Nature’s Cycle

“In towering splendor once I stood
A regal monarch of the wood,
My branches once reached to the sky
See me now but do not cry.
The Creator’s work has yet to cease
I’ve become a shelter for bird and beast,
And when at last I fall to the Earth
The life I leave will inspire new birth;
A seedling springs forth from the ground
Nature’s cycle goes round and round.”
S. Edward Palmer, Spirit Tree

I was devastated when a storm caused this tree to uproot and collapse earlier this year. It’s at a park where I walk often and I once looked forward to the shade it generously provided.

Now the mere sight of it hurts.

Imagine my joy last week when I turned the corner and saw a splash of color in the water. Fall is amazing for many reasons, not the least of which is how decay becomes beautiful and joy can be found in the most unexpected moments.

October is my month. It’s beautiful, cooler and packed with fun things to do. Falling leaves dance in the crisp air and the aroma of dry leaves mixed with campfire smoke is intoxicating.

Sadly, it’s fleeting and the weather is fickle so I try to make the best of every day. It’s easier to do that when you realize there’s evidence of change and something new to see around every bend.

Here’s to beautiful weekend weather and lots of opportunities to get out and enjoy it!

Ford Tri-Motor Airplane

If you’ve ever wondered what a time machine looks like, I’m pretty sure I rode in one yesterday. This magic ride was in a nearly century old airplane called the Ford Tri-Motor.

Ford designed this plane in 1925, producing just 199 of them before suspending production in 1933.

Think about it. Just 199 of these planes were ever made. Many are museum pieces. Some have been lost to time.

Only a handful remain airworthy today and I got to ride in one!!

This plane is a product of a time when air travel was accessible only to the wealthy. You wouldn’t be allowed to board this plane in casual clothes as people were expected to dress up for travel. People wore their Sunday best when traveling and flying was an expensive, special occasion.

The plane is all metal construction with elegant wood paneling inside the cabin. The seats in this plane have been upgraded from the original wicker seats and were comfortable. There are curtains at the windows and each seat has a light and air conditioning. There’s even a lavatory in the back with an incredibly narrow door.

I have read that passengers back in the day were treated to lavish food and drinks even though I can’t imagine where that might have been stored in this cramped, narrow space.

Before taking off, our pilot demonstrated accessing the luggage hold – in the wings! That was a helpful reminder of how little baggage people carried with them back in the day. My typical carry-on bag would barely fit in there and would leave no room for anyone else’s stuff.

I was on the first flight of the day – there were twelve passengers including one who paid extra to sit in the co-pilot’s seat. I found it surprisingly comfortable given the age of the plane and the fact that three large motors are pretty noisy.

From inside this plane, looking out at a largely rural area below felt like I had slipped back a century to view the world in a whole new way.

You do fly relatively low. In this picture from around landing, it looks like the plane and the shadow are racing!

It was an extraordinary ride.

I also want to give my pilot credit for the most gentle landing I have ever experienced in any plane- big or small. It was smooth, like melted butter.

This plane is based at Port Clinton, Ohio. The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) pays to travel with it, giving rides at local airports across the region every year. My friend Darlene is involved with the EAA and was key to bringing it to Chillicothe this weekend.

Want to take a ride? You can do it today at the Ross County, Ohio Airport or check the schedule for another upcoming opportunity. Check that out here. You can find information on other EAA events on their website too. And boy, they do some great events.

If you’re on the fence, it’s worth the drive, the money or whatever else you’re worried about. I seriously considered taking a second ride before we even landed. That’s how much I enjoyed the experience. Instead, I settled for watching it take off and land before heading out on the next part of my Saturday adventure.

If given the opportunity, I will absolutely go again and encourage you to go enjoy it as well. After all, how often do you get to fly in a time machine?

If you follow Make The Journey Fun on Facebook, you’ll find some videos there. Check them out!

Squeezing In And Looking Down

Sometimes you have to squeeze in what you need around the stuff you have to do. Whether it’s rest or adventure, odds are other people in your life aren’t going to make sure you get what you need. It’s up to you to find time.

