Thursday, July 30, 2009

Missed one...

My garden is not producing much this year, so far. The tomatoes remain stubbornly green, the broccoli keeps blooming before it's remotely big enough to harvest and the peppers are this close to being ready. But zucchini and squash, that we have. I try really hard to pick them when they are small and tasty and use them up. By me, I mean Rick who goes out every so often and brings in armloads of things from the garden. The other day he and I shredded and froze about 6 quarts of zucchini. But he apparently took a few days off and....

We grew a fat baseball bat. That's my dad helping my three-year-old hold it. After the photographic evidence, it went home with Dad to feed the chickens. Not really fit for human consumption. I know it's not the biggest one you've ever seen. I just think it's hilarious that I didn't see it in the garden until it had reached such proportions. Also, more proof that zucchini are nothing but liquid green, Rick picked it last night and laid it in the kitchen, and it spent the night leaking water onto the counter. Tomorrow, if time allows, I'll show you some pictures of something else rather spectacular that snuck into my garden. That's the joy of being a really bad gardener, I'm always surprised when anything survives.

Lastly, for anyone who actually reads this blog and remembers my fluffy dog Buck (think part collie) check this out...
Can't be Buck!
Now that's a haircut.

Hocking Hills- Last Day

I got up early to pack up everything, so Rick could wedge it all into the car, leaving room for the gigantic dog crate. (He doesn't actually ride in the thing, so it's fill with other stuff.) Spent the morning dealing with the usual mess of trying to pack while the rest of the family is still using the stuff I'm packing. Nothing like plucking wet toothbrushes out of people's mouths. We really wanted to get in another hike today, but we had to return our key by 11:00 and all the hiking was in the opposite direction. Hiking is no fun on a deadline, so we dropped the key and went to see Lake Logan instead. Not the most beautiful stop we made, but we walked everybody up the beach to a floating dock and back. At the end Karl got to have a good run back and forth between the three of us, and he burned off a good amount of energy. Then everybody was into the car, settled down and headed home. We got their really early. Early enough to catch my in-laws replanted a bare spot in our lawn. They meant it to be a surprise, but we came home early and surprised them. Ooops.

Last note on Hocking Hills...on Friday we saw the ambulance pull into Old Man's Cave just after we had been there. Didn't think much about it. Then, at work on Tuesday, I heard about this....very scary to think about. We probably passed this kid on the trail, and not an hour later...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Hocking Hills- Day 3

Oh the aches and pains. Woke up this morning feeling every step from the day before. The knee was screaming, but we came here to hike, and hike we will. We took our time this morning, easing into the day with a good breakfast prepared by the patient husband. Basically, I haven't the patience to be a real cook. Unless it's ready in a hurry, or I can toss it in the oven and walk away, I'll burn it trying to make things go faster. So we agreed a long time ago that he's the chef, and I wash up. I packed up the backpack, in which I attempt to carry something for every single eventuality. Our goal today was to get Kate to do some hiking on her own, and to see Rockhouse, which I was pretty sure I'd never been to before. We started there. It was quickly clear that weekends are MUCH busier around here than weekdays. We saw more people this day than any other. This was also probably the steepest descent, and the Bug did it on her own two feet. One of us was always holding her hand, and the other had the dog. It was a bit treacherous, and we had to stop and most of the major sets of stairs to let people go up past us. Several people stopped to compliment Karl on his good behavior. We also saw more dogs this day than any other, and few were as well behaved as ours. After a rough descent, we finally reached the Rockhouse. Oddly enough, we almost walked right past it as we were so intent on keeping everyone on the path, and passing other people. It's such a steep rocky place that there are no signs or anything. You are expected to look up from the path and see the giant cave to your left. Duh!
Here is a picture someone else took on a day when the place wasn't quite as crowded as our visit:

