Welcome to my blog! If you enjoy my stories, please leave a comment. I love hearing from you!

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.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

New Horizons!

click photo for origin
Last year was tough. 
We lost some friends.
Too young.
Far too young.

As Christians, we know this life is just a temporary stop in the big picture,
but we still want to savor the 'blink of an eye' we are here.

In my last post, I told you there were changes coming. 
Our lives have taken a turn in another direction. 
We have left the role of caretaker behind.
We look forward to a new adventure away from the farm.

As often happens when people stare death in the face, it spurs them to make changes--which for us was buying an RV. There's nothing like losing friends at a young age (from our perspective) to make you realize how really short this life is. Suddenly, priorities shift and those unfulfilled dreams become urgent.

As much as we love our life in the country, we have always wanted to see 49 states. I've seen a few--Ray has seen more--but now we want to check them off the proverbial bucket list.

Both of us have camped and boated a lot in our separate pasts.
Now it's time to make those memories together. 

We did a little bit of traveling last fall. 

We hope to do a lot more this year. 

We plan to do it almost full time next year.

 Eventually, I'll make our own map, 
and slowly fill in the blocks.

We plan to take an extended trip out west next year, hitting many landmarks, but also scoping out our next address. Could it be in Colorado? Utah? We've talked about being snow birds, but we would miss the four seasons. A place with milder winters would be nice. Our friends out west have told us to come. "There's land waiting..."

My future posts will be mostly about our travel adventures (and misadventures!) along with memories we've made here on the farm.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Time to Move On...

Remember this?

This crazy photo served as my title cover for all these years--a little tweaking now and then. You'll never know how much thought I put into designing it.

This blog was to be about a middle-aged couple that decided to buy some land and learn to raise critters and food.

I wonder if anyone noticed the type of garments on the clothesline. The pink dress was symbolic of my life off  the farm. Get it? Yeah, I'm that obsessed. And that little spot for the pink dress--fairly proportionate of the time I spend off the farm. I am a homebody. I love it here. Why would I want to be anywhere else? Each little branch and twig is part of an actual photo from our farm. The cherry blossoms bloom near the garage. That pine branch tipped with a perfect cone stands in the yard between the house and barn. There's our barn and garden in the background. Nekoda, Sadie, Derby and Nanny, Chubbers and Paint Girl, Mr J and Buddy all got special placement on my cover.

Why would I want to be anywhere else?

 Oh, yeah. Winter.

I used to call it my favorite season.

Maybe many of you know what I'm talking ablout.

These last two winters have been killers--record lows every other day, record amounts of snow fall, record number of days below zero, record number of days with wind chills below zero degrees kelvin...
Okay, that last statement might have been an exaggeration, but the others weren't far from the truth! I was ready to pack up the RV and head to Florida--but I would have never gotten it out of the driveway! That's reason #1, but let's just try to forget about winter for now.

Situations change. Goals change. Dreams change.

When we moved here, we were both employed making pretty good money. I planned on this place being paid off before retirement. Things changed.

The place we worked at was closing and we didn't want to transfer. Seeing the writing on the wall, Ray and I retired. We adjusted our belts and stayed. But slowly, we are being taxed out of our dream.

We could probably stay here for the rest of our lives, but it would mean doing little else. Between taking a chunk of our income and all the upkeep, we are pretty much tied to this farm. Not a bad situation to be in, mind you, but nonetheless, tied.

We have been here for over eleven years without a vacation together. It's not easy finding critter sitters. We didn't mind. It's like vacation where we live. But we still wanted to see the country some day (reason #2--We made a big step in that direction this past fall. That will be the subject of my next post.) so we're planning on down-sizing in the next year.

It was hard to change my cover photo...hard to say goodbye to a time that was so wonderful. But new wonderful things are on the horizon, and I wanted my blog to reflect that. The old 'blahwg' name is also gone. I was reluctant to change the name, but most of my regular followers are no longer blogging. So I guess it truly is time to move on. I can't wait to tell you about my plans for this blog, and for the future! But this post is getting rather long, so you'll have to wait.

Monday, June 16, 2014

I'm bored...NOT!

My daughter shared this post on Facebook about the advantages of letting kids get bored. I think we will all agree (and have many times by 'liking' all those posts with the same theme) that kids today are spoiled. I'm not talking about the hasn't-this-bratty-child-ever-been-disciplined kind of spoiled, but the over-indulged, have-everything, be-chauffeured-everywhere, sit-and-be-entertained kind of spoiled.Their lives are so structured that they have no idea what to do when the square on the calendar is blank. Or maybe it's because the parent has no idea what to do when the kids ask, "What is there to do?"

I used to boat and spent almost every weekend in the summer on the water. The kids learned really fast not to say those forbidden words--I'm bored. There were things to do! Scrub the hull. Gather firewood. Suddenly, lazying on an air mattress sounded like a good deal. And it always ended in everyone trying to flip the air mattress and lots of screams and laughter.

As a kid, I never played soccer or softball, or took dance lessons, etc. (Okay--once a week piano lessons for a few years, but I rode my bike across town to get there!) Never once did any of my brothers or I say, "I'm bored. What can I do?"

