In the midst of the Covid -19 pandemic twenty-two OHCRA members and guests met at Nimisila Campground in Green, Ohio for a weekend of special events and comradery. We were mindful of social distancing and wearing masks when distancing was not possible.
By Friday evening most of the campers had arrived. Elicia and James and family pulled in with a very large camper big enough for the whole family. Lance was traveling light and brought neither a boat nor a bike this time. He was joined by new members Elizabeth (Lis) and her friend Ron who are from the Cleveland area. Both have canoeing and hiking experience. Ruth, Cobi (the cute little terrier) and Liz shared site #8 and the club shelter was erected in the open space behind. Ruth and Cobi slept in the Prius and Liz in her Eureka tent. Across the road were tent campers Wil and Gloria. They brought the wood canoe for Wil and a sit-on-top kayak for Gloria. Sadly, Denny and Kathy had radiator trouble on the road and never made it to camp. Laura shared Site #10 with Coleen and Steve and Murphy (another cute little dog). As usual Steve brought firewood and we thank him for that.
Further up the hill were Harold and Laurie. Harold was especially proud of his new tent and we heard all about how he drove to Columbus at the last minute to buy the only one in stock. It is pretty sweet with the door on a hinge. Harold doesn't have a dog but lucky for him Tony and Alice camped in the adjacent site with their three cute Yorkies, Tootsie, Benny, and Muffy. Tony has a fab new custom camper for him and Alice to trick out. In the next site were Ted and Connie in a tent. Surprise! No more van because Ted wants to be able to stand up and I don't blame him one bit. Across the road in Site #13 were Donna and Terry in a Quicksilver aluminum camper on its maiden voyage. Ted and Harold helped Donna get set up because Terry didn't arrive till Saturday. They are not yet members but I hope that we see more of them in the future. Further up the road were guests Chris and Kathy. They camped in tents and brought their kayaks.
Friday evening around 7:30 Wil and Gloria, Ruth and Cobi and Coleen, Steve and Murphy paddled out to the reed beds to watch the Martins fly in to roost for the night. What a site! Thousands of birds circled in from all directions to find a night time spot in the reeds. It was a wondrous site.
Saturday was a busy one and it was HOT with temps in the 80s and thick humidity. At 10:00am our first speaker arrived. Kay Lukac, President of the Portage Lakes Purple Martin Association (PLPMA) along with her volunteer assistant presented a mind-blowing account of the way the PLPMA cares for the Purple Martins from the time they arrive in March until they fledge and leave in August and head to Brazil for the Winter. The PLPMA volunteers have plenty to do in the spring to clean and set up nesting poles, feed scrambled eggs to the arriving birds, keep nesting records and care for birds that have fallen from nests. Kay brought along a Purple Martin fledgling that had been left abandoned in the nest and caked with mud. He was in a clear plastic tote and we got to see him use his wings and get stronger, eat scrambled eggs, and finally we were able to touch and hold him. He will be released when he is strong enough. Kay's presentation was so moving, she and her volunteers so dedicated, that OHCRA decided to donate $500 to the organization.
Dave Gates, volunteer from Summit County Historical Society, presented at 2:00pm. He talked about the significance of the Portage Lakes to the woodland Indians and early settlers. We learned that the Nimisila area sits on the Continental Divide which separates waters flowing to the Atlantic Ocean from waters which flow to the Gulf of Mexico. The northern terminus of the Portage Path is at the big bend of the Cuyahoga River. The southern terminus is at the northern tip of Long Lake channel on the Tuscarawas River. The terminus points of the Portage Path parallel the course of the Ohio and Erie Canal which broke ground in 1825. The eight mile Portage allowed Native Americans to travel by canoe from north to south across Ohio and beyond.
Saturday afternoon we all had an early supper in order to be on the water by 6:30 to see the Purple Martin migration. Liz made liver and onions and Laura brought mashed potatoes for all to share. Well there weren't many takers but a few of really enjoyed the meal. Jamie and a friend and Ron and Jilinda arrived in time to get on the water. We all headed down to the campground boat ramp at 6:30. I think anybody in the vicinity who had anything that could float was at the ramp. There were inflatables, kayaks, and canoes of all sorts and sizes. It was quite a frenzy getting all the boats launched. The non-paddlers stayed on shore with cameras and binoculars to catch the sites. Those who paddled out to the reeds had plenty of time to float around, watch the sunset and watch again as thousands of birds found their way to the Nimisila reeds. We paddled back to the ramp just after dusk. Lucky for us we had a good idea of how to reach the campground ramp and didn't lose anyone. We heard that two paddlers (not OHCRA) were lost on the reservoir for several hours after dark. The Ranger finally found them far from where they were supposed to take out. Their cell phone died.
There were obligatory campfires on Friday and Saturday nights as we discussed all the important issues of the day. We agreed that the Nimisila Campground was really nice and would like to return next year during the week since the weekends are pretty busy on the water.
Sunday It rained Saturday night so we packed up wet tents and gear. I hope that we all stay healthy and happy till we meet again. Thanks to OHCRA for the opportunity to organize this trip. I apologize if I have left anyone or anything out of this report. Addendums are always welcome.
Videos of Roosting Martins