Tag Archives: Riley Creek

What Bluffton’s Swinging Nature Preserve has in common with Neil Armstrong and Jimi Hendrix

Some pretty major events occurred in 1969. On August 20 of that year, Neil Armstrong became the first person to set foot on the moon and immortalized the words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Just a few days earlier, more than 400,000 music lovers attended “Woodstock” to hear Jimi Hendrix; the Who; and Crosby, Stills and Nash, among others.

Opposition to the Vietnam War continued to gain strength with demonstrations staged around the country — some peaceful, some violent.

And in a tiny town in northwest Ohio, the local college completed construction of a swinging bridge that spanned the Riley Creek and became a favorite destination for those hiking the paths of Bluffton University’s Swinging Bridge Nature Preserve.

In 1969, I was 13. Go ahead, you do the math. Since then, I’ve crossed that bridge and skated under it countless times. Even so, each time I cross it, I’m struck by a sense of amazement and peace.

My guess is that a lot of people who live in Bluffton, Ohio, are not even aware that the bridge exists nor of the many trails that wind through the nature preserve.

Needing a bit of that peace and quiet, this morning’s run took me along the paths of the preserve, ending up at the bridge. Here’s what I found:

Visuals from a snowy run

Last night Mother Nature dropped 5 inches on snow on us, so this morning we woke to the sounds of snowplows making their way around the neighborhood. Fighting off the urge to hibernate, I got up to face a snowy run.

Running in snow and chilly temps requires some adjustments in gear. Hats don’t always cover my ears so I wear a Brooks Nightlife fleece-lined earwarmer with a New Balance fleece-lined hat on top of it. It was below 20, so I added my 15-year-old Neofleece Extreme Masque — it covers the nose and mouth, but there are little holes that let you breathe.

Fleece-lined tights over capri length compression tights, Smartwool socks with baggies over my toes (this works!), and a 20-year-old Gore-Tex jacket. The coup de grace (since my middle name is Klutz) — Get-A-Grip Ice Joggers.

Today, though, I added one more item — my phone. Not because I expected to make any calls but because I wanted to take some photos and videos of what and who else I’d see out there on the roads. So…here you have it… the first is a video (obviously not top quality) of the geese and/or ducks who band together at the quarry.

Ducks and geese huddled on the National Quarry

My husband and neighbor clearing her driveway for her husband's return from medical mission trip

The Weaver sisters

The Riley Creek behind my house