I’m home now and will be back to work again this morning after four days of adventuring with a friend. There’s much to say about this trip because we packed as much as possible into every day. The good news is that there are stories to share. The bad news is that there’s so much to share that I need a moment to unpack it all in my head and get started.
So, for now, here’s a favorite picture that was captured while walking around Mount Airy, North Carolina. It exemplifies how full this trip was of memories made by simply being in the right place at the right time.
My friend and I were both of the mindset that we wanted to see and do as much as possibl while we were there. The hotel was basically a place for a good night’s sleep and a shower so we would be prepared for another fun day. We had some specific destinations in mind but were open to unplanned fun and wandering off the beaten path because there was a sign that pointed somewhere that sounded interesting.
Honestly? My best memories from these last four days are a product of saying YES when opportunity arose. We just kept looking around that next bend and kept seeking whatever came next.
That’s one of the keys to happiness, if you ask me. Life is big and interesting. Maintain a sense of curiosity, go looking for the unusual and the mundane and seek out the beauty in the smallest things. Stop and admire that great vehicle, notice the tiniest wildflower at the side of the road, be present and look for reasons to be happy. It’s there if you look for it!
Stick around. There’s a lot to come from this North Carolina whirlwind trip!
I’m traveling home from an adventure with a friend today. There are so many stories to share but, for now, here’s a picture from the North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville.
I tell you to make the journey fun and am pleased to say that I did exactly that for the last few days. I’ll be dragging myself in tired tonight, almost overwhelmed with memories of beauty, history and the magic of finding something spectacular around the next bend.
Lest you think that my Adventure Days are always gloriously rewarding and fun, let me tell you about yesterday.
It was a bust.
We’ve had a dark cloud hanging over Ohio for a lot of this week and the weather continued to be gloomy and cool yesterday. I was tempted to stay home but had a commitment to keep in Columbus. I am part of a social impact study at Franklin Park Conservatory and needed to visit that place one more time before the end of May. Since my weekends are all booked this month, yesterday was really my only chance to go.
So I spent some time Friday night plotting indoor/outdoor activities in the Columbus area. I did not make concrete plans beyond that visit to Franklin Park but had a list of ideas. This is how I roll. I’m not the girl with the clipboard and stopwatch. I more or less wait till that day, see which way the wind is blowing and go with the flow.
Franklin Park was busy but great, as always. I spent most of my visit here with the butterflies. This is a transitional time as the spring flowers are almost spent and the gardeners are busy preparing for a new season. All the same, it was good and I had some lovely experiences with the butterflies.
From there, I wanted to hit up North Market for some good lunch and casual people watching.
This did not happen because there were masses of people everywhere. I didn’t get out of the car. Heck, I barely slowed down because my introverted self literally could not deal.
So I switched gears and headed for German Village to hit the bookstore and find something to eat. Unfortunately, it was even worse there. Haha. Isn’t that my luck?
If you haven’t been, German Village is a quaint community, a remnant of the city’s German heritage with some cute shops and restaurants mingled with homes and offices. The streets are narrow, parking is sparse and people lose their minds in search of literally anywhere to ditch their car on the way to brunch.
Friends, I watched a guy in an SUV attempt to shoehorn his car into a space not large enough for my Elantra. When that didn’t work, he used that parking space to turn in the street, holding up two lanes of traffic and nearly hitting someone’s truck.
I just shook my head.
The real draw here is an independent bookseller called the Book Loft which bills itself as having over 30 rooms of books. Mind you, they are very small rooms but it is a neat place and their website claimed they had a book in stock that I wanted to buy.
Nonetheless, I abandoned ship and headed for the nearest Half Price Books. They have abundant parking but tragically did not have my book. At this point I was determined to salvage something of this day so I headed to a nearby Barnes and Noble where I blessedly found the book. That book came with a bag full of other books that I wasn’t there to purchase but we won’t dwell on that small failure today.
I did find some peace here and even a laugh when I saw the title of this book.
Things Are Never So Bad That They Can’t Get Worse.
Mind you, it’s a serious topic but man, if this isn’t a great title for my autobiography I don’t know what is.
At this point the sky was foreboding so I started making my way southeast to Logan for a stroll through downtown. They were hosting Urban Air 2022, a camping event where Airstream campers take up residence for the weekend. It was chilly out and a little late so there weren’t many people out to chat with about their campers. I did make friends with the owner of a new vintage shop on Main Street so that was fun. Stay tuned and I’ll tell you about that store this week.
Honestly though, the highlight of my day (besides that sack of books) was a stroll through a graveyard at a country church near Lancaster. It was cool and the wind threatened to pull the hat right off my head but the sky was interesting. There are some very old graves to look at and it was peaceful.
Everywhere else I went yesterday was just way too peopley. This place was calm and quiet. It was intriguing and sad. It inspired my imagination as I wondered about the people buried there and what happened to those they left behind.
I eventually bought a frozen dinner and some new windshield wiper blades and headed home to my little cat. And yes, he was quite glad to see me.
