OHCRA 24 Year Reunion
July 14,15,16, 2006
Friday July 14th was sunny, hot and humid. We were assembling at the group camping area at the west end of Mt. Gilead State Park for the OHCRA 24 Year Reunion. Tony, Ted & Connie, Harold & Laurie, Larry & Sophia and Paul Wood were setting up camp when the clouds covered the sun making the heat a little more bearable. We had one canopy erected when the clouds turned black and threatening. Tony’s wife called and reported strong winds and rain and it was coming our way. We hurriedly set up Harold’s canopy just as the first rain drops were starting to fall. What a storm it was. We all crowded under the canopies only to find that one of them was just a sun canopy, which leaked.
With that storm past, we went about our business of starting a cooking fire and getting settled in for supper. Then a second storm came and by this time, Alice and Hailee (Tony’s wife and daughter) had joined us. We put a large tarp over the sun canopy and waited out that rain shower which left a total of 1.5 inches of rain. There was water everywhere and it even did a good job of diminishing the fire. The water soaked into the soil after a while and the rest of the weekend was dry, hot and humid.
Mt. Gilead Lake was created in 1930 by a concrete dam on Sam’s Creek, of which we camped very close to. It sounded like Niagara Falls with all the floodwaters flowing over the dam. Someone brought up the idea of the dam collapsing and washing us all out. That did not happen but it sure made us think.
This reunion weekend basically revolved around food. Harold made a hot pepper jelly coated pork loin, which was to die for. Tony had wild rice with mushrooms and carrots while Ted and Connie brought mango salsa, corn on the cob and green beans. And this was just Friday’s meal. We were using dutch ovens and a charcoal grill for cooking. After stuffing ourselves, the left-right-center game came out and quarters were exchanged back and forth until the midnight hour, when we retired to the tents. Some unnamed person ended up with most of those quarters, right Laurie.
Everyone was slow to rise Saturday morning. Since we were not canoeing, we just milled around camp and visited (Tony had scheduled an eight mile paddle on the Olentangy River which is 10 miles west of the park, but it was way over flood stage). The lake’s outlet flows into the Whetstone River. This river is normally very shallow, rocky and non-canoeable. However, it too was in flood stage so Ted and Tony threw around the idea of canoeing it. After getting up courage, they launched Ted’s Old Town Penobscot into the rain-swollen river and quickly disappeared out of sight. Later when Ted and Tony got back, they reported on a wonderful paddle. Just a few logjams but enough white water and hair pin turns to make things interesting.
Harold bought a sailing rig from snoring George that attaches to his older Grumman canoe. He patiently rigged everything up, read the Red Cross book on sailing and launched his craft into the muddy brown waters of the lake. However, there was not enough wind to go anywhere, just sun, heat and humidity. Maybe next time Harold!
Back at camp, everyone rested in the not so cool shade. We saw a van pull in the parking lot and out comes Ralph Billow. Along with him were his wife Juanita, son Dennis and grandson Tim. Then another vehicle pulls in and on top was the most beautiful stripper canoe. It belongs to Tom and Sharon Burger. Tom made it and the kayak style paddle by hand. Sunday morning he let us paddle it on the lake and it responses as well as it looks. It trimmed level, tracked straight and glided so effortlessly.
We all talked and visited with each other until time to start preparing for the feast. Oh what a feast and SO much food. There were kielbasa on the grill, baked potatoes, bean salad, shrimp boil, rice, pasta salad, bread, biscuits, pies, cookies and more. After clean up Ralph got out his slide projector so we could reminisce about the past. He had a generator for electric but…the light bulb was not working. No slide show. However, there were lots of photo albums to thumb through. We poured through pictures of 83-84-85 and 2003 across Ohio trips. Everyone looked so much younger and had more hair! We also saw many faces of members that have since pasted on. Canoeing was a bigger sport in the 80’s and we can only wonder if video games have taken their toll on the younger generation, or is it the kayaking sport that has downsized canoeing? As it got too dark to see the mountain of photos, we migrated to a blazing campfire and starred into the flames, talking and laughing until bedtime.
As the morning sun was peaking over the horizon, Sunday promised to be hotter and more humid than Saturday.
Tony was the chef for breakfast, producing two, 12" dutch ovens with what we are calling a "Mt. Gilead Man Breakfast. It consisted of ground sausage, onion, bell pepper, hash browns, eggs and cheese, garlic powder, salt and pepper. On the side, there was sour cream, salsa, bread and biscuits. Someone referred to our group as NOFA (Northern Ohio Floaters Association), based on SOFA, the Southern Ohio Floaters Association, which spends more time cooking and eating than kayaking.
After eating there were games of cornhole http://cornholegame.org/standardsandrules.php and tomahawk throwing. We also got to see a ceremonial tomahawk pipe whose handle was made with wood from the Logan Elm. It was a giant elm tree where in 1774; Chief Logan of the Mingo tribe delivered his eloquent speech on Indian-white relations. Considered to be one of the largest elms in the U. S., the tree stood 65 feet tall, with a trunk circumference of 24 feet and foliage spread of 180 feet. It died in 1964 from damage by blight and storms.
As the sun and the thermometer rose higher, everyone slowly packed up, said their good-byes and parted for home. Plans were made for next month’s Little Miami outing where canoeing, not food will be the center of activity.
See ya "Around the bend"
Thank You To Larry for Contributing Pictures for this Outing
View all Pictures of the Reunion