This weekend, as usual, we tested our endurance and explored more of Indiana. Our journey began Friday night when we drove to the town of Muncie. There was a frigidly cold rain that was expected to last all night, so we reassessed our plans to camp. Instead we ended up couch surfing at a historic house from 1890 with a couple of gracious hosts. If you still don’t know about the website couchsurfing, do yourself a favor; get on there right now and make an account. I’ve lost track of all of the great experiences I’ve had with couchsurfing and it can make trips way cheaper. We were given an entire bedroom with a king sized bed and a view (for free of course).
We woke up before the sunrise to drive to Mounds State Park and prepare for the DINO race we had come to do. DINO (Do INdiana Off-road) is a group that runs a series of trail races across the state. The registration money goes towards trail maintenance and it’s a fun way to stay in shape and see some parks. Due to the previously mentioned rain, the trails were muddy and messy, but we charged onward undaunted. Kerry ran the 15k (winning 1st in her age group despite losing her shoes six times!) while Tim and I ran the 5k. By the end of the race, the sun was out and the day was beautiful. We were joined by two more club members and went on a hike through Mounds State Park. The park gets its name from the large earthen hills that were built by Hopewell natives thousands of years ago. Their positions line up with the sunset during the summer and winter solstices, making them ideal for predicting the timing of seasonal changes. We saw several and they were pretty amazing. Evidently, many of these mounds could end up underwater by the proposed construction of a dam which you should be opposed to – see more details here. After our hike, we set up tents at the campground. That night we had a blazing fire on which we cooked a big batch of vegetarian chili. The night was cold, but survivable.
Sunday morning we packed up and headed to our final stop, Ouabache State Park. At Ouabache we went on a 3-mile hike. Highlights along the way included a 100-foot fire tower and grazing bison. Long ago bison were abundant in Indiana until they were exterminated by obnoxious European colonists. This small herd was introduced by park staff to re-establish the original grazing regime and give visitors a glimpse of the Indiana that once was. We had fun watching them munch on grass and wallow in the mud. Finally, satisfied with our explorations (and out of weekend) we returned to South Bend.