Sunday, August 18, 2013

S24O to Alum Creek, Or So I Thought

I had nothing major planned for this weekend, and with the forecast looking great, I decided to take Henry camping to Alum Creek State Park. On Saturday, I figured I might as well take Sam with us--my niece Marli was staying over, so Kate would have a good time with just the girls at home and wouldn't miss us. Sam has never been on a bike trip with us, but he has been camping, so I figured he would do all right.

I was a little worried that my two man tent would be too small, or that I would struggle up the hills with the extra weight of Sam and his gear. Turns out these weren't the right issues to worry about.

We set out about 4:00. I was riding my newly converted 8 speed Novara Buzz, with Henry on the Picolo and Sam and gear in the trailer:

Kate ran with us down the block to wish us well:

Despite some head winds, we made pretty good time heading north. We stopped at the township park off Home road for some playground action:

Then made the short hop down to the bait store for some ice cream (without bait):

Our next stop was the playground at the intersection of Liberty and Hyatts roads:

By now, it was pushing 6:00 and both Henry and I were starting to tire from the saddle time and the headwinds. We crossed over the Olentangy River and headed for my first worry, the climb up Winter Road. "Winter is coming" kept running through my mind. In the end, I managed to crawl up it (without stopping) in my low gear of 32/34, so I was pretty satisfied. We caught a break and easily crossed the usually busy route 23, then slogged on towards Alum Creek SP.

About 7:00, we hit the entrance to the park, only to see a sign with bad news: CAMP FULL. Uh oh. I headed down anyway to see if anything was open. No. Any spots just for hikers and bikers? Some states have rules that muscle powered travelers can't be turned away. Not in Ohio apparently. We filled up our water bottles and started heading back.

Oftentimes when I've done this ride to Alum, I've looked around to try to find stealth camping spots that might work for this kind of case. This time, I hadn't really been paying attention, but I had a few ideas: maybe the back corner of the field by the Hyatts road playground? The nature preserve along Winter road? In the end, we came to:

Where I found a friendly janitor there on a Saturday evening. I told Jim my tale of woe, he made several calls, and we got permission to camp in the back corner of their lot. Sanctuary!

We fired up my wonderfully small new stove to make our mac and cheese:

But had to make do with "raw" s'mores:

We tucked in for an early night, where it turned out my two man tent is also perfectly adequate for one man and two kids. The boys had a brief headlight dual:

Then we told some stories and hit the sack. Even with an occasional train in the background, it was probably quieter than it would have been at the state park.

We were up pretty early on Sunday morning. I had promised Jim that we would be gone before the first churchgoers started arriving (around 8:00), so we managed to be on the road by 7:20. We pushed pretty hard towards home, stopping for a breather partway up the hills on Hyatts road away from the river, and finally reached the bait store about 9:00. There, we picked up some fixins for a healthy breakfast:

I'd bought a six pack of mini donuts. The first tasted not great, the second downright bad, so I took a closer look at the package and saw this:

The donuts were moldy! Blech! I spit out the donut and washed it down with some Coke. Hopefully, the acid there will kill anything sprouting in my stomach. Not a pleasant ending for our trip (I feel fine so far).

After some more playground time, we pushed again for home, arriving home by 10:00. We had a light tailwind coming home, so we made better time. Henry did very well--this was his longest trip on a tagalong bike with no trailer time to relieve his bottom--about 20 miles each way. Sam also did fine, content to sit in the trailer and suck his thumb as the miles rolled past. I did pretty with my new bike, although I might change up the handlebars on the Buzz--I was getting some hand numbness at the end of the first night. But overall, a successful first trip with two kids in tow--thanks in part to the kindness of the Grace Point church!

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