West Branch State Park
Click any of the images for a higher resolution picture
The trip down was uneventful. It was our very first trip carrying the canoe so keeping close watch on that was in order. I originally requested site 9 but now with the canoe it made more sense to take a pet loop site in camp B. While "B" on the maps, the reservation system calls it area "3". Go figure. Changing sites at the office led me to site 59 which appears to be the best in the park. What luck! Across from a water hydrant, my passenger side faces woods which secludes me nicely. It appears almost every site is level. When entering the cul-de-sac at the end of a road, the sites to the left and right will have easy access to water. Other sites on the cul-de-sac do, too, although much more hose will be necessary. Should water not be an issue, as in winter, many sites away from the cul-de-sac offer more seclusion.
We took our VERY FIRST SEA VOYAGE! Gracie and I took our first canoe trip. I carried our 33 pound canoe, two life jackets (Gracie has her own properly fitted life jacket), a backpack with far too much water, towels and what-not down the loop past the youth group camp and down to the water. We were gone for three hours so we were probably paddling over two hours. We explored coves and crossed the reservoir. We saw a King Fisher fishing, almost canoed up to a heron and saw many fish jumping around our boat. We had a wonderful time. I forgot the camera. Darn it! Pictures to follow.
We also made my first deployment of our cellular antenna. We are just at the border of our cell phone provider Verizon. With the cellular yagi not only are we back into Verizon but there with all the bars lit up. The improvement is DRAMATIC. It was well worth the cost. The yagi is mounted on a one foot piece of inch-and-a-half PVC pipe. That one foot is followed by two five foot sections and one four foot sections. The sections are jointed by male and female threaded joints. The thing breaks down nicely and I store it under the couch. I will soon be drilling a hole so that we can bring the cable inside without a hassle.
We got up quite early and took a very long walk in the woods. While exploring it became obvious that the lake has a good deal of reserve space. Everywhere the water meets the shore there is a cliff. Getting to the water is a challenge.
We took a long canoe ride from the junction of State Route 229 and the reservoir south almost to the end of the wildlife area. We paddled about three miles total. Grace took a nice swim and had I had cookies she might have been coa xed into taking a swim by herself. When we first launched we practiced our capsizing. We did quite well at it, too. Grace changed sides as I was sitting down and over we went! It kept us cool for the remainder of the trip. We saw an interesting pair of birds of prey. From their flight pattern and silhouette I doubt it is an Osprey. It almost looked like a golden eagle. They were large. They were very large! Click on the picture for a larger image. They were NOT turkey vultures. There was a high nesting pole with a platform just south of 229. It had been used but was vacant when I passed.
We went for an early (sort of) morning sea voyage now exploring the east side (shady side) of the reservoir. We were able to paddle up on many heron. Unfortunately, I was shooting into the sun and the camera isn't designed for showing you what I saw. They don't do justice to what I saw. Click on the above image. That bird was very close to the boat. She was also giving me a stern lecture. The raptors were again out and they do look like Osprey. It is clear they are mates.
Take a look at the photo to the right, the trees. Click on it for a larger image. What's wrong in that photo??? Ain't that something!
We paddled by a little turtle coming up for air. I was hoping to scoop him up and examine him but he caught wind of my plan. I heard something about "CRASH DIVE!" and "EMERGENCY DEEP" and off he went.
We took an afternoon car ride around the park. There are two forks in the no wake zone. The first we have explored. It is accessible at the State Route 229 overpass. The second can be accessed via Cole Road off Horseshoe on the east side of the park. Look for a smaller, old bridge abutment. We walked the dam. The dam is unlike the leaking Salt Fork dam. Without a flood it appeared leaking wouldn't be an issue. Walking over the dam doors is odd as you walk on a metal grid. Gracie used a small catwalk on one side. She was intrigued by the mourning doves looking up at her through the grate. She couldn't get to them and they knew it. See the dove in the picture? Click on it for a larger image. So close but so far away! It would be fun to be here during a flood. While it isn't unusual for the campground to flood, watching the operation of the dam would be interesting. On Cole Road is also an area where you can watch a bald eagle nest. That would be a fun spring trip.
We ended the day with a mile paddle up the Olentangy north of the reservoir. We saw hundreds of schools of tiny fish feeding on the surface, herons and kingfishers. Gracie wasn't quite ready for bed so we rounded the night out with a walk down Lakeside Trail to the lake.
