On December 16 we met our friend, Jeanette Meleen, at Clifton Gorge for a hike and some time together. We met Jeanette when we worked at Death Valley. She was a seasonal ranger at Scotty’s Castle, just like we were. She now has a full-time job at William Howard Taft National Historic Site in Cincinnati. So we thought it would be fun to get together.
Saturday, December 16, it rained ALL day – and I mean poured down rain. Not a gentle drizzle or occasional shower. It rained heavy and constant for the whole day. We talked to Jeanette before we left, thinking it might be a better day for an indoor activity. But Jeanette said, “We’re all rangers. We all have rain gear.” A little rain wasn’t going to keep us from enjoying our outdoor activities.
We decided to meet at Clifton Gorge near Dayton. Clifton Mill is supposed to have spectacular Christmas lights so we thought that would be good for after dark. While it was still daylight, we could hike and then be in position to enjoy the lights.
We did hike along Clifton Gorge for a little while. But the rain was falling so hard that the path was more a creek than a path. Going into Clifton Gorge meant navigating a mud slide, so we stayed on the rim. We did encounter a group of hikers coming the other direction. Who do you think would be hiking on a day when it was raining like crazy and 40 degrees besides Park Rangers? That’s right – it was a troop of Boy Scouts!
After navigating slippery mud, deep puddles, and with increasingly chilled fingers, I suggested going back. We only hiked about a mile total, but I was wet and cold. Jeanette suggested we find a place that was dry and warm and maybe served hot chocolate. The closest place was Youngs Jersey Dairy.
Tom and I went to Youngs Jersey Dairy in the summer and enjoyed their ice cream very much. Youngs is so much more than just an ice cream stop, however. It has putt-putt golf, an inn, a nice restaurant, a gift shop, and a sandwich shop. We opted for the sandwich shop and got some fried cheese curds and a couple of sandwiches. The cheese curds were the best we ever had! Tasted just like mini mozzarella sticks but the breading was very light and full of flavor. The cheese was just the right amount of melted and mild. So good!
Unfortunately Youngs Jersey Dairy didn’t have hot chocolate, but they did have hot coffee and tea. We were surprised at the number of people there on a cold, wet winter afternoon. By the time we had our sandwiches, Jeanette and I were warm enough to enjoy a little ice cream. Then we looked at the stuff in the gift shop and got some seasoned cheese curds to take to John and Jackie.
Youngs Jersey Dairy specializes in cheese curds. They are made from cheddar cheese and come in different flavor seasonings such as Cajun, ranch, dill, garlic, Italian, and sweet basil. Jeanette, being a Cajun from Louisiana, had to try the Cajun cheese curds. Tom tried them too and both of them said they were delicious.
After getting warm and semi-dry again, we were reluctant to face crowds and more rain back at Clifton Mill. Although I’m sure the lights are spectacular, we had a wonderful visit together and decided we had done enough for one day. Maybe we will save the lights for a get-together next year.