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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

4th of July Camping at John Bryan State Park and Yellow Springs Ohio

Over the Fourth of July weekend, we did some camping.  This all came about as a suggestion from our old neighbors and good friends, Steve and Sophia.  We came up with the idea to go check out Yellow Springs.  I think we decided on camping because nobody wanted to shell out the money for a B&B or the fancy new hotel in town.  We settled on John Bryan State Park and everyone was keen on the idea and the reservation was made.

Well, I think an idea struck me as I was researching something else, that I should check the amenities.  Now mind you, Steve and Sophia said they've stayed here/been here before.  In their assertions, it seemed like they knew what was going on.  No.  No they did not.  

I called the camp office and verified that there weren't showers.  No big deal.  Hose with a shower head on the end will work.  No running water at sites.  You know what this means.  Gadgets!  I bought a mini Simple Shower head with a long plastic tube up the center for airflow that screws onto a water bottle.  Voila!  Instant shower.  Pro-Tip: Dasani, Aquafina, 2-liter pop bottles work, however Evian has their own unique size and threads and does not fir.  Ask me how I know this tidbit.

After I informed Sophia that we essentially have a clear area in the woods to pitch a tent with a firering, she promptly bailed.  They'd only be visiting during the day.  We were sorry to not have them for the entire festive weekend, but we would not be deterred!

We arrived on Friday evening and JBSP and after a considerable search and rescue operation we found our campsite.  The camp office employee said that many people were trying to take it as it is one of the best site.  She didn't like it but it is favored by many users.  Another pro-tip for you.  Do not assume that the campground map is anywhere near any kind of definable scale.  By looking at it, you'd think the camp road went clear to Madison County before you were to make a right and then another right to get to the road the site was on.  Nope.  Its right behind the camp office.  Right. Behind.  It would have been easier just to park at the camp office and unload.

As we were making camp, we like to enjoy unmarked beverages that help shed the stress of the miles of camp road behind us.  Once all situated, we like to do a little recon and see some of the RVs in the area.  Here are a few pictures of our site and our perimeter.

As we were doing our recon, we came upon a really neat camp set up.  This is a Napier truck bed tent.  This would appear to be a really good solution to get you up off the ground, give you some hard sides and keep everything neat and tidy.  If I'm ever allowed to get a truck, I'd like to try one of these tents out!

Napier Truck Tent

We had planned on cooking breakfast and dinner for four, so it was a little overkill with the cooking equipment, but we were glad to have it.  I sauteed some peppers and threw them into seasoned black beans and added some additional garlic and onion salt.  I then cooked up some Field Roast veggie burgers.  Interesting note about the cast iron skillet.  That was my grandmothers.  I've never seen a more well-seasoned pan than that one!

As the evening progressed, it got quite a bit cooler.  We brought a couple of duraflame cheater logs so we didn't have to bother with trying to light real wood.  They last about three hours and you can easily put them out by breaking them up and burn out quickly.  We dialed in WCSU from Wilberforce, which is an amazing jazz channel, donned our sweatshirts, and relaxed in front of the fire.  

Darla surprised me for my birthday with a couple of Helinox camp chairs.  These are the coolest chairs I've ever seen.  Collapsed and in their carry bag, they are not bigger than a rolled up bath towel.  They are quite comfortable and have a nice strip of mesh up the spine to keep things cool.  I would suggest if you are using them in a soft ground/beach setting to get the ground sheet that covers the legs so that they don't sink in or get off-kilter and snap.  They seem fairly solid, but on my particular two chairs, the shock cording seems a little loose.  I'd like to see just a bit more tension.  To give you an idea of transportability, I was able to put both chairs, a bottle of wine, and two bike bottles into a backpack with zero difficulty.  They are a little spendy, but they were a very thoughtful gift.

