This has been the longest my husband and I have gone without a trip somewhere since we have been married. My friends, Ann and Jason, posted about a trip to Hocking Hills State Park a few years ago and as they have sense and good taste I latched on to it as a possibility. The very best use of Facebook, in my experience, has been references for where to spend your money. I posted asking for advice for a nice, socially distant, pandemic-friendly vacation. My friend Gwydion suggested a cabin he had rented there. We booked the same cabin!
I was excited and nervous. We were so out of the habit of travel; it was a simple two night stay and I was quite stressed about packing! Heh. We both over-packed and under-packed. We forgot sunscreen, and the fact that the sun is cruel when driving, heh. I should have brought a straw hat. Ah well, we had most of the important things! I did end up wearing the spare shirt I brought and using both swimsuits. Though the warm jacket and extra sweater went completely unused. I did know the weather report said 80 degrees on Tuesday, but one never trusts, eh?
The drive down was not great; we did stop for coffee and a doughnut in Ashland (and changed drivers, I took the first leg and hubby drove the rest of the way down. I’m the better navigator.) Thankfully our GPS worked the whole way; though I had printed directions too, just in case. We were a bit disturbed by the number of “Trump” signs and flags when we got south of Columbus. Definitely made us feel unwelcome and less likely to suggest this vacation to others.
When we got to the cabin itself, the “Birdsong” cabin of “Journey Ridge Cabins” we were pleased. It was small and at the end of the road. On the table as we entered was a hard-surfaces cleaning wipe next to the welcome message. (Yay! Pandemic friendly.) I wiped down all the surfaces while husband moved the car (he didn’t like it in the spot by the cabin because the ground was sloped and moved it down by the fire pit.) We explored the area around the cabin a bit; there was a (mostly over-grown) trail. Hubby grilled burgers and after a nice dinner on the cabin’s back porch, we planned the next day and took a soak in the hot tub. A very pleasant evening!
Tuesday I got up bright and early and anxious to get going! My poor husband, I practically pushed him out the door! heh. (I did like having my morning coffee on the porch with the woods and bird song.) We did have a pair of cardinals visit the cabin’s bird feeder, and one squirrel.
We started with Ash Cave; which was one of the closer parks. It was quite impressive! A big, open half-dome. There were a lot of other tourists, so good photos were difficult, but it was very pretty. At the top of the trail we had a choice; return to the parking lot or take the “two miles to Cedar Falls” trail… we hesitated… a fellow tourist said “It’s beautiful! Worth the walk!” so we said OK! and headed off to Cedar Falls.
Two miles is farther than we thought.
We are out of shape.
We did make to to Cedar Falls, and it was beautiful! Peaceful and lovely, I just wish we’d driven there, heh. The walk back seemed faster than the walk there, thankfully, but we were quite tired. I really wanted to see more parks though! So we drove next to Old Man’s Cave.
Old Man’s Cave is apparently the big tourist destination; it had a huge parking lot and visitor center. (the visitor center was closed, but we were able to buy a bottle of Gatorade at a vending machine. We had forgot to bring water bottles and it was needed!) And it was a lovely park, I’m glad that it wasn’t too crowded.
After Old Man’s Cave…. hubby said we should go back to the cabin, and he was right, we were both exhausted. We put in over 20,000 steps! Showers, changes of clothes (we were both quite sweaty! it was an unseasonably warm day!) some hot dogs on the grill for a late lunch; a nap, a soak in the hot tub, and then hamburgers for dinner. Hee. What varied cuisine we planed, eh? I’m glad I remembered to pack lettuce and tomato, but I forgot the mayonnaise. Alas. We finished the evening with another soak in hot tub, a movie and general relaxation.
Wednesday was check out day. We packed up our belongings, tidied the cabin. Had a nice breakfast and hit the road to visit more parks. I picked Conckel’s Hallow Nature Preserve. There were two trails; a rim trail along the cliff’s edge, and a gully trail. The rim trail was 2 miles (oh no, not that again!) but I thought it would be the prettier trail. I screwed my fear-of-heights courage to the sticking place and we went up the stairs to the rim! It was glorious. Photos didn’t do it justice, very beautiful and quiet. I was terrified most of the trail and moved very slowly and carefully. Funny; my husband had something like 87 minutes of aerobic steps on his fit bit as we reached the end of the trail and I only had 15 minutes. Heh. I think I burned more calories though as I stepped slowly and carefully along! (at the same speed as my more casually stepping husband, I will add.) I will agree with the posted sign at the start of the trail; not for those with a fear of heights! Very glad I did it though. The second half of the trail was less scary than the first and I even paused on a little wooden bridge to sit and look out at the beautiful vista… ah. Bliss. I tried to talk the husband into another park, but he was right, we were both tired. Let’s go home.
In general; I loved the parks. Most people followed the rules keeping to one-way traffic on the trails and social distancing. And some folks even wore masks like the husband and I. It was a good, social distance pandemic vacation choice! We did not visit any restaurants or stores… and we didn’t need to. (OK, we got a drive-through burger on the way home 🙂 Our first in over a year!)
Thursday the husband and I were useless, dead to the world. Heh. We were not used to all that going out and doing stuff! Also, very sore! Also, it was raining. Nature’s way of saying ‘stay in bed!’ heh.
Friday, we recovered and we went out to Coventry for my last vacation day. We stopped at a bakery on the way, and husband was grumpy because of the traffic and road construction we encountered, however things improved by the time we got to Coventry. The parking garage is free right now (good move by the city given the drop in shoppers because of the pandemic!) I wanted to go to my favorite clothing store; Passport to Peru. And the husband went in with me, brave man. I did my best to browse quickly; and I found a very pretty lace jacket. I tried it on, and bought it! We were in and out in less than 15 minutes and I was very happy with my purchase. We then walked down to Grum’s and I bought us a Grumsteer sub for dinner. (YUM!) and our last stop was Phoenix coffee to pick up some lattes. By the way, Phoenix Coffee has excellent infection control procedures including a box of tissue paper next to the register for you to use to touch the screen. Nice. Note: next time a half a Grumsteer is enough food for two people. Doing the whole Grumsteer was a (delicious) mistake. It felt good to get out and do something ‘normal.’
Thus ended my vacation. Very glad we did it, I think we both needed the break!