My neighborhood does it up over the 4th, but we've done the same routine for many years now, and although fun, it was time for a change.
So we bolted. Packed up the car and headed for the hills. Literally.
One and a half hours later we are driving down country roads southeast of Cleveland to a sleepy little town of Loudonville. Even though they have a Pizza Hut, Dollar Store and McDonalds I am pleasantly surprised AND dismayed to find that my iPhone just looks cool. I've no cellular service. No e-mail; no phone. And that's IN TOWN, we've not even made it to our campground yet.
I chose our campground it because of the location, the availability for the holiday weekend and it's located directly on the Mohican River. It doesn't hurt that it amused me to find that their website pinged out a electronic version of "Black Water" by the Doobie Brothers, circa 1974. They also have a canoe livery on site that will bus you up the river and set you up with a watercraft and you end up back at your own campground. Very convenient.
One of the big parties when visiting Mohican is on the river. There are a multitude of Canoe/Raft rental places. You choose how many miles you wish to trek and they drop you off at a point higher up river and you canoe/raft/tube back. 9, 14, and 26 seem to be the norm with a couple of "Daniel Boone lazy overnighters" you can hook up as well. You can travel the entire 200 mile length of the waterway if you want, but my shoulders ache just thinking about that endeavor. (oh and come to think of it, my ass does too...you ever sit in a canoe for over 3 hours? Pleeeaaze.)
We've already planned out the 14 mile for the next day so we watch the mayhem happening on the river as we drive by.
Once to our campground, we check in and start the set-up. Tents aren't what they used to be. I remember growing up it would take us about half a day to properly set stakes to get our big canvas tent just right. Now you spread it out, put a few fiberglass linking poles through and wham! insta-tent! Ours is a Coleman that has a ceiling height of 6'8"; so no more having to crouch while inside. Spacious with a 14' x 12' dimensions, we've plenty of room for all our gear. AND our gear includes two blowup, double high air mattresses complete with our down comforters and pillows. Not like the old mummy bags sleeping on the ground of the past. Or the cots....remember those canvas and wood things? As kids, we would opt for the ground as opposed to the cots.
I packed two coolers. One for food, the other for beverages. I have to admit, I brought some great food and cooked most of it over the campfire that was burning at all times. Nothing like a big fat ribeye cooked over glowing coals. And while waiting for our food to cook we played bocce ball and noshed on Saga Blue. How good can it get?
Our adventure to the Mohican River had an interesting start. There was a car heading for one of the river launches that almost made it there before trouble struck. It was a small car loaded with a tube on top; held by those in the frontseat, tubes on either side of the car; held by those in the back and a guy in the trunk also holding a tube. It was quite colorful and great looking since they were all different colors, but I can't think that they were passing any Ohio Roadway safety laws. Seems they weren't since they got pulled over. The cop did not look amused.
There are campgrounds located along the banks of the river. There are areas of solitude on the river as well where you are the only person in sight. But when passing the campgrounds, people are sitting on the bank with water canons and such to ambush those on the waterway. There is quite a sense of community when out on the river, not an unfriendly face in sight. Most on the river rented canoes, kayaks or rafts from one of the many liveries; but there were quite a few that brought their own inner tubes or water floatation devices and just have a lazy float. The majority have done this before and were loaded with coolers filled with beverages and lunch. The further down the river you got, the more rambunctious some were. You aren't supposed to have alcohol on the river, but that doesn't seem to keep the multitude from bringing it anyway.
There was one family that had a large 9'x9' blowup raft meant for a lake, complete with blow-up palm tree that was just floating down the river with their cooler in the center. I DO believe that on my next trip, that'll be me...but for this one, we had a canoe. We even brought our dog, Sienna, on the river with us. She was a champ and reinforced my attitude that she is close to the perfect dog. 14 miles in a little under 3 hours with just 4 pileups due to low water and us dragging the bottom and getting caught up in rocks. It was a veritable blast...
We watched the fireworks in Loudonville high up in the hills. I had talked with some locals that spilled the beans on where the best fireworks watching spot was. So away we went. Curving high up on a country road with Loudonville at our feet, sunset over the fields and the sky lit with the blasts of color. It was perfect. Uncrowded, unrushed. We were there with our new camping friends from Dublin, Ohio and their kids. It turned out to be a rewarding, enjoyable, fabulous evening.
Fact is, on the entire trip I didn't run into anyone at the campground that wasn't friendly. It's a odd thing. Everyone waves, nods or says 'hello'. Something right up my alley. It doesn't matter what kind of tent or camper you have or where you come from; on a campground, we are all here for the same purpose...to kick back and relax. And it shows.
I'll be planning my next trip camping soon. Now that I've got it down. I won't look to be a 'newbie'. I know what to leave behind and the things that I wish I had brought. What a wonderful way to just kick back and get away. Outside of everything that we brought ending up smelling of 'campfire,' it was perfect.
Well, almost perfect.
I didn't get to shower the entire time. There were only 3 showers stalls for women, and everytime I tried, there was a line. Long line. I didn't see the time invested value in it, so I went back to the campfire. Even if I HAD showered, I'd smell the same in a matter of minutes anyway, so why waste the soap and water? They did say in the website that it was primitive campground, the most primitive in Mohican. I thought was cool when I booked it, but maybe I guess I'm just a little more 'city' than I thought I was.
Hey, a little extra 'natural' smell hasn't killed anyone...yet.
But I have to tell you...my shower at home never felt so good.