The Natural Bloomington road ends at the Ohio River, where the buzzards roost

I’ve lived long enough to recognize epic sea change in real time. And even though I’ve seen this fork in the flow coming for a year or more, its imminence didn’t strike with full force until I turned south on Washington on Monday en route to the Ohio River at Buzzard Roost. I realized this would be the last road trip of my six-year, three-book exploration of natural Indiana.

I also know such pivotal moments are fraught with danger and ripe with possibility. So I took it slow and savored every one of the 208.2 road and 2 trail miles. Signs of peril manifested themselves in a mysteriously cracked lens filter (not cracked the night before) and a sign at the Buzzard Roost Trail warning the path to the river is “steep, rocky and slippery.” Signs of creative hope revealed themselves in a rare combination [in my experience] of sky and clouds above the beautiful river, as the Iroquois Indians called the Ohio.

Monday’s finale at Buzzard Roost-Mano Point-German Ridge produced the last digital images for Natural Bloomington book phase.

The push to finish coincided with the end of my academic year at The IU Media School; road trips took precedence over blog posts. I’ve uploaded a half dozen Hoosier National Photo Albums since the last blog on April 6: Knobstone Trail on April 10, Knobstone/Brown County D Trail on April 15, Shirley Creek on April 22, Tipsaw Lake, Saddle Lake and Mogan Ridge on May 14, and Nebo Ridge on May 18.

Among Monday’s locomotion-al epiphanies was the conclusion that the trip to Buzzard Roost is the most stunning drive from Bloomington to anywhere in the state, in my now-fully-educated experience. Via State Roads 37, 237 and 66, the course traverses the White, Lost, Patoka and Little Blue River Valleys, progressively growing wilder with each series of serpent-like turns. The 72-mile journey ends on a bedrock bluff overlooking the Ohio – a steep, rocky and slippery 0.8-mile footpath to a solitary bench with a verdantly framed view of water and a rare, wild Kentucky shoreline.

The return trip included quick stops at Mano Point, a significant archaeological site on the Ohio’s northern shore near the Mogan Ridge Trail East, and German Ridge, a rugged recreation area and 24-mile trail system that dissects the Hoosier National’s southernmost acreage, from Tiger to High Water Roads. I needed book-worthy photos at both.

Overall, the Natural Bloomington journey covered an estimated 15,000 road miles, from Auburn to Poseyville and Gary to Lawrenceburg – literally – with stops at 244 nature preserves, parks, forests and wildlife areas. It produced A Guide to Natural Areas of Southern Indiana and A Guide to Natural Areas of Northern Indiana, as well as a manuscript for a project called Rewilding Southern Indiana: The Hoosier National Forest.

Now that the book phase has reached its conclusion, the surrounding sea is changing in North Sea fashion. Short-term creative pursuits are unclear for the first time in decades. The immediate phase involves reflooring and replacing two bathrooms and kitchens in preparation for the nature-themed Natural Bloomington Airbnb next fall.

I’ve also done this long enough to know the next creative fork will reveal itself soon.

Thanks for savoring the ride – so far.

Hoosier National Photographs: Ohio River, Buzzard Roost Trail; Mano Point; German Ridge Trail,


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