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Monday, May 18, 2015

We're Traveling - Shawnee State Park

 In late October, we spent a few days at Shawnee State Park...by accident. Accident?

We had seen photos from Shawnee Lookout Park near Cincinnati, and wanted to spend a few days there before all the leaves were gone. It was one of those late-night internet research things, looking for a campground nearby. I booked our site and went to bed. The next morning, I realized the address was southeast and not southwest--115 miles from our intended destination. Oops! How the heck did that happen?

So the first thing I learned from this trip was to not book late at night...
...unless we're ready for adventure!

After looking at the map and photos from the park, we decided to go there anyway. The 1,095-acre park is deep in the middle of 63,000-acre Shawnee Forest--the largest forest in Ohio, and the trails are along the edge of 51-acre Turkey Creek Lake. The hiking trails take you completely around the lake, with a side trail leading to the hilltop lodge and conference center.

The park has a very welcoming camp office.

 The campsites weren't as secluded as 
some state parks, but their sites 
were all a nice size.

Across the lane, the sites backed
up to a beautiful stream.

The weather was perfect!
The skies were clear and blue!
Ray was more than ready to explore!

The trail head was pretty.

We hiked from our campsite (D) around the north side of the lake (C to B) up the hill to the 
lodge (A) back down and around the south side of the lake, past the campground and back.

I mentioned in my last post
about the lousy camera.

A new one is on my
shopping list.

But trust me, this
creek was pretty!

I spotted this creature
just ahead of me
on the trail.
They are very rare.

 Even though a lot of the leaves had already fallen, there were plenty of colorful trees remaining.

The lake was so inviting!

(Note to self: take the 
rowboat next time.)

Electric motors only.

Just like when we go shopping,
Ray finds a bench and
waits patiently...

...and waits...

...and waits...
I love that this side of the lake has a few places to sit and enjoy the view.

At the end of the lake,
we found a stretch of moss
laid out like a pathway
to the Emerald City.

I was tempted to slip off my sneakers!
It felt like the cushiest carpet.

I could really bore you 
with tons of photos of  
trunks, leaves, rocks, 
roots, bark, fungi, etc.

I'll spare you.

But I had to share this photo!

Isn't this so cool?

There is an advantage to 
being a late riser...

By the time we reached
 the end of the lake,
the sun was at a
nice angle for

After hiking up the hill to the lodge, we were ready for the downhill hike back to camp.
The reflections of color on the surface of the water were amazing.
Imagine these scenes in peak color!

I really loved the way
this lone pine stood
on the point.

I'm not a hunter,
but looks like a nice
spot for that blind.

I imagined throwing
a sleeping bag there,
and counting the stars...

This branch hung so far
out over the still water,
and then decided to
shoot for the sky!

Imagine peak color here...
It was late in the afternoon and the sun was getting low in sky.
It made for beautiful pictures from that side of the lake.
But there was a downside to our timing...

It turns out that the trail on that side weaves up and down the hills,
away from the shoreline in many places. Even though it was not yet
late in the day, it was growing darker in the woods. The trail was
rougher on that side, and I was growing anxious to reach the end!
The dog got so tired that Ray had to carry him up a few hills.

I started to worry about getting lost. You hear those stories...
We didn't know it would take us so much longer on that side.
I don't know if we passed a fork in the dimming light,
but we ended up past the campground.

I was quite relieved when we looked
down and saw the tops of campers!

I was tempted to leave the trail
and head straight down the hill.

Next time, we will start out on
the other side of the lake, while
the sun is bright in the sky!

After we're tired from hiking,
we can take the easy route
back to camp.

But we will go again.

Note to campers: the electric on these sites was by the road instead of at the back of the pad.
If you're newbies, make sure you have extra length on your power cord.
We now carry 75 feet! Next time we can get farther off the road.

Monday, May 11, 2015

We're Traveling - Hocking Hills

The hubby and I recently took an almost-month-long trip to Florida. I'll be sharing that adventure next time. However, you can read about one exciting evening I had HERE on my writer's blog.
Let me start sharing our travels with our first of two short trips...

Last fall, shortly after we bought the RV, some friends got married at Hocking Hills. This photo is the happy couple with their fur babies.

 Ohio has a lot of beautiful scenery, and Hocking Hills is right up there at the top! Since it is less than 100 miles from home, we thought this was a perfect 'trial' trip to haul the mini-house.

I grew up camping and boating.
It has changed. A lot.

Instead of staying at the State Park, we chose a private campground with full hook-ups. We learned a lot from this experience. We now carry lots of extra wood for leveling, along with 75 feet of electric cord and water hose. Full hook-ups (sewer) is a waste if you're not staying more than a few days.

So many private campgrounds we've seen are wide open fields, with campsites crammed together. Other wedding guests were camping next to us and were in awe of the 'great outdoors'. We felt like we were back in the city! It will be an adjustment for us, since we're used to not even seeing another human being from our house. We are spoiled. We can't even see our neighbors house until the leaves fall. But, on the upside, we can see and do wonderful things while taking our beds, kitchen, closets, etc. with us! I do love traveling with a fifth wheel!

Across the road from this campground was a very old church and cemetery.  I would have loved to explore the markers, but we didn't really have time, and I don't think anyone is allowed inside the fence. If we go back to that area, I will definitely check it out!

I would love to turn this place into a home! (If I had the money, and there wasn't a cemetery in the lawn.) It's sad to see something so beautiful become an abandoned eyesore.

 Even though it was their wedding,
we got the gifts! The bride so loved this shot of me and Ray dancing that she had it framed for us. She also slid in another shot of our hiking family.

We learned another valuable tidbit on this trip: we need a better camera! I took most of our photos with my old Blackberry Torch that has been dropped in the barn so many times, the paint is chipped off the case. The camera has seen better days, so I apologize about the quality in these next photos. 

This is the main attraction for some.
There was a drum circle performing this day.

Of course, I took many shots
of my two favorite guys.
That's hubby with Boo
below the stairs.

I love the rock formations 
along the paths. Wouldn't 
this be a beautiful backyard?

This big boulder is perfect
for a serious thinking spot.

As found in many of the gorges
in our home area, trees shoot tall
from the very edge of the rugged cliffs.

I love how the exposed roots
seem to be gripping the rock.

A few trees will even start
growing out the bottom!

Hocking Hills has miles of beautiful trails.
Whether you like rugged terrain 
or wide easy pathways, there is 
plenty of room to explore here.

This area is very popular in the fall 
when the leaves are in full color.

We will definitely be back!
...with a better camera.