Posts Tagged ‘overnight’

Photo: Cleveland.com.
Floating tents in the Great Miami River, part of Float Troy in Troy, Ohio.

As many of us say good-bye to summer haunts and head back to our year-round routines, I can’t help thinking about vacation activities that might be fun to try another year. Susan Glaser at Cleveland.com describes one that makes up in curiosity for what it lacks in practicality.

“I’ve hiked to hotels, biked to inns,” she says, “but this was the first time I’ve traveled by raft to my overnight accommodation. My destination for the evening: one of 10 floating tents, anchored along a quiet stretch of the Great Miami River in Troy, about 20 miles north of Dayton.

“Honestly, I was a bit apprehensive about this adventure, given that I’m not much of a camper: How well would I sleep on the water? Were these tents comfortable? And, perhaps most importantly, what if I had to use the bathroom in the middle of the night?

“I needn’t have worried. The tent was surprisingly cushy, I slept unexpectedly well and — spoiler alert — I didn’t need to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. But I would have been OK if I did.

“Matt Clifton, who coordinates the Float Troy program for the city, said Troy is the only place in the world where travelers can spend the night in a floating tent. …

“Purchased by the city several years ago with grant money from a local foundation, the tents were used first by students in a University of Dayton environmental program. They’re part of a broader effort to improve access to the Great Miami River, which runs 160 miles through Southwest Ohio before joining with the Ohio River near Cincinnati. …

“The public tourism initiative launched last year, but on a small scale because of the coronavirus pandemic. This year, the floating tents are proving to be a major draw, attracting media attention and visitors from throughout the region and beyond. …

“Joining me on the river during my one-night stay last month: a pair of sisters, ages 20 and 17, from Alliance; two 70-something friends from Columbus and Springfield; and a family from nearby Sidney.

“The tents are spread over a wide stretch of river, perhaps 200 feet across. They’re tethered to the ground, as well as to each other, spaced about 25 feet apart. …

“It’s not a particularly remote location. I could hear the low hum of traffic from nearby Interstate 75, and a siren disturbed the peace as I was getting ready for bed. I could also hear crickets and frogs and the wind rustling outside. …

“The park also has a small bathhouse, with two toilets and two sinks, open all night. There is no shower, though Clifton said he is hoping to add one next year.

“The 75-mile Great Miami River Trail multi-use path runs alongside the park, a popular destination for cyclists. The primary mode of transportation on this trip, however, wasn’t intended to be two wheels, but two paddles, as well as a 10-foot-long rubber raft.

“Clifton went over a few instructions when we arrived, showing us how to connect our raft to our tent using carabiner clips. Once attached, it was relatively easy to maneuver from raft to tent.

‘If you fall in, just stand up,’ he said. ‘The river is only about 3 feet deep.’

“Clifton was initially concerned about the wind during our visit, with gusts predicted as high as to 35 mph. He recommended against using one of three floating fire pits.

“ ‘The worst thing that might happen is that the wind will blow you closer together,’ he said. ‘The tents might bump into one another.’ …

“We checked in just after 5 p.m., then moved some of our stuff to the tent, about a 5-minute paddle from shore. These rafts – also made by SmithFly – were simple to maneuver, and easily held a couple of sleeping bags, pillows, a small overnight bag, lantern and a complimentary drybag provided by Float Troy. …

“SmithFly describes its shoal tent as a raft with a tent topper. The base doubles as an extra-firm air mattress and was surprisingly comfortable. It felt like a 1970s-era waterbed every time I rolled over, gently bobbing on the water. I didn’t have any trouble falling asleep, though the horns from numerous passing trains in town woke me up way too early.

“So I rose with the sun, paddled to shore and used the restroom. … The bathroom issue was clearly top of mind for many of the people I talked to. Both before and after my stay, I had numerous people – women, mostly – ask me about using the bathroom in the middle of the night.

“Fellow campers Reatha Collinsworth and Cindy Gibbons told me they had a friend who declined an invitation to join them on the water because of concerns she would need to paddle to shore in the middle of the night.

“Indeed, Collinsworth said she stopped drinking water early in the evening to avert the problem. As for why the two signed up for the adventure, Gibbons said, ‘It was something different. We like doing different things.’ ”

For great photos and some details about cost and places to eat, check out Cleveland.com, here.

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Photos: The Wilds
In Columbus, Ohio, you can camp overnight at the zoo.

A couple of my grandchildren brought sleeping bags on their latest visit, hoping to try camping — if not in a tent, then on the bedroom floor. A tent might be a little too exotic for where they are in life, although it worked for Suzanne when she was five weeks old.

Exotic camping makes me think of my friend Cathy. I saw her on the train the day she retired, and she told me that she was planning an overnight at the Columbus zoo. Apparently, you can sleep in a yurt. It’s not cheap. There is also a lodge or cabins, if you prefer.

The website says, “Today, it’s difficult to imagine The Wilds and its 9,000 plus acres as anything but a home to rare and endangered species from around the globe living in open range habitats.

“However, the park that has transformed wild life conservation practices was once devoted to strip mining.”

I loved reading this description of how the landscape was rescued from that devastation.

“The immense landscape of The Wilds and its mining history provides an ideal setting to study the process of ecological recovery and restoration. Ongoing biological inventories have recorded over a thousand species and provide an essential baseline for studying changes in populations over time.

“It is difficult for trees to survive on reclaimed mine land due to soil compaction and low nutrient availability. Instead, The Wilds has successfully established nearly 700 acres of prairies at The Wilds which provide beneficial pollinator and wildlife habitat.  Now we are conducting research to see how prairies change soil properties over time and whether the deep roots of prairie plants can prepare the land for the return of forests. …

“Wetlands are considered the most biologically rich ecosystems in the world.  However, development has caused these habitat types to become among the most endangered. The Wilds has restored a 20-acre area into a quality wetland refuge that supports a diversity of vegetation, waterfowl, and aquatic wildlife.  The removal of invasive species such as cattail is an ongoing effort. The ultimate goal is to increase native wetland vegetation and improve habitat for waterfowl and other aquatic wildlife. …

“Many of the reclaimed forests at The Wilds are in poor health, with low species diversity and overgrown with invasive species. The restoration department is currently working on restoring ~30 acres of forest. In order to accomplish this, invasive plant species are removed and native ones are planted in their place. Removal and replacement is a long and tedious process, but ultimately it will increase the biodiversity of the area. In addition, we intend to create native amphibian habitat by constructing two vernal pools and improving existing wetlands in the area. The end result of these combined efforts is expected to encourage more native animal and insect species to not only inhabit the area, but to thrive. …

“We have expanded our scope to improving the reclamation process immediately after mining. One essential step is seeding the land with new plant species. Traditional seed mixes used in land reclamation are not designed to create diverse habitat for wildlife, they simply aim to revegetate the land. We helped [the Ohio Department of Natural Resources] create more ecologically friendly seed mixes and monitored to see if sites planted with the native mix could revegetate the land as well as the traditional mix. Thus far, we have seen that mixes including native grasses and pollinator plants can definitely be successful, and that they undeniably increase native cover over traditional mixes. We are still working on long term monitoring of this project.”

To the conservationist side of me, this is all very impressive. But having just read a deep, thoughtful history of the destruction of Appalachia called Ramp Hollow, I can’t help but think that mining destroyed not only the environment but the ability of families to make a living off the land. I’d really like to see restoration for the people, too.


Restoration Ecology

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