Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.


Falls of the Ohio, Clarksville, Ind.

On a recent Saturday we took a short trip across the Ohio River to Falls of the Ohio State Park. This small, state park features a fossil bed on the shoreline of the Ohio. The visitor and interpretive center sits on a cliff overlooking the Ohio and the fossil bed, which you can reach via a long set of steps and climbing down over some big rocks.

Falls of the Ohio

Some of the fossil beds aren’t visible year round due to water levels, though late summer and early fall are good opportunities to see them. There were pools of water in various spots along the fossil bed when we visited. Every once in awhile we found a minnow trapped in a small pool.

Pools of water are common along the fossil beds at the Falls of the Ohio.

Pools of water are common along the fossil beds at the Falls of the Ohio.

Chris and Sidney check out the pools of water at the Falls of the Ohio

Chris and Sidney check out the pools of water at the Falls of the Ohio

We spent half an hour looking for fossils embedded in the rock. An interpretive sign said the fossils include many different types of coral, trilobites and brachiopods. Here’s some photos:

Falls fossil 1

Falls fossil 2

Falls fossil 3

The visitor center had signs posted warning visitors that the temperature on the rocks could be as much as 20-25 degrees warmer. I can believe it. We were only on the rocks for about 10 mins. before I broke out in a sweat on what was a relatively cool, summer morning. Make sure you take water if you visit on a really hot day!

The park has events throughout the year. You can also pack at picnicking, fish or hike. I just discovered the park has one trail. I wish we’d found it while we were there. We did walk a little ways on the Ohio River Greenway.

The park is open year round, except for a few holidays, and is located near I-65 in Indiana.


Breaks Interstate Park, Breaks, Va.

The last camping trip of the year happened at Breaks Interstate Park, Breaks. Va. It’s located on the border of Virginia and Kentucky, and is one of two interstate parks in the country.

Chris and I were excited to check this park out because we assumed it would be the best one yet. When we arrived it appeared the park had seen its heyday. The facilities were dated and well-used. Check out this outlet in the women’s bathroom in the campground we chose:

Breaks outlet

This is the floor of the shower:

Breaks shower

I didn’t shower. I decided I could wait until we went home the next day.

We did have running water and electricity at our site. Some of the tent sites don’t have water and electricity, so you should get to the park in plenty of time to choose the best spots. There were also a few spots squeezed together, including a couple right beside the camp playground. I wouldn’t want my kids playing next to some random campers.

We were one of three campers in the whole campground that evening. Other campgrounds had a few campers, as well. This was both good and bad. Good, because it was quiet. Bad, because we had visitors during the night. Doesn’t matter how well you clean and store away the dishes and food. If you leave out the dog dish, someone is going to come exploring.

Oops! Someone either got really angry or tripped over the tent.

Oops! Someone either got really angry or tripped over the tent.

I didn’t sleep after our visitor came and went around 1:30 a.m. I longed for 6 a.m. and when it came, I was up and packin’.

The trails, however, were great. Beautiful, rugged, and long. Just the way we like them.

Breaks Trail


Shelley Lake Park, Raleigh, N.C.

Shelley Lake Park in Raleigh, N.C., is a great place to take a stroll or, as many people were on a recent visit, jog.

The small lake is surrounded by trees and a 2+ miles of trails, including sections of a greenway. Walking around the lake we saw ducks, geese, turtles and, possibly, cormorants. The cormorants could also have been herons; the birds were far away and hard to see.

There are also basketball courts, a playground, a boat house and an art center (Sertoma Arts Center) located in the park.

Great place to take a stroll with the family on a weekday afternoon!

(Sorry, no photos to share this time!)


James F. Hoffman Memorial Prairie Gardens, Olney, Illinois

On our visit to Olney, Illinois, we visited the James F. Hoffman Memorial Prairie Gardens, which is located at the Olney Central College.

It’s a garden full of native prairie grasses and plants. On the day we visited there were tons of butterflies, dragonflies and other insects flying around. Here’s some photos for you:


Francis Beidler Forest, Harleyville, S.C.

On our way home from our Charleston trip we visited the Francis Beidler Forest, an Audubon Center in Harleyville, S.C. It is an hour from both Columbia and Charleston.

The 1,800-acre forest sits within the 45,000-acre Four Holes Swamp.

We walked along the park’s boardwalk and some of its dirt trails, though most were flooded due to the day’s rain.

We didn’t see much wildlife, but we could hear it, especially pileated woodpeckers.

Our walk along the boardwalk was serene, peaceful. It was a great rest stop along the way home.

Here’s some pics from our visit:

This is a shot looking up a tree trunk of a tree that you can climb into.


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Cypress Gardens, Monck’s Corner, S.C.

I mentioned Cypress Gardens in an earlier post. This was probably my most favorite place during our trip to Charleston, S.C. It’s hard to believe this is a Berkeley County Parks and Recreation park!

There are 3.5 miles of trails, boat rides, a butterfly house, the Swamparium and lots of wildlife.

We were able to get in a boat ride before the sky opened up and dumped buckets of rain. You can take a free, self-guided boat ride or wait for a park employee to take you on a tour (cost $5). We opted to go it alone. Here’s some of what we saw:

There were lots of lily pads.
Our boat.
This guy was resting close to the boat house. (Look to the left of the pillar.)
We had to paddle or float under two foot bridges.
We got within about six feet of this lazy gator. Close enough to scare him off the log. Oops!

It was amazing paddling around in the water, especially when we could get up close and personal with some alligators. There was a photography club there the same time we were, and one lady asked to snap some photos of us in the boat. We tried to hold the boat steady as she snapped some photos of us from the side of the pond.

A friend used to live near Charleston and told us how snakes are known to fall out of the trees into boats at the park. Aaaggghhh! Luckily, I think, we were in the area much too soon for a snake attack. We also only saw a few gators and they were lazily laying on logs or at the foot of cypresses and other trees.

After the boat ride, it started raining and we dashed into the butterfly house, where we hung out until the rain slowed down and we could make it back to the visitor center/gift shop and then the car.

In the butterfly house we saw:

Quail
The resident wood duck, The Prince. He rules the butterfly house and what he says goes.
Butterflies and flowers

Caterpillars
Cocoons, or chrysalis  

Most of the winged beauties were hanging out at the top of the building and we couldn’t see them that well.

David Davis, butterfly house director, talked with us about the plants, showed us the cocoon house and gave me some seeds for a Mexican flower vine that the butterflies love.

David Davis greets The Prince, who is sitting on top of the bee hive.

Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for kids. Sidney had to stay in the car while we explored the park, but pets are allowed November-February.

This park most definitely should be on your To-Do list if you’re ever in or near Charleston.

I really wanted to walk around the gardens, but the rain wasn’t going to let up so we drove on up the road to our next stop — Conagree National Park, near Columbia, S.C.


County Parks, Charleston, S.C.

One of the features that impressed us about the Charleston, S.C., area were the many county and municipal parks and their quality. I swear the county parks were like being in a state park. Awesome!

We visited Mount Pleasant Palmetto Islands County ParkNorth Charleston Wannamaker County Park and Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park (where the Mount Pleasant Pier is located). And, in the next county over in Monck’s Corner, Cypress Gardens, which I’ll blog about later.
If we would have had time (and less rain), I would have loved to visit James Island County Park and Folly Beach County Park.
Here’s some photos from Palemetto Islands County Park:

There was a large marsh between the park and neighboring subdivisions.
The park is located among several housing developments.

Sidney on a boardwalk across part of the marsh.

A combination bird-watching tower and playground.

You cross this pond using a bridge to get to the visitors’ center.