Log of our sixth trip of 2005


July 15-25, 2005



West Branch State Park

Ravenna, Ohio



Salt Fork State Park

Cambridge, Ohio


This tree had roots!  Click for a larger image.

Mosquito Lake State Park

Cortland, Ohio

Mileage Start 30,349
Home 30,763
Total 414 miles


Attended:  Dad, 21, and beautiful little Gracie Allen 3
(Megan, 22, and Eleanor, 4, joined us the last day at Mosquito)

Click any of the images for a higher resolution picture

July 15

They sure did change West Branch.  Without electricity it was a draw for the people who camp in tents.  Now, with juice, it is a really interesting place.  It was obvious this would be a park we kept coming back to so the first order of business was to get a map drawn up with the good sites.  That being done we took a walk around the park and then another on a trail.  It is a walk just getting to the trails so a car helps.  They also have a number of bridle trails, mountain bike trails, and other interesting things to check out.

The weather was HOT and HUMID.  The remnants of a hurricane are producing only instability but the heat and humidity affect both Gracie and I.  A nice thunder boomer would be good right now.  The site I chose, number 158, wasn't all that level.  Given that many sites are TERRIBLE, my guess wasn't too bad.  We are next to water but horizontally challenged.  The office reports that at about noon only two non-electric sites are open.  One thing about the camp ... for as many sites here that are bad, there are many more that are GREAT.

Met a fellow ham here, KC8PD, Jim, from this area.  He has been in public service law for many years.  Had a nice chat interrupted by the threat of a thunderstorm.  We had a number of storms come through.  One zapped our power and we were without air for a good two hours.

July 16

If the purpose of this trip is to get work done, then that purpose is being challenged.  It has been raining on and off with good times for walks.  I wish it had stayed drier so we could walk the trails.  Even though, it is fun walking the park with Gracie.  The park was full on Friday at about 6:00 p.m.  A walk of the all the campground roads (but one that is not open to pets) left us wringing wet with sweat.  While the temperature isn't so bad, the humidity is awful.  Very rarely does Gracie lag behind.  She did this time.

Grace is doing much better with dogs that don't walk toward her.  She still is quite the aggressive one when a dog is loose or running toward her.  She is tolerant of dogs that just lay around and ignore her.

The Internet connection is better here.  It is still  s l o w  but at least I can tolerate the delays.

July 17

There are some people here that are "with it" and some not.  A youngster of about 5 years old yelled, "Daddy, look!  A pug crossed with a beagle!"  Poor Gracie was CRUSHED.  I took her home, trimmed her ears (they were a bit ragged) and gave her a pedicure.  As with most women, this helped a lot.  She felt much better.  Then another youngster, not quite so naive, said, "Look Daddy!  What a cute little dog!"  Gracie pranced all the way back to the motorhome.

West Branch was nice.  It will be a premier park once the summer folks go into hibernation.  At a minimum, avoiding the weekends yields a better experience.  While model campers, a full camp just puts too much pressure on their resources.

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Click for a larger imageThe drive to Salt Fork through Akron and Canton SUCKED.  There was construction that featured very little warning about changing conditions.  These are the cities that have 500 foot exit ramps.  55 (if your doing the speed limit) to zero in 500 feet.  Right.  The trip between I-77 and Salt Fork was also poopy.  It was on a two lane road that twisted and turned while going up and going down.

Once in the park, it is obvious this is a premier park.  What a neat place.  Site F11 has to be one of the best of the best.  Next to water it is HUGE.  I could park the box and two cars without a problem.  A dozens tents could be accommodated..  While we didn't really see any wildlife at the full-to-capacity West Branch, I immediately was greeted by a tiny little bird hunting bugs.  It appeared I was in the way as the bird hopped by me at no more than three or four feet.  What a cute little fellow!  A groundhog was chewing grass on the next site.  This is more like it.  Even now I hear those birds a tap-tap-taping on the roof!

