Wayne National Forest (OH) Recreation Area and Oak Hill Campground

(I’m uploading this and the following posts from home, after the entire Kalamazoo Trip was completed due to having no cell service and little wifi. Sorry for the confusion about the dates, as today is August 8 but this post begins with August 1.)

August 1 (Rabbit, Rabbit!)

Forgot to mention the number of Alto Tours we conducted while on Kelly’s Island. I did mention the fellow with one on order, working to finalize his options by seeing ours: Tim. We did 8 additional tours besides Tim’s. It was kind of distracting, frankly. Some of the folks were very nice and polite, like our next-door neighbors, first the wife and then the husband a day later (counted as 2 of the tours). They were very nice and respectful, although hubby came over as we were breaking down and took up more time than necessary, IMHO.

And another couple came as we ate our final Kelly’s Island dinner, but they were nice and apologetic, so I went ahead and got up to show them around. But one pair of guys who were (like us) ignoring the prohibition against alcohol (and had had one or two nips too many, I thought) came too closely to our space, and said, “We’re lost” and after a few comments about Roomba, asked how much we paid for it, with no apologies, then hooted in astonishment when Jack gave him some 3-years-old, rounded Canadian dollar figures. Those two made us really uncomfortable. One other guy was mostly interested in our awning, but ended up poking his head inside anyway. Another fellow introduced himself by saying, “Like most of the people in this entire campground, I’m curious about your trailer.” At least he was upfront. But he was one of the nice ones and seemed genuinely interested in finding out more, saying that he’d check it out online when he got the chance. Wow.

We were surprised by how many folks trooped through our site, although I guess it’s difficult to “own” down to the waterside. But still. Evidently, even though I was unable to discern paths marked as “pubic access” on the various campground maps, most folks just consider everything headed to where they want to go as “public access,” including our site with it’s fire ring down by the waterside. I found that truly annoying.

We’d definitely go back, though, even to a site without electric, as long as we might position ourselves farther away from the screaming beach. We got proof positive, however, that either our connections from the solar panels to the battery or the battery itself needs a good checking out. Maybe even a battery replacement. As long as we could be close to the water under the trees and that lovely land-ward breeze was blowing, it was completely tolerable, temp-wise. We had trouble, however, keeping Roomba’s interior below 93 degrees. Which was making the ‘fridge work pretty hard, and thus the battery or connection issues were obvious. An offside awning would have been nice, too.

Rolling away toward the ferry port by about 9:15AM, we made the boat after a wait of only ten-minutes. Greeting us on the far side, while we were still cruising through Marblehead, was a soaring bald eagle: The first water-raptor we had seen (surprisingly?) since our proximity to Lake Erie. Counted one additional baldy and 4 redtailed hawks in north OH.

Our drive was without issue until we were in hour 5 (after a rather long stop for lunch and to catch up on emails) in far southern Ohio, after we stopped for groceries as we cruised through Chilocothe. Our intention was to leave Roomba hitched at camp, so we wanted enough supplies for the next few days. But as we headed farther south, the traffic picked up considerably. We went through a rather depressing-looking town called Portsmouth (the locals pronounce it “Port Smith”) at about 4:30, and figured some factory or another had just let out.

The way eased out of Portsmouth and into an even more “factory-town-like” place called New Boston, where we were pretty much at a standstill for a good half-hour or so, making our way along a single main road with un-coordinated traffic lights at each of many intersections. Thinking it was an accident or construction, and being very tired ourselves, we tried to remain patient. Yet we never saw any visible reason for the hold-up (isn’t that maddening?). Finally turned off the main road to take the connection to this Federal Recreation area, called the Wayne National Forest. Lake Vesuvius is one of the major features, and one of the campgrounds involved is called Oak Hill (our destination).

It was a very long climb uphill to Oak Hill, and it was made snail-slow (appropriate for our Alto?) because the fresh asphalt was being lined by one of those crawling, impossible-to-pass painting machines. We actually never saw the machine, as there was an enormously long line of vehicles putt-putting behind it.

When we turned off that road (93) onto the smaller road (29) to get to camp, we noticed it would not be appropriate for bicycling: No shoulders, neither paved nor grassy, and a thin and winding roadway, presumably populated with big rigs and trailering boats headed up to recreate on the Lake. So much for exploring the neighborhood on bikes. In about a mile we turned into the Rec Area proper and began to see signs for boat launches and beaches, and glimpsed our first sight of the big lake. Another long winding climb with zero traffic found us at Oak Hill Campground.