ABOUT DELAWARE STATE PARK
Delaware State Park is a garbage pit. The campground is nice, the volunteers see to that. Every lake access site is covered with litter. It is so bad that when looking for access points I have to leash the dog. The park and the wildlife area are filthy. From the looks of the trash, those leaving it are mating. Condom wrappers and underpants seem to be a popular thing to leave behind. While banning underpants might solve one problem, banning condoms would create another as those prone to littering create more like themselves. It is obvious there is no enforcement here at all. I've yet to see a ranger. The wildlife roads are in terrible shape. Watching wildlife isn't an option when you are trying to figure out how to get your car around or through the many potholes. Maybe it is just the heavy use on the park facilities. Maybe it is a lower class of people who use this park. Maybe it is the park employees who are not managing the areas. If the rangers would patrol at least once in a while perhaps the violators would go elsewhere. They sure are abusing the heck out of this park.
Again, the volunteers are keeping the campground clean. There are things they can't do. One is deal with the flies. Most of them are coming from the dumpsters in each cul-de-sac. When BFI came to empty the dumpster they left it a quarter full. You can't close the lid. I spot checked some others and they were left with quantities of trash. That trash cooks and feeds the flies. Perhaps the park manager would be well served camping in the park once in a while.
The noise is another issue. State Route 23 is plainly heard as tires whine on their pavement. I saw no grooved pavement in their pavement test area but the sound matches that you hear with the grooves. Add to that the heavy train traffic and you have an urban atmosphere in a park setting.
What is good? The sites are great. Their trail system is EXCELLENT. I really enjoyed walking through the woods looking at a good number of old-growth trees they have. I know of no where in Ohio that sports such a quantity of these monster trees. The tree to the left is at least 30 and most probably 36 feet in circumference. Although you can't see it here, on a limb in the upper right is a huge raptor (eagle?). Neat, eh? The two pictures below are of the same tree. It is about 20 feet in diameter.
When we had nothing but Punderson with electricity up
north, coming to Alum Creek (a.k.a. "Suburbia") and Delaware worked
well. We now have better. We might leave Alum and Delaware
to the governmental organization that caused their problems.
We didn't canoe today. We woke to a power failure traced to a burned wire in the transfer switch. This is the second problem we have had with that switch and it might be time to get rid of it. A simple plug for the generator works so much better. That was fixed and I decided to go into town to get parts to replace it. It was such a zoo as I approached the north end of Columbus I turned around and came back. I DO NOT want to live in Columbus. We took care of some other jobs. We fixed the pins on the horizontal bars on the awning. We installed grommets to hold the rugs in place. I had to make another canoe rooftop foam bumper as I apparently lost one. We took a number of walks. I had to work on lights for some time. We had a nice fire and listened to far-away thunder.
We took a long walk in the afternoon heat. We planned it so Gracie could swim along the way and cool off. We found another eagle's nest tower on a spur off the path. Surprisingly, there were three other people walking. One was backpacking. Wonder where she was going.
We were out of Delaware at about 9 a.m. and at West Branch at 11:30 a.m. Mom, Fritz and RTR joined us. It was a brutally hot, sticky day. We took a walk to the beach and learned that RTR had no fear of water. In fact, he did everything but put his paws over his head and dive in. We took a short walk but it was just too hot to do anything but sit. We had a nice fire. We took a ride to the marina and found they had no kayaks for rent, only a canoe. If the weather holds we are going back to rent the canoe for the day on Saturday. We stopped at an A&W drive in although we went into the air conditioning to eat. It was fast food but the root beer was good.
These images have been brutally cropped. Each has a larger counterpart you can access by clicking on the picture. You will see a much wider view.
The weather continues to deteriorate. Now we are supposed to get showers and thunderstorms all day. Luckily, they were completely wrong. We had a hot, humid day. We went and rented a canoe from the marina and put in in the no wake zone. We had a wonderful time canoeing. We canoed about four miles through the zone. We made numerous stops. Anything that looked interesting drew us in.
The dogs had so much fun. RTR learned that you never jump out of a canoe. He did, once. After an initial period recovering from his misdeed, he continued much more carefully.
There is a legend, that may or may not be true, that tells the story that occurred in the summer of 1979 when Mary and I and another couple went boating at West Branch. Returning to the docks, it is said that I stood up, lost my balance, and fell backward out of the boat. I simply lost my balance but over the years the story changed to describe me as being inebriated or some-such. Well, stone-cold sober Mary can be seen in the picture on the right to have performed a rather neat backward fall out of the canoe. 26 years after my fall, I have a story to tell when she tells hers. I have pictures. Click it for a larger image.
We returned to a fire we enjoyed between rain showers. Sometimes we enjoyed it next to the fire. Sometimes we enjoyed it from under the awning.
It finally rained during the evening but the day dawned bright. A bit cooler but still humid as heck. RTR road back to the overflow lot in the motorhome and seemed quite at ease. He left for home with Mom and I took Fritz and Grace. We had a nice ride home.
All in all we had a
wonderful trip and look forward to more canoeing. Mom needs to
rent a small kayak to see if that might be the ticket to our adventures
For up-to-date park maps and information, check the Ohio State Park website