Dayton: Park Exploration

While I had fun exploring further out from Dayton on Thursday, I thought I should explore what places closer to the hotel had to offer on Friday. My first thought was to visit SunWatch Indian Village/Archaeological Park. In trying to figure out a name for my farm, I did some reading on archeoastronomy (which is some really interesting stuff) and SunWatch was mentioned in several of the books, so I was excited to check it out. Turns out, it’s only open on the weekends in the winter. That was disappointing, but it turned out there’s a Five Rivers MetroPark (this seems to be Dayton’s park system) near SunWatch, so I drove over to check out Possum Creek.

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Possum Creek  is a pretty cool park with a lot of stuff to do. I explored the Argonne Forest and learned about Judge Null Hodapp and his Argonne Forest (created and named in honor of a friend who died in the French Argonne Forest in World War I), which is unusual (and really interesting) in that the park was preserved while Judge Hodapp’s nephew could tell them about the attractions and facilities. I’m not really clear on when or why the Argonne Forest Park was created, but it wasn’t an amusement park in the way that I think of “amusement park” with ferris wheels or other rides. They had a “dance floor” where people picnicked and a swimming pool (they dammed up the creek to make a huge pool) with concessions. There were also streetcars that had been brought in to be campsites, but during the Great Depression were used by families just looking for a place cheap enough to get by. They didn’t offer electricity or running water, but the letter they excerpted on the sign suggests that they were 2/3 the price of a “normal” house. The park left the cars to deteriorate in the park as a demonstration of how things are worn down over time, so all that’s left at this point is the undercarriage. The light was bad and the rusty metal was the same color as the leaves, so the pictures are pretty hard to see.

I wanted to check out the farm, but I wasn’t sure there’d be much to see in the winter and I was hungry, so I left for lunch. I did a little looking on Yelp and found Central Perc, which was just what I wanted. The cheese plate was just what I wanted. There was a wide variety of cheese (just the right amount of exotic for me…familiar, not not cheddar), some really good French-type bread, and fruit. This is the sort of thing I usually want from a lunch spot, but it doesn’t seem like a lot of places offer it as an option.

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After lunch, I decided to go to another of the MetroParks (it was the closest to Central Perc, I think) called Hills and Dales (you really should check out the site…the pictures they have are much better than mine turned out). That park seems to have a different purpose. It’s in a more upscale part of Dayton and seems to be where the locals take their dogs after they get off work. Which isn’t to say there aren’t attractions there as well. The first thing I went to look at was the stone tower. As the site says, the interior is no longer accessible, but it’s impressive and unusual. I would have liked to see a plaque or something that talked about the history of the tower.

I walked up to the Old Barn camp and saw the chimney. That was another place I would have liked to see some hints about what I was looking at or what I should look for, but I just looked at the chimney and went on my way. The other attraction (also without interpretation) at Hills and Dales was the Staged Gates landscape sculpture. It seemed like it’d be a really good place to sit and enjoy the quiet (the view was a parking lot, so that was less interesting), but the hill had eroded onto the platform and was muddy enough that I didn’t hang around on it.

After that park, I went to pick Tony up from work. We went to dinner with his work people at Wheat Penny. That was really good too, but since Tony wanted to go to all of his favorite places while we were in Dayton, that wasn’t really surprising.

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