This past weekend we took the next generation on her first camping trip. It was difficult to miss all the local Fourth of July activities, but sometimes you just have to get away and this was our chance.
We have enjoyed camping over the years and like many others we have interesting stories to tell.
We introduced our children to the adventures of camping at early ages. What makes this strange is you could spend any night in our back yard and be more secluded than at any of the State Parks we have visited.
Sometimes that’s what we would do. As kids we would either camp in the back yard or go up on my uncle’s hill and pitch a tent. Like I said have said before, we had Shawnee State Forest in our back yard so it was plenty secluded. Maybe we camped to be around other people.
This past weekend we traveled to East Fork State Park near Batavia. This is the closest State Park to us, but yet we had never been there before. Usually at a State Park there is plenty to do like swimming, fishing, bicycling and hitting the playground equipment. We never dreamed we would see fireworks Friday night, but we did. They were clearly visible from the campground. We asked people where they were coming from but no one knew.
That was the high point of camping this weekend.
The low point was you couldn’t swim in the lake. At least you shouldn’t swim in the lake. We talked to many campers who were very disappointed. Signs were posted at the beach warning of dangerous toxins which had taken over the lake.
According to a story in the Columbus Dispatch, cyanobacteria, also called blue-green algae, are common in most Ohio lakes. They grow thick by feeding on phosphorus from manure, fertilizers and sewage that rain washes from farm fields into nearby streams.
As many as 19 public lakes, including Erie, have been tainted in recent years by this toxic algae.
In June signs went up at East Fork Lake.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency found levels of microcystin, a liver toxin produced by blue-green algae, measured at 8.7 parts per billion and 190 parts per billion at the beaches. The state’s safety threshold is 6 parts per billion.
You could look into the water and see this yellow cloud while standing at the beach. It didn’t look very inviting. Certainly not worth risking a young life. The beach was nearly deserted, but there were a few fool-hardy souls who let their young kids play in the water. This water can affect the immune systems in young children and the old, or anyone with a weak immune system.
We didn’t know this before we went, so it was curious when we made our reservations just two weeks before the Fourth that there were spaces available. The regular campers may have stayed away this year because of the yellow water.
Most of the people who stayed the entire weekend were from out of state. Many pulled out after Friday night.
Oh, I promised interesting camping stories, didn’t I?
There was the time the wife kept hearing a noise in the pop-up camper. The next day we had the playpen out beside the camper. We started poking around the camper and something flies out. It starts circling the toddler (our first born) in the playpen.
He’s reaching up trying to grab it.
His mother’s screaming.
I grab something and start swatting.
Finally it goes away.
Seems we had been sleeping with a bat all week. Another one of those, honey I hear something stories and the man says go back to sleep (happens to me a lot).
Then there was the time when my brother and I were young. Our first camping trip to the Smoky Mountains. We are at the campground and this bear comes wandering through. Mom, who hated camping, turned and ran and got inside the truck. We just kind of looked at each other and eventually we skedaddled for the back of the truck where we stood and watched. The bear wandered by us before heading off to the woods. Dad? He was running the home movie camera.
Mother always talked about the time she ran off and left her kids to a bear.
We were never in any danger. It was funny seeing how she reacted and how she always talked about it.
Do you have some interesting camping stories of your own? Put them on our Facebook page and we can publish some of them.
And remember, stay away from the yellow water.
Steve Triplett is the editor of this newspaper.