Last year the girls and I attended the annual Cruise to the Monument in downtown Angola. We had a great time so we wanted to make sure we attended again this year. In addition to the cruise-in, there was a special celebration for the 10oth birthday of the Soldiers Monument. When we arrived, we were able to park in the community center parking lot and witness the service honoring our veterans. We continued to walk toward the Monument, looking at the unique cars while enjoying the traffic being blocked off for a few hours. The girls first saw a fire truck and just had to get a picture with it. As we made our way to the mound we saw everything from an old van that converted into a camper, to a lime green hearse all the way to a fuchsia Cuda. Cars were everywhere-parked all the way around the mound, in the parking lots in all the quadrants and lined up on Wayne and Maumee streets. There were several organizations selling food and popcorn and there was even a live band up by the Brokaw Theatre. The girls absolutely loved taking a moment to listen to the music and danced a little bit. I enjoyed running into old friends and co-workers while checking out neat cars, both old and new. Before we left, Emi spotted one car with a huge stuffed monkey in the back seat and she had to go see it. When we got up to the car the owner of the vehicle made sure Emi was able to touch the monkey and give him a high five. I think that made her night! Once again the annual Cruise to the Monument didn’t disappoint and it seemed like everyone in attendance was having a great time. (Cruise to the Monument traditionally is held annually the third Wednesday in mid-September.)
Labor Day may signal the unofficial end of summer, but here in Northern Indiana Lakes Country there is still plenty of great camping weather to enjoy. Whether you want primitive camping or full RV hook-up, you can find it in Steuben County!
Circle B Park and Cabins on Hogback Lake will have its closing weekend October 28. However, the owners always keep a few RV hook-up sites close to the front of the resort open for those campers who might need them later in the year.
Pokagon State Park is open for camping year round and offers fall/winter tent and RV sites.
Manapogo Park near Orland maintains its tend and RV camping sites until October 8. However, there will be activities at the campground Halloween weekend.
Yogi Bear’s Jellystone in Fremont closes on October 15
THE END OF SUMMER NEARS!
I had been looking forward to the End of Summer Concert at Commons Park all week. Not only to unwind from the week, but there was there going to be great music by Hubie Ashcraft, Shigs n Pit BBQ was going to be serving food and Mad Anthony’s was going to be serving adult beverages. Mak and I waited for Bryan to get home from work and we hooked up the bike trailer to my bike, jam packed it with our lawn chairs and a cooler, put Mak on the seat on the back of my bike and we rode down to Commons Park. We got there right before Hubie Ashcraft hit the stage, locked our bikes to a small tree and found a great seat not too far from the stage and concessions. We enjoyed the music for a little bit first before venturing over to Shigs n Pit BBQ. Bryan and I both got a pulled pork sandwich with sides. Mak had already eaten at home so she grabbed a bag of Cheetos. They had 3 different BBQ sauces to choose from and the meal was delicious! We went back to our seats, enjoyed more music and then decided to grab a drink from Mad Anthony’s which tasted great on a warm summer evening.
I had seen Hubie Ashcraft before but the way that they interacted with the crowd and the children this evening was quite the experience. They would take instruments into the audience and get up close and personal with people. About 15 minutes before the concert was supposed to end, MaKenzy finally mustered up the courage to go dancing in front of the stage with the rest of the kids. Since they had a fiddle player in the band I kept saying “It’d be great if they would play ‘The Devil Went Down to Georgia!'” And they did! It was the last song that they played! It seemed to me that 9:00 came way too fast because we were all having so much fun! After the last song, we packed up our bike trailer again and rode home. It was definitely a great way to unwind from the week and it seemed like everyone in attendance had a great time! I sure hope there’s another End of Summer Concert to enjoy next year!
Nature sings at Wing Haven! The Acres Land Trust site encompasses almost 255 acres. Helen
Swenson donated the land and its 19th century log buildings to the Trust. The property features
a ravine, several spring fed lakes, and a restored prairie meadows and grasslands.