During our visit the whole place was packed from end to end. Kate and I left Daddy outside with the dog and explored the cave, and then we switched off. Daddy took some pictures of Kate in the cave that scared the crap out of me when I saw them later.
Daddy dangerous
Yup, that's my kid sitting on a rock shelf inside a cave with NO ONE anywhere near her to keep her from falling. I am assured that the picture is an illusion and her feet were only a few inches from the rock below her. I am trying to believe this. Anyway, all four of us made it safely to the gorge floor, where Kate decided she was done walking. Into the backpack she went, and we hiked ourselves back out. At the top of the path we sat down at a picnic table for a short snack, and then packed up for one more cave. We wrapped up our park visits with Cedar Falls. Oddly enough on our first day, we took a wrong path and started toward Cedar Falls before realizing our mistake and turning back. On our second day we intended to hike to Cedar Falls but our stamina was flagging and we turned back, so one would think finally reaching the largest waterfall in the park would be kind of a big deal.
Cedar Falls
Yeah, that's barely a trickle. On the plus side, Kate hiked all the way down and all the way back to the car on her own to feet so we were pretty proud of her. In this picture Kate and Daddy have spotted a bee in the water. Buggy insisted they stayed there until the bee paddled itself to the shore and climbed out on the sand to dry his wings.
Our afternoon activity for today was a flea market which included a used book store/coffee shop: my version of perfection. Unfortunately, the place was not exactly as advertised. The flea market was packing up as we arrived and the permanent shops were shutting down and when we finally reached the used book store I discovered that there are more books in my living room than in this store. We even skipped the coffee shop part and had ice cream instead. I also bought a wooden train engine for Kate as her daddy had mentioned something about toys at the flea market, and I didn't think we could get away with driving home without one. After that we went home and Rick made dinner. The dog was much happier with a short stay in his crate.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Hocking Hills- Day 2

We slept in a little today, this being a vacation and all. We ate a small breakfast, packed up the gear and headed out for Old Man's Cave. Several years ago, I had been to the Hocking Hills with my family, so I was pretty sure I'd been here, but didn't remember much. We decided to hike to the cave and then on to Cedar Falls, a different section of the park, have a picnic lunch, and then back to the car. This should have been about 3 miles. (Yes I said "should have been.") Old Man's Cave seems to be one of the most popular portions of the park, with lots of parking, a big visitors center, and lots of stone bridges. We were glad to have hiked here on Friday, when we drove through on the following Saturday and saw the crowds. We hiked down into the cave, always being careful of the knee of course, and then back towards the upper end of the gorge to see this cool bridge:

Cool bridge

Then we went around again, through the cave and on towards the lower falls. We made a slight wrong turn and found a place where the trail had been decimated by falling rock, and had to turn back. The intrepid husband wanted to blaze a trail on through, but I thought that a bit unsound seeing as we had a kid in a backpack, a dog on a leash and an invalid mommy with a bum knee. He said I was a wuss. I said tough luck.

We paused for a bit at the lower falls, and I spotted a family from my old library in Stow. I didn't introduce myself, as I'm sure they didn't remember me. Kate enjoyed the beach.

Upper Falls, Old Man's Cave

At the lower falls we met a couple who said the trail to Cedar Falls was somewhat longer than advertised. Our energy was flagging and we thought it best to turn back. Then, we missed a turn and ended up going on toward Cedar Falls anyway. At this point an unkind person might point out that we own two, count them two, GPS systems and both can read, so how the heck did we mistake three trails in two days. An unkind person might point that out, but I'm sure you are not unkind.

It became clear after a mile, that we were, in fact, on our way to Cedar Falls, which, you may remember was the original plan, so in accordance with our standard operating procedure (never admit you are wrong and never admit you are tired) we pushed on. The trail was fairly tame compared to others we encountered, with only a few ups and downs over trees and roots, but when we checked the GPS and found we had gone 2 miles and seemed no nearer our destination, we decided to turn back. Kate complained a bit that her rear hurt, so we got her out of the backpack to walk, and then stopped at a small bench for lunch. Kate only dropped 1/4 of her sandwich on the ground, (and let's be honest, if we had waited for her to finish, we'd still be there) so we threw it to the fish and continued back. Then, it started to thunder. Have I left out the part where the weather forecast said scattered showers? Well they were scattered over us. We got soaked. Seriously soaked. Kate was unhappy until I gave her a hat to keep the raindrops off her face, and then seemed to accept the situation. We passed several groups of people who had found a dry spot and were waiting out the storm, but standing still is not our way. We pressed on through the downpour, me using an umbrella as a walking stick because opening it would have been silly in all those trees. At some point during the rainstorm I abandoned the whole "be careful of your knee" thing and just plowed on through the wet. I am still paying for it today. It did not help that the rain made my glasses useless, so I was hiking with about three feet of clear vision before everything went fuzzy. It finally quit raining after we reached Old Man's Cave trails again, but we were still soaking wet when we reached the car. The dog also took the opportunity to lay down in some dry sand and pick up the lot in his wet coat. I do not even want to think about the state of the van at this time. We bugged out pretty quick and headed back to the cabin where dry clothes and showers were had by all.