Yesterday didn’t go as planned so, when my commitments were finally done, it was time for some badly needed exercise and fresh air.

I detoured to Lake Hope State Park where I hiked in my dress pants. You see, I had hiking shoes but no change of clothes. That didn’t matter at all since I was there for my sanity rather than a fashion show.

My focus this time was on the ground and all the fascinating things Mother Nature leaves lying around.

Red and orange scream fall to me.

This acorn caught my eye.

Oh, and the fungi were fabulous!

Incidentally, fungi always remind me of British writer Beatrix Potter. You probably know her for children’s storybook characters like Peter Rabbit. Did you know that her fascination with nature and drawings of outdoor subjects actually began with mushrooms?

She was a prolific and talented painter of mushrooms, mosses and spores before ever imagining the incredible world of the delightful Peter Rabbit.

Stick around, friends. I’m the keeper of all kinds of useless information!

If you’re out and about today – whether it be on the trail or wandering around your hometown, be sure to look down occasionally and study the ground for interesting things. You may be surprised at the beauty you find!

Clarion River

After a long day of exploration, my friend and I came off the trail at Cook Forest State Park still not ready to head home. So we took a little drive and found a gorgeous area to pull over and admire the water.

Clarion River is a popular spot for kayaks, canoes, inner tubes and all manner of things that float. I searched the shore for pretty rocks and made friends with some ducks while my friend waded out for a little river yoga.

Her yoga.

My duck.

To each her own. We both were happy in the moment.

There’s a place where you can rent your equipment or just take your win. There’s also a place where you can get ice cream – in case you need to know!

Read about our hike at Cook Forest State Park here!

Stepping Into The Hobbit At Cook Forrest

The quiet was so deep that their feet seemed to thump along while all the trees leaned over them and listen. J.R.R. Tolkien

Stepping into the Forest Cathedral Natural Area at Cook Forest State Park feels a little like stepping into a Tolkien novel. Quotes from The Hobbit come to mind.

This is one of the largest old growth forests of white pine and eastern hemlock in the eastern United States. Many of these trees are over 200 feet tall and are too big to wrap your arms around. These trees likely date to the era of William Penn, the first governor of Pennsylvania.

The trails here are wide and well maintained and meander through the hills. This is a place where fairies play and where you might spot a unicorn or two if your eyes were just a bit quicker. I wish these trees could talk. Some look like they are poised to pull up root and walk away.

These trees look like two old friends sitting together on a boulder. They appear to be holding hands.

This place exists because a lumber baron named Anthony Cook saw value in this incredible forest, reserving the best of it for conservation purposes. He also convinced others to join his cause, starting an important era of conservation in Pennsylvania. By the time of Cook’s death in 1891, two-thirds of Pennsylvania’s forests had already been cut so it is hard to place a value on Cook’s work.

His is an important and lasting legacy.

This place is gorgeous. The very idea that it exists because of the forward thinking of someone long ago is awe inspiring. Here’s to the future.

Exhaustion

I am tired. Mentally and physically tired.

This is partly of my own doing since I have been out adventuring as much as possible in recent weeks. I stayed home Saturday to clean my house and did too much in a single day. Yesterday, I volunteered for Patriot Day, dragging myself home tired and sore after a day of physical labor.

So, yeah, I have been asking for it.

I continue experiencing symptoms associated with my thyroid and suspect that some of my trouble is related to this ongoing issue. But I try not to think about that as I’m actually sick of life revolving around the whims of this obnoxious little gland. I would make a terrible hypochondriac given how I prefer to just ignore an issue than dwell on it.

So, here I am. Thinking that this needs to be a quiet week. Hoping that this will be a quiet week.

I badly want to go back to this place pictured above. It’s a trail in Cook Forest State Park in Pennsylvania. It’s incredibly peaceful, stunning in its beauty. Restorative.

Luckily, I have plenty of forest nearby where I hope to go this week to mend my mind and soul. I believe in the healing power of solitude in wilderness. If I can walk without cringing tonight, I plan to be out on the trail amidst the trees and birds and meandering streams. At least for a while.

Sometimes we need to simply give ourselves a break and do the thing that gives us peace.