There are several trails of varying difficulty tucked between the kettle lakes which were created
by glaciers during the last Ice Age. Stairs and bridges link the trails treating hikers to a wide
variety of landscapes from moss covered rocks and streams to neatly sculpted fallen trees.
Wildflowers including a little blue flower known as the fringed gentian cover the banks of the
lakes—two of which, Gentian and Little Gentian take their name from the flower.
A great place for photography, birding, and studying foliage, one only needs to look closely to
find hidden treasures. From dragon flies and water striders, to rabbits, squirrel, sandhill cranes,
and raccoons, Wing Haven has it all.
While some of the 19th century log buildings are used by the caretakers, others may be reserved
and rented out for such weddings and other events.
Wing Haven is located north of Angola just off I69/US 27 North. Take exit 154 to SR 127S. Then
turn left on CR 400 N and head east (left) the preserve and parking is a short distance back on
the left (north side of the road).
I check the back ribbon of my Minnie Pearl straw hat before leaving the house. I gingerly step into Kathy’s car ducking my head wondering how did women drive with these hats? (Perhaps they didn’t?) I notice we are both wearing summer cotton dresses and sandals. This is not an ordinary outing for a Sunday afternoon. No, we are headed to the Collins Schoolhouse to participate in the fifth annual Ice Cream Social.
The drive is once again beautiful as we meander over country roads. We pass the schoolhouse and have to turn around. Once Bart Collins helps us find parking, I feel we have been transported to another century. Tents are set up with tables and chairs for the social. Another long table is filled with home grown and homemade cobblers of peach and berry and rhubarb followed by a tub of ice cream. Whereas we are anxious to sit in the shade and visit with folks, we are, of course, drawn into the schoolhouse itself.
It is not my first visit. I used to bring my Hamilton students to the schoolhouse when June Collins was still on this earth and giving her glorious tours. We always came in the Autumn. I can remember June ringing the bell and my students, in awe, taking their seats. My wandering eyes followed the trees in the windows…tree leaves of ruby and scarlet and tangerine. It was enchanting. Once in a while I would be pulled out of my daydreaming state as June reprimanded one of my students.
Now the tours are given by other members of the family. On this day is it Claudia Smith who welcomes us smiling from ear to ear. We all comment on the glorious weather and step over the threshold into 1877. It is as it was. Perfect. The books are lined up on bookshelves, lunch pails ready to be taken out to sit under the old trees, cursive writing on the board (is that still June’s handwriting?) and desks waiting for students. It is magical. It is beautiful. It wasn’t always so. This school, along with most one room schoolhouses in America, fell into disrepair and neglect. The Collins School was saved by the Collins family. They had donated the land originally for the school and in 1947 June bought the property and restored it with her family and friends. It is now a non-profit 501(c)(3) which means it can accept donations for preservation.
I walk quietly amongst the past; reading the names of all the former teachers, smile at the class photos of those long gone, and pull out a McGuffy reader to check out the lessons. We thank Claudia for the tour, but I turn back and ask if she would ring the school bell for me so I can record it. She goes in to ring the bell, but I fumble too long and miss it. She comes out with a thumbs up, and I ask her nicely to do it again. She does.
We walk across the lawn and choose fresh peach cobbler with ice cream. We place our donations in the old-fashioned ice cream bucket at the end of the table. The tables are in the shade and we sit and chat with folks. I combine the old with the new as I put up a photo on Facebook inviting everyone to come out and share in this event.
Thomas Jefferson had the first ice cream social in the White House in 1802. It caught on in the late 1800’s in the mid-west as a social gathering with fund raising in mind. When I bought my house fifteen years ago this summer, the home owners, Randy and Shannon Wallace, had an ice cream social in their/my garden to welcome me to the neighborhood. It was a lovely occasion. Perhaps it is time to have another one?
Kathy and I are reluctant to leave, but there are other obligations on this beautiful day. As we walk back into the sun, into our century, I turn back. The Collins family is still smiling, serving, talking, preserving.
This beautiful school house sits in the summer sun and the snows of winter waiting for you to visit. Take the kids and the grandparents. The doors are open from 2-5 on August 13, 20, and 27. We are so fortunate to have a piece of American history just a few miles up the road.
