Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Stanley Chronicles: Turkey Run 2017: Day 1; Magical Flames!!!!

Tuesday morning.  No electronics are allowed except for cameras and the cell phone for emergencies only.  We're going to focus on the trip, not texting or stupid video games. Generalized chaos as we begin our loading and final preparations.  Checking the weather shows about a 50% chance of thunderstorms for the Turkey Run area and 10% for local. 


It starts pouring.  The CinC is scrambling around trying to feed her critters and get them/MIL ready for us being gone for a few days. I start loading the van. A master at Tetris I am.  I fit it all with a few cubic inches to spare for the spawnlings to fit in.  Plenty of space.  They're young. They can bend/fold into the spots.  The CinC shoves a few extra items in I wasn't informed of (extra blanket and pillows), right on top of the 'dry goods', smooshing the bread and chips.

Finally get on the road about 11am.  The rain is light and everyone is in good spirits.  We take it pretty casual. With the rain, I'm not planning on getting a whole lot done this afternoon/evening outside of getting things set up.  Remember the saying about best laid plans though. A little after noon CST (1pm EST), we come to Rockville, IN, only about 20 min South of the campground.  We decide to stop at the Burger King for lunch.  We don't have one near us so it's kind of a fast food 'treat' for the kids. About 2 min. after we get our food, the power goes out.


The manager makes a few calls and sends all his staff home. He tells me there's no ETA on when it will be back up and when it goes out, it usually goes out quite a ways north, including the park. 

Well hell.  We finish our food and drive up there to see what's up.  We first pull into the 'Turkey Run Campground'.  Not the DNR site but a private campground.  The lady sitting in the dark gift shop nicely informs us we need to go another few miles down the road.  So we go. 

We pull into the actual DNR campground and the power is out there as well. We check in and get directions to our site.  As we pull near, I see there is a SUV parked there.  I get out and ask the folks in the next spot if it's theirs.  They state it is and move it for us. 

Parking the car, the weather is a light drizzle.  I get out and start checking out the site.  No standing water. OK Good. Mostly hard ground surrounding the parking pad but it got mooshy the farther out and towards the ravine edge.  Lots of trash around. 😠  Mostly beer bottle caps, what I assume are popped water balloons, and misc. garbage.  I call the spawn out of the car and we start picking up. Clearing up the trash and all the loose branches that have fallen.  One of my rules for hiking/camping is something my dad instilled in me.  Try and leave the place cleaner than when you arrived.

Since it was still drizzling, we decide to drive around a bit and find where things are and what's what. We find the 'modern' restroom/showers, camp store, etc.   When we get back, it has stopped raining and the decision is made to set up camp.  The unloading begins.

Thankfully, modern tents are near idiot proof as the one we got only came w/ a few vague pictures and no instructions.  There was some bumbling around as I figured out which poles went where but overall I didn't completely Stanley it.  Took about a half hour or so to get the tarp down, tent up, and weather cover attached.  I did, however, forget a hammer/mallet to get the stakes in.  A boot heel got all but one corner in w/o too much trouble then we started in on mats, sleeping bags, and luggage.

The kids decided to try and investigate the ravine behind the site.  It's soaked so they come back muddy and the girl covered in itch weed bumps. 5P managed to cut his finger open using a knife to open battery packs for the flashlights. More of our austere beginning.

Since it was still light, we jumped back into the car and drove over to the park proper to check out the Nature Center and horse stables. The stables were closed due to the weather and the Nature Center was just about to as we were nearing 5pm.  A maintenance guy told me though that the trails had been opened back up so we headed down the gravel walk.

It wasn't realized at the time but another Stanley moment just occurred. Since this was all improv, I had left my camera in the car and by the time I realized it, we were far enough away I didn't want to send any of the 'powers back to get it.  Why this turned out to be a 'Stanley' will become clear in the next post.

We go down the '70 steps' to the Suspension bridge and begin to cross.  4PB it is discovered, does NOT like walkways that sway back and forth. Of course I had to rock it a bit more after that. On the other side, we take the path underneath the bridge and most appreciate how pretty the erosion has made the rocks.  A nest made out of mud is attached to the overhang.  (The next day we ask one of the staff at the Nature center and  find it is from a 'Cliff Swallow').  This path leads towards the 'Coal Mine' and is much rougher than the footwear we have on would be appropriate for so we turn and head up the beginning of trail 3 (also 'Very Rugged' but we didn't know that at the time).  Hiking down the creek bed, the kids are amazed at 'Wedge Rock' and we all think 'Rocky Hollow' and the 'Punch Bowl' are beautiful.  We also continue to pick up trash along the way. Since it's getting dark, we turn around to head back and decide this will be the first part of the hike we take tomorrow.  This time remembering the camera.   