We then reached the point in the vacation where we were to make use of the dog crate. This was purchased not so long ago, and despite spending some time in the thing of a evening while we are watching TV, Karl had never been shut in the crate on his own before. I was worried that he might do any number of things from make a mess, to eat the thing whole and then tear up the cabin. Once again, I worry for naught. He slept the evening away, and apart from some lingering resentment, seems no worse for his stay in the crate.

We headed to Logan for gas and a Wal-Mart run to replenish supplies and pick up the things I'd forgotten. We tried to get gas, but the gas station was "experiencing difficulties." They gave us bad directions to another gas station, which we eventually found, then went back to the cabin because we'd forgotten something rather important. (hint: I had to pay for the gas.) Then we went to Nelsonville to the Rocky Book Outlet. Rick needs new waterproof boots. Alas there was nothing in his size. There was however several things in my size. And while I shopped, Rick and Kate discovered the children's section, wherein they selected a variety of utterly useless things to buy. They also picked up a backpack that will apparently fit much better than the cheap one I bought for her last summer. (It is, I have been informed, a "real" backpack, rendering the one I bought to some lesser status. Hunchback costume presumably.)

On our way home, we stopped at "World Famous Jack's Steak House". There was some discussion concerning how the heck a hole in the wall like this could be called "would famous" but the food and the service were very good. (Perhaps it is the existence of a website which I was somewhat shocked to find.) Unfortunately Kate started to complain about a belly ache on the way home. I was somewhat worried until everything resolved itself in another bought of digestive fireworks at which my child seems to excel. We returned to the cottage, released the hound, and found our beds. End of day 2.

Hocking Hills- Day 1

This weekend we rented a cabin at Ohio's spectacular Hocking Hills. I had some reservations about such a trip as we have a very nervous dog and a terribly opinionated three-year old. Either or both can ruin your day very quickly with a quick screaming fit or a well placed digestive episode. But my intrepid husband has no fear, or at least pretends not to. He loves to make fun of my fears, and in this case he was correct. (He often is, but I don't like to point this out to him too often.)

We rented a nice little cabin on a quiet back road in South Bloomingville, very close to several of the best hiking trails in the park.

Crooked Creek Cabin

It was more of an old farm house than a cabin, but it fit all our needs, including a yard for the dog and wifi and dish network for the husband. (Kate and I are somewhat less picky about accommodations.) After unpacking the van and the cooler, we set out for Ash Cave for a short hike. Being, again, somewhat nervous, I carried a backpack filled with drinks, snacks, diaper stuff, extra clothes, hats, bug spray and various other items. Rick carried the Bug in a backpack and walked the dog. The main trail is handicapped accessible, and so fairly easy to hike. At the end, we find:

Ash Cave

The Bug was quite taken with the stairs, so we left the "easy" trail and climbed to the top of the cliff. We then made a navigation error that would become the hallmark of this trip. Most of the hiking trails in Hocking Hills are a mile or two, but several of the parks are connected by longer trails, and instead of heading back to our car, we inadvertently set off for another park entirely. We discovered our mistake fairly soon, and headed back the other way. We worked our way around the top of the cliff, my husband being extra careful about me and my bad knee. (It doesn't like downhill work.) We thankfully reach the parking area without me damaging myself to badly and put all the gear back in the car. Rick then suggested we go back to the cave on the easy trail and let Kate walk. Aside from some sand in her shoes, she did just fine.

Ash Cave

Only once, on the way back, did she asked to be carried, but we told her that hikers don't ride, they hike, and she went along. Back at the cabin, we had supper and settled down for the night.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Pictures to follow

So we've packed up the kitchen sink again, and taken off for parts unknown. The drive was tolerable, with the bug taking a nice long nap, and the dog waiting until we were with a few miles of our destination to toss his cookies. I think it was the hills and curves. Found a nicely appointed rented cabin, set appropriately off the main road to not worry about the dog much in the yard. It was better set up than we expected, with washer and dryer, so I could rescue the blanket which caught the tossed cookies. We unloaded the van, spent a few minutes settling in, and then went for nice hike to Ash Cave. The main trail is handicap accessible, and very flat, but beyond the cave there are stairs, cliffs and steep grades. We had to be a bit careful because Rick was carrying Bug in the backpack, and we had the dog on a leash. Either or both of these loose cannons can throw you off balance without really trying. After we got back to the car we let Bug walk the easy trail again under her own steam. Back at the cabin Rick made up some fried summer squash and brats while I convinced Bug that a shower was really OK since there was no bath. Then we watched a movie until we all fell asleep. That's day one in the Hocking Hills.