RONCO!

Late-night infomercials are fun to watch…until that 3-month, $13.33 price tag starts to sound like a pretty good deal…

Observations

  • The RONCO guy is the new Dick Clark – he hasn’t aged a day!
  • Did you know that the cleaver is a real man’s knife? Apparently it is.
  • If your knives need to able to cut through shoe leather, you need cooking classes not a better knife.

Day three: No, seriously. Where the #@%$ is the– Oh, there it is.

All right. Day three. We were serious now. We’d had it confirmed that the maps were useless. We’d been told that the pioneer cemetery up by the Sunsinger was off the path behind the statue – the one we’d looked down but hadn’t chosen because it hadn’t had a map – and that the pioneer cemetery at the south end of the park couldn’t actually be reached from within the park, it had to be driven to from one of the country roads that borders the park there.

We were sure this was going to be a quick trip. We’d head out to the Sunsinger, duck down the correct path (finally!), see the cemetery, and drive around to the other one. And luck seemed to be with us – the road to the Sunsinger was open the whole way, saving us the time of walking from the Centaur to the Sunsinger to start our path. It’d be quick – an hour tops, right?

Wrong! We walked down the path to the point where it split into two directions. The guy Dad talked to hadn’t said anything about choosing a direction, so we went to the left for a little bit. It seemed to be heading back into the park after a while so we turned back and went back to the Sunsinger path and then took the right trail. That ended at a house. So we decided to go back the other way and follow the left path further on. We figured we’d covered every trail that was anywhere near where the map showed the cemetery to be except for this one and therefore, through sheer process of elimination, we were bound to find it this time.

It met up with the path that goes off to the right from the Sunsinger, the one we’d taken on day two, so we turned right and went on to the next fork in the road and then headed left again. Unfortunately, there was still no cemetery. We’d found a path that met up with the river, followed it for a bit, and then headed back to the Centaur. And this time we weren’t parked at the Centaur, so we’d have to walk all the way back to the Sunsinger to the car.

But there was a little old man sitting by the Centaur and as we passed Dad asked him if he knew where the pioneer cemetery was. His reply? “Up towards the Sunsinger. Walk along the road and look east and you’ll see the headstones.” We sort of scoffed to ourselves – how could the cemetery been there? We’d walked circles around the area and seen nothing – but we had to walk that way anyway to get back to the car, so we’d keep our eyes open.

We found what seemed to be a trail head with four concrete trail markers so we started down that and it turned out to be the little ravine we’d seen from the bottom on the path we’d been on during day 2, so we headed back to the road, walked a little bit further and there, clear as day, right where the map said it should be (that was the most galling part), was the pioneer cemetery.

This one is the smaller of the two, with only about 8 graves or so, and the stones are harder to read. This one, for an infant son who died in 1850, is the easiest to read of the group. So after a look around there, it was back to the car to see if we could get to the other one – the one that couldn’t be reached from inside the park.

We did. This one was a bit bigger, with maybe 20 graves that seem to have weathered the years a bit more successfully though they’re only about 30 years younger than the stones at the other cemetery. It seemed to be three or four families all buried in rows here complete with headstones and footstones. I think the most interesting set was that of John West who lived to be in his 70s and outlived his entire family, including a daughter (aged 30, I think), a son (aged 20), and three wives, two of whom were named Hannah.

So it took us three days and god knows how much walking and I’m definitely embarrassed by how easily the terrible map and useless trailer markers confused us, but we finally achieved our goal (and managed to get a bit of exercise along the way, too, which always helps, especially this time of year). And, of course, hopefully now we’ll remember where they both are if we ever want to go back again.

Day two: Where the HELL is the pioneer cemetery?!

On our second day out, we decided to go searching for the cemetery that was up by the Sunsinger. Our adventure started out by hitting a roadblock. Literally. The road that goes out to the Sunsinger is notoriously terrible and they had closed it off with a sign that said we were welcome to walk on past that point but that the quality of the road was too bad to allow cars through. So we parked at the Centaur and walked on down the road out to the Sunsinger because we both had it in our heads that the pioneer cemetery there was off a path to the right of the Sunsinger.

