It’s been a few days. A couple of you checked in – which I appreciate – and all is well. The girls and I spent a few days out in the wilderness. OK, that might be overstating it a bit, but here’s a breakdown.

We went with our old neighbors to Turkey Run state park, about two hours east of Indy, Wednesday afternoon through Friday morning for camping, hiking, and tubing. It was the two dads and five girls; moms stayed home and worked. Their family are all experienced campers. Ours? I last camped in the summer of 1984 and my girls had only camped in backyards.

We had absolutely tremendous weather. When we arrived at the campsite and began setting up, we were still on the backside of TS Cristobal, with a few occasional sprinkles, lots of heat and humidity, and very strong winds. Our campsite was protected but the wind did make it tough to sit by the fire, as the smoke whipped around.

L and I shared a tent, the other four girls shared a large tent, and Mr. P had a solo tent. We had an air mattress in ours because my old-man back can’t take sleeping on the ground. Sometime around 1:00 AM Thursday morning I heard strange noises. Near my head. We had seen a raccoon before we went to bed and apparently it brought some friends and they were scampering about our campsite. A couple were being very chatty just outside our tent. It freaked me out a little and I started hitting the side of the tent with my pillow. That scared the raccoons, who shrieked and ran away. And that pretty much ruined sleep for me as I thought every noise signaled their return and I checked that we were zippered inside for the 100th time.

Thursday morning the heat and humidity and wind broke. It was a cool, clear, calm day, and just gorgeous for hiking. We hiked for about three hours, knocking out the toughest trails in the park. We got out before the crowds so we were able to stop and enjoy the views, which were beautiful. Everyone I’ve talked to about Turkey Run says the same thing: you can’t believe you’re in Indiana. Most of the trails are in canyons carved out by glacial melt and ancient rivers. They are filled with waterfalls and gorgeous rock collections. Even the toughest trails weren’t super technical, although we were all feeling them in our legs when we made the last couple climbs.

Back to the campground for lunch then we took a three-hour tube float down Sugar Creek. There wasn’t much current, and the wind was often against us, so it was a rather lazy float, which was a fine way to recover.

We figured everyone would conk out early that night between the lack of sleep the previous night and the day’s exertions. Most of us were still awake at 11:00 when we began to drift to our tents. I slept like a baby for about two hours until some fools a campsite or two down decided to get loud. Several of them were talking and laughing loudly. They were also chopping wood. Not cool. Most of us drifted in and out of sleep all night thanks to the noise.

We had planned on doing another hike Friday morning but the girls lacked energy so we made breakfast and returned home.

My girls did well and really enjoyed it. It helped a lot to have almost perfect weather. It also helped that we had electricity, there were bathrooms, and even showers. The showers were kind of nasty so after the first two girls made a trip over the rest of us avoided them. They enjoyed hanging out with their friends and trying something new. My friend has every piece of camping gear you would ever need, so cooking was easy and we had some terrific meals. He also knew to lock down all our coolers at night so the raccoons couldn’t get in.

Thursday C and her buddy slept in hammocks, and made it all night in them. They did forget to take the trash bag to the dumpster, though. It was hanging on the same tree that held one side of their hammocks. At some point my friend heard a noise, peaked out from his tent, and saw a raccoon on the tree digging through the trash, just a couple feet from his daughter’s head. He chucked a water bottle at it and took the trash away. Neither his daughter nor C had any clue until he told them about it in the morning.

A pretty successful couple of days outside suburbia for us. I think S would enjoy the hiking but she would not like the actual camping part of it. So if we return it will likely be dads and daughters again.