The dam is leaking!  Salt Fork reservoir has been drawn down five feet to relieve pressure while they figure out what to do.  For now, they have heaped material on the leak.  It appears to have affected the boaters here as the marina was EMPTY.  It appears as it would in the winter.  Unfortunately, with the rain, the draw down is all mud and not dry enough for walking.  It would be neat to be able to take a nice long walk around a cove.  It would be neater to have a canoe.

Cliick for a larger imageClick for a larger imageGive yourself two days to drive the park.  A number of roads are gravel for the purpose of accessing their wilderness areas.  You can drive for miles exploring. There are ample walking trails although they are not level and some have steep climbs.  Gracie loves driving the park.  She knows I'll stop at the side of the road so she can talk to the groundhogs about life and love.  Her tail just wags away.


July 18

Click for a larger image.Last night was a loafer!  I watched movies until 3:00 a.m.  We got up before the temperatures got into the upper 80s and before the first of the thunderstorms hit.  We had a nice walk.  By camping in area F, you can walk both F and G for a total of xx miles.  Gracie is being clicker trained not to bark at other dogs.  I'm not sure how well it will go but it shows a glimmer of promise after our first walk.Click for a larger image








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<<<The rabbit        The Gracie>>>

There is the most obnoxious dog here.  Apparently the whole tribe is on two sites and a pretty but badly behaved short-haired collie came with them.  A puppy, she is tied to a tree on the opposite side of the camper and left to bark.  And bark she does.  I'm quite surprised someone hasn't called the ranger.

Click for a larger imageOn a drive we spied two turkey vultures checking out the beach for some eats.Click for a larger image



July 19

Click for a larger imageWhile I applaud the updating of the Salt Fork electrical service that now accommodates 50 amp rigs (and 30 amp rigs that use a lot more in the winter), I am really disappointed in the selection they made for their water spigots.  They now use a push button.  Further, the spigot is not threaded.  Now I cannot just hook up and use a bungee to keep the water on.  I will have to bring a large clamp to hold the button in.  Or, I can sit there and push it in until we are full (yeah, right).  I also now have to (again) use the water thief.  You'd think they would have thought this out.  A number of sites have full hydrants.  Maybe they are going to go to full hookup sites everywhere!!!

We took a nice walk to the handicap trail by area C.  It was too hot to do much more walking. We saw more deer.  Gracie, on her fourth training walk, has now determined not to bark at dogs, whether they be barking at her, staring at her, or just laying there.  That bit of hot dog is just too important.

Gracie overlooking Salt Fork.  Click for a larger image.We drove almost 100 miles exploring here, exploring there and nosing around.  We saw the broken dam although it is tucked away from the road.  There appeared to be work in progress to fix whatever is wrong.  There isn't much work but work the are doing.  I took a trip to a grocery store just two miles south on I-77 to pick up some hamburger meat and other fixins for said meat.  I had such a taste for a hamburger that I ended up stopping at Burger King.  That is a move I will regret for some time.  It required a two hour nap.

An older lady was walking by and we had a nice conversation.  They had a Winnebago and a Saturn and traded both.  Now they have a Bounder and a Honda CRV.  They are disappointed they made the trades.  She reported the Saturn was a much nicer car for the purpose.  The Bounder did not live up to the expectations a Winnie owner has.  Turns out her daughter lives on Fawn Drive in North Olmsted.  I chatted with a fellow who had put a Honda 3000i on his fifth wheel hitch on his fiver.  Neat stuff.

An evening walk showed that Gracie has been fully clicker trained to NOT bark at other dogs.  After four walks with the clicker and hot dog there is not much a dog can do to get her upset.  We walked C, E, F and G loops.  In one loop two labs were lose but attended to by their owner.  After she passed with nearly a peep I clicked and stopped to give her a treat.  The owner thought we had passed and the yellow lab proceeded out and started following not two feet behind us.  Gracie was a problem but not in that way.  She was so busy looking at the clicker and wondering when she would get her treat I was tripping all over her.  This lab was really doing her a service!  In another loop a dachshund her size but resembling more a worm with tiny little legs came out in the street to bite her.  She was amused.  She looked down at this long bus of a dog and simply snarled.  I suspect she was wondering who the heck was driving the back end of such a dog.  The dachshund stopped short and the owners came to retrieve it.  Then there was the twelve week old Jack Russell Terrier who bounded out after Grace.  She again was not aggressive but amused.  She wondered about playing but remembered that this puppy had done her a service and she wanted her click and treat.  Chloe, the bad, bad, bad Collie barked up a storm.  Nary a peep out of Grace although she would have liked to give Chloe the business.  Actually, the whole campground would like to give Chloe the business.  Bad, bad, bad campers.  Bad campers!  Grace had fun watching the deer who seem always out in the same spot between E and G.

