Saturday, August 28, 2010

Cincinnati Dayscapes: Brookville Lake

Looking for a last summer fling? The beautiful Brookville Lake in Indiana is only an hour or so drive from Cincinnati.

We took a quick day trip there this Thursday, as our NOT Back to School Holiday. I mentioned this holiday and this trip to Vaya when she and Peach Boy came over for a visit. She looked at me and point blank asked, "You just make holidays up, don't you?"

Well, yes and no. Granted, neither Congress nor Hallmark have acknowledged a "Not Back to School Holiday", but other homeschooling families have. Its a day, usually on the first day that the local school district does go back to school, where you and your family celebrate some of the freedom you have as a homeschooling family. It wasn't my idea. In fact, I got the idea from other homeschooling blogs, where families go out to breakfast, or do some other commemorative event to celebrate the liberties they have through schooling at home.

The kids loved swimming at Brookville Lake when we went camping with Telephone and Company earlier this summer. It was only an hour drive from our house, so I thought it would make a perfect destination for a Not Back to School Holiday Field Trip. (Notice how when you put things in capitals, it makes the words seem ever so much more official?)

Since, the last few weeks of summer are upon us, I thought I'd share our experiences for any other family who is looking for one more summer outing before fall. Brookville Lake isn't far away, and it holds all the summer activities one could hope for.

We picked up Sweetling's good friend Pinkie and our own dear Tia Smurf and left Cincinnati around ten-ish, which means we got to Brookville a little after eleven. Actually, the specific park we were in is called Mounds State Recreation Area

From Cincinnati, we took 74 West to US 52 (exit 169). We followed 52 west through the town of Brookville, where it becomes Main Street. Main Street gently becomes IN-101 north, which we followed out of town, and up a large hill. You'll pass several park like entrances before you get to the Mounds State Recreation Area. The first entrance you'll pass will have a huge flag and a large Brookville Lake sign. This area has a boat ramp (if you boat) and a hiking trail. But no swimming beach. The second entrance you'll pass is called something like Garr Hill. We didn't go there at all to tell you what's there. The Mounds State Recreation Area will be farther on up the road. (Far enough further on that I was worried I had missed it somehow.) It doesn't have a huge sign, so be sharp eyed.

At the entrance to the park, there is a gate house. If you are from out of state, there is a $7 vehicle fee. At the gate house, be sure to ask for a park map. It has all the trail locations and descriptions that you'll need.

Upon arrival, we went hiking on one of the many beautiful trails. There are two trails I have been down and can personally recommend. The first was called a "Wildlife Wander Trail." We hit this trail during our camping trip and it was short, easy, and enjoyable. It's supposed to have a guided brochure by its trail sign, but there were none when we were there. I'd recommend asking for them at the entrance to the park if you're going to take this trail.

The trail we hiked during our most recent visit was the Glidewell Trail. This trail has a short loop and a long loop. We took half of the short loop, and then backtrailed back out of the woods. (The trail description said that the return trip on the short trail went through fields or meadows or some such. We had enough of that during our first visit, on another, not recommended, trail. The other trail was hot and scratchy and we weren't going to repeat that experience. This time, we stuck to the woods, like the good little elves we are.) On our hike, Toa collected a large, yet to be identified feather that might have come from a wild turkey. We marveled at several exquisitely woven orb webs. And, we admired the quiet beauty of the forest.

<--- See Sweetling demonstrating the importance of not choosing hiking trails through meadows in the summer?

After our hike, we drove down to the beach and had a picnic lunch on a patio with a picturesque view of the lake.

Because most every public school is back in session, we nearly had the beach to ourselves.Yet, the beach house was still open, so public restrooms and showers were still available to us. (As was the concession stand, if we had wanted to purchase ice cream....which we did not, since Tia Smurf had made us the most excellent key lime pie imaginable, from scratch, even zesting the limes and everything.)

The rest of the afternoon was spent playing in the water....

...looking for rocks and shells....

...being with good company....

.....and just relaxing.

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