Monday, August 9, 2010

July 16th at Whitewater

This and the next few posts are ones that I wrote on paper during my stay at Whitewater state park but didn't have web access/time before I left on a two week trip to Beijing where I discovered, not surprisingly, that my blog site was blocked by the government filters there. I have now been back in town a few days and have been catching up on some organization and getting ready for the first performance dates at Banning State Park which begin this Thursday the 12th.


July 16th-17th at Whitewater. We headed out to Whitewater State Park today with a full cooler of food that should be just enough for the three of us (we like to eat). I sit now at our campsite which was saved for us, an overflow site near the visitors center, even though the campsites were all full. Dave Palmquist, who is the park naturalist at Whitewater, has been incredibly helpful as have all the park staff. They have an amazingly calm way of taking care of an incredibly busy park that has recently undergone severe flood damage. They are also all pretty much comedians and a visit to the park office is usually as entertaining as it is informative.

On the way in, we stopped for some blackberries and strawberries which were growing at a local farm and were able to pick them straight off the vines. In Chicago, we would probably pay extra for that privilege, but in this case, at a discount. I love it when things make sense!

After a quick orientation with the park staff and working out some details about dates, times , and starting places, we set out on the Chimney Rock Loop towards Inspiration Point. (for reference, here is a PDF Map of the park). When visiting here last year, I recalled this trail being quite active with both bird and insect life and also recalled that there were some quite dramatic looking ravines just north of the trail and all these features contrasted the sound of the river that the trail follows most of the way to inspiration point. but, as I have found to be true at Banning, looks can be deceiving. Many of the features that appeared to be quite dramatic visually actually yielded very subtly results when sounds were made within them and the wildlife this time seeded to be a bit more subdued than last year. Of course, the difference in animal, namely insect noise, can be attributed to a slightly different season as I was last there in mid September but it was disappointing to find that my assumptions about what I thought would be my trail were in fact wrong. Inspiration point proved to be the exception to this as Nina and Hans-Georg descended the long stairs that lead to the valley below and created a cacophony of sounds that resonated throughout the valley. The valley that Inspiration point overlooks is really a central meeting point of three different river valleys where Trout Run Creek and the Whitewater River conjoin. It was interesting to note that certain higher pitched sounds or those with sharp attacks seemed to resonate not only locally in the depression in which they were created but also in the greater valley which joined all these geological depressions. It was also interesting to note that the sounds which resonated throughout the valley seemed to do so at a higher altitude than the lower sounds.

After leaving inspiration point, we decided to take a detour down Trout Run Creek instead of taking the route I had intended to be the end of the trail which leads back to the south picnic area. We quickly realized that This trail is everything I had hoped that Chimney Rock Trial would be with incredibly diverse wildlife and water features as well as several really interesting wooden bridges. It is far more isolated than Chimney Rock and further from the swimming area which provides a constant din as you approach inspiration point from that side which can be distracting. I nearly immediately decided that I had the trail all wrong and it should start from the south picnic area and first explore this more isolated and intimate path, then end after returning from the end of this trail to inspiration point up the long set of wooden stairs that lead there. I can then give the audience two different perspectives on the trail, one, an intimate exploration from within, and then, after turning the group around, the musicians in the park can start to make noises which will bring their perspective outward and get them to focus on the larger valley that they will eventually perceive in its entirety as they look out from inspiration point.

Or something like that.

But for now, there are burgers and zuchinni to eat, and wine to drink.

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