Rock House In The Hocking Hills

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.

I hope you like it too.

The Ghost Of A Burglary

I was once in a home that was burglarized.

They came in through the basement. When they tried to open the door into the first floor living space, they were forced to make a lot of noise to break the .29 eye hook used to keep a 60 year old solid wood door in place.

That’s when I woke up.

Earlier this week, I was sound asleep when I awoke to a noise.

The sensation of noise unfamiliar in the dead of night sent my brain straight back to that other early morning. On that day, someone with a gun forced their way inside our home to take things that we had worked hard to acquire.

This week was far less traumatizing but there was cause for alarm for a moment while I thought it through and investigated.

After I woke up, it was quiet again and I couldn’t decide if there was someone in the house who was just being quiet after making some racket or if something had simply fallen.

After that other burglary years ago, I developed an emergency plan of sorts – what I would do if it happened again and ways to prevent it from happening. So I mentally reviewed my plan and readied myself.

Scout heard it too and was on high alert for a minute, listening carefully with his tail all puffed up. When he relaxed, I relaxed. Since he can hear a food package being opened from a deep sleep three rooms away, I was pretty sure he would know if someone who didn’t belong was in his house.

That’s only sort of a joke. Seriously, the hearing on this cat is insane and he’s so territorial he growls like a little dog when someone comes to the door.

He’s pictured here, napping later in the day. A boy needs his beauty sleep.

Luckily, action was not required on this night but it was a good exercise, even if it did mean lost sleep for the rest of the night.

A safety drill is always a good idea.

The burglary I mentioned was at an old boyfriend’s house, not my own, although I pretty much lived there. They got a couple of valuable electronics before fleeing the scene but they also robbed us of our sense of security, that sense of safety in your own home.

The fact that I rarely fall asleep without thinking about it has long been an annoyance. The fact I was somewhat prepared if it had been a burglar this week was somewhat reassuring.

It is these experiences, the good and bad, that shape who we are. Some memories, while distant, can rush back at a moment’s notice to inform how we react to present circumstances.

I suspect that someone else’s decision to break into a stranger’s home, my home, has scarred me for life. However, if those scars will keep me safe someday then so be it.

If you haven’t done so, I suggest that you consider what you would do in the event of a home invasion. You probably have smoke detectors and know how to react in a fire or tornado. Get a plan and alarms together for this too. It will be too late if you wait until it happens.

In case you’re wondering, the noise was a picture that fell off a shelf and knocked a metal toy truck to the floor. I had just placed it on the shelf a few days before and it evidently wasn’t secure.

Lessons learned.

Flying In The Age Of Covid

Going to Denver last month required flying. I normally enjoy flying but was apprehensive given the state of Covid in this country.

I am selective about where I go and who I spend my time with on a normal day. Travel is by car. Dining out is rare and typically in the car or outside. Shopping is mostly utilitarian now rather than entertainment.

I have found ways to travel around the region and even down to Virginia while being safe and feeling secure but it is always by myself in a car.

The thought of air travel – even a couple of weeks before the holiday rush- made me squeamish but my research was reassuring. Friends who fly regularly were able to provide some insight. What I had read about my airline was reassuring too.

Flying out of the John Glenn International Airport in Columbus on a Tuesday afternoon was a smart choice.

The place was a ghost town.

Some shuttle lots are closed, most businesses were closed or operating with limited hours, and there was no security line. Literally, friends, there was no line. I walked right through.

There were people cleaning and so few travelers it was easy to social distance.

Flying in and out of Denver was arguably a mistake.

This is one of our country’s busier airports. Getting off the plane and leaving was fine. The airport train wasn’t at all busy and I managed to get out the door without cause for concern.

Sadly, the flight out was a much different story. The TSA line was enormous. It moved quickly but most people were making no effort to social distance.

Once through security, there was plenty of space to spread out even though it was busy. Everything felt extremely clean and there is hand sanitizer available everywhere.

All the same, if I had known it would be this busy, I would have flown out of a smaller airport.

The experience made me grateful that I’m typically a road tripper and am not flying during the holidays.

Have you flown lately? I would love to hear your story.

The Open Road

The open road is calling my name. There’s a little road trip on the agenda this fall and I seriously cannot wait. It has been a long, hard year close to home and it is time to see some new things.

I’m hopeful that the social distancing and other Covid safety tactics I already employ will help me stay safe while out traveling.

This picture gives me hope. Blue skies, a fabulous barn and open road- what more could a gal want?

Getting things straight

Today’s message isn’t one of frugality, creativity, encouragement or anything fun. Instead I want to share a story about an event that literally has changed everything about my life.

I spent one night last week at Mr. Wonderful’s house. This is a common but somewhat random occurance. I very easily could have gone another night but that evening worked so I went and all was right with the world. We made dinner, watched the Big Bang Theory, went out for a walk and lived our lives just as we would on any normal evening.

But at 4 a.m. I was awakened by a noise. We had a burglar inside the home.

He was just a room away from us when Mr. Wonderful ran him off.

This person picked the locks. He had a gun with a night laser. He would have made it all the way to our bedroom without us waking had it not been for a minor detail that caused him to make noise.

Up until that moment, that dark, shadowy moment on an Ohio morning, we believed that home invasions happen to other people. We believed that security systems were for other people. We believed we were safe in our own homes.

For the six people reading this right now, I am here to tell you this simply isn’t so.

Personal safety and security in your own home is just an illusion. The tooth fairy is more real than your safety. I don’t care who you are or where you live, crime can find you. And when it does, you will understand what I mean. I pray that it never happens to you but, if it does, you will understand when I say that you cannot place a value on that sense of security you have at this moment.

Regardless of your assets, regardless of how much money you have to spend, look at your home through the eyes of a would-be criminal. Are your doors secure? Locks can be picked, you know. Would you hear someone coming in a door or window? I’m guessing not. We didn’t.

What would you do if someone entered your home at 4 a.m.? Where are your kids? Would they know to hide? Would you have some way to protect yourself? How long would it take police to arrive if you called for help? Five minutes? Ten? Thirty?

You can be dead within thirty seconds of entry. They just have to find you. And if you’re asleep, if you have no warning, you are an easy target.

If you have some warning they are coming into your home, how will you defend yourself? Do you have a gun? Is it loaded? Do you even know where it is? Believe me when I say that you don’t want to go digging through a closet for your weapon if someone is already in your home. There is no time.

Load it. Use the safety. Put it close to your bed. Put it somewhere that curious little hands can’t reach it. Better yet, put it somewhere they will never find. But keep it somewhere that you can reach in a hurry. We had just a few seconds from the time they entered the upstairs. If Mr. Wonderful hadn’t acted so quickly and so beautifully, chances are we both might be dead today.

Please. As a personal favor to me – this stranger who normally shares recipes and inane thrifting tips – please take a moment to protect yourself and your family. A security system may be a good solution for you. If your budget is limited Lowes sells some home security items like door and window alarms, locks and chains and even door props that prevent your doors from opening from the outside.

Find some combination that works for you and teach everyone in your home to be safe. And then go tell your loved ones they need to protect themselves too. I don’t mean to sound like an alarmist but I really wish that no other person has to ever experience what we went through that night or live with the subsequent fear that has entered our lives.

Mr. Wonderful had a couple of valuable items stolen but they are just things. The stuff they take can be replaced. The piece of mind they take can’t be bought and sold.

I fear that it will never return to my life.

But I’m so grateful I was there that night. My fella may not have awakened on his own. If he had it may have been too late. So I’m good with trading my piece of mind for his life. I just wish it had never happened.

Learn from us and don’t let it happen to you.