Roger here.... This is our fifth summer to spend a few days with our friends (Chuck and Cindy) at Turkey Run State Park in west-central Indiana. As the weekend approached, we were joined by Audrey and Pat, Jessica (their daughter), Bill (Cindy's brother), and Rick. Turkey Run is our favorite Indiana State Park because of the great hiking and kayaking. It is always eventful and this year was not a disappointment.
THINGS STARTED WITH A BANG.... Dianne and I arrived first on Wednesday after a frustrating drive from Pendleton. I made the mistake of taking the most direct western route on state road 32, forgetting the frustrations of driving for many miles through the northern suburbs of Indianapolis. Noblesville and Westfield are great towns, but there must be a stoplight (always red) every 200 yards for fifteen miles. I am exaggerating, but not much - very slow going.
We arrived with plenty of time to set up before Cindy and Chuck pulled in with the rain and storm clouds. The torrential rain made a muddy mess of our outdoor rug while the lightning terrified our "chicken dog," Chaplin. Chuck and Cindy sat in their truck for a while until the storm passed. We sloshed around in puddles and mud for a day before things began to dry up.
VANDALS.... I usually feel pretty safe in state park campgrounds; however, we were involved in a couple of worrisome encounters. The first uneasiness occurred when our motor home was trashed by a red-headed camper. Actually the camper had more than a red head. In fact, he was covered with red feathers, and in all honesty, we were invading his space. The invading cardinal spent several days decorating the motor home. (I have some cleaning up to do.) The bird was fascinated by his reflection in the rear-view mirrors, probably thinking that another bird had invaded his space. He flitted back and forth between the mirrors on a regular basis, pecking at the mirrors and marking his territory with each flight. Despite the mess, we did feel safe because our cat, Charlie (Big Chuck), was on full alert. Perched in a prime viewing area, twitching his tail, and growling; he made sure that the bird did not break through the window.
The other two vandals were of the human variety, and I am embarrassed to admit that I know both of them. Since one of the evenings was supposed to be cool (for Indiana at this time of year, that means less than 85 degrees), we talked about having a campfire. The previous campers left us four decent logs. Chuck thought we needed more, so he began raiding fire pits as campers packed up and headed for home. After a couple armfuls, much to my chagrin, Dianne joined him. In a short period of time, they had brought back enough partially-burned wood for a couple of nights. Cindy referred to their antics as the campground equivalent to "dumpster diving."
LOUNGING.... While we waited for the weekend and the arrival of our other friends, we enjoyed a lot of quiet lounge time.
HIKING.... The hiking at Turkey Run would be good for any part of the country, but it is amazing for Indiana. The water-eroded canyon, much like slot canyons of the west, are both interesting and beautiful. After Audrey and Pat arrived, we hiked for about four miles - up and down steps, over and across small streams on stepping stones, underneath rocky cut-outs, through the mud, through the pine trees, and next to the river. I was able to get a picture of a neat-looking salamander before it scampered away and swam across the stream. Look at that blue tail!
Jasper and Sophie (Cindy and Chuck's dog) were both intent on being in front of the group. There were lots of opportunistic moves as they passed each other. However, the doggie highlight took place on a sand bar (really a mud bar) by the river. Sophie splashed around first, quickly followed by Jasper. The doggies really like running in the water. Dianne was able to get some good moving shots and a quick movie of all the wet frolicking.
Naps were the order of the day after the hike. The dogs hit the mats immediately. Dianne and Chuck nodded off shortly after. Doesn't Chuck look content?
After dinner we walked another mile or so around the campground. It was a rewarding day of exercise.
KAYAKING.... Bill, Rick, and Jessica joined us. Kayaking eleven and a half miles down Sugar Creek is always a highlight. It is usually eventful, and this year was no exception. Unfortunately, we did not have the camera out most of the trip due to threatening rain, so we missed some interesting pictures, but I will do my best to describe three of the highlights.
THE RESCUE OF JESSICA.... Our group lost Chuck and Pat early in the trip as they lagged far behind the rest of us. After a while, Jessica disappeared, as well. After quite a while, we beached the kayaks on a gravel bar to wait for them to catch up. When queried about their slowness, Jessica said she was stuck in a tree, and had to be rescued. None of the rest of us bought the story. It did not seem to add up for some reason, and it was a good one. The guys had coached Jessica to cover up for their sneakiness. They had stopped paddling so they could drink a beer. Jessica then joined them (she is an adult despite her youthful appearance).
OH NO, NOT AGAIN (REDUX).... The past two times we have gone kayaking with Chuck and Cindy, Chuck has overturned his kayak and lost a pair of prescription glasses. He has received his share of grief from the group after it happened the second time. We got in a single file line as we approached a tricky area of downed trees. Cindy was in the lead, I was next, Chuck was behind me, and Dianne was behind Chuck. The rest of the group followed. As Cindy (in the lead and just ahead of me) approached the worst part, Chuck (just behind me) again tipped his kayak. (He was probably still recovering from the rescue of Jessica :) He did not lose his glasses this time, but he did lose his paddle. It floated past me toward Cindy. Cindy retrieved it, but while attempting to turn around to take it back to Chuck, she tipped her kayak, stayed under water (and a log) for an uncomfortable period of time before popping up, and guess what? She lost HER new prescription sunglasses. She had trouble getting back into her kayak, but safely floated downstream. I got through without trouble and stopped along the side to walk back to help the others through. (Dianne had already beached her kayak ahead of the obstacle). When I got out of the kayak, I sunk in the mud to my knees (not an exaggeration) and could not move. I leaned across my kayak to keep from sinking further and after a few minutes was able to pull myself out. By that time Pat and Audrey and Dianne had made it through. I paddle up to Cindy who had gotten back in her kayak. She pointed out Chuck's paddle that was floating far downstream by then, and I was eventually able to retrieve it. Paddling upstream with the extra paddle, we determined that Rick and Bill had made it through, leaving Pat, Jessica, and Chuck (the three trouble-makers from earlier in the day) unaccounted for. The three of them formed a flotilla (with only two paddles) and made it through - not sure how they were able to do this. I gave Chuck's paddle to Jessica, and told her not to give it to Chuck :). I then told Chuck that their optometrist was in for another windfall.
As it turned out, no one was hurt, but Cindy could have been in a lot of trouble. She lost her glasses, but it could have been much worse.
FINDING NEMO.... I did not see the last event, but I did hear it. Several members of the group were ahead of me downstream. When I heard Dianne screaming, I thought that maybe Bill and Rick were splashing her. As it turns out, a fish had found access to her kayak through one of the two holes that go directly into the water. The three-inch minnow was swimming in the foot holes of the kayak between Dianne's knees. While she screamed and thrashed, she attempted to splash it out of the vessel with her hands. The terrified fish eventually found its own way out back through the hole where it entered.
CELEBRATION.... We safely made it back to the take-out point. Everyone OK. No rain (to speak of). Wet. Tired. But, happy. We celebrated with cold margaritas that Pat had hidden in his lunch cooler. A good day.