Planning a trip? Dreaming of travel? Perhaps some of our adventures could inspire yours! Over the last several years we’ve had the distinct pleasure of many cross country journeys traveling though the Lower 48 in tents and our various teardrop campers as well as an amazing Alaska adventure that did not involve a camper. To learn more about our day to day adventures, recent blog posts are below. To learn more about Steve & Karen, click on the About Us link. All Things T@B is about using and caring for T@B trailers. Every other link is about travel adventures. Enjoy exploring, and leave us comments! We love hearing from you. And if you’d like to follow us, Subscribe by signing up at the bottom of this page.
Wow! This is a part of the story of the American Revolution that the two of us knew nothing about. Here at the George Rogers Clark National Historic Site here in Vincennes, Indiana. Here we learned that George Rogers Clark, son of a prominent Virginia family and older brother to William Clark of Lewis & Clark, was a 19 year old surveyor working in the western part of the Virginia colony in 1771. When the American Colonies declared their independence, Britain was seeking alliances with many of the native tribes and arming them for conflict against the Americans. Clark, fearing the loss of the lands west of the Alleghenies for the Americans sought and received the support of Governor Patrick Henry of Virginia to raise a fighting force. With the support of Francis Vigo and many here in the western territory he successfully swayed support among many of the natives to support of the patriots and successfully wrested Fort Sackville at this spot on the Wabash River from the British, which laid the groundwork for the establishment of the State of Indiana as well as all it’s neighboring states.
An incredibly talented entertainer, Red Skelton came from very humble beginnings here in Vincennes, Indiana. He was the youngest in a family of four boys whose father passed away just months before he was born in 1913. Very early on he discovered a passion for entertainment and by the age of ten was part of a traveling “medicine” show. His career progressed from there to vaudeville, radio, film, and ultimately television and his own TV show for nearly twenty years. For most of the Twentieth Century he entertained Americans. He brought levity across the airwaves during the Depression, entertained American troops overseas, and brought his own brand of humor into our living rooms with the advent of television. Perhaps our parents’ generations were the ones to most thoroughly enjoy his style of comedy. We remember them using some of his lines and referring to the characters he invented as part of their lexicon. And although we are of the generation that actively embraced the irreverent humor for which NBC cancelled The Red Skelton Show, we too can appreciate his silly yet down to earth humor. It was fascinating today to visit the Red Skelton Museum of American Comedy to learn more about this American icon.
The majestic home of the first Governor of the Territory of Indiana was the magnet that pulled the two of us to Vincennes, Indiana. Grouseland was constructed in 1802-1804 after William Henry Harrison was appointed governor in 1800. Knowing that the home is undergoing extensive renovation, we did not expect to be able to take a tour but when we knocked on the back door entry to the gift shop we were greeted by docent Sue Clark who graciously agreed to guide us and another group of three through this grand home on the frontier. It was fascinating to hear tales of life on frontier as well as to view items relevant to very early Nineteenth Century life and cutting edge technology for the time such as an indoor well. The home is indeed under much needed renovation and we were not able to tour all the rooms but it did give us quite an insight into a portion of the life of one United States President that is much overlooked and we’d very much like to return for another visit once renovation is complete.
After visiting New Harmony, the second oldest town in the state, we headed to Vincennes the oldest city in Indiana, established by French fur traders in 1732. It was only natural for us to begin our visit at the Indiana State Museum where we joined a tour in progress. There we learned that the Indiana Territory was established in 1800 and about many of the people and events leading to statehood in 1816. We visited the original Capitol building where the vote was taken to move the territorial capital to Corydon, Jefferson Academy which became Vincennes University, and the Eliju Stout Print Shop where copies of the first laws in the territory as well as the first newspaper was printed. Our docent really gave life to these buildings, character to the people who were here, and insight into the beginnings of what we now know as the State of Indiana.