July 20

Click for a larger imageA cold front moved through the area.  They said this with a straight face on the weather radio.  They said the high yesterday was 85 and tomorrow it will be 90.  But there is a cold front moving through.  Go figure!

Click for a larger imageIt was a sunny day that called for my hat.  We began by taking a trail walk, our first.  Down was easy.  Here at Salt Fork down is always easy.  It is the up, the part that is four times longer than the down, that is the hard part.  We had a wonderful walk down to the lake.  Grace scared a deer feeding next to the path.  Neither of us saw each other until we had met.  Grace was within two feet of the deer.  Once at the lake, she proceeded to walk in and take a dip to cool off.  That Grace!  Click on both of the images to take a look at the full picture.

A call over the scanner required the ranger to go to the beach.  It appeared that the fellow in the beach concession stand was having a great deal of difficulty with a humming bird.  Yes, the ranger had to go and shoo a humming bird awClick for a larger imageay from the beach concession stand.  And we at the North Olmsted Police Department thought we had problems.  Gracie is terribly upset as a groundhog is systematically stripping our site of vegetation.  All kinds of problems here.  Another call dealt with a person who had not checked out on time.  A great deal of discussion was had on that one.  Apparently, it is unusual to have a person stay past check-out.

While on a walk inside F loop, a brutish Doberman ran out and threatened Grace.  Later, talking with the VIPs on G loop, I found that the owner has been advised many times and is noting but an insolent shit.  The VIPs called the ranger again and they advised him .... again.  There is a group using seven site that had perhaps 70 people in G loop.  They brought seven little non-road-legal mini-bikes with them and they began to ride them all over the park.  The ranger had to settle them down the best he could.

We checked out the rest of the backwoods roads.  There are a number of mowed trails on 52 to north 57 to east 54.  The area around 54 is excellent for watching wildlife.  Click on the image to the left.  Find the heron.

We took an early evening walk into the park off the backwoods roads.  If it had been just a little cooler I would have enjoyed it more.  All the same, it was a lot of fun.  We saw a whole flock of bluebirds.  They were not flocking but there were so many that they could only be described as a community.  We walked on a mowed trail across a bog.  It was quite neat being able to actually trudge through a bog.  Learning about them in Algonquin, there you dare not even look to long at their bogs as they might be adversely affected.  Here you trudge through them.  Neat stuff.  While on a mowed trail I learned a valuable lesson about wearing Teva sandals.  They have a low laying vine that has prickers.  That gets under your toes tears the bejeepers out of your toes and the front of your foot.  You pull the vine out only to leave a string of prickers in your foot.  OUCH!  That hurt.  No matter, we still had fun.  Grace and I smell like bog but we still had fun.

We ended the day sitting by a nice fire.

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July 21

Click for a larger imageClick for a larger imageLook at the roots!

This is looking DOWN the path ... way down ... very down.  Click for a larger image.As it turns out, my complaining about the new water spigots was partially misplaced.  While they lack threads that makes is so much easier, a water thief that has an inside diameter of one inch works fine.  Further, a simple bungee cord puts enough pressure on the button to allow for full water flow.  I was able to get water without any problem at all.

We took a nice but HOT walk on a bridle trail.  We figured we'd better check those out.  Although nice, they tended toward roads and were not as nice as the mowed areas in the backwoods.  Today is "wear shoes" day.  The bottom front of my feet are all messed up from yesterdays foray.  They need to heal.

