I continued my journey to Loudonville and the Mohican State Forest area for a family reunion today. I began my journey at the midway point in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is not a quiet campground. It is surrounded by highways and railroads, and is too far away from the beach to have any noise cancelling effect. Tents are already not good for light or sound insulation. The constant traffic from the road, trains, and the early sun caused Gus to be awake most of the night.
Gus is an early riser anyway, rising at first light so we don’t lose a moment of play time. I have to keep my room at home dark or I end up being awoken at 5:00 AM in the Summer. He will sit with complete dedication on the bed, his head overlooking mine, eyes locked on my face, monitoring for the slightest indication that I am awake. If I so much as crack an eye lid… play time. And let me tell you, waking to the face of a schnauzer 6 inches from your face is somewhat disturbing!
I got to sleep around midnight and was awoken by the engine brakes of a truck at 6 AM. I quickly decided it was futile trying for more sleep and packed my tent and hit the road. We were back on the highway around 7 AM, sans shower or coffee.
The area of Indiana between Gary and South Bend is in great need of additional coffee outlets. Perhaps Starbucks should relocate some of the 600 outlets slated for closure to this seriously underserved area? I did find a coffee location about 30 miles into the drive and color started coming back to the otherwise gray world.
The drive to Loudonville was uneventful. Western Ohio is light industry and agrarian. The area near Toledo is a very significant melon producing area. Drove by a field that had cars in various parts, almost as if a prank or some wierd alien abduction/repatriation.
Milan, Ohio is the birthplace of Thomas Edison. A bar in Milan read, “Welcome Bikers”. The bar had no window and a gravel parking lot.
As you neared Loudonville, the terrain became hillier and more densely covered with trees. We arrived Loudonville around 2 PM.
Mohican Adventures Campground
I stayed at the Mohican Adventures campground, which is a complex of RV campsites, cabins of multiple sizes, and tent campsites. There are essentially two halves of the park split by a stream. The right half is fairly flat, and the dominant feature is the large lake in the middle of the park. The left half is a substantial large hill/small mountain, densely covered with hemlocks, pines, and other large trees.
The right half:
- Entrance area. This is the area in the front of the park, with the registration office, RV hookups, small cabins, swimming pool, and volleyball location. The entrance area is ideal for those people that camp because it’s an inexpensive way to hang out with their friends. Noisy, but lots of stuff to do.
- Lake area. This is directly behind the entrance area, going back halfway into the park. There is a fairly substantial lake dotted with nice cabins and a few large camper sites, and a beach at the far end.
- RV/camper area. This is to the back of the campground, and is where the RV/camper’s that want more privacy go.
On the left half:
- Tent camping area. The area features steep hills, and great campsites spread throughout the hills.
My tent campsite was on the mountain area, set back in a cul-de-sac with two other locations where my cousins would be staying. It seemed secluded, but we later learned that the views from above had clear lines of sight into our campsites.
After setting up, Gus and I head to my folks location in the RV/camper area. Their lot backed to a stream and woods on the far bank, had an empty lot on one side and my uncles camper on the other. The small stream behind them emptied into a slightly larger stream 40 feet away. This is the same sream that bisects the park. It’s a nice feature, providing a flat riverbed and intermittent small waterfalls. The campsites that back up to the stream aren’t the most scenic, but you have the constant sound of the water falling while you sleep.
After catching up with everyone, Gus and I headed down to the lake for a swim. A couple pointers before you take your dog swimming:
- Ensure your dog knows how to swim. I suggest trying a small swimming pool with steps as a learning area. Gus found out by accidentally jumping in, which wasn’t good for either he or I.
- Check the water before you allow your dog to swim or get anywhere near the water. Some lakes have algae problems that can cause death if dogs drink the water. If you don’t know about the safety, don’t risk it.
- Watch for plants and soft bottoms. Dogs will naturally try to put their feet on the ground and can quickly get tangled in plants.
- Know the limits of how far your dog can swim. Bigger dogs, especially retrieving dogs, can swim longer distances. Smaller dogs have to paddle much more to go the same distance.
- Have water available for them to drink. They’re working out and need to stay hydrated. Also, beaches tend to be warmer than other areas.
- Watch for signs of being tired out. Dogs are known to push themselves past their limits, but you don’t want your dog giving up in the water. If they look tired, call it quits.
- Be prepared to jump in. Don’t bring anything that you don’t want to get wet. If your dog gets stuck or struggles, you may need to jump in to help them back.
Gus and I made our way to the lake with a floating retriever toy. There were a few people around the beach when we started, and more so when we finished. If you’ve never seen a dog retrieve toys from the water it’s a cool sight. When a dog likes swimming and playing fetch, they love retrieving in the water. It’s a fun source of exercise that keeps them cool.
If you’ve never seen a 23 lbs. miniature schnauzer retrieve in the water, it’s even better. Bigger dogs are good at retrieving partly because they are better able to swim. Gus has to work pretty hard to get to the toy, retrieve it, and come back. I’d toss the toy 30 feet out, he’d rush out to the water, and bring it back.
We started attracting a crowd, and Gus started retrieving the toy back to the cute girls at the beach (good dog!). We called it quits after 45 minutes and headed back to the campsite.
Gus crashed in my lap that night near the campfire, completely exhausted from the day’s travel and exercise. A tired dog is a happy dog.