If you’ve been following our blog recently, you may have noticed that we keep visiting locations that were home to Native Americans in prehistory, meaning before Europeans arrived on the North American continent and started recording their observations of the people already living and working here. Thus this morning, after a great breakfast with friends at Nellie’s in Newburgh, we made our way to Angel Mounds State Historic Site in Evansville, Indiana to explore one of the great Middle Mississippian Mound Builders communities. We hiked around the grounds, investigated the palisade construction and a typical home footprint, imagined farming on this piece of land on the banks of the Ohio River, and climbed to the top of Mound A, the highest of the twelve mounds here, and contemplated what it took to carry basketful after basketful of soil to create each of these mounds by hand. Back in the interpretive center, besides enjoying the air conditioning, we learned more about the people who lived here. This was a community based on agriculture and although their diet was augmented by hunting and gathering it was the corn, beans, and squash they grew that allowed them to live in one location year round, develop an elaborate social system, and have time for intricate crafts before vacating the spot about 1450 AD. Their culture was much like that of Cahokia in Illinois and of Moundville in Alabama. Almost certainly some of the tribes inhabiting this area when Europeans began to arrive would be descended from the people who lived, worked, worshipped, and partied on this very land. It’s been good to spend a part of today in Evansville where Karen once celebrated her second birthday but then to go back to New Harmony and celebrate this birthday with a delectable dinner at the Red Geranium.
The two of us have officially had our minds blown. As a part of today’s 1 PM tour of New Harmony, Indiana beginning at The Atheneum Visitors Center, we were able to visit the Maximilian-Bodmer Exhibit which tells the story of a German naturalist and a Swiss artist that followed the route of Lewis & Clark’s 1803-1806 Expedition. Fascinated by the findings of the Corps of Discovery, Prince Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied employed artist Karl Bodmer to accompany him on his own foray across the American West in 1832-1834 to paint a record of the scenes, species, and peoples they encountered. Up until this moment, the two of us had no knowledge of this body of work, of Maximilian’s journals or Bodmer’s paintings but we are now in awe of the the incredible value of having a record of the natural environment and cultural history in that brief moment of time shortly after first contact. Bodmer’s depictions of Native Americans are incredibly detailed and respectful. We are particularly fascinated with the images of the Mandan who just a few years later were all but totally wiped out by two smallpox epidemics. Even the Indians of the American West respect and are grateful for this work. Under the auspices of the University of Southern Indiana, this collection is open to the public only as the third stop on the once daily tour, and only for an incredibly brief twenty minutes. Back at the visitors center we purchased a copy of the book Karl Bodmer’s Eastern Views and in the process learned that there is an impressive collection of his work at the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Nebraska. Guess who now has that institution on their Places to Visit List!
Before we booked a site at Harmonie State Park we had not heard of the nearby community of New Harmony, Indiana but today we immersed ourselves in the history of this fascinating community. We had a bit of a head start after a delightful conversation last evening with a local resident and proponent of the town. We knew to head to Sara’s for a quiche and coffee before moving on to The Atheneum to kick off our experience. There we chatted with Heidi, purchased our tickets, and briefly browsed the gift shop before walking out on our own to get a feel for the place, visit the Roofless Church, and get some refreshment at the Yellow Tavern founded 1815. We were back at the Atheneum at 1 PM for the tour of the town. After an orientation film and a visit to some of the exhibits in this amazing edifice designed by Richard Meier and built in the late 1970’s we headed off on a tram to learn about the history of New Harmony. Founded in 1814 by the Harmonists, a German religious group of about eight hundred people under the leadership of George Rapp, that moved as a group from Harmony, Pennsylvania to establish a religious Utopian society here in Indiana on the banks of the Wabash River. Over the next ten years they built an impressive town then decided to move as a group back to Pennsylvania to found a new town, Economy. At that point George Rapp sold the complete town to Robert Owen, a Scottish industrialist and social reformer who was attracted to the existing textile mills and who wanted to establish a secular Utopian society here. In the process he created a haven for scientists and scholars although the utopian society lasted only two years. Today it is a vibrant community that remembers and respects it’s history but isn’t trapped by it. One local describes it as a “vortex of creativity”. We totally enjoyed the tour of the historic buildings and narration by Heidi who seems to truly enjoy talking about all aspects of New Harmony and we look forward to more adventures here. Of note, we’d previously heard of Robert Owen, he’d been influential in the industrial and social design of Lowell Mills. And we cannot help but wonder if we have a distant family connection to the first inhabitants of the Harmonist house we toured.
