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!

Who Could Blame Me?

When the color of the car complements the sky so well, there’s really no choice but to slam on the breaks and pull out the trusty cell phone for a picture. Who could blame me? Look how nicely the lines and colors of the buildings contrast with this car.

This classic Dodge was in charming downtown Chillicothe, Ohio on Sunday morning after my hike. That building is Fifty West Brewing Company, a popular hangout in a neighborhood that’s experiencing an impressive renaissance. Whether you’re looking for a day trip or a long weekend, there’s plenty to do in the Chillicothe area to keep you entertained.

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!

Trail Rooster

About an hour east of Durango, there’s a pull off for a waterfall called Treasure Falls. There’s a hiking trail that leads up the mountain and an infirmary sign that lets you know you’re in the San Juan Mountains. Otherwise, there’s not a lot here or anywhere nearby for that matter.

We weren’t on a strict schedule so we swung in to stretch our legs and have a look. We spent a lot of time in the car this trip so we valued these unscheduled stops where we could see something interesting and unexpected.

Turns out, unexpected is the key word here. I hopped out of the car and headed for the sign only to see this.

It’s a man snapping photos of a rooster.

There appeared to be no homes nearby so I don’t think the rooster had just strayed away from his yard. He was remarkably calm and friendly, following us around, probably in hopes of a snack.

Whether he was lost, dumped or a runaway, he didn’t belong here.

I will be honest with you – we met Mr Rooster on day five of this adventure and I was starting to question my sanity at this point. We had already endured a number of odd experiences and I was sure the altitude had finally gotten to my brain.

I waited for Johnna’s reaction and was somewhat relieved when she saw it too!

I still feel guilty for just leaving the poor guy alone there. I’m hoping he either makes his way home or that someone helps him find a better place to live than in the woods near a waterfall.

But the way, the rooster is a symbol of good luck and prosperity. Perhaps crossing paths will bring good fortune my way!!

Flying Jewels

Hummingbirds have been active in my yard for the last few weeks and several are coming to the flower pots on my front porch.

They can beat their wings thousands of times per minute so it’s no wonder I failed to get a clear picture of this little guy before he zoomed off. While it’s not a good picture, I kind of like the sense of motion.

They were nicknamed “flying jewels” by Spanish explorers visiting the Americas for the first time. This is the best possible name I can imagine for these tiny but majestic creatures.

Hummingbirds actually prefer to get their nectar from flowers instead of feeders. If you do feed them, be sure to clean their feeders daily and never use dyes. It’s a myth that the red attracts them better. What they crave is the sweetness.

Better yet, plant some flowers and shrubs that will also feed butterflies and bees. I read once that hummingbirds can visit around a thousand flowers a day so I’m sure they will appreciate whatever contribution you can make!

They are a migratory bird so they’ll be departing soon but I’ll enjoy them while they’re still here.

Mesa Verde National Park

The thing I looked forward to the least on my western adventure is the thing I enjoyed the most.

Scratch that. I didn’t enjoy it so much as I am proud that I did it.

Mesa Verde is home to some of the best preserved Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings in this country. In fact, it is an UNESCO World Heritage site.

Located in Southwest Colorado, visitors can roam more than 50,000 acres to find important archeological sites and photo worthy vistas. However, if you wish to have an intimate view of the actual cliff dwellings, you have to participate in a ranger led tour.

There are three of these tours. The catch is that you have to be able to a navigate worn stone steps AND climb some ladders.

For one of these tours you must be able to climb 20 foot ladders and the other has 32 foot ladders. The one we chose uses four eight to ten foot ladders to help you in and out of the dwelling area. Did I mention that they’re wooden and resemble Flinstones ladders?

The word chose is rather strong and a bit misleading.

Let’s pause a moment to think about this. I am terrified of heights and absolutely despise ladders.

When I heard about the ladders, I was prepared to jump ship and simply view the cliff dwellings from an observation deck. But my friend quickly shut down that way of thinking. “It depends on what kind of vacation you want to have,” she said. “Do you want to stand and watch other people have fun or do you want to go in and have your own experience?”

That hardly seemed fair. (I giggle about this now).

But we went, we navigated the stone steps and climbed the ladders without any trouble. No need to be nervous at all!

Once in a while, I believe it is healthy to try something that scares you or that pushes your boundaries.

When it was all done and we had climbed out of the canyon, I was quite pleased that I had done it without hesitation, tears or an airlift to safety!

It’s the small victories that make life worthwhile.