It is another brutally hot and humid day.  Again we have thundershowers in the forecast.  Phooey.  Give me spring and fall any day!

After a rest and a lunch of watermelon, we took another walk to the reservoir.  These pictures have larger images.  The picture with the path is the way to the water.  While not apparent, this is a steep descent.  Very steep.  Exceedingly steep.  Once down there was walked almost to the beach and back.  Grace chased some animal and disappeared for a few minutes.  She was terribly sorry but she reports the animal stuck out its tongue at her.  She had to.  While walking the beach line we spied a number of trees that suggest a significant amount of erosion has occurred.  While on the beach Grace walked in the water while I walked on rocks.  She was cooler than I was.  She still is.

We took a late evening car ride.  We attempted a late evening walk but found the bugs were too bad.  Had I had insect repellent, it would have been fine.  A hawk guided us down a road.  He was rather upset we kept following him.  The rangers had a devil of a time with the seven sites of inner-city kids who played with their tiny little motorcycles some more.  That was followed by a knock-down fight at the lodge that resulted in one arrest.  The ranger's watch was broken.

July 22

The park sure did fill up on Thursday evening!  All varieties of peoples, most with brood, now fill almost every site.  Time to go to Mosquito Lake State Park.

See the turkey?  Up the path to the left.  Click for a larger image.Click for a larger image.I gassed up on the way to Mosquito.  I haven't gotten gas for some time.  It was a time of fretting that I wouldn't find a large enough station to allow me in.  I passed this one, went by that one.  Finally I was a little below a quarter tank.  At one-eighth tank you run the risk of uncovering the fuel pump and burning it out.  I took the plunge and found a great BP station that I could get into and out of without a problem.

Getting to Mosquito was interesting.  Cortland had a storm the night before and I found the state route leading to the campground closed.  I had to divert around the lake to get to the campground.  While on that diversion I found a number of traffic signals on flash.  A very kind fellow jammed up the works and flagged me through.  Nice people in Cortland.  The office reports the camp has not been filling on regular weekends.  There are many sites open and available.  Three packs of wood insures two nice fires.  I told them about the problems at Salt Fork.


Click for a larger imageClick for a larger imageI took a walk to say hello to our beaver friends.  They weren't home but we made the acquaintance of two turkeys and, I think, a flock of grouse.  If you click on the picture above you will see the one turkey on the left a ways up the path.  We then walked to the boat ramp figuring maybe we'd find Mr. and Mrs. Beaver up there.  There were too many people for beavers to be happy.  Grace did meet Dempsy the deep throated Pug.  It appears she's in love.  As I write this she is being a pain wanting for all the world to go see Dempsy again.  She's going to be a handful now.  I know she was impressed with Dempsy.  Dempsy was on the boat dock.  Gracie was on the boat ramp.  Grace decided she was meeting Dempsy.  She walked down the ramp and did something I've never saw her do before.  She proceeded to swim over to Dempsy.  Grace has never swam in her life.  Ever.  She did to see Dempsy.  Click on the pictures for larger versions.

July 23

Click for a larger imageMeggie and Persiphony are coming out to join us.  This will be our first non-baking day.  Highs in the low 80s with lows in the low 60s.  Perhaps we can turn off the air tonight!!!  Gracie is being a pest.  She sees dozens of dogs walking and really wants to participate.

Persiphony, Gracie, Megan and I went on a walk around the beaver trail.  There were too many kids having  been on the trail to allow us to see anything of interest.  Or at least we thought.  We saw a neat black snake.  I tried snapping a picture but only got two inches of its tail.  We ended our walk by the boat dock where the dogs took a swim to cool off.  Three half-pound hamburgers and a box of Velveeta Mac-n-Cheese demanded another walk.  We critiqued sites for the list of good sites for this park.  Eleanor and Gracie decided to play for a time and there was a flurry of activity.  We ended the day with more walks, a car ride,  and we watched the movie The Maltese Falcon.

July 24

After a quick walk around the park we headed for home.  A very nice, very hot trip.

For up-to-date park maps and information, check the Ohio State Park website

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