Sunday, September 16, 2018

Retreat! Retreat!

The weekend Dear Husband and I were supposed to travel to Charlotte, NC, for my grandfather's memorial service, Hurricane Florence invited herself to the party. The service was postponed, and we found ourselves suddenly available to join our United Methodist friends on retreat at Raccoon Creek State Park. This expanse of greenery houses a number of different kinds of campsites hard on the border with Ohio. It was incongruous to listen to the low-flying planes taking off from the airport just a few miles away. DH and I missed the early evening worship, which involved stones inscribed with things people wanted to let go of (below), but we arrived just in time for the campfire, complete with singing, s'mores, and silly round-robin stories about intrepid soap merchants capsizing their Conestoga wagons in the Mississippi River and distrustful heiresses offing each other in space capsules floating on the Atlantic Ocean.

We all stayed up much too late, and some of us--namely moi--did not sleep so well, as someone had tried to fix the sag in the mattress by placing a 2x4 down the middle. Besides being hard, it tilted the mattress, and I constantly felt like I was falling off my half. DH slept okay. We both missed the early morning yoga outside, but there was still first and second breakfast before morning worship and book study. The weather could not have been nicer.

After a late lunch we decided to hike to the Frankfort Mineral Springs (short historylong history). It was reported to be 1 mile each way, but the trail maintenance for the first half was almost nonexistent. At the point we had to clamber through fallen tree trunks, with chest-high flowers and brush beyond them, I and some of the other actually turned back to the cabin to change our shorts into long pants and sandals into closed-toed shoes. While the first half of the trail was low-lying along waterways, the second half that went over a hill was comparatively much easier. At one point we had to cross a narrow wooden bridge, and there were spontaneous cries of "You! Shall! Not! Pass!" and "What is the air-speed velocity off an unladen swallow?" Clearly, these are our people. After a long hour-plus of bushwhacking, we arrived at a grotto with a small waterfall on one side and the spring emerging from the face of the rock on the other. It was hot enough that we all dunked our heads and drank from the fresh water before hiking back to camp. On the way, we stopped to make a tableau among the ruins of the spa that used to profit from the springs (below).

We returned in time for a delicious dinner outdoors before some people packed up and the rest of us had quiet evenings before bedding down early. Breakfast was a delicious smorgasbord, even though we never did figure out what happened to the blueberries. While DH and I are still looking forward to celebrating my grandfather's life with our family, it was a blessing to say "yes" to this unexpected opportunity to commune with our friends in nature.

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