2020 Road Trip Photos #9: Spring Mill Summer Stroll

Anne and waterfall!

That’s us chasing waterfalls. Why stick to the rivers and the lakes that we’re used to?

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Every year since 1999 my wife Anne and I have taken a trip to a different part of the United States and visited attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. Then came 2020 A.D.

Even in an ordinary average year, sometimes you really need to get away from it all. In a year like this, escape is more important than ever if you can find yourself one — no matter how short it lasts, no matter how limited your boundaries are. Anne and I had two choices: either skip our tradition for 2020 and resign ourselves to a week-long staycation that looks and feels exactly like our typical weekend quarantines; or see how much we could accomplish within my prescribed limitations. We decided to expand on that and check out points of interest in multiple Indiana towns in assorted directions. We’d visited many towns over the years, but not all of them yet.

In addition to our usual personal rules, we had two simple additions in light of All This: don’t get killed, and don’t get others killed…

We’d come all the way to Mitchell to see the Gus Grissom museum at Spring Mill State Park. It seemed a shame not to enjoy the park itself while we were there. Despite our debilitating incident at Shades State Park, we still had use for more exercise. This time we chose the least rugged trail possible, a gentle lap sketched around Spring Mill Lake. Best of all, nary another human came within a hundred yards of us on our serenely maskless expedition.

Spring Mill Lake!

Our initial view as we approached from the south along its boat ramp.

sunnier lake!

A sunnier view toward the east,

2016 restoration rock!

A plaque in a rock noting completion of a restoration project, one of several such statewide done as part of the Indiana Bicentennial.


A little birdhouse for the soul.


A few bridges broke up the monotony of the plain dirt path.

turtles on a branch!

The closest we got to an action scene in this idyllic setting was a pair of turtles climbing a branch over the water.

turtle closeup!

After these photos, both turtles plopped into the water and paddled gently away. Like I said: action scene.

more turtles!

A second pair of turtles. This was far more wildlife than we usually see on our happy nature walks literally anywhere else ever.

waterfall and buoys!

An overflow dam in the northeast corner makes a nice waterfall leading into a creek that diverges from the trail markers.

rocks in creek!

A view of the creek from an overhead bridge, from which we could stare into its vanishing point beyond the treeline.

shade view!

A lake vantage from the shade, a cooler place to be.


Inexplicable boulder on the trail from nowhere.

trail steps upward.

This is about as “rugged” as things got. No worries about heatstroke or dehydration this morning.

wetter trail.

Still easier than Shades, and still not as damp.


A reflection viewed from the lake’s eastern shore.

After our lap around the lake (and one more wildlife appearance we’ll return to later) we drove to another section of the park where something called a “Wilson Monument” was dotted on the map. We saw no explanation. We had to know if we were missing out on anything cool.

Spring Mill Inn!

For our last leg we parked at Spring Mill Inn, which apparently does enough business to merit a two-story parking garage.


Coneflowers by the inn, much like what we’d seen at the Lew Wallace Study.

To our chagrin, the trail and its map disagreed on its shape and intersections. At one point we found ourselves creeping down a nearly vertical slope of overgrowth to reach a paved sidewalk that the brochure swore was reachable just right there, and yet was not. Eventually we found the landmark in question: a monument to one Alexander Wilson (1766-1813), dubbed a “Father of Modern Ornithology” by some long, long ago. At some point after his death his crown was passed on to John James Audubon. But the guy who owned this property in 1866 was a Wilson superfan.

Alexander Wilson monument!

Hence this salute to Wilson’s outstanding achievement in the field of 19th-century birding. It was not, as I’d wildly guessed, Woodrow Wilson’s Presidential gravesite. Perhaps that’s for the best.

To be continued!

* * * * *

[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for other chapters and for our complete road trip history to date. Follow us on Facebook or via email sign-up for new-entry alerts, or over on Twitter if you want to track my faint signs of life between entries. Thanks for reading!]

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