And maybe, just maybe, Claudia will ring the bell for you.
We were looking for something to do on this overcast Sunday, so we thought we would head down to Pokagon State Park’s main beach and scope out the 40th Annual Sand Sculpture Demonstration and Contest. Yesterday the artists created their sculptures, but we were very happy the sculptures were roped off and they were all still standing for us to check them out. They ranged from a sea serpent, to a castle and all the way to Lightening McQueen from the movie Cars. After looking at all the sculptures, MaKenzy had to test out the temperature of Lake James. We walked up the stairs that brought us to the CCC Shelter and had to stop by the playground as well before getting back in the truck. Next year we will try to make it to the beach when the artists are creating their pieces of sand art. I think the girls would get a kick out of that. ?
Make sure to check out the Steuben County Tourism page regularly for events around the area!
Tonight we went to Sunset Slush in Angola, to celebrate Mak’s 2nd birthday as a family. Sunset Slush is an Italian ice shop. Italian ice is like ice cream, but without dairy. We are frequent customers here and we each have our favorite flavors. Emi always requests Zombie, which is a fruity mix of flavors, Mak enjoys chocolate, I love Peppermint Patty or Cafe Mocha and Bryan is also a Peppermint Patty lover. He branched out this evening for the birthday celebration and had Rootbeer Float! Emi started eating her Sunset Slush Italian Ice a little too fast and got a “Slush Rush!”
also offers gelato (gelato is dairy based and lower in fat than regular ice cream, but higher in sugar.) To complicate choices further, they are expanding now with floats and shakes! In case you were wondering, a float has some type of soda in it and a shake is just the dairy product with maybe a few flavorings!
Sunset Slush recently moved into their new building which is just a hop, skip and a jump from their old building! The big difference is they now have a drive up window (which is great when we don’t want to get the kids out of their car seats.) When we do decide to go inside we love seeing the same friendly faces.
Once again we all enjoyed our Italian ice and sitting outside at their picnic tables was a great way to end the evening and to put a close to Mak’s birthday festivities.
Today was absolutely beautiful so we drove to Barton Lake in Fremont and went to the water park/splash zone at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park. Every time we go this place blows me away. There are two splash zones- one geared toward smaller children and another that adults and children alike can play on. There are also three pools, larger water slides and a Tiki hut to get some snacks. Emi and Mak started on the smaller slides, then once they got comfortable they ventured away from those to see what the larger splash zone had to offer. By the end of the day, Emi was running circles through the large splash zone, going down all the slides and not caring that the big bucket was going to dump at any moment! We were all worn out by the end of the day, but we had a great time and will definitely be back!
I remember every year when I was little my dad would take my sister and I to the Orland Vermont Settlement Festival and this year, my dad and I took the girls for some fun! The first thing we went through was the settlement where the girls got to see animal skins, a stuffed beaver, an old time wagon and people cooking their lunches over the fire. The girls were even given homemade soap by one of the settlement men. Next we had to visit the free kid zone bounce houses! They had so much fun I had a hard time getting them out of there. We ate lunch at the park, got some homemade ice cream and Emi even got her face painted. We weren’t able to stay for the talent show or the other fun activities because it was almost nap time but we all had a great time and had lots of fun at the Orland Vermont Settlement Festival, held at the Orland Town Park.
This event is held the last full weekend in July and recognizes Orland as the birthplace of Steuben County. The event is put on by the Orland Chamber of Commerce. You can always find more information at lakes101.org or by calling 800-LAKE-101.
Eight years ago a wonderful event came to Steuben County called Angola Balloons Aloft. It has grown to a fantastic family-friendly event with everything from hot air balloons to large inflatable bounce houses, hero characters, classic car show, concessions and a petting zoo. This year we started Balloons Aloft by seeing the colorful balloons fly over our home Saturday morning. We then went to the event at Angola High School. The girls even got to see Paw Patrol characters Chase and Marshal and see animals up close and personal at the petting zoo and aviary display. Later that evening we went back to see the illumination of all of the balloons. Not only did the girls enjoy this event, the entire family did.