So, yeah. That was my day.
In the last four years, nearly every adventure day has held something memorable. There’s been some spark of magic, some bit of delight that made it all worthwhile.
I was due for a flop.
This lengthy and somewhat bitter tirade isn’t meant as a simple vent for yours truly. I tell you all of this to tell you something useful.
Adventure days come in all shapes and sizes. In fact, I am a huge advocate of making your own adventure. For you, it could be a quiet stroll through the woods or finding a bargain at an antique store. It could be screaming through the woods in a zip line or trekking foreign lands most of us will only read about in books.
Adventure is what you make of it.
My best days are the ones where I come around a bend to find an aging barn, where I hear a new birdsong in the woods or the ones where I encounter someone willing to share their story with a stranger. My very best days are the ones where I become so preoccupied with discoveries that I forget all about my list.
Every day can’t be the very best day. However, we have the ability to make the best of every day. In fact, we have a responsibility to make the best of our circumstances and to enjoy the life we have today. After all, you never know when things will change and maybe even get worse.
In my case, I found peace in books and in a country churchyard. I found even greater peace ending the adventure and simply coming home to my little cat and to read in my chair.
It turned out to be a pretty good evening despite it all.
Notice this butterfly below and how it is perched on the flower in a sideways fashion.
Was that part of the plan? Wasn’t it? Who knows but it seems pretty happy anyway. Don’t let the rain or other people or things beyond your control steal your joy.
Be well and be happy, friends. We will adventure another day!
Blennerhassett Island is one of my favorite places on earth. Blennerhassett is a small island in the Ohio River and the way there is via a stern wheeler riverboat from Parkersburg, West Virginia.
The island is operated as a state park for recreation and tours of a reconstructed mansion but what makes it truly special is the history of this place
You see, the island was settled in 1789 by Harman and Margaret Blennerhassett. As wealthy Irish aristocrats, they built what became known as the most beautiful home in the West. Remember, back then this area was vast wilderness.
The island gained national attention in 1806 when the Blennerhassetts allowed Aaron Burr to make it headquarters for his military expedition into the southwest. This decision was the beginning of the end of the idyllic life they had built for themselves.
That’s because this is where the Burr conspiracy was born. They are suspected to be involved in a treasonous plot to create a new country. There has been a fair amount of academic research and writing about this footnote in American history. If you’re a musical fan, you might know about Burr from the Broadway musical Hamilton.
Things came to a head for the Blennerhassetts when the Ohio governor became suspicious of the stockpile of weapons and growing numbers of men on the island. The state militia raided the island and the Blennerhassetts were forced to flee. They never returned to their home which was burned in 1811.
This is the 30,000 foot view of this historic series of events but there is so much more to know. You can learn these stories and more if you visit.
As I mentioned, the house was burned but not before the Ohio Militia and lots of souvenir seekers took what they wanted of the beautiful possessions the family had accumulated here.
Archeologists discovered the original foundation and the State of West Virginia began reconstructing the home in 1984. It was finished in 1991.
My earliest memories of visiting here as a kid involve a tour of the outside of the house. The interior wasn’t finished but someone would walk you around the exterior and tell the story.
Today the inside tours offer a glimpse of how these aristocrats lived. You can also see some artifacts that actually came from the home, salvaged by lookie loos all those years ago.
You can take a wagon ride tour, rent bicycles or just go for a walk. There’s a snack stand with simple foods like sandwiches, drinks and ice cream but you’re welcome to pack a picnic and take advantage of the outdoor picnic areas.
I have toured the home plenty over the years but my favorite thing here is to take the wagon ride. Don’t miss out on that.
Back on the mainland, where you buy your tickets and catch the ferry, the Blennerhassett Museum gives you more about the family and the island as well many more artifacts, artwork and technology that tell important stories.
Weeknight adventures are a rare treat but Monday evening found me standing in Kinnikinnick Fen. This 154 acre wetland along Kinnikinnick Creek is located near Chillicothe, Ohio. It’s only about 30 minutes from my home but this place felt like a lifetime away from the stressful world we live in.
The Ross County Park District owns the property and has developed a few miles of trails along with a some observation decks. When driving down the nearby busy road, you have no idea that there is a truly special place just beyond the tree line.
I stood in this spot pictured above and focused on my breathing. That’s all. I just breathed while I watched the late day sun begin to slip behind the trees. A faint breeze ruffled the spring foliage as I watched two red winged blackbirds take flight.
My companion knew just when to speak and when to be silent, a true gift for some of us introverts who often struggle with our noisy world.
Being outdoors is good for your mental health. It’s good for your body to be active and to breathe fresh air. It’s good for your soul to feel small in a big world that’s made special by fields of wildflowers and the distant drumming of a woodpecker or song of a goldfinch.
The mere memory lowers my blood pressure and provides me a sense of peace. I don’t know about you, but I need more weeknight adventures just like this.
Want to visit? Learn more about the incredible work being done by the Ross County Park District by visiting their website or follow them on Facebook. Better yet, go check out one of their many trails for yourself!