Misadventures in Family Camping: Ohio Edition

While staying with The Spiels in Ohio, we all decided to have a camping adventure together.  With that, we loaded up their little Nissan Versa with our gear and hit the road.  A combination of Google searching and local inquiries somehow lead us in search of Wildcat Hollow in the Wayne National Forest.  The drive up to our campsite was both entertaining and beautiful.  We passed through the dilapidated old town of Chauncey (Pronounced "CHAN-see" by the locals for some weird reason).  Run-down houses and barns floated by on either side as we made our way through town.  The brick buildings of Chauncey's downtown were mere empty shells of what it must have been in years past.  An old farmer sat on cracked steps next to his John Deere push mower, his cigarette hanging from his lip as if permanently affixed.  He watched as we passed by which made me contemplate... "I wonder what he thinks of us?"  

Cell phone service wasn't an option, so we memorized the route the best would cost.  In hindsight, there were many better options.  Our vague directions led us to the first turn off, with which we were immediately confused.  Luckily, there were some locals stopped in the middle of road having a conversation that must have been much more important than any traffic wishing to pass through.  When they were done, we flagged one of the cars down and got directions.  We proceeded up the winding Ohio backroads, doing the best we could to make sense of the directions we were given.  After several more miles, we noticed an man dressed in overalls riding his lawnmower on the side of the road.  We pulled up and rolled down the window, asking one last time for directions to Wildcat Hollow. He shut down his engine and replied "Aww, yer jussa 'bout there. All y'all gots ta do is jus follow that there road down roundat corner 'n' you'll find 'er!"  We thanked him, followed the road down around the corner and found our spot.

We parked and readied ourselves to find the perfect spot to set up camp.  Across the way from us was a veritable compound of beer-bellied rednecks and their noisy, misbehaved children.  Their laundry was strewn from tree to tree to tree around their camp and by the looks of it, they were in it for the long long haul.  As we walked past them in search of our spot, we nodded and said "Hello".  They all just stared and watched as we headed up the trail.  As we rounded the corner we heard the loving mother yell "Savannah!  Go getchyer Daddy a beer 'for I smack you in da HEAD!!"  Yes.  For real.  And here I thought that type of stuff only happened in movies and on COPS.  We found a nice little spot to settle, several hundred yards from our car and the redneck compound, headed back to the car and hauled all of our gear to camp.  Just as we started pounding the first tent pegs the music began to pour it's way through the trees... "WAY DOWN YONDER ON THE CHATTAHOOCHEE (somethin' somethin' something') HOOCHIE COOCHIE..."  We decided to look for another camp farther away.  After sloshing our way through the mud up the trail and passing more rednecks carrying several cases of beer, we realized there was no escaping this madness.  Wildcat Hollow is one of the few free campsites in the area and unfortunately, sometimes when it comes to free campsites... you get what you pay for.

After a brief group discussion, we opted to pack our stuff and head to Burr Oak.  It wasn't much farther back down the road and we decided that at this point, even though we'd have to pay, it would be a much better option.  Especially considering we had a very pregnant mother and a 2 1/2 year-old in our midst.  As we drove up and down and around on the dirt roads I became very amused at the remote trailer homes we'd see along the sides of the road.  They seemed as if they were ready to fall off the hillside and appeared completely uninhabitable, yet we'd see sign of life like dogs chained up out front and flatbed pickups adorned with Confederate flags parked in driveways.  I remembered the advice of my good friend, Dan... "If you hear banjos, RUN!"  We drove on while I listened closely.

We found Burr Oak Campground with relative ease and noticed that it was surprisingly empty.  We looked for somewhere to pay for a camp spot, but found nothing.  We decided to ask one of the other campers if there was somewhere to pay.  He said he'd spoken to a Ranger and was told it was "Free until further notice." and that the Rangers "weren't working this area anymore."  We had no idea exactly what that meant, but were thrilled to death that we could stay here for FREE!  We found a very nice secluded spot equipped with picnic tables, a fire pit and even an outhouse. 

Unfortunately (sort of), the camp spot was so nice and relaxing that there's not much more story to tell.  We had a great time hanging out with Craig, Savannah and little Avery.  Ok, one weird thing... a glow-in-the-dark log.  Check out the pictures below.  It was seriously weird.  In daytime (or under flashlight), the log appeared completely normal but by night, it casts an eerie green glow.  We were beyond fascinated by this strange phenomenon and decided to google it when we got home.  As it turns out, it's called foxfire.  It's a bioluminescent fungus that grows on rotting wood and we were just lucky enough to find some.  Ok, one more thing... I was almost attacked by a stick bug.  Several times.  The same bug.  That's it.  Enjoy the pics:

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