Feel The Burn…Out

Meh.

I do believe I’m suffering from a bad case of bloggy burnout.  It’s not unusual for this time of year, especially for someone who has been blogging for any length of time (read: 2½ years).  I just need a break.

So, I’m going to be taking one.  On Saturday, we head down to Las Vegas for several days – Beloved is going to a conference and I’m going to spend lots of time with Darling Daughter.  We get home very late on Thursday, then turn around and pick Darling Daughter and her fella at the airport Friday evening, Oldest Son and The Young One on Saturday morning, BON (Beloved’s Only Niece) Saturday night, then head down to Hocking Hills for 4 nights on Sunday.  Darling Daughter goes home Friday afternoon, Oldest Son returns Saturday morning, and we’re going to see Emmitt Smith inducted into the Football Hall of Fame Saturday night.

In order to get ready for this, I have a TON of stuff to do here at home and the office.  I’ll probably blog some this week – I have a couple of recipes – but I may not be around to comment so much.  I’ll do my best, but I can’t make any promises.  I don’t intend to blog at all while in Vegas and will not be able to while in Hocking Hills – no internet connection.  But rest assured that I will return the second week of August, armed with photos and stories of our adventures – and maybe even a recipe or two.

That was either a threat or a promise.  Take it how you will.  😛

And have a lovely Monday, y’all.

Hocking Hills State Park

Travel Tip ThursdayLet’s be up front with one small fact about me:  I do not like hiking.

Beloved adores it.  And since I like to take pictures and spend time with my husband, I occasionally go hiking.

Against my better judgment.

At any rate, July 23, 24 and 25 found us in Hocking Hills State Park in southern Ohio.  While I was there, I found I much prefer it to northeast Ohio; because the park practically borders Kentucky, southern Ohio is much more, well, Southern than the rest of the state.  (Click on any picture to enlarge)

Click to enlarge

Hocking Hills State Park adjoins a state forest by the same name and is a popular destination for families camping.  The park itself is home to several campgrounds for RVs or those who prefer to “rough it” with a tent.  They also have 40 “cabins” which are really just small homes with all of the amenities.  Directly outside of the park are several privately owned properties with similar cabins; some are commercial properties – “Inns” if you will – small, hotel-like properties with additional individual dwellings.  Most of the rental properties are owned by individuals; people who bought sizable tracts of land, built small homes on them (some of which are quite isolated) and rent them out.

Moss and Fallen Trees

Since my idea of “roughing it” includes indoor plumbing and a coffee maker, we chose one of the latter for our extended weekend away.  The fact that there was a fully functioning kitchen and a charcoal grill out back was just a boon (oh, if only it had been clean…).

Bridge Steps

It rained a great deal of the time we were there, but Friday was quite nice so we decided to put on our hiking boots and go hike two of the nine trails available in the park.  Neither was very long, although the first, to Old Man’s Cave, was marked “moderate”, as most of the trails are.  The second hike, shorter and much easier (and handicap accessible) was to Ash Cave.

Entering Ash Cave

Composed mostly of shale and limestone, calling either of them a “cave” is a bit of a stretch – both are more honey-combed depressions in the sides of moderately-sized cliffs.  Glaciers never reached that far south, but they did turn Ohio into a very cool, very moist environment and in the valley and gorges of the park, those conditions remain today, making it quite lush and green.  There’s a lot of moss growing there, which I found quite novel – moss simply does not grow in northeast Texas; it’s far too arid and hot.  The hike to both caves had a very “primordial” feel to them, despite the very well-maintained paths and numerous visitors.

Old Mans Cave

Old Man’s Cave is so named because a hermit apparently made it his home in the mid-late 1800’s.  There are a lot of steps going up and down, and places that require care when walking – as I mentioned before, it’s cool, damp and moss-covered – and can get rather crowded at times, but it’s a marvelous hike all the same.  Not too easy, not too hard.  Well, at least not for me, anyway.

Shadow and Light

The feeling that you’re wending your way through a primordial forest is even more apparent on the easy hike to Ash Cave.  Again, it’s only a cave if you consider an overhang of limestone in the side of a cliff a cave, but it’s still pretty impressive.  The entrance and interior floor of the cave is covered in the kind of sand you’d expect to find on a beach, making me wonder if it occurs naturally or was imported (and why, if it’s the latter), making it a nice place to sit and relax for a bit.  In fact, more than one family was having a picnic lunch while we were there.  The main attraction to the cave is the waterfall, but despite the rain over the previous day or two, was more like a water dribble.  Still, the light and vegetation made it worth a picture or two.

Waterfall

Waterfall 2

There are lots of activities in the park – camping, hiking, fishing, swimming, archery – some of which are available year round.  Part of the park is a nature reserve, and there is a family-style restaurant available, as well as the requisite visitor’s center with knowledgeable employees and a souvenir shop.  All in all, it was a very pleasant day and we wished it hadn’t rained on Saturday so we could have gotten out and gone on a couple of the other hikes.

Ferns

Shadow and Light 2

For more fun Travel Tips, head on over to Pseudonymous High School Teacher.  Tell her the crazy lady from the Sushi Bar sent ya; she’ll treat you just fine.

The Deer Hunter

Well, here I am, snugly ensconced in a hotel room in French Lick, Indiana after three blissful days of solitude in our little cabin in the woods, sans cell phone or internet reception.

The cabin itself was nice, if small, but perfect for us.  I had a bad moment when we got there and I saw that the fridge needed to be wiped out, the bathtub needed to be cleaned and the plastic dish drainer (there was no dishwasher) needed to be taken out back and burned – I’m sorry, it didn’t look like it had EVER been cleaned and was truly disgusting.  Beloved found that the grill out back next to what turned out to be a very comfortable hammock had been similarly neglected and took to scrubbing it, as well as the grubby utensils, while I took care of the inside.

And as usual, he had a much more humorous approach to it all than I did.

“You know, 25 years ago, this wouldn’t have bothered us at all.”

Oh yeah?  Maybe so…but now?  WILL SOMEONE PLEASE HAND ME A GERM-PROOF SUIT AND A VAT OF HYDROCHLORIC ACID????

I guess I’m just getting old.

We spent Friday morning hiking about Hocking Hills State Park, which I’ll post about in more detail on Thursday, and the rest of the time napping, watching movies, listening to the rain and hunting deer.

You see, Friday morning Beloved had to go into the nearby town for a bit and when he came back he was all excited to report that he’d seen tons of deer on the drive out to the highway. So several times, mostly in the evening, we’d climb in the car and drive slowly around the little winding, back roads looking for the critters, armed with the new camera and zoom lens.  And, naturally, because we had taken the appropriate lens, we only found them once, on the edge of a clearing leading into the forest, where they were tough to get a picture of.

Mama Deer and Baby Deer

Mama Deer and Baby Deer

Of course, the day we packed up and left I had the wrong lens on the camera, so they came out and stood around everywhere, thumbing their cute little black noses and laughing at me.  This little guy even let me get out of the car and approach him a bit before running off.

Fawn

Fawn

Fawn Running Away

Fawn Running Away

Maybe there’s something to this whole deer hunting season thing after all.  I’ve heard that venison can be quite tasty if prepared properly and the thought of eating a nice Filet of Bambi’s Mom is a bit more appealing than it used to be.

Not Wordless Wednesday and Sorta Spin Cycle

Cheese Bread

Sprite’s Keeper is going to BlogHer this weekend, and has given us all a vacation from The Spin Cycle this week.   This has thrown me in a tizzy – my bloggy OCD demands that I have a