Our first few days out were quite a ride and presented a number of challenges that certainly tested our patience at times, but ultimately we learned quite a bit and, while I believe there's still quite a bit left to learn, we've really gotten the hang of life on the outside.
We left Indianapolis somewhere around 2am and traveled roughly seventy miles before making camp at about 9pm. That evening, we encountered our first large hill which, after having been on the bikes for a good sixty miles, we decided to ascend on foot. Upon reaching the top we found a short path leading to a small clearing and a picnic table within a forested area. This was, of course, a sight for sore eyes as they say so we decided to pitch our tent and get started on some dinner. The elation was, however, short lived.
As I was attempting to hang our food bags from a tree I noticed a sheriff approaching so I went to greet him. He informed me that a passerby had noticed our tent and called the police, apparently this clearing was available for the public to use for outdoor recreation with the exception of camping. His tone and body language seemed to suggest that he was rather annoyed that the passerby had called him out there and he didn't really think our one night stay was any big deal, but it was his job to uphold the law regardless of his personal opinion. He was quite friendly and surprised to hear how far we had traveled by bicycle that day. We promised to pack up after heating up some chow and parted ways.
After getting the bikes all loaded up we set out for the Horseman's Campground in Brown County State Park as it wasn't that far from our current locale and we had heard from a camping website that free dispersed camping was allowed there. Unfortunately after traveling through Nashville, in and through some winding uphill back roads we just didn't have it in us to continue on. We turned back and found a little hole in the foliage near a house that lead to a small creek just off the road. We walked the bikes in and pitched our tent just after dark, sleeping very little before having to break camp and head out before dawn.
As it would turn out, a pretty good distance and some rather steep uphill climbs still lay ahead of us before we were to reach the Horseman's Campground. On the way there we came across another cyclist with whom, while cycling, we briefly conversed about our travels. "Oh I love it, I love it, I love it!" he exclaimed upon hearing that we were looking to make the west coast at some point. A few encouraging words were said and he was off.
Upon our arrival at the Horseman's Campground, we were quite disappointed to find a no bicycles allowed sign. Well we had ridden quite a distance on nary a wink of sleep so nuts to that, plus we weren't planning on riding any trails. We made our way into the camp grounds and just laid low all day in a shaded corner. I read that this particular camp provided vault toilets which, if you don't already know, are similar to port-a-johns, it's a hole in the ground with a little room around it. Needing to relieve myself I thought I'd make my way to one of these toilets, but found the conditions inside more off-putting than digging my own personal hole somewhere outside so that's exactly what I did.
Jenny's step father gave us a book, written by himself, about camping. Within the pages of this book it was suggested that when relieving one's self in such a fashion burning the toilet paper would help its biodegradation move along. Though I'd imagine there are situations where the burning of toilet paper could result in a forest fire, this was not likely one of them.
As evening grew closer our water supply grew drier. An on-line map of the area indicated there was a creek behind the trees on the west side of the camp ground and upon inspection there was indeed a dried up creek bed just behind a secluded camp area. The dried up creek left behind a large puddle with small fish and frogs living in it so we decided to move our camp to the secluded camp area and start filtering water in the morning.
Upon day break we broke camp and moved our bikes and equipment onto the dried creek bed as this area was well hidden from any activity on the camp grounds and close to our water source. This turned out to be a great day to relax, still quite hot and humid, but plenty of shade, water and privacy. We took this opportunity not only to fill our water resevior, but take much needed showers with our five gallon camp shower. Learning to use the LifeStraw water filter was essential and after a few uses we pretty much figured out how to keep the water flowing. We also setup our tent on the rocks of the creek bed which wasn't the most comfortable, but we were still able to fit in a nice nap.
After dark we moved everything back up to the secluded camp site. Jenny cooked potato soup from one of our dehydrated soup packets. Thankfully I had my headlamp on which helped me catch a rather large moth that had drowned in the soup. We had hoped to get our food bags hung from a tree, but our attempts met with failure as the paracord we purchased proved too thin and kept digging into our hands when we tried to raise the bags. Luckily aside from a curious little possum our food remained undisturbed throughout the night.
Jenny had heard from her step father, John, who indicated he would be near the area so we decided to get an early start and meet John for lunch in Nashville then begin making our way toward Bainbridge...