Fun with Family

Last week I attended a family reunion for my paternal grandmother’s descendants. We do this every two years in a different location. This year we all met in Dayton, OH which was where Grandma Emma lived and raised her family. She had four boys  All the original sons have passed, so my generation of cousins and their families are the group.

We started the reunion with a dinner. We love to eat! The next day we took a bus tour of Dayton, seeing the houses, churches, and schools that we all heard so many stories about.

Then we journeyed to Ripley, OH, on the Ohio River, which our great-great-great? grandfather helped build. We toured the Rankin House where his family lived after the Civil War. But BEFORE the Civil War, John Rankin lived there. He was a minister, but the reason it’s a historical landmark is that he ran his house as a major station on the Underground Rail Road. Among other things, he left a lamp burning in the living room window for years. It was to let slaves trying to get to freedom know that the house up on the hill was a safe place.  This tour was fascinating. Howard, the guide, was a talented storyteller and he really made the history come to life.

  

After that we gathered for another dinner. The last day we spent at various venues. My daughters family and I played at an entertainment center that had games like Chuckie Cheese, as well as go-karts, bowling, mini golf, virtual reality games (my grandson spent a half hour on Fortnite), and my favorite – Skeeball! Other people went to a brewery, and an Air Force Museum. That night we attended a Dayton Dragons baseball game. They’re a minor league feeder team for the Cincinnati Reds. They lost, but we sure had a great time.

The final morning we all met for breakfast. In between all these events, we talked and talked and talked and talked……

After the reunion, I decided to return to one of my favorite places, Hoosier National Forest in southern Indiana.

I camped for a few days and relaxed. eing an introvert, the past two weeks have been a bit over stimulating.

*the first one was given up for adoption (long story, maybe a later post) and he found us later on.

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Francis Marion National Forest

Do you remember the Swamp Fox? If you are around my age and watched The Wonderful World of Disney as a kid, you might. They made an 8 part miniseries about Francis Marion, AKA The Swamp Fox starring Leslie Neilson. Marion was a prominent figure in the Revolutionary War here in the USA. He was one of the first to use guerilla fighting against the British. And so, there is a National Forest named for him in South Carolina.

I’ve been staying here for a couple of days, soaking up the forest peacefulness and exploring the area. I camped at one of the primitive campgrounds called Half Creek. It’s a lovely site in the woods and there was only one other car here so I enjoyed the quiet.

The Palmetto Trail goes through the forest, stretching across the entire state from the ocean to the mountains. The section through here is called the Swamp Fox Trail. It begins at Buck Hall Recreation Area

       

which is on the Intercoastal Waterway that runs along the east coast from Massachusetts to Florida. Apparently, it was the first interstate “highway”, used by Natives and explorers for easy transportation.

       

Just north of my camp is the Hampton Plantation, which has been made an historic site. There is a walking trail around the property where you can see the locations of the rice fields, and an archeological dig of one of the slave houses. You can also tour the inside of the main house.

       

I was planning on going up the coast, but with the weatherman saying there’s going to be another winter storm in New England, I think I’ll go south instead.

 

Ohio Exploring

I often drive south down Highway 33 out of Fort Wayne to get to Interstate 75 to go visit family in Cincinnati. I always knew that 33 continued on past the exit onto the interstate, but I never knew where it went. This time I was going to find out.

It begins at Wapakoneta, OH where the Neil Armstrong museum is located. I didn’t see it this trip because I was there decades ago with a Girl Scout Troop of which I was a leader.

Eventually it goes through Wayne National Forest, the only National Forest in Ohio. Since I do love a good forest, I stopped for the night at a trailhead. It was great because it was the beginning of an OHV trail and had a restroom. I had to look up what OHV stood for. Turns out it’s Off Highway Vehicles, what I always called Off Road. ATV’s, Dune Buggies, Dirt Bikes, and the like. What I found annoying was that they ride at night. There I was trying to enjoy a movie on my DVD player at 1o:00 pm and in comes a trailer full of ATV’s. I finally fell asleep to the sound of racing motors. And they were gone in the morning, so I guess they got some sleep, too.

Stopped at Old Man’s Cave, which you can read about here.

Then I drove on to Athens, Ohio. It’s the home of Ohio University. Lovely little town. It has a bike trail that extends for miles along the Hocking River. And I visited the Kennedy Museum of Art on campus. That’s it at the top of this post. It was built in the mid 1800’s as an insane asylum and used as such until the early 1960’s. The history is that it is located on a farm and the residents were encouraged to do farm work as therapy. The doctors believed being outdoors in the sunshine was good medicine. I agree. Still is!

The main exhibit right now is Navajo blankets. There are about 50 dating from the 1800’s to the present. Some amazing images are woven into these blankets. I learned a lot, since I had no idea that landscapes and scenes of daily living can be hand- woven into a blanket.

  

Then I continued on down Hwy 33 til I got to the Ohio River. Apparently if goes on into West Virginia and ends up at Richmond, VA. I didn’t go that far. I wanted to travel the Scenic Byway roads again that I was on last spring. They follow the Ohio River across the entire state, and continue along the bottom border of Indiana.

I have an affinity for rivers. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like lakes, I enjoy the ocean, but rivers are special. I think it’s because they “travel”, like me. Or maybe it’s because I grew up in cities where rivers played a big part. In Dayton we lived close to the Stillwater River and often went to a park that run along it. And in Michigan I lived in Three Rivers, which had…3 rivers…one of which was a block from our house. I would go back in the woods by the Rocky River when I needed some alone time. And in Fort Wayne, when I had the apartment, I was right next to the St Joseph River and spent many hours wandering the Rivergreenway.

During this journey I experienced the Great American Eclipse. I sat on top of a hill in a wildlife area in another section of Wayne National Forest. I was on the top of a hill in the parking lot of a small country church. Didn’t get dark but the light changed, sort of like everything was pastel. And the wind suddenly stopped right at the moment of totality.  It felt like the temperature changed;  cooler even thought the thermometer didn’t show it. Just different enough to be eerie.

So now I’m heading back to civilization to go mooch off some family for awhile.