Our visits to Bloomington, Indiana are always amazing but this visit has taken it to the next level. We were privileged to have the opportunity to moochdock in CJ & Phil’s driveway over the busiest campground weekend of the year and to share a spirit of adventure and exploration with our hosts. Friday evening the four of us enjoyed a celebratory evening of cocktails and cuisine at C3 Bar in the Ridgemede neighborhood. It was a first for all of us, we love it when our hosts branch out from tried and true and try new places with us in tow. Saturday was such a fun filled day beginning with the Woolery Mill Farmer’s Market on the grounds of a historic limestone mill. Bloomington’s farmer’s market scene has changed since our last visit. We truly enjoyed the atmosphere here as well as Muddy Fork croissants and coffee. We came away with some bison skirt steak from Red Frazier Bison Ranch and heirloom green onion plants as well as fresh berries from Shawnee Hills Farm for future meals. Later in the day after a neighborhood walk and a siesta we four made it to the Cardinal Spirits Tasting Room for some fabulous cocktails and a delicious meal before meeting friends at the Monroe County Fair although we resisted eating fair food, a couple of us did ride the ferris wheel while others watched. Then Sunday was an incredibly delicious day. We’d brought some ground ostrich from our visit to Misty Morning Ranch, and contributed the bison meat we’d gotten at the farmer’s market. With that as starters Phil came up with the menu for a four course cookout that also included lamb steaks and shrimp on the Camp Chef griddle with amazing side dishes for each course. Both Saturday and Sunday evenings were capped off by fireworks in the neighborhood, sometimes visible a bit through the trees. All in all it was so much fun hanging out with these two, their kitties, and their friends all the while drinking in the vibe of Bloomington.
Like most Americans, we knew little about the 9th President of the United States except for his 1840 campaign slogan, “Tippecanoe and Tyler too” and that he died one month into his presidency presumably of pneumonia after delivering a two hour long inaugural address on a cold March day without an overcoat and hat. We did know that he was buried near his home in North Bend, Ohio just west of Cincinnati. So today when we went to the William Henry Harrison Memorial to pay our respects we were delighted to discover an outdoor interpretive center that gave us much more insight into the man and his career. That fascinated us as much as the impressive obelisk on top of Mount Nebo with it’s view of the Ohio River. Now we’re disappointed that we missed an opportunity to visit his birthplace when we were in Charles City, Virginia last month but have put Vincennes, Indiana on our map in the hopes we can visit his home there soon. In the meantime we’re checking out a cool history blog about the life and times of Old Tippecanoe, William Henry Harrison.
Early settlers of the what is now Ohio discovered and named Fort Ancient, a site that looked to them to have been built as a military defense. It’s a place near Oregonia, Ohio that’s rich in archeology and has been studied for it’s historical significance since the early 1800’s. It was established as Ohio’s first state park in 1891. When we visited today we learned that the earthen walls that surround the site were apparently built by people of the Hopewellian Culture two millennia ago probably as a spiritual and social gathering place and an opportunity to mark the passing of the seasons rather than for defensive purposes. The rising sun on the summer and winter solistices is visible through breaks in the great earthen walls that surround this place above the Little Miami River, a tributary of the Ohio River. The Hopewell at some point abandoned the site and hundreds of years later peoples of what are now known as the Fort Ancient Culture made their homes and grew corn here for a time, perhaps twenty years or so. We spent time in the well curated museum that addresses the broad sweep of Native American history from the Ice Age migration to the clash of cultures when Europeans arrived before driving the loop and walking out to one of the observation platforms. It would be amazing to have been here just a few days ago on Summer Solistice when the sunrise was visible through a deliberate break in the earthen walls that surround this site. As one of a few sites in Ohio under consideration for designation as UNESCO World Heritage sites, this is definitely a location that deserves a return visit as we continue to learn about and appreciate the cultures of the peoples who populated the Americas for tens of thousands of years prior to the arrival of European settlers.