We kicked off our “Mortons on the Move”, full-time RVing journey with a trip to Noblesville, IN to coincide with attending a good friend’s wedding. We’ve compiled a short highlight video of our stay there, and a more detailed written account below. Enjoy!
Our Arrival The rain started about 2 hours from our destination, and just got worse as we got closer. Tom was driving and I was checking the weather station constantly. Thunderstorms and pouring rain were hitting the entire greater Indianapolis area, including Noblesville where we were to be staying at a campground right by the river – hence the name “Riverbend Campground”. Better yet, there were flash flood warnings.
We chose this campground due to its convenient proximity to the wedding venue we’d be attending the following Saturday (Purgatory Golf Course), which was literally just across the street. No price checking, no real research. Just booked. As we turned into the campground drive sloping down towards the river, I considered that maybe that wasn’t the best idea…
It was dark, and our headlights bounced of the many large puddles of water that had accumulated. We slowly followed the drive. We rounded a turn, and stopped suddenly as we saw the road take a steep dive into the river. After a panicked several seconds, we realized that it was a boat launch, and we soon determined where the actual road continued on. Nonetheless, we were nervous! We were carrying 17,000 pounds of “house” behind us – not something you want to get stuck in mud or to have slide into a river.
The campground office was dark except one lone light post. We waited a short while, and we were met by another truck. A man got out and introduced himself as Rick, the campground owner and manager. I nervously asked if he was worried about flooding, and he shrugged. “Nah, we’re monitoring the river. It’ll be okay. I have a nice site picked out for you.”
After checking in, he led us through the dark, nearly empty campground. The puddles were deep, and the truck bore through them, towing our huge 40-foot trailer behind us. If we hadn’t been following where Rick led we would have been lost, and we also probably would have chickened out of some of those puddles!
We could not tell one site from the next. We wove between trees and boulders, until Rick finally stopped and got out of his truck to help us navigate into our site. Our “nice spot” turned out to be RIGHT next to the river, and the surging waters.
Once we got parked and pushed the slides out of the fifth wheel, and climbed into our dry home on wheels, we let out a collective sigh we didn’t really know we were holding. We made it! We made it to our first official “Mortons on the Move” destination! And hopefully the river 10 feet away didn’t flash flood in the night…
Obviously, the river did not swallow us up. And in the light of the morning, it really didn’t seem so bad. The storm left the place VERY wet, and honestly pretty run-down looking. The place was nearly empty; there were just a handful of trailers in the 160-site campground. The grass was long, and the puddles were not draining well. But our site was, indeed, a “nice spot” right on the river that we grew to really appreciate.
Over the week we got to know Rick better, and we learned that he had been hit hard with floods this season with the most recent being just before the 4th of July. He just had a drainage line break that he was working to repair, hence the bad puddles. Between the constant rain and the flooding, the grass couldn’t be mowed.
The first few days were HOT, HUMID, and terribly BUGGY! We enjoyed our A/C in our fifth wheel, and only ventured a little into town. As the humidity dropped and the bugs eased, we came to very much enjoy our quiet campground that we had almost all to ourselves. Rick invited us over for food and drink, lent us canoes to explore the river, and even introduced us to his family. Rick’s family was from India, and they made the best Indian food we’d ever tasted – and made it over the campfire!
The White River
The first few days after our arrival, the river didn’t look too appealing; it was murky, cloudy, and you couldn’t see through it at all. After living in the Saginaw River area, downstream from the third largest chemical company in the world for over a hundred years, we were cautious of this big river and what hi. However, we saw many boats pass, and on some of the hottest days we saw people floating past our site on inner tubes.
Rick lent us a canoe and drove us about 7 miles upriver from the campground to spend a pleasant 3 hours paddling down the river. By then, the water had cleared up tremendously, and we saw that the river was indeed beautiful. It is too shallow in some places for motorboats, so the trip was quiet and peaceful.
The West fork of the White River that we were on runs all the way down to through Indianapolis and onto the Wabash River, which joins the Ohio River, which flows into the Mississippi. The White River is threatened by pollution from herbicides, insecticides, fertilizers, and overflow sewage from runoff from Indianapolis and other cities.
In 1997, the White River was listed as one of the United States’ most threatened rivers, and in 1999 there was a massive fish die-off caused by a chemical dump by an autoparts maker called Guide Corp. This sparked a massive river clean-up effort, and while not completely done, has made the river MUCH better. We definitely noticed a difference in the water quality from the beginning of our trip and the end. Toward the end, we did go in and let the dogs cool off and play in the clearer waters.
As our “home” for a week, we got out and got to know the place. We came to find out that we were in the far northern part of Noblesville, just a few miles from the Historic Downtown area, which was about 20 minutes from the newer business district. We learned that the Historic Downtown is mostly closed on Mondays (the day we chose to visit), but we were able to visit a few local shops. One even let us bring the pups in. We also explored Forest Park, which is a very nice, well-maintained, family park complete with popular swimming pools, golf course, trails, and more.
The newer business district had all the box stores, name brands, restaurants, and strip malls you could want. We met some friends for dinner in a very up-and-coming area of town with brand new infrastructure.
Since we couldn’t bring ourselves to swim in the river, we got in the truck and drove over to the Morse Reservoir, which looked like the closest body of water to us. We read online about a free beach that was the only public access. We found the beach, and found out that it was not free. It was in a nice park called Morse Park but it didn’t really suit our needs. But the spillway from the reservoir was pretty neat to see.
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Sunday 30th of August 2015
LOVE your documentation of this journey! SO FUN! I hope you make it out to WA state! Enjoy!!!