Last night took me to Rock House, a site that’s part of the Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio.
This place is munique in this area because it’s an actual cave in the side of a tall cliff.
You can go inside to explore, catching glimpses of the outside through a series of windows that remind me of keyholes. It’s dark, there’s an occasional water puddle and the ground is uneven so it’s a good idea to take it slow in your exploration. Remember, wet rock is not your friend.
I have seen and heard about countless people getting hurt in the Hocking Hills over the years but it’s normally because they are breaking the posted rules, going off trail or simply throwing caution to the wind and behaving recklessly.
This trail is straight down a hill, across rocks and straight up the other side of the hill. It is not even a mile loop but would be challenging for those not accustomed to this kind of activity. So take your time and stay on the trail.
It is worth the trip and is something truly special to experience. In fact, I stood inside the cave thinking about how lucky I am to live so close to such beauty and how fortunate I am to be physically capable to go enjoy it.
American Indians, early settlers and criminals dodging the law are some of the groups that have used Rock House over the centuries. Today you’ll find a number of tourists along with some pigeons and some bats. Well, we heard the bats but didn’t see them.
I like the moodiness of the cave and the texture of the rock. It feels like a secret hangout. It feels ancient and magical.
Yesterday was sunny and beautiful with blue skies and 26 degree temperatures that the weather app said felt like 19. Luckily, that little chill in the air didn’t deter me from heading out for a walk at a local state park.
I mean, what’s a little cold when it’s such a pretty day?
The wind off the lake was frigid and it was mostly me, the Canada Geese and a few other hardy souls out soaking up as much Vitamin D as you can absorb through a hat and three layers of clothing.
If I were working from the office, I would likely be swinging by the lake after work at least some nights to squeeze in a walk. Unfortunately, in my work from home routine, it’s hard to pry me out of the house on a cold day save for feeding the birds. That’s only because they sit on their empty feeder and stare at me sitting at my desk until I do something about it.
While I didn’t cherish the thought of going out in the freezing cold, I relished every moment of my three mile walk and realized that I haven’t smiled so much in ages.
I need to do that more often.
Do more of what makes you smile, friends. I promise you won’t regret it.
A walk in nature is good for your physical health but it’s equally important for your mental health. I especially like walking alone when I can allow the stream of my consciousness to flow at will.
Yesterday morning took me to my favorite local bike path. It starts in a state park, hugging the shore of a lake before veering off into a nearby town. It’s about six miles round trip.
I walked four but my mind wandered a million miles off path.
It was 73 degrees with a swift breeze that rustled the leaves and created waves across the lake. The path was sun dappled through the canopy in places while it positively beat down in others where no trees provide shelter. It made me sad to think of all the people who live in places with no trees.
Can you truly be happy without the magnificence of nature nearby? My friend Johnna lives in Wyoming and often sounds emotional when talking about how green Ohio is and how rare it is to see trees in the high plains where she has made her home.
That made me think about Johnna, how I miss my friend and how we need to get busy planning our fall western adventure. If I intend to visit all fifty states in this lifetime, I also need to get busy with those plans. There’s a huge swath of this country that I have not seen.
This reminded me of a recent conversation with a man who claimed to be an avid international traveler but who doesn’t believe there’s anything worth seeing in the United States. Maybe he would like to see Yellowstone but the rest is a boring waste.
I didn’t even have a response to that. Our nation is huge, the geography varied and the people who make it home have created magnificent places worthy of our time and attention. This is probably where I began humming “America the Beautiful” and reliving my first desert sunrise.
Most of all, I felt sorry for him. What a boring life it would be to find your own country passé and dull. Maybe I’m easily entertained but I have walked this same bike path for twenty years and continue to find wonderful changes in nature each day. I’m grateful for these small gifts.
This person clearly is not part of my tribe.
It was here that I found myself somewhere between summer and fall. It was only August 1 but cool in the shade and the locusts were noisily buzzing as leaves of all varieties swirled and drifted lazily in the breeze.
I couldn’t help but wonder what our fall will look like. It’s been a little lackluster the last few years as the high temperatures have caused the leaves to just dry up and fall before they can even change colors.
A world without fall seems unimaginable to me. What a glorious season where a bright blue sky provides a vibrant backdrop for the brilliant reds, yellows, oranges and browns along the hills. A light jacket will suffice and a cute scarf and hat will pull together any outfit. Accessories make the season, after all.
Cider and donuts will give you a sugar high and bonfire smoke drifts through the air most nights. It’s my favorite season and one that’s far too brief.
There’s a downed tree in the edge of the lake where you will often see a number of turtles sunning themselves. There were none yesterday but I recalled a story from earlier this week. It was about some boys who have devoted their summer to helping turtles cross a busy road. If you’re like me, your faith in humanity could use a little boost. This tale of kids volunteering to help these small creatures that can offer no payment in return is just what I needed. Click here to read it now.
Sadly, sometime in the last few days someone defaced my favorite rock at the park. Yes, I have a favorite rock and now it is covered in idiotic graffiti.
There were two family reunions underway by the time I left. A handful of people were cooking out, gliding along the lake in boats and standing along the shore with their fishing poles. There were shockingly few people on the bike path and I was glad for the solace.
I helped my parents prepare for a family reunion on Saturday. I am what they call an empath, meaning that I recognize people’s emotions better than most and have a bad habit of absorbing them as well. This makes many situations, particularly crowded ones, anxiety inducing.
So I needed this walk to help me recharge. By the time I got back to the car my mind felt much calmer and I was pleased that I had prioritized my own wellness with this walk.
We all need to do that sometimes. We deserve the break. After all, if we don’t make time to be healthy, we’ll be forced to make time to be sick later.
Seasonal allergies have left me sedentary for a lot of this year. While everyone else is clamoring to get outside, I have largely avoided the great outdoors as allergies have been causing my ears to fill with fluid and my head to feel like it may explode.
I live in the woods so you can imagine how frustrating this has been.
Luckily, conditions have improved the last few weeks and I’m making a concerted effort to breathe fresh air and exercise most days.
My favorite place for a quick walk seemed especially beautiful Monday night. It was humid and hot even at 7 p.m. but it still felt good to move around after a day hiding in the air conditioning.
There’s a paved bike path as well as this short dirt trail around an island in the lake.
I encountered this young couple a few times. They looked so peaceful here I had to sneak a quick picture.
It always surprises me how this place changes with the seasons, the weather and the time of day making it interesting to photograph nearly every visit. While nature often attacks my body, causing fits of headaches and vertigo, there’s something inspiring about the natural world and how it changes around us.
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.