Part I: The Trail of Tears National Forest

Despite everything I have been taught about planning for a trip, I leave with just the clothes on my back. Having a smartphone most of my life, I want some way to navigate that is more primitive than just typing an address on a GPS. In turn, I purchase a compass and map.

I continue on, driving south through Indiana and portions of the area I have never been; around Indianapolis during rush hour, through Bloomington, moving south towards Evanston. Arriving in Evanston, still feeling the jitters of being far from home, I find a hotel close by.

The hotel is under renovation and they provide a comforting adaptation to the circumstance. A tub-side construction-ducky and an apology notice, greatly appreciated.

Upon waking the second day I have some time to kill before meeting up with my sister in Kentucky. I decide to travel north and check out the Shawnee National Forest. I arrive a while before they open so I decide to keep driving. Realizing part of the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail is south of where I am and on the way to my next destination, I follow my curiosity.

With a vague idea of the events that may have unfolded here in the past, I proceed to prepare myself for what this area may hold. It is a misty morning, around 50 degrees, I open the windows and the immediate scent of wet leaves and the surrounding outdoor atmosphere engulf me. There is no one on the road, making it even more eerie yet dream like. Embracing the experience, I drive into the park around a series of small hills. I pull off to the left and into a parking lot nestled in a small clearing in the start of the foothills. I take a few deep breathes and step out of the car beginning to observe the area. There are trees scattered through the clearing and a dry river bed running from the heart of the foothills with an old tattered stone wall; somehow still holding the ground around it. An old abandoned playground and several small log cabin shelters are all around. I begin to walk, finding several trails leading up into the hills but I decide to keep walking. I follow slowly along the bottom perimeter of these hills, still thinking about the history here. Of recent past, the peaceful adventures and meals shared of locals and travelers alike. Of distant past, the tales filled with destruction and migration of people. These experiences surround and engulf me. I take a moment and rest at the base of one of the trees by the river, looking out among the area. The wind blows the trees around me, bringing a slight chill. After several minutes I pick myself up and slowly walk back to the car. The wind continues to howl as I watch the trees on the hill top sway. I climb back in the car, take a couple breaths and continue my travels.


Disclaimer: This blog is in no way, shape, or form affiliated with or sponsored by Hampton Inn®, Neutrogena®, or any of the cities or National Parks mentioned.


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