The next morning was quite chilly.  We hadn't slept very well because our air mattress deflated in the middle of the night.  I think it was operator error.  After fiddling with the intake and filling it quite full and allowing the fabric to stretch as recommended, and refilling before bed the second night, we had no further issues.  It ended up being fairly comfortable for a $15 special at The Walmart.

We made coffee in our JetBoil.  We picked up some Starbuck's Pike Place Via coffee packs, which makes a nice cup of coffee.  After our coffees, we used the remaining peppers, beans, and burgers and made scrambled eggs.  Wow, such a good breakfast!  Didn't look very good, but it sure tasted good.

Steve and Sophia showed up right at 10:00am and we took a nice hike.  There is a trailhead right off of the campground and was a very nice hike.  There were several steps in different areas and was a well maintained trail, but if you have mobility concerns, I'd probably find a differnt entrance.

I was surprised at how clear the Little Miami was.  If we had some forthought, we would have brought our shower sandles and stepped into a little pool that was made in front of the dam we were standing on to get our shower.  Sophia did not see the humor when I point out that the park did, in fact, have running water.

Enough nature!  Time for shopping.  We ventured into Yellow Springs.  I really enjoyed the vibe of this town.  Darla and I agree that this feels like a little town you would find in Colorado.  There were several small shops.  I didn't see one storefront that was empty, so the little town of Yellow Springs must be fairly prosperous.

Did I mention that Yellow Springs is situated right on a bike path called the Little Miami Scenic Trail.  To the South, the LMST runs into Xenia.  I think if we were particularly overzealous we could ride all the way out there by connecting through the Ohio to Erie Trail.  Along the LMST is the Yellow Springs Brewery.  

At lunch I had a Zoetic Pale from YSB, which was very good.  I was also intrigued by their Breaking Edge.  Alas, it was not to be. Zoetic was not on tap and the Break Edge had just blown.  Darla and I sampled Kerfuffle, First Lost Episode, Maltyball, and The Whole Session.  The Whole Session was okay, but we were completely underwhelmed by the other selections.  They can't seem to brew the Zoetic and Breaking Edge fast enough so I am encouraged to come back and try some other ones.  Maybe I just didn't enjoy our selections because they were a different flavor profile than what I was looking for.  I would certainly say its worth a visit.  The deck is right along the bike trail so there are great views and easy access.

Our next stop was Young's Dairy!  Darla loves ice cream and we would have had serious issues if Steve had not parked.  I rather enjoyed the goat and cow barn.  This was a really fun stop.  The ice cream was delicious and there is a little bit of everything to do there.  There is a golf driving range, little pedal tractors for the kids, putt-putt.  Definitely worth the drive to see it if that's all that you were coming to Yellow Springs to see.  We were there awhile, it brought back memories of my youth.  We stayed awhile until Darla said it was time to moooove along.

We then went over to the Clifton Gorge.  I was shocked to see a wall built by the CCC!  The Civilian Conservation Corps.  I remember learning about this in school so I dug up some more info on it.  This info comes from the Wiki page.  The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was a public work relief program that operated from 1933 to 1942 in the United States for unemployed, unmarried men from relief families as part of the New Deal. Originally for young men ages 18–23, it was eventually expanded to young men ages 17–28.[1] Robert Fechner was the head of the agency. It was a major part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal that provided unskilled manual labor jobs related to the conservation and development of natural resources in rural lands owned by federal, state and local governments.  Always quick with the jokes, Darla said that the place was absolutely gorgeous!  The hits just keep on coming folks.

Our last stop on the tour was the famous Clifton Mill.  What a picturesque location.  I believe you've seen many pictures and paintings of this local.  Darla and I actually came back the next morning to eat breakfast here and the mill was actually in operation.  I would highly encourage folks to come over and see this thing in operation.  I can't believe how far technology and industry have progressed, but this mill was just amaizeing (corn mill pun) at its single natural power source.  True, brilliant minds at work engineering something like this with all of the belts and pulleys and levers.


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