The Witch Rock

Some call it the Witch Rock while others just call it Leaning Rock. Whatever name you use, it’s pretty cool to drive past.

It’s probably a little unnerving the first time you approach it but I look forward to this small joy whenever I’m in the area with a few extra minutes.

The road is Clear Creek Road which leads to Clear Creek Metro Park just off of Route 33 near Rockbridge.

The legend goes that witches gather nearby to perform their rituals. Supposedly, they leave sticks propped up against the rock to warn passersby to move on and to alert other witches that they are there. I don’t know anything about any of that but I can tell you it feels like a special moment driving under this enormous boulder.

Clear Creek is a metro park but the bulk of the more than 5,000 acres here is actually a state nature preserve. There are several trails, picnic areas and a stream for fishing, among other things.

It’s home to Ohio’s last remaining colony of rhododendron which I am determined to see in bloom this year. Plus, there are more than 2,200 species of plants and animals. I imagine that it’s Heaven on earth for birding enthusiasts as there’s a nice mix of deep forest, prairie and a significant water source.

They do have some strict rules about pets so be sure to look into that before planning an outing with Fido.

If you go looking for the Witch Rock, it’s just a few miles off the highway. Beware, there is no parking lot here so pulling over to investigate isn’t easy. There’s a wide spot down the road a ways (I’m from Ohio where we don’t measure in miles so much as in descriptions like “a ways” and “not too far”) but I wasn’t wearing walking shoes and wasn’t that committed on the day I snapped these pictures. I just made sure there was no one behind me, turned on my hazards and held my phone out the window.

Get the details on Clear Creek at the Metro Parks’ website.

Jack Pine’s Pumpkin Patch

Glass artist Jack Pine is hosting an event at his studio near Laurelville this weekend. Jack is a prolific artist known for his stunning glass pumpkins that are created in every color of the rainbow.

I attended late yesterday afternoon and had a ball. They arranged his art on wood slabs and straw outside, so the sun could lend new life to those gorgeous pieces of artwork.

He calls it a pumpkin patch.

There were other artisans, food and demonstrations including wood carvers and a pumpkin carver. The event was meant to fill the void left by the cancellation of Circleville’s Pumpkin Show, one of Ohio’s biggest festivals.

The event was well organized and felt safe, while I was there at least. They limited the amount of people who could come in and required masks. Sheriff’s deputies provided traffic control and security.

Everything was spread out enough that it didn’t seem too crowded, proving that planning and space allow us to enjoy a slice of normal life while doing something special.

I sincerely hope this becomes an annual event! Want to go? Get the info here.

Have you signed up to follow Make The Journey Fun on Facebook? Click here to do that and to find some supplementary pictures from the Jack Pine event later today!

Checking Off The Bucket List At Uncle Buck’s

I checked off one of my Post Covid Bucket List items with a trail ride at Uncle Buck’s Riding Stable.

Once upon a time, I was the marketing director for my community and often sent visitors to Uncle Buck’s but somehow never made it out for a ride.

This was my first time on a horse and I’m sure it wasn’t very pretty but our guides were patient and super to give clear, helpful guidance.

We took a trail through the beautiful Zaleski State Forest to the infamous and possibly haunted Moonville Tunnel. The trail weaves through peaceful forest and is simply lovely.

I’m a hiker but it was fun to see the woods from a different perspective.

My horse was gentle and so familiar with the trail I’m sure she wished I would just relax and let her do her job.

That’s hard for a control freak like myself.

It’s hard for me to be a passenger in a car or to watch while someone else does something I know how to do. I fight those tendencies but it’s hard to squelch those control issues.

It was unfamiliar territory being on an animal that I didn’t really know how to control or communicate with. Adding in my timidness about handling her because I didn’t want to hurt her created a sort of bad combination but things worked out anyway. It’s probably a kind of personal growth that I’m able to acknowledge not doing something well and being ok with it.

I would absolutely go back to Uncle Buck’s and maybe next time feel better equipped. At this point, I’m just grateful that I didn’t fall off given that I’m neither graceful nor coordinated!

I do almost everything by myself but was glad to be there with friendly company. I was with a friend, her niece and another friend. None of us cared about being uncoordinated and silly in front of each other and that made it easier.

Want to take a trail ride at Uncle Buck’s? I hope you will! They’re great folks who provide a fun service for all ages.

They’re a seasonal business that has lost a couple of months worth of income. Let’s help them catch up! Visit them online for details. You can also find them on Facebook.

If not this small business, look around your community for small businesses that you can support. Remember that those big box stores and many online retailers have been making money hand over fist during the pandemic. They’re doing great. The chain restaurants will survive. The conglomerates will be fine.

The mom and pop stores, restaurants and service providers need you. They need all of us. Let’s give ’em some business! Have a favorite small business you want to support? Tell me about it!

Finally. A Hike

Ohio has endured a long, dark, cold, windy and overall nasty winter. There’s been almost no snow to pretty things up but we do have a nice coating of mud on everything in sight.

It has been bleak.

And the few rays of sunshine seem to never fall on weekends so this has not been a good outdoors season.

So imagine the thrill yesterday when it wasn’t raining and I had free time to hike! It was a cold morning – about 28 degrees – so I layered up like Randy on A Christmas Story and logged about six miles.

There were few others out in the state park that early so I had the place mostly to myself. Well, it was me and the deer!

This place is typically overrun with tourists which makes it even more special when you realize you have the whole place to yourself.

Take thirteen seconds and just breathe. Enjoy the gushing water and the beauty of Ohio’s Hocking Hills.

Happy Sunday!

Posey Pot

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They call it the “Posey Pot.”

It’s in the middle of Laurelville, a small town in the Hocking Hills which I travel through somewhat frequently. I can’t begin to tell you how long it’s been there but the posey pot has been a source of pride in this community for generations.

It’s a farming community with a small population and few businesses. But it’s a nice village where the people are proud to fly their flag and where neighbors look out for one another. You’ll find the salt of the earth here.

I’ll take that over a city any day.