The un-mowed grass of an abandoned field provided us with rivers to swim, out-maneuvering the wild river creatures that stalked us, or jungles to discover while scouting for carnivores. We galloped around on our broomstick horses while shooting each other with our fingers. We died and fell over. We really did climb trees! With our friends, we created clubs that had secret passwords. We also created some crazy games to play with rocks and jump ropes. We learned to whistle loudly (a skill I still possess) with a wide blade of grass. We made our own musical instruments out of trash and trash cans. We built palaces from cardboard. We lay down on our backs in the grass and stared at the sun--wondering if it really would make us blind! We watched the animals form and disappear in the clouds. We ate wild berries and apples that weren't ripe. We once paid a boy twenty-five cents to eat a bug. We camped out under the stars and awoke cold and damp with dew. We never thought about asking Mom what to do...

When my grandgirls visit, they quickly get super bored. The boredom manifests itself in arguments over Legos and who gets to cuddle the dog. And when they get bored enough...

They take a walk in the woods with the goats. They go catch things like tree frogs and fireflies. They pick wild flowers to bring to Nana. They stomp in the muddy creek, forgetting they have on their Sunday pants. They make memories that at least I will treasure long after I've forgotten what they did on the soccer field.

Like this one:

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Dog Ate My Homework, and other unlikely excuses.

I was supposed to go with some others from my church to the NMI (Nazarene Missions International) District Assembly opening service tonight to sing in the mass choir. Looking at the clock, I decided it was time to start getting ready. Before getting in the shower, I decided to let SeeBoo 'go out', as there was rumbling in the distance, so he might not 'go out' later.

I had just let him out the side door when I spied the rooster in the yard. My eyes are no better than the dog's--he spied it, too. And, just like the last time this happened, SeeBoo took off like a rocket after the twice-his-size bird. The rooster raced toward his pen, but unlike last time, he couldn't fly high enough to get back over the fence. So off he went running down the driveway toward the creek, with a little white streak hot on his heels. (Do roosters have heels?)

Ever see a three-year-old on a sugar high in one of those net pits full of colorful plastic balls? Do you think they can hear you when you call? Well, neither can my Wee-Chon. If you ever saw the look in his eyes when he's chasing something, you would realize that he has to run. It's the only way he can keep his eyeballs from popping out of his face!

The rooster dove into the woods at the creek. To the one side of the driveway, where the goats live, the woods are thin and walkable like a city park. But on the other side, where the running duo was last seen, the woods are impassible, as they are a thick mass of underbrush containing wild roses, honeysuckle, grapevine, saplings and weeds.

Have I ever mentioned that I don't run? I don't run. I especially don't run as fast as a happy little doggy trying to bag his first rooster. They were gone.

Every few seconds, I would hear a ruckus from the rooster, a bark from the dog or the rumble of thunder--each time sounding farther away, except for the thunder. It was starting to rain. The last sound I heard was SeeBoo barking. He sounded like he was more than 1000 feet away upstream. I called the neighbor that lives just past there, and told them to be on the lookout for a little white dog chasing a huge rooster, and then I got in the car and drove down there. Parking back by their barn, I headed for the tree-lined creek. I called and called my puppy's name to no avail. Standing at the edge of the woods in an approaching thunderstorm, I decided to give up my search.

The storm was moving in. I told the neighbors that if they saw him, to let him in, but not to bend over to pet him or he'd pee on their floor. (A story for another time and place.) Then I headed home. Coming up the lane, I blew the car horn several times...a sound SeeBoo is quite familiar with, as he tends to run in front of my car if I arrive home while he's outside. It was raining harder. Poor guy is scared of storms.

SeeBoo, with half a haircut cuddling up to my soft slippers.
I opened the garage overhead door and blasted the rain with an air horn, followed by my voice trying to drown-out the sound of the approaching storm. I traded my hard shoes for my slippers, fetched my cell phone, and pulled up a chair, ready to start calling the shelters, police, etc to give them the heads-up on the missing dog. Time was of the essence. In the evening, the coyotes come out to search for food. SeeBoo would never survive a night in the woods.

Did I mention that this whole time I'm praying? I've prayed a lot for my critters. I pray for their safety in the storms, and for their health when they're sick. I prayed for my little dog...

I sat down in the chair in the garage, facing the open door and the pouring rain. Just as I started to look up the first number, it started letting up, and I spied something white in the next field that butts up to the chicken run. The grass there has not been cut this year, and is up to the top of my thighs. I squinted. Sure enough, I recognized that adorable little face sticking through the fence! SeeBoo had made it back! Almost...

The rooster had escape him the first time by going through the tall grass. SeeBoo would go in a few inches, and then back out. He didn't like the tall grass. As he stood there, looking so scared, he had no idea how to get through the fence to get home. He was only about thirty feet from the north corner of the fence, but he couldn't see it for the tall grass. I took off running on my sore feet, in my soft slippers, over the rocky gravel lane. Okay, you're right...I didn't run. I don't run. But I did walk fast!

Even though I stood at the end of the chicken's area where the grass is shorter and called to him, he wouldn't budge. I finally gave up, and soft-slippered my way into the tall wet grass until I got close enough that he could see me. He exploded towards me! Yesterday's bath was just a memory. His white coat was streaked with mud, but no blood. No sign of the rooster either. (I think if he had poked his little head out, I might have shot him!)

SeeBoo was so happy to be home, he didn't even protest when I sat him in the kitchen sink and turned on the faucet.

After washing the mud from SeeBoo's coat, I rolled him up in a towel, and then grabbed my phone to let people know I wouldn't make it tonight. My text read, "Not gonna make it. Toe is on fire from chasing the dog and the rooster through the woods in a T-storm..."

Yeah. And the dog ate my homework. Go ahead and rain...