As you can see from the map, there is no path to the right of the Sunsinger. The path behind him didn’t have a map, so although we looked down it for a few minutes, we decided to head on to the path to the left. Fortunately, there was a map there and we’d lucked out! All we had to do was follow the path away from the statue, make a left and then it looked like we should run into a smaller path that led to the cemetery. Sounds easy, right?

Wrong! We walked and walked and scared some deer and walked some more and thought we saw a fox and walked and walked and walked.

About halfway down the trail, where the path to the cemetery should have been, we did see a small path-ish thing leading off to the left of the trail, but it was more of a ravine than anything and we decided that it wasn’t really a path. At any rate, we were sure we were too close to the road at that point – we figured we should be able to see the headstones if it really had been nearby and it was a pretty steep bluff above us, not very prime real estate for a cemetery, so we continued on. And eventually ended up back at the Centaur.

We were both a little stiff still from all the walking we’d done the previous day – it was muddy both days (when is Allerton not muddy, though) and were were getting frustrated by the extraordinarily unhelpful maps and baffling trailmarkers that seemed to be using leagues or furlongs as far as we could tell – so we decided to pack it in and call it a day instead of walking down the road a bit to see if there was a path off of that that might lead to the cemetery. Dad had Rotary the next day and said he knew a few people he could ask about the cemetery’s location – frankly, we were starting to think maybe they’d let the paths grow over them (the maps in the park haven’t been updated since 2003).

Tired but determined, we headed back home to rest up for the following day’s hike and gather information so we could triumph over our adversaries. Here’s what we had walked by the end of day two looking for a cemetery.

Day one: Where is the pioneer cemetery?

The weather here was really nice the day after Christmas, so my dad and I wandered out to Allerton park to walk around a bit. So we bundled up, packed up Dad’s camera, and headed out! We ended up at the parking lot near the bridge that’s out and, after a look at the map at the trailhead, decided we’d see if we could find the pioneer cemetery that was located near the southern edge of the park. I’d been there once years and years ago during a school field trip and hadn’t ever been able to stumble across it since then. But with the location marked on the map, we were sure we’d be there in no time.

We started out kind of slowly because we kept stopping to take pictures. Dad does pottery and likes to include grasses, leaves, and other miscellaneous plants on his pieces so he was looking for some inspiration. I was just fiddling around.

We kept coming across turnoffs that didn’t seem to be on the map – Allerton borders private property at certain places and we kept having to backtrack when we’d come across a house or take a path that was actually a driveway. At least it wasn’t too chilly of a day! We kept shedding hats and gloves as we walked further and further and the clouds got darker and darker. Eventually we hit the parking lot at the south end of the park (toward the bottom of the map that may or may not be cut off in the photo up there) and, after taking a look at the map again, decided we must be nearly on top of the pioneer cemetery at last. All we had to do was follow the trail and take every left we came to – we should be there in no time! Right?

Wrong. Eventually we knew we were heading in completely the wrong direction for the elusive pioneer cemetery, but it was starting to get late and we’d been out for about an hour and a half already so we decided to head back to the car. The problem was that we were about as far from our starting point as was possible to be. Dad suggested that we go back the way we came, but I wanted to at least finish the day having seen the river since it was clear we had missed the pioneer cemetery somewhere along the way.

You’ll notice that, despite the fact that I wanted to see the river, there are no pictures of the river. By the time we reached the point where our path met the river, we were exhausted and mostly focused on not dying before we got back to the car. Which we managed to do, three hours after we had started walking. We’d only meant to be out for an hour so we hadn’t brought any water or snacks or anything and we ended up being out over the lunch hour, so by the time we got back, we were starving! I’m always worried I’ll die in a situation like that because I’d be so embarrassed! I’m a Girl Scout, I really should know better.

So at the end of day 1, here’s what we had walked in our search for one of the pioneer cemeteries in the park (there’s another one over by the Sunsinger. Allegedly.).

Know what puts a damper on Thanksgiving?

Food poisoning.

That was Monday. I just started eating solid food last night – until then it was just Gatorade and the occasional yogurt.

Alas, I still didn’t have the energy to be in the kitchen yesterday so we’re pushing Thanksgiving until tomorrow to give me the time in the kitchen I missed out on.

So happy Thanksgiving (if you’re celebrating) and happy birthday, Claire (the 24th, right?)!