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Camping Trip to Wolf Run - 18-19 Oct 2008

A few of us in the TVRVBG have been kicking around the idea of camping with our RVs for some time, now - actually, a camping-in-the-RV sort of trip was something that I've wanted to do since well before the RV was actually flying. After this weekend, it appears that we actually did it. Here's the whole story, with gratuitous illustrations.

The original plan was to head over to Petit Jean State Park over in Arkansas. The idea - and the inspiration - for such a trip came from Doug Reeves, who posted a trip report from such a trip that made airplane camping, as a concept, sound like so much fun that the only responsible thing to do would be sell all one's possessions - up to and including the entire set of good china - to be able to afford the avgas to get to Petit Jean immediately. Of course we had to go, and a trip to Petit Jean was in the original plans. A phone call to the park a few days before departure provided us with the information that they have just started digging up the runway to put in lights, so the runway is closed for the next month or so. They're not sure how long it's going to be closed; consequently, I'm not sure either. In any case, there was an immediate and rather urgent search for other places to camp next to a runway. Eventually, using, (a fairly useful resource, if you can hack through all the stuff that is not all that great) we were able to find a few potentially interesting sites in addition to the previously mentioned Petit Jean:

  • Gaston's, which is just up the road from Petit Jean. From what I hear, Gaston's has good trout fishing - the fishing is so good that I've heard about this place from non-pilots, which makes me think it is pretty special.
  • There were also some good sites in Oklahoma, if one wants to fly that far. However, the main attraction seemed to be "casino within walking distance" which, if it strikes you as interesting at all, will be more interesting to you than it was to us. Lastly, we found
  • Wolf Run State Park, which is in Ohio. It was the place that looked most promising, so further investigation was warrented. The map that they had on their website seemed to indicate that this was pretty close to what we were looking for.

On the Wolf Run Website, there is a phone number that you're supposed to call in order to reserve a campsite there. However, this number (to the reservation desk for all of Ohio State Parks, apparently) isn't helpful because the fly-in campsites aren't able to be reserved. About all those folks could do was to tell me to call the rangers at Wolf Run.

The ranger that I talked to at Wolf Run told me that there's no charge to use the fly-in campsite and that no reservations are necessary. The folks at the actual state park were pleased to know that someone was going to actually use the campsite that I got the impression that our arrival and consequent use of the campsite were fairly unusual. (We later discovered that this was, in fact, the case.) Anyway, if you're going to camp here, let the rangers know. They like to know if anyone is going to be there.

In any case, Scott (RV-9A) and Dave (RV-6) were just as enthusiastic about going to Wolf Run as they were Petit Jean, so it appeared that we had a workable plan. The weather looked good, reservations - such as they were - were made, so we aimed for a 9 AM launch on Saturday.

Getting the airplane ready to go. A test flight before departure was necessary because we had just gotten the wheel pants re-assembled, we had just finished (maybe, we'll see) troubleshooting an oil leak, and had just re-run the transponder cable.

Taxing out to the runway @ KDCU. After Scott and Jim showed up, we topped off the airplanes, crammed a bunch of camping gear in them, and launched at about 9 AM.

Over North Alabama. Dave is in the lead, and Scott's Number Two. I'm bringing up the rear.

Rocky the Flying Squirrel guards the cooler of beer while still concentrating duties as co-pilot.

This was about the only point of the trip when we were flying under overcast, and it made for some fairly dramatic lighting, which unfortunately is not adequately represented here.

Kentucky is not that interesting to fly over, but presumably boring terrain makes for a fairly large array of choices if the engine quits.

We got a little bit higher in order to get over the puffy little clouds. I'm in the Number Two slot, here, as Scott lost a bit of speed dodging the clouds.

Starting to descend into the Cynthiana Airport - just north of Lexington - for gas.

The price has recently dropped, at least judging from this sign.

Scott and Dave discuss the situation with the airport cat at Cynthiana.

As we got Ohio, we started seeing more fall colors - they were a bit more colorful than is obvious here, but it was actually pretty nice.

Parked at Noble County. There's a place to park that is specifically for the campground, which is nice - it's a bit of a walk to the rest of the airport, so this makes unloading all the camping stuff easier.

Right behind the parking place is the path to the campsite.

It's actually a bit of a walk to the campsite.

