misses a nice part of this little city. Many shops, restaurants, and other locally owned businesses line the 1.5-mile stretch.
I was here for the Tell City Pretzels only to find out they had moved the retail location to the back of a clothing store called “Logos/Scrub Corner.” This must have been a recent move, as Google Maps was still showing the old location (the official website is up to date, though). While cruising Main Street, I spotted a little Bakery and stopped in to check it out. Since it was later in the day, the items had been picked over, but I walked out with a Blueberry Scone and a piece of Coffee Cake with an espresso crumble on top.
Time to head up the road and set up camp. The morning started out clear, but the clouds were building as the day progressed.
Check-in at Indian-Celina is always a smooth process. Of course, it helps to have a reservation, and I always make one to get the spots I like. Firewood is $1 cheaper ($7 a bundle) than years past, so I grabbed 3 to ensure I’d have enough for the evening. The plan was to sit around the fire, enjoy a few pints of my favorite Sun King beer (Orange Vanilla Cream Ale), set up the Short Wave radio, or watch a movie on the iPad Pro.
This trip was the first one where I got to test out the new Gazelle T4 tent. To say this is an upgrade is an understatement. While I loved my previous tent, the Gazelle offers so much more room, and it totally changes the camping experience. There are tradeoffs, though. The T4 is BIG, and it’s HEAVY, but the setup time is only a few minutes, thanks to its hub design. That extra space came in handy as I started to get alerts from Dark Sky about rain in the area. Yep, the weather had turned…
Throughout the week, the weather was showing clear and warm, with a high in the low 70s and a low of 50-degrees. That’s just about perfect camping weather if you ask me. The temps held but the sky decided to open up just in time for dinner. Luckily it was not heavy rain, but it was enough to require shelter well into the early hours. So, after setup and loading everything into the tent to keep it dry, I set off for the local family diner to grab some dinner.
Amish Style food will fill you up. It’s carb and meat-heavy and always has several sweet dessert options. The Schwartz Family Restaurant in Eckerty, IN, is no exception. I’ve passed this place on my way to the campsite several times, but this trip was my first time visiting. You have to be careful about time in this part of Indiana. The campground is in Central Time (Perry County), and the restaurant (Crawford County) is in Eastern Time. I’m glad I left when I did because the restaurant closes at 8 pm and I arrived after 7 pm. The cafeteria-style establishment is VERY clean, and you can tell it’s a favorite of the locals. It’s one of the few places to eat in the area, so they have little competition.
Friday night was Fish night, but I chose the Chicken Tender dinner (meat & 2 sides for $14.99). While they had several pieces of chicken on the steam table, the young lady behind the counter insisted I get some from the fresh batch being cooked in the back. So I chose mashed potatoes/gravy and mac-n-cheese for my two sides.
I had finished my sides before the chicken came out, but I can report it all being very good, and I would not hesitate to re-visit and try several of their other dishes. It’s nice to have this as a dinner option when I don’t feel like cooking at camp. It could be a good breakfast option since they’re open early on the weekends.
The rain didn’t let up until about 2 am, so I set up a little seating area in the Gazelle and hunkered down with a James Bond movie and some podcasts later into the evening.
As you can see, I had plenty of room in the Gazelle and kept warm and dry throughout the night. So if I’m going to be stuck inside, this is the tent to do it in. Next time I need to get my Kelty Noah tarp strung up between the trees to give me a covered area outside the tent.
As usual, the birds were up before dawn chatting with each other, but the rain had stopped, and the temperatures were mild. So I packed up camp and headed out to check on some new camping locations in the area before heading back to Indianapolis.
This was a quick overnight trip, but it was worth it to test the new tent. I wish I had ordered one of these before my Allegheny National Forest trip last year, where we saw rain daily and were pretty miserable by the week’s end. Having a larger shelter makes all the difference, and being able to stand up is a game-changer.
That’s it for this week; thanks for reading. We’ll be back to the normal format next week, but I have some travel plans soon to share.
Last week we ended up in Buffalo, NY after visiting Cleveland and Niagara Falls. This time around we’re going to dip into the Allegheny National Forest and get away from the city. We left Buffalo around 9am and started our journey south.
Ever since I was a kid I remember seeing barns and billboards along the highway with “See Rock City” on them.
When I happened to find a “Rock City Park” in Olean, NY I was excited to check it out. After doing a little research on my return I realized the “real” Rock City is actually on Lookout Mountain in Tennessee but the one in Olean was impressive nonetheless!
After climbing around the rocks for about an hour it was time to move on and check out the town of Bradford, PA. Bradford is the home of the Zippo lighter and Case knife factory (and museum). It’s a busy little town with a lot of little shops in it’s downtown. Unfortunately the Visitors Bureau was not open when I arrived, I think they were at lunch. They DID have a nice setup outside with maps and visitor information, which is what I was stopping by for anyway.
Before lunch I decided to checkout the Zippo/Case museum and see what it was all about.
The Zippo/Case museum was quite impressive, if you’re into these products it’s worth your while to stop by if you’re in the area. The inside lighting made it difficult to get any good photographs without a lot of glare so I concentrated on other items outside.
