Not all those who wander are lost.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien
Nestled in the picturesque hills of Indiana, Brown County State Park offers visitors 16,000 acres of forested and open land to lose themselves in. It’s the Hoosier state’s largest state park, and you can explore it by mountain bike, on horseback, or by foot.
At the end of a long day of exploration, guests can retire to large cabins in the woods, easily capable of housing a family of 6, with fire pits and plenty of firewood available. Or they can make their way to a private room, small waterpark and fully staffed restaurant, at Abe Martin Lodge.
“The Main Lodge, built in 1932 of hand-hewn native stone and oak timber cut in the park, offers beautiful outdoor verandas overlooking the sloping back lawn, park and the hills. Abe Martin Lodge truly has accommodations to meet any need.” (Abe Martin Lodge website)
Abe Martin, the lodge’s namesake, is a fictional character, created by Ohio native and American cartoonist Kin Hubbard. Abe is a hearty old soul, with a lot of grit and hard-earned wisdom to share, even if it’s a backwoods country vocabulary he uses to express his ideas.
“Abe’s creator, Kin Hubbard, never actually visited Brown County until 1914, ten year’s after Abe came swimming up out of his notebook. But he knew about Brown County’s reputation as a hard-nosed, rugged, isolated place where common sense, or at least horse sense, reigned supreme. He quickly settled his wisecracking antihero there.” (Abe Martin Lives)
Bring your pets along; toss a Frisbee across an open field, go for a trail run, or relax back at the lodge, in a pet-friendly room. Rolling hills? Check! Scenic views? Check! Water slide, lazy river and hot tub? Check! Check! Check!
If they don’t know already, Adventure seekers will be happy to learn that the mountain bike trails have been voted some of the best in the United States.
Those more interested in country décor, holiday decorations, rusted lawn ornaments, and handsewn dresses might prefer visiting nearby downtown Nashville.
A traditional country breakfast is available in town, at Hobnob Corner, a former country store that has transitioned into a family restaurant. It is flooded with locals and visitors late on Sunday morning, after church lets out. Their slogan is “Rustic Charm and Honest Food,” and all the bakery items are made (with real butter) in house. Cookies. . . Scones. . . Cheese Danish. . . all are available to those who dine in, or pick out a treat or two at the front bakery counter.
Interested in a full breakfast? The Hill Country Breakfast offers: Two eggs cooked to order; your choice of sausage, bacon, or ham and a side of biscuits & gravy and toast. It’s a hearty meal, for just $8.25.
But the restaurant has another side, a bit more sophisticated from a culinary perspective, after 5 o’clock. The chef, whose parents have owned the restaurant since 1979, and immersed him in cooking culture since his childhood, studied at the Culinary Institute of America, in New York, and was part of the team that opened the first 5 Star restaurant in the state of Indiana. But his heart remained in Brown County, and so he returned.
In the evenings the restaurant features a special “After Five Menu” that includes Duck Breast with Bing Cherry Compote, for $19.95, and Swordfish with Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad, for $23.95. If it’s Wednesday, diners are entertained by the guitar music of local artist Jeff Foster, for Wine Down Wednesday.
And there is wine – lots of wine, from around the world, including:
Red Car Chardonnay ($55), Made in Burgundian style–Crisp mineral
Vinum Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet ($55), 1 of 250 cases of a carefully crafted wine
Turley “Cederman” Zinfadel, Howell Mountain($60), Old vines—organic, with a touch of petite sirah
The Abe Martin character appears on Nashville’s welcome and directional signs.
“In the nearly 100 years since Abe first emerged from Kin Hubbard’s pen he has aged as well as can be expected, like a silent film star that everybody’s heard about and nobody’s seen. Yet, to read Abe Martin today, once you get past the hick-speak, is to find surprisingly modern nuggets of wisdom—and humor.” (Abe Martin Lives)
I wonder what Abe would have made of recent political elections. . .
By 1910 Hubbard was nationally syndicated, in over 200 newspapers. To experience Brown County, as Abe (or at least Hubbard) might have, reserve a cabin or room at the lodge online at http://www.IndianaInns.com or call 1.877.LODGES (Honest to Goodness, Indiana)
Join me on my next adventure,
Indiana Department of Natural Resources: https://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/2435.htm
Abe Martin Lodge: https://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/inns/abe/
Honest to Goodness, Indiana: https://visitindiana.com/lodging/35662-abe-martin-lodge-at-brown-county-state-park
“Abe Martin Lives” (Our Brown County): http://www.ourbrowncounty.com/1003s1.htm
Indiana History: https://indianahistory.org/heritage/hubb.html
Hobnob Corner Restaurant: http://www.hobnobcornerrestaurant.com/Home