The idea was to have a pretty low-key trip - showing up and hanging around were about the only items on the agenda. After we got the planes tied down and the tents set up, it was about time to start some serious wandering around and/or sitting for the purpose of swapping airplane stories. There's not a lot of other things to do here, unless you either (a) fish, or (b) have brought an inflatable boat in the back of your airplane. We did not do either one of these things.

Observations, that may or may not be of much use:

  • This is a pretty deserted little place. We didn't see any other airplanes take off or land the entire time that we were here. A local Cessna taxied out to the runway, ran its engine for a few minutes, and then taxied back to the hangars. That was about it.
  • There isn't anything as far as electricity or running water at the campsite, so you'll want to bring enough water with you.
  • There are (from what I hear, anyway) about 4 or 5 miles of trails in the park, but all of them are across the lake from the airport. There's not much in terms of hiking unless you count walking up and down the runway, which we did later. However, if you're just showing up to hang out and swap airplane stories, it's pretty close to ideal. We liked it.

There are quite a few places where you can pitch a tent, including some sites that are fairly close to the lake.

Another view of the lake.

After getting camp set up and the planes are all tucked in, and it's time to explore the area.

Walking to the end of the runway . . .

View - looking south - from the end of the runway. Not a good place to drag it in, or you'll probably scare the boaters.

It seemed about time to head back to the campsite and start thinking about dinner.

Scott fires up the grill. Dave is supervising.

Later in the evening, a good campfire was had.

Scott had managed to get a grill and a bag of charcoal into the back of his plane (we weren't really roughing it, here), so after he got the grill fired up, it was time to cook dinner. After dinner - which was a pretty steak-and-potatoes sort of affair - was cooked and eaten, we dumped the coals into the fire ring, which served as a nice start to the campfire that lasted pretty much for the rest of the evening. This provided a nice place to sit around, and tell - you'll never see this coming it - even more airplane stories.

There's plenty of (fairly dry) wood just lying around on the ground, so coming up with enough for a campfire wasn't really a problem.

It was actually fairly chilly, at least by the standards of people from Alabama, but everyone managed to stay (mostly) warm during the night. Still, there was quite a bit of motivation to keep the campfire going until we were ready to go to bed.

We actually ended up being there for the first frost of the year, so the following morning there was quite a bit of mist coming off the lake.

In addition, there was quite a bit of frost on the airplane canopies.

Frost on Scott's horizontal stabilizer . . . not ready for flight, just yet.

Meanwhile, while the frost melted off the airplanes, we started packing up the campsite. Dave appears to be just loafing, but he is actually quite busy deflating his air mattress.

There were no specific departure plans, but it seemed like a good idea to try to find food, and we had already decided that a gas stop between Ohio and Alabama would be welcome. Scott got some recommendations from the locals, and discovered that there was a restaurant at KPMH, which was close enough to our route to justify a stop for a hamburger. Without further ado we set off.

Getting ready to depart Noble County. Apparently, three RVs leaving at the same time was interesting enough that the small number of locals that were present gathered to see us off.

Ohio University in Athens, OH, was right on our course both ways - the football stadium is just visible to the left of the big round building which is (I'm told) the Convocation Center.

Dave displays the menu at the Skyline Restaurant @ KPMH. This is a 60's style lunchroom/diner, for lack of a better description. The food was pretty good, but the restaurant was more crowded than we thought it would be. Most of the crowd, we decided, were not airplane people, but were there for a post-church Sunday lunch.

Power plants (coal) on the Ohio River near Aberdeen, OH.

Another stop @ Cynthiana for more (relatively) cheap gas, and another brief conference with the airport cat.

I'm flying lead, now, so I have no airplanes ahead of me to photograph. Here's a lake and dam over . . . uh, somewhere in Tennessee. I'm not sure exactly where this is.

Another lake in Tennessee. As you can see, the weather is great - it was like this the whole way back - clear, but bumpy up to about 5000 feet, where it smoothed out.

Home safe! Back at the ramp at KDCU, and another adventure comes to a close.

The general consensus is that we're going to do that again. This trip ended up being three people and three RVs, and because hadn't planned it very well and had just packed a bunch of extra stuff (three coolers came along, for example) we ended up not really having any extra room for more passengers. If we had planned a little better - or not brought a grill and charcoal, for example - we probably would have been able to bring another passenger (or two?) along.

Obviously, further research is necessary, so we'll have to try it again.

Go back to the trip reports page.