Lunch was at Togi’s Family Restaurant where the “special” was their version of a Big Mac. It was quite tasty & a LOT bigger than I ws expecting. The hand cut fries were cooked perfectly too.
After the big lunch, and fighting off the feeling to take a big nap, I continued on my way to the next stop, the WWII Museum in Eldred, PA.
What a great museum housed in a very small town in rural PA. This place was HUGE and had more items than a lot of other similarly sized museums I’ve visited over the years. Evidently a lot of the items had been donated by area families over the years and a local hero named Mitchell Paige had a lot to do with its success. He had an entire section of the museum dedicated to him.
After a successful day of traveling it was time to head up to Tracy Ridge and setup camp for the night. Tracy Ridge is a primitive campsite at the top of a bluff. The sites are spaced far apart and this evening there were only 3-4 of us in the entire area. This is my ideal situation for car camping, Plenty of room and lots of piece and quiet. Unfortunately this is hard to find these days with so may people out doing the same thins I’m doing. Traveling and camping during the week is the trick to get access to some great spots.
There were some storms off in the distance that I would need to keep an eye on as it had rained every day of the trip this far, so I expected today to be no different.
Mother nature pulled no punches and let me have it after dark. the lightning got pretty severe at one point but it blew through quickly and I was able to get a decent nights sleep. She came back in the morning just to say good morning with a nice little downpour as I was breaking camp down. At this point once you’re wet you just deal with it and make the best of it. I had another big day ahead of me and it was time to head out!
Stay tuned for the fourth and final installment of the Allegheny National Forest road trip next week. Thanks for reading!
My first summer road trip is FINALLY here. I had this trip planned last fall but COVID-19 had so many closed I decided to wait until 2021 to make the journey to Cleveland, Buffalo, and the Allegheny National Forest (ANF).
Timing is everything when it comes to the a road trip. You have to know what’s open and what activities are available, especially during the pandemic where things are temporarily (or sometimes permanently) closed. The goal was to hit the ANF mid-week to avoid the crowds and have more time to explore.
Since my first night of camping was almost 8-hours from the house I decided to split the trip up and check out some places along the way. My planned itinerary for this trip was:
- Sunday – Cleveland, OH
- Monday – Buffalo, NY and Niagara Falls
- Tuesday – Tracy Ridge Campground – Bradford, PA
- Wednesday – Buckaloons Recreation Area – Irvine, PA
- Thursday – East Harbor State Park – Lakeside Marblehead, OH
- Friday – Return to Indianapolis
I’m glad I left on a Sunday because I-70 was smooth sailing to Columbus. There has been construction (as usual) on the route and several major fatal accidents over the past few weeks that have shut the Interstate down for HOURS. In one case The Indiana State Police reportedly had to wake drivers up once the accident was cleared.
Sunday, Day 1 – I’ve driven to Cleveland before but usually take I-69 to Ft. Wayne and east on I-90. This time I had a few places I wanted to check out in Central Ohio so I decided to take I-70 to Columbus before heading Northeast on I-71 to Cleveland.
My first stop was at Swenson’s Drive-in on the north side of Columbus. They have an interesting burger called the “Galley Boy” which is a double cheeseburger with 2 sauces, one of which is BBQ. I wasn’t quite sure what the other one was but I suspect it was Tatar sauce. Paired with onion rings and a diet soda the combo made a great lunch. Interesting thing about this location. It’s right next to an IKEA and a Top Golf. The IKEA/Top Golf match up occurs in Cincinnati as well. It’s actually a great idea where half the family can shop and the other half can hit the driving range (and BOTH can EAT!).
Next stop was the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, OH. This place was the setting for The Shawshank Redemption. Unfortunately when I arrived the tours were all booked, except for the 4-hour one, so I “toured” the outside & went about my day.
Since I was going to be in the Cleveland area I thought I should make a return visit to the Szalay’s Farm & Market that’s located right next to the rail trail in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. I accidently left my phone in the car and failed to get any pictures. This place was PACKED with people stocking up on farmers market supplies. There were doing a really great food business with pop up shops spread around outside.
Finally it was off to check out Cleveland and find some dinner. Unfortunately it rained every day on this trip and by the time I got to downtown Cleveland it was pouring so I abandoned my sight seeing plans. Once I checked into the hotel & set out to check out a local Mexican place I had heard good things about.
Cozumel Mexican Restaurant is a local chain that has some great reviews online. When I arrived it was pretty busy but I managed to grab a seat at the bar. They had a bunch of containers on the back shelf of the bar where they were infusing all minds of fruit in Tequila and Vodka. My drink of choice this evening was a Paloma and this one did not disappoint. They even rimmed the glass with Tajín for a salty & spicy kick. For dinner I ordered a Chicken and Chorizo burrito called the Burrito A La Diabla and it was delicious, as were the rice and beans server along the side.
After dinner it was time to retire to the hotel room and get ready for another day of driving and sight seeing on my way to Buffalo and Niagra Falls.
Next week we’ll discuss the Buffalo area and continue the trip to the ANF.