For fifty-seven years my wife’s family has held their annual reunions at Turkey Run State Park, a ninety-minute drive from our suburban HQ and well outside the range of my phone carrier’s disappointing 4G coverage. For the space of one Sunday afternoon it’s an opportunity to unplug from the internet and all its problems, experience fresh air, enjoy good weather live and in person (Lord willing), catch up with loved ones that we’ve been too preoccupied to visit, exchange pleasantries with distant relatives whose names we’ll never remember, test which family members will still commit to a long drive for any of these purposes, and remember how to mingle in large, awkward groups without access to Words with Friends as our consolation playmate.
Or, while everyone else is talking, you can escape the shindig for a while and go explore the best part of Turkey Run, the beautiful forests crisscrossed with several miles of nature-trail adventure.
Sugar Creek is the definitive boundary between man and nature. On one side of the creek are the main entrance, the picnic areas, the nature center, the inn, the swimming pool, and other amenities that impress visitors but not the resident squirrels. On the other side of the creek are the denser forests, gravel paths, muddy walkways, occasional small animals, worrisome uphill climbs, towering rock formations, and so on.
Swimming and wading across Sugar Creek are forbidden by ominous signs that swear to you, “DEATHS HAVE OCCURRED”. I’ve found no online evidence of any, nor have we seen any hint of these past misfortunes resulting in a haunted creek. Regardless, a handy suspension bridge is your key access point to more adventure and less small talk.
2013 was the most depressing reunion year to date because the bridge was closed for repairs. An uprooted tree carried aloft by severe spring flooding damaged several necessary components and left it a safety hazard. Fortunately no additional deaths occurred, but it meant our 2013 Turkey Run nature experience was limited to the non-adventure side, whose primary activities are scooning rocks and ignoring the WET FEET KILL nanny-sign. Thankfully the bridge is now open and not resembling the climactic set piece from Temple of Doom.
Once you’re across, the walking, hiking, loping, aching, and frequent rest stops begin! Navigating the hills and valleys and trenches and gaps is, for me, a much more interesting adventure than talking about my health or faking my way through a Guy Stuff convo or losing at Cornhole.
These new pics are excerpts from this year’s reunion, but we have truckloads more from previous years, including some of the larger landmarks and more difficult terrains. Culling and sharing those here on MCC is a long-standing to-do item on my topical brainstorming list. I shared a few wintertime pics in a previous entry, but those were a scratch across the surface.
I’ll concede the non-adventure side of Sugar Creek contains one important element of every reunion: the mandatory pitch-in buffet. No one goes walking or hiking without two or three plates’ worth of masterful home cooking, earnest store-bought offerings, and scrumptious desserts whose sources are irrelevant. Without fuel, adventures and adventurers go nowhere.