My family did a lot of camping when I was younger. We started out with a pop-up camper, which was later replaced by a travel trailer after the pop-up got caught in a wind burst and landed upside down in our back yard. But before it was destroyed, it served us well as our house on wheels during a cross-country trip from Indiana to California and back.
I think we saw most of the well-known tourist attractions –Yellowstone, Old Faithful, Grand Canyon, ect. — between Indiana and California on that trip. But I, unfortunately, don’t remember much from that trip since my young brain was too immature to absorb it all.
Since my memories of that trip are few and far between, when I think of camping as a kid, my memories are mostly split between Holiday Mountain Resort in Mountain View, Ark., and Potato Creek State Park in North Liberty, Ind. Two of my aunts, whom we visited in California on that cross-country trip so many years ago, now live in Mountain View so I get back out there at least once or twice a year. It wasn’t until last year, when we bought our RV, that I returned to Potato Creek for the first time in at least 25 years.
We went there on our comically disastrous maiden voyage last year. This summer, we’ve been there more than any of our other “go-to” camping sites. It’s very close to where I grew up and where all of my immediate family still live, so we were able to combine a few family obligation weekends with camping and used Potato Creek as a home-base.
The place seems so much larger now than it did when I was a kid. I’m pretty certain they have added a ton of stuff including hiking, biking and horse trails that weren’t there before. There is still an approximate three-and-a-half-mile-long paved bike trail which is what I remember most about the place. Now there are dirt trails, gravel trails, wood chip trails, ect., the longest of which is about eight miles long. And tons and tons of roadways on which to ride.
The weekend before last we headed back there, this time for a scheduled camping weekend with my cousins. This trip was all about camping and did not involve any other event we had to cut in to our camping time to attend. My cousin Lisa recently got a new bike, and also a travel trailer, so she and her husband have been to Potato Creek a few times this summer for biking/camping weekends. Being bikers ourselves (again), I was looking forward to getting back out there to ride the new bikes.
Most of our Saturday got rained out (we hit an RV show and museum as we rode out the storm, which I’ll write about in a separate post), but we did get a good hour or so to ride the trails after the rain stopped. We went on the paved path, which, I’m pretty sure, is the same trail I used to ride on as a kid, but it was nothing like I remembered. Much of the trail goes through a forest and I imagine after 25 years worth of growth, things would, indeed, look a little different. But nothing looked even remotely familiar. But it was a great time. The trail is absolutely beautiful.
The whole weekend was a lot of fun. A lot of laughs and good times were shared with my cousins, who have always been as close as siblings to me. It was also a great setting. I have really grown fond of Potato Creek. The campsites are all good size and nicely kept. It’s also become a very popular place. Most weekends get booked up in advance, so if you go, book early.
It’s a great state park with lots of things to do and see. It’s even open year round — a rarity for parks this far north — and even has winter activities, although I’m not sure how many people actually camp to take advantage of the winter activities. I expect we will return there many more times in the future, and hopefully at least one or two more times before this season ends.