By that time, it was around 5:30 or 6 and there was no check-in or office area, so we were clueless except what our site number was (13). With only one wrong turn through a section of the camp ground whose site numbers were too high, we got ourselves oriented and found our site, high on a knoll and all alone, with the world falling away sharply at our backs, presumably down to the lake.

 

Had to set up the awning over the pavement (which, later during our stay and in the mid-day when the trees were not shading us, proved to be a problem as the asphalt was a significant heat sink and radiated back to us even under the awning)—there was very little “yard”—but it’s a lovely, quiet, private site located quite near the very clean and private bath house. There are four completely private toilet/showers in the cast concrete structure, and all the fixtures are stainless steel. Wow.

Site13-OakHillCG-0825Web

The camp hostess came up and introduced herself to us once we’d set up and settled a little. We asked if there was anywhere to get ice, but she reported that the only ice was a drive back to the closest little town. Later, she stopped by and asked if we wanted her to pick up a bag for us, as she was going to fetch herself some. Really nice lady. While we were eating our hamburger and fresh corn-on-the-cob dinner, she dropped off the ice.

It was nice to take some advantage of the electric by drying things off and cooling down with the AC. We hit the hay early because of the long, stressful drive, and planned to sleep late since we had not much at all to do next day.

Wednesday, August 2

Yesterday, we’d taken the bikes off the rack so we’d be ready tootle around and see what we could find. We got going at 10-ish. We’d seen signage for a boat launch in one direction, and a beach in the other, so we figured we might find them and also get some climb-training in. Literally anything and everything one might want to do is downhill from this campground. We did our “every right turn” thing throughout the campsite loops, which were rolling but not steep. Then we cycled around a barrier to look at the “group camping” area located off the main drag beyond the campground, which is designed for tents only, and not very big.

As we were exiting the group area, our friendly hostess was headed down to the beach via car, and she stopped to warn us that it was very steep, and if we elected to continue there was a nice overlook she’d recommend. We carried on. The way until the overlook was gentle rolling with level intervals where we figured we could catch our breaths on the way back up.

The overlook was lovely.

OverlookLakeVesuvius0828Web

Then we pitched very steeply down to the beach, had a nice tootle about and a visit to the water fountain there, plus a couple of cycles around the picnic area parking lot. We were the only souls around. There was one truly lovely picnic spot in the trees, elevated above the heat-seeking pavement, with steps for access. I liked it so much I took a photo.

PicnicTable0833Web

On the hell-bent-for-election way down to the beach, I’d noticed a large moth in the middle of the road, and as I was pedaling back up, I stopped to grab a photo of it. Pretty guy, likely at the end of his life, or maybe he was just rattled by the passing of a car. Anyway, I gently moved it to the side on some nice moss and bade it fare-thee-well.

Moth0836Web

Then I cranked back up to the campground. With a couple more loops, we packed it in, although at the time, we thought we might even go back for another climb up from the beach, since we’d only logged slightly over 6 miles. That didn’t work out due to an afternoon rain shower (and our overall laziness). But it was good training for both the seat parts and the leg parts.

For lunch we had grilled cheese, onion, and pepperoni sandwiches. They were super yum.

GrilledChz0838Web

We had a special dinner planned, and I pulled out the Omnia oven to build us a spinach pie — a recipe we’d grabbed off the Altoistes Cuisine Facebook site. Someone had recommended using filo dough, so we’d bought some frozen and the process of layering it into the doughnut-shaped Omnia, with cooking spray in between layers took longer than I’d imagined. But the rest of the process was easy and the entire thing turned out like a dream, even though I did not have enough feta cheese to add into the spinach, onion, garlic, and egg mixture that was spooned onto the filo and topped with more dough.

It cooked for about 50 minutes on medium (our smaller of the two burners) and turned out to be splendid. I turned it upside-down to get it out of the silicone liner of the Omnia, onto a plate, and that worked just fine.

SpinachPieCut0841Web

Earlier, Jack had made up some fresh guacamole, so while we waited to eat, we had a lovely cocktail hour with a delicious appetizer.

Next time I do the pie, however, I think we’ll use a pre-made pie crust or even a pita bread split and layered into the Omnia. While the filo was good, it was hardly worth the lengthy effort. And flakes and shreds got all over Roomba, both before and after cooking. I’d also like it better with some chicken or ground lamb added, and with some tsatziki on the side. It was pretty darn good, as-is, though.

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