Back at the campsite, burgers on the grill are in order for supper.  I forgot the spatula, catsup, and mustard.  All are sitting on the counter at home.  I send some of the spawn to the camp store to pick some up at gouge prices along w/ some bundles of wood ($6 a pop fyi).  IN has some very strict laws on bringing wood in.  The frozen burgers cook up a lot better than expected and some sourcream/onion chips w/ soda and gatorade make it a nice meal.  Now it's time for a fire and marshmellows. The fire took a bit to take since it was so humid but eventually it lit up and many marshmellows were eaten or fell into the pit.

Now 4PB had gotten an obsession w/ this packet of stuff called 'Magical Flames' that she and her mother had picked up at the store.  Calling out w/ full drama every time she held the package "MAGICAL FLAMES!!!!" as only an early teen girl can do. So of course we had to use the stuff.  It was pretty neat. Greens, blues, and the occasional lavender lasted for quite a while.

Sitting around the fire, the kids want more and more stories from me.  I tell them about various trips I took as a kid and the goods and bads that went along w/ it. When the fire died down, probably sometime after 11pm, I call it's time for bed.  The foodstuffs are locked away in the van and we all settle into our various spots in the tent.  Throughout the night, we hear racoon fights, some pretty close.  No surprise but they have their routine down pat to check each site for supper. 

Tomorrow is a full day and the weather is 'supposed' to be nice. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Stanley Chronicles: Turkey Run 2017: Preparations - A Partial Stanley

As stated in the Preface, something always goes wrong w/ our trips.  When I took 4PA on a camping trip for scouts, it deluged and we got flooded out, completely soaking all our gear. After a trip to McD's, we went home.  A few attempts at backyard camping lasted... minutes. Of course after I went through all the hassle of setting up their tents etc. 

So the current adventure.  I've been at my job for going on two years now.  Well established, got the routine down, some vacation time saved up, you know the drill.  I need a break.  Not just a nickel/dime day here and there but a nice long vacation. I figure the week of my burfday will be perfect.  I want to go camping.  I take the week off of work, no problems.  W/ some Google-Fu, I find the website for a campground my dad and I used to go to all the time when I was a kid, Turkey Run State Park in Indiana. So many great memories.

I really had no idea it was that close, only an hour and a half drive from the Trailer. They've got pictures of all the sites and the campground w/ info on sun/shade throughout the day.  I find a nice one available (198) for the days I want, Tues through Friday morning.  They don't allow you to bring in firewood so I fully expect to get gouged on that.  There I wasn't disappointed.

The days go by and preparations are made.  Since this is the first time camping for me in years and the first time overall for the family, most things are bought new.  The meme that people spend as much pretending to be woodsy as for a nice hotel is true, at least for the initial investment.  Tent, mats, foodstuffs, misc. odds and ends are investigated, priced, and purchased.  Most of us already had sleeping bags ( I'm still using the one I picked out near 35 years ago), and we had coolers, grill, and utensils so it wasn't all bad.

Monday we start working on the last minute preparations. Getting everything packed, checklists finalized, maps printed.  You know, the usual stuff. Weather looks like it might be an issue but still plenty of sunshine available.  I print out the reservation sheet for the campsite. Check in time  Monday 2pm through Thursday check out at 2pm.

Sh!t!!  Monday through Thursday!?!?  I was planning Tues. through Friday.  Then I remembered a conversation w/ the MIL regarding taking care of the animals while we were gone and M-Th would work best for her.  Much swearing ensued on my end.  A somewhat panicked call to the IN DNR ensured that we wouldn't lose our spot if we weren't there and we could check in earlier than the normal time since it was a day late.  Going back on the web, I find the site is still available Th-F so I reserve it. 

Alright.  Breath.  It's all good.  A few bucks down the drain but no big deal.. It all goes to the campground.  We'll get loaded up and out the door tomorrow for a family adventure.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Stanley Cronicles: Preface

When I was growing up, my family and I used to go on long vacations every year.  Later due to economic issues, the travels got shorter but were just as family oriented.  Wuhat was universal, however, was invariably something went wrong.  Tornadoes, flooding, wasp infested stumps, projectile vomiting... Something. It got to be so regular it turned into a running joke.

During these trips, my mom kept a journal, recording regularly where we went and what we did. I've read through them and they are hilarious, especially when we were all younger.  My dad she referred to as 'Stanley' when discussing his various vacation foibles. I have come to call these 'The Stanley Chronicles" and hope to get them published one day along w/ some additions from my own memories.

My particular branch of the family has begun taking vacations along w/ a few precursor trials.  Unsurprisingly, we've had our own disasters and a few of my own 'Stanley' moments.  As we've just gotten back from our first all family outing, I'm going to keep my own journal, along with lots and lots of photos, starting w/ this preface and a day by day breakdown.