This weekend (Sept 28-Oct 1) was the 7th Annual Anniversary Rally, hosted by Loren and Mike St. Peter (and 2-year-old EL, and new baby CJ) at West Branch State Park near Ravenna, Ohio. There was a long history of past successful gatherings that put the pressure on!
To explain the title: One of our ambitions is to visit every Ohio State Park. To track our advancement I made a wall-hanging labeling all the parks, and as we visit we sew a button on. (OK - TOM does most of the button-sewing!) Here is a picture of our progress so far.
Our motivation, for leaving Wednesday (September 27th) rather than Thursday, was to tag another Ohio State Park – Guilford Lake. Near Lisbon, Ohio – our 1st button of the weekend. It is a quiet fishing lake with a small campground of 41 sites located in what is an old pine plantation! The lake was at one time a natural glacial/kettle lake, that reverted to a very swampy low-lands and then was used as farmland. It was then dammed back up in 1932 to return to lake status. Whatever the progression, today it is a very serene little campground with tall pine trees and grassy sites – many of which are lake-side.
It was 87 degrees when we arrived, but cooled down by the minute. After supper we sat outside until after dark; I am listening to a new audio book about “the radium girls” who painted luminous paint on watch and aircraft faces during WWI. The paint was made with newly discovered, and greatly misunderstood, radium! I don’t think this is going to end up well for the girls! At bedtime, we left all the windows wide open, and by 10:00 it was getting deliciously cool in the Silvermine – and stayed like that all night.
Morning, with only an hour’s drive to West Branch State Park, was leisurely coffee and donuts, followed by a shower at the bathhouse, before launching at 9:30. West Branch is a large state park (5,379 acres) on a large lake (2,650 acres) with just under 200 campsites and beautiful new shower houses (the kind with individual shower rooms). The campsites are giant size with hardwood forest separating, making for nice privacy. Fall was in the area promising cooler days and crisp nights -- and leaves were covering the ground. As we pulled in we saw several Airstreams already in residence – people we knew, and “newbie’s” to the group.
Hosts Loren and Mike had a large corner site, across from the bathhouse – excellent location to establish the center of operations for the next three days. With Lou and Larry across the street, everything was ready for round-the-clock gatherings: breakfast on the griddle, circle-time-suppers/pot-lucks, chili cooking/tasting/judging/cook-off, raffle for prizes, pumpkin carving/trailer decoration contest, evening camp-fires and a continuous stream of back and forth friendly exchange and impromptu walks and excursions.
Here is a mash-up of pictures of the many people, 'streams, and events of the weekend.
When the recipe is good – don’t change it! Loren has kept the same popular mix of activities for her annual anniversary rally for the past 7 years, changing locations to add a drop of new to the stew. It works, and hopefully she’ll be cooking it up again next year.
We enjoyed it all and Sunday morning, after good good-byes, kicked off a late (for us) departure to add two more buttons on our State Park tally. Close by, and directly on our way home were two State Parks we had never visited – and with plenty of time to get home . . . we stopped and added two more buttons on our map!
Quail Hollow, recently transferred to Start County Parks system, is a 701-acre day-park landscape of meadows, marshes, and woods . . . . surrounding a 40-room manor! The manor was closed on Sunday, but we enjoyed the little trail that roamed the superb gardens.
Portage Lakes is a park of many waters, with some of them reaching Lake Erie and some the Ohio River. It offers boating, fishing, swimming and wetlands wildlife-watching, and a small camping area,
At this point we turned homeward -- beginning to think about our schedule this week: home on Sunday, unpack and repack, and head Wednesday for the Tennessee Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough. Oops, there goes Tom to the basement to get needle, thread, and buttons to update out State Parks map.
We don’t go camping any more . . . we go ‘streamin’ ! The “SIlvermine and His” is our 2016 23' Airstream, and ‘streamin’ is the name we use to describe our adventures. Stream along as we document everything from weekend trips to longer summer excursions and full-blown vacations. You know what they say: if you’re not in an Airstream – you’re just camping!
Tom & Ella Brown