26-Jun, Winkle Family Reunion

The rough plan for Friday was to spend the day at Turkey Run State Park and do some hiking and talking. The forecast called for not only rain, but a lot of rain.

We had originally planned to pick up some food to have for breakfast, but with forgetting about the time change, we didn't stop by a grocery store on the way down. A big group was planning on going to the inn at the park to have a buffet breakfast, so we went ahead and went with that.

There's an entrance fee to the park, but we were going to spend the day there anyway. Even though we had Illinois plates on our car, the woman still asked us if we were from out of the area. The park charges different fees for cars with out-of-state plates, so it was interesting that she still asked. One of Melody's cousins had flown in from Florida and rented a car in Indiana, and when asked if he was from out of the state, he just said that his car had Indiana plates.

We found the restaurant and went to check out the buffet, then joined the others. They were chatting about various things, but every now and then the talk would turn to the weather, and if it would hold out for the day. It didn't look too good.

When people were finishing up eating breakfast, someone mentioned that the inn had wireless, so lots of people jumped on since there was no cell coverage in the park.

We walked over to the pavilion which Clarke had reserved, and by that time the Knoepfels had shown up (they were driving in from Paris, IL on Friday and Saturday). It was great to see them, especially Brian, who was the only one we weren't able to see last year. We caught up a bit, knowing there would be a couple days to be able to do so. After a while, it was time to check out the hiking trails.

The first thing we needed to do was to find the pedestrian suspension bridge. We had to divert a couple times to find paths which were less muddy, but finally found the bridge. Knowing that the trail that several people were talking about (which had lots of steps and a rope ladder) wouldn't be in good condition, we opted for one which seemed to go to a lookout on the far end of the park. The trail was a loop with a spur to the lookout, so we chose one direction and started out. Before too long, the trail followed a gorge which had some springs running across it, and we ran across one which we felt it would be better to not cross (lest we step into water deeper than our shoes). Back we turned to find where the other end of the loop connected, and we ran into Ken, Anne, and Erika, who were also looking for the same trail. We told them it was blocked, but that it was also quite pretty up until that point.

We found the other end of the loop and didn't run across too much mud, although there were places where we had to just pick the least muddy route. We finally did make it to the Camel's Back lookout, then turned around to go back, thinking we might do some other loops. I noticed that I had pretty good cell coverage, and checking the weather, at one point it said that heavy rain was going to start in five minutes. We decided to head back to the shelter, and it did start to rain on the way, but not long after we were under cover, the heavy rain came. It stayed for a long time, too, so we were glad we decided to not hike more.

As we got back to the pavilion, others were returning from hiking too. Good thing, since it was about lunchtime. After filling ourselves with food, we thought about hiking again, but weren't sure about the weather, so back to the inn to check things out. Looked like more rain, so we headed over to the nature center to take a look. We were warned that it was pretty small, and when we got there, yes, it was pretty small. However, we heard an announcement that the planetarium show was about to begin, so we couldn't pass that up. The docent talked about constellations and the stories behind them, and the many kids in the audience got really into it, asking questions and yelling out guesses to the docent's questions. Afterwards, the docent mentioned she hadn't had so much interaction at one of those shows.

In another corner of the nature center was a bird observation area, where we saw hummingbirds and woodpeckers at the feeders. Quite a bit for such a small nature center.

Afterwards, we headed back to the guest house to relax a bit. When we got there, Ken was preparing dinner (pulled pork, cole slaw, salads, rice, and beans) which he had been working on for several days before driving it down from Chicago. Since there were only a couple other people in the kitchen, it was a great chance to chat with them and exchange stories. Everyone else trickled in, and before long, it was time to eat. Of course, the food was great, and we went around to different areas of the house where different people were eating.

I also spoke quite a bit with Anne, who is the genealogist of the family (although Carola and Curt also maintain the data). I got to hear not only some of the connections, but some of the stories around her going to places to gather data.

After dinner, a bunch of the cousins (Melody's generation) were going to get together at one of the other houses, but it was getting a bit late for us. We were even too tired to go outside to see if there were lightning bugs, which we had seen before. Too bad, since apparently that night were more than people remembered ever seeing before.