Our family has had a blast this summer "wandering Indiana." (If you're a Hoosier, you know that term, and you've probably done it yourself.) We are staying in our home state for the summer, but we are ALL OVER THE PLACE.
First, the kids and I joined a Homeschool Nature Study group where we study Indiana waterfalls, so every Thursday we travel to a different waterfall in Indiana, and learn about the geology behind it - or sometimes we just play in the creek! It's a lot of fun and a perfect way to incorporate science, nature, exercise, play, travel, and fun into a summer break.
In addition to this, I have been working on my Indiana Historic Villages Field Trip Guide this summer. So, we have been popping all over the state into different historic villages, most of them pioneer, some of them turn-of-the-century, some frontier. I will highlight two of our visits so far below (there would be more if I had bothered to check that one we drove two hours to was open...ha...).
Billie Creek Village
Billie Creek Village is a turn-of-the-century village located in Rockville, Parke County, Indiana. It opened in the 1960s and has been a popular destination for family and school trips ever since. It has a 1900s era schoolhouse, two churches, a Civil War-era barn, shops, a log cabin, and more...not to mention two of what Parke County is famous for, covered bridges!
My kids and I traveled out to Billie Creek with our good friend Allie (who wrote the first story on our Family Stories page). Allie enjoyed playing teacher in the schoolhouse, and Ellie and Micah enjoyed playing student. Allie also gave a "sermon" from the pulpit of one of the churches, and we explored the town together. Keep an eye out for the field trip guide for more information on Billie Creek and an activity guide - released later this year!
Spring Mill Pioneer Village
Last week we visited Spring Mill State Park and its pioneer village. It is located in Mitchell, Lawrence County, Indiana, and is one of my favorite places in the world. I want to live there. (Seriously, look for me in one of the cabins with the beds and comfy-looking quilts.) We went with our kids, and one of my Girl Scouts and Ellie's friend, Br'yinna. The neatest thing for me was that every hour on the hour, the 1817 mill actually works and grinds cornmeal that you can purchase. It's amazing to watch a 200 year old mill in action with water that comes from a cave upstream.
There are several log homes, shops, and gardens that you can take self-guided tours through, and sometimes there are reenactors onsite. The buildings are authentic - some are in their original location, others have been moved from elsewhere in Lawrence County. I learned that a friend of mine's grandfather was actually born in one of the cabins. This is real history - it's a real village that was active for around a century before the railroad moved the majority of the population to the town of Mitchell. The village fell into disrepair until the state created a state park and the CCC built up the village and the park. There is more to the park than the village by the way - several caves, hiking trails, and a museum dedicated to Hoosier astronaut, Gus Grissom. It's a must-visit place for Hoosiers. This village will be highlighted in our Field Trip guide as well.
If you know me or my writing, you know by now that I am a "history nerd." No shame. I mean, I was grinning giddily as the mill was grinding corn, people. So, as we were walking out of the village at Spring Mill, I told Ellie and Br'yinna, "I knoooow, I'm a history nerd. But you had fun too, right?" (They did.) But I had to explain what a nerd is. Somehow they equated this with "loser." I promise you, "loser" was NOT part of my definition of nerd. But then, both girls looked at me and said, "Don't worry, Mommy/Miss Katie, you're not a loser!"
Yes! I'm not a loser! My husband and I had a good laugh at that. History is fun, folks. It's exciting, it's living, it's educational, it's fascinating, and even kids who don't identify as "history nerds" can enjoy it.
Where have you visited recently that made you grin giddily? (Surely, I'm not the only history nerd out there! So, what about you?)
Happy travels, happy storytelling, and to my American friends, Happy Independence Day!