Virginia Trip 2021 | Days 1 & 2 | Driving from NE to OH | Hoosier Hill, Indiana’s Highest Point
Over the last year, Curtis has had to travel several times for his job, but until this point I had never been allowed to go with him. However, a trip finally came up where I would be able to join him — and it also happened to be over the week of our 8th wedding anniversary! (Fun fact: that makes 3 years in a row where we’ve been able to have a Navy-funded “anniversary trip” — in 2019 it was for Curtis’ interviews in DC, and 2020 was our PCS from Hawaii to Nebraska).
When we found out the dates, we looked up flights for me since the Navy would pay for Curtis’…and decided it was much more than we wanted to spend for a 3 day trip. Instead, Curtis got permission to drive instead of fly — which sounded way more fun to us anyway, since we could bring Charlotte, get lots of new counties, and accomplish more of our national goals! And that’s the story of how we ended up driving from coast to coast in the span of one month!
Vacation began on Friday afternoon after Curtis got off of work. We took I-80 into Iowa, and 3 hours later made our first stop at my Nanna’s farm. We spent a good few hours visiting on the patio and walking through her gardens. She’s done an amazing job at keeping the farm looking immaculate, even on her own and with very little rain. In the near future she will have a very large amount of tomatoes, peppers, and green beans. So far this season, we’ve enjoyed strawberries from her abundant patch that Popa planted 3 years ago. She sent us on our way with tomatoes, grape tomatoes, and beans for my family.
We made it to my parent’s house in time for a late dinner. We made pizzas and got caught up with my parents (though it had only been just over 2 weeks since returning from our last vacation together). We also watched the Olympic opening ceremonies and I got to meet my sister Sarah’s new boyfriend.
The next morning, we spent a few more hours hanging out with my parents and sisters, and having a big breakfast before getting back on the road. We left around 9:30, this time with our longest driving day ahead of us. I mean, if we had taken the direct route it would’ve only been 8.5 hours, but where’s the fun in that? Instead, we took US-30 out of Cedar Rapids and IA-38 South through Tipton where we saw the Cedar County courthouse. Then after a short jaunt on I-80, we continued on I-38 through Muscatine for another courthouse.
Next, we took IL-92 across the Mississippi River into Illinois. There we jogged South and East into Mercer County, which is a tricky county to get and it had been burning a hole in our county map for too long. We stopped in Aledo for a picture of yet another courthouse courthouse so that we wouldn’t have to go out of our way again on any other trips.
We then had the option of heading South to I-74, but instead, upon the recommendation of Curtis’ parents who had passed through the day before, decided to continue on highways and county roads East to Hopewell, IL to see a Whispering Giant statue. It was located in a small green space on a hill with a steep drive and the air was very steamy, but we got out and took a picture and Curtis found the letterbox. After this, we finally drove South to Peoria and I-74, then took the interstate through the remainder of Illinois and into Indiana.
Near Crawfordsville, we decided to avoid Indianapolis by taking IN-32 to IN-38 and then US-36. We made one stop at the Boone County Courthouse in Lebanon — We didn’t stop at many, just when we needed to get out and stretch our legs, but tried to get drive-by pictures when we could if we were passing by.
By the time we approached the IN/OH state line, it was fairly late in the day. But our route across Indiana was chosen specifically for reaching the highest point in the state. Near the border, we cut South, drove some country roads, and reached Indiana’s highest point: Hoosier Hill, at 1257 feet above sea level. It’s located just off Elliot Road in a small forested area in between corn fields, with a small parking area and short walk to the high point, marked by a stone. There was another guy there visiting who offered to take a picture for us before leaving us on our own. We signed the highpointer’s log book and took some more pictures before continuing to our campsite, which we still had over an hour’s drive to get to.
We crossed into Ohio as the sun set behind us, and finally arrived at our campsite in Kiser Lake State Park, North of St. Paris, OH. The area was very full with lots of tent campers and RVs, and seemed a little too lively for 10PM. Curtis set up our tent and heated up leftovers that we had brought from home. We settled into our tent, and though there was still noise around us, the temperature had cooled down enough to be comfortable for camping and we felt tired enough from our drive that sleep came pretty easy… for a few hours, at least.
Just after midnight, we awoke to hear the beginnings of a thunderstorm. I’m not a huge fan of storms while camping, and as the rain started pouring, lightening flashes and thunder booms drew closer to us and closer together, I contemplated retreating to the car. But then as I started to shift around, I noticed there was a big pool of water in the tent. It turned out that our seemingly flat campsite had turned into a flowing stream of water from all the campsites uphill. The water was building up against the side of the tent and pushing in a wall and starting to flood the tent! I grabbed Charlotte and a few items and ran to the car, while Curtis cleared out more things and turned the tent over to pour out the water. He then moved it to where there wasn’t flowing water, and joined Charlotte and I in the car where we watched other tent campers re-enact similar scenes. Eventually after the rain had subsided and being unsuccessful at falling asleep in the car, we returned to the tent for a few more hours of sodden sleep before our second full day of vacation would begin.