I lucked upon the entrance to the Park where I had a campsite about 2 PM after a trip of off and on again rain showers. There was no entrance station near the road and the one I found inside the park was closed. There was a phone outside for me to "register" and find out where my site was. Everything was muddy - it had been raining everyday for a couple of weeks at least here. My site was on a hill on a muddy entrance and gave me quite the challenge. I even called the office back to see if I could get a different spot, but there was none to be had that could fit my 35' home. I prevailed upon the couple setting up a tent next to me (in the mud) for help. I settled on a home level from side to side, but still tilting uphill. I only stayed there for sleeping, anyway - my family is staying in a cabin not far from the Park.
After searching for the directions to the cabin in vain, and discovering that I had no internet or phone signal, I headed off in the direction I knew it to be, but could not remember the routes or road names I needed to find. In the big town of Leeper (stores on a 4-corner intersection), I got a weak signal and made contact with Dolores, who was coming from Indiana. They were only 11 miles down the road, so I waited for them and followed them to the cabin. What good luck! Dot and Jed had gotten there about an hour beforehand and were on the road to go to a grocery store when they recognized my car (kayak and bike gave me away - ha!) and turned back. All of us now had phones, but none of us could talk to each other if we went in separate directions - ah, back to the good old days, eh?
Dot and Jed had made a big pan of lasagna ahead of time and that made a great supper. The cabin was roomy and light and became a highlight of the trip for them. There were nearby houses but it was nowhere near like the other businesses that had rustic cabins for rent along the river, all clumped together and requiring cookouts to eat meals, and restrooms to take showers. This cabin was a house, really.
Friday didn't bring the sun, so we rode around the area to discover what was nearby. We are right where the Sawmill Center for the Arts is located. Dolores is trying to get registered for a new woodburning clinic to be held there next summer and Dot is interested in learning about that craft, so they are thinking about coming back next year. There is to be a dulcimer show this weekend at the Art Center, with lessons and shows on both the mountain and hammer dulcimers, and that interested me. Dolores had made me a mountain dulcimer some years ago when I was collecting musical instruments and on this trip, she gave me two books so I can learn how to play it - it was the only instrument I saved from my collection.
In the middle of the afternoon, we stopped at a place to take an hour-long horseback ride, and as soon as we got saddled up, it started to rain. Dolores was the only one prepared for rain, so she didn't get wet. It didn't rain long, though and we were mostly dried off by the time the hour was up. The ride went back into the woods and it was plenty muddy back in the wilderness, too. There was one place where the horses had to jump over a log and go up an incline and that's the only time I was on a horse where I did more than walk a very slow pace - enough for me, I have no desire to be on a horse that's trotting, much less galloping! (Mom & Jed went shopping while we were riding.)
We had campfires in the pit in back of the cabin and we all think we heard a bear growling or making some kind of calling noise after dark, two of the three nights we were out there. It was spooky, not like any animal noise we had heard before. We saw lots of white-tailed deer and turkeys in the area, but didn't find the bear.
Dolores and Allan went on a full-fledged hide on Saturday, while the rest of us went on a little, level hike along the Clarion River and across a big suspension bridge. We passed Dolo & Allan, though, on our way back along the trail, so they found the suspension bridge also, before they went up the mountain. We took the scenic river ride and looked into fleamarkets, shops, and antique stores after that walk. We wanted to go to a pig roast in the afternoon and had made a plan to meet Dolo and Allan at the place it was to be held around 2 PM. When we got there, we asked about it and found out is was being held in the campground and that while the owners supplied the pig, the campers were bringing a covered dish to share, but the public was invited to join in for $8 a person - and that it started at 5:30!
So we went up the road to "Farmer's Inn" to see the store there on our way to a regular restaurant. They had a restaurant, so we ate there. As we were finishing our meal, Dolores and Allan walked in. They had lunch while we had desserts, then we walked around the grounds. Not only were there three stores to take in, but a petting zoo with both common and exotic animal life to behold. The layout was different - people could pet goats and sheep in pens around the shops. We paid $1 each to enter the official petting zoo, but found lots of different animals in pens and cages and we couldn't or wouldn't want to pet any of them. Here's where we saw a black bear, chinchillas like Dolores had last year as pets, red foxes, gray wolves, cougars, a raccoon, pot-bellied pigs, and animals from South America! After that adventure, we played miniature golf on an interesting and somewhat challenging course. In one of the stores, they had a shooting range where a light beam on a target makes something happen - a toy animal pop out of a log, a skunk raise its head, a man's arm lift up, sleigh bells sound, etc. After all that, everyone but me got ice cream for supper. I was too full and just got an orange cream soda, which was very good. We spent a lot of good, quality time there.
On Sunday morning, I woke up to thick fog outside. My sisters are heading for their respective homes and Mom's vacation will be over before the day is out. This was her longest vacation and time away from home and away from Dad. While I am sure she had a good time on the road and seeing her daughters all together, I also know she must be looking forward to getting home and back to everyday life for awhile again, at least. I know I enjoyed having her with me and sharing some experiences with her.
Once the fog lifted, I drove across the street and up a dirt road for 1.5 miles to very short paths to a fire tower and to Seneca Point. The fire tower has 100 steps one can walk up to see a view of the nearby forests for 360 degrees. Seneca Point affords a view of Clarion Lake, but not as much as when the trees were shorter, back in the Indian days.
Then, I went into the "big" city of Clarion and ate a late lunch and shopped for plastic totes at Walmart. Then I went back and emptied out the cargo bays again, opened wet boxes, and moved things to plastic totes. I also took it upon myself to move to a more level and dry site for the night. I washed all my NY Liberty T-shirts because they were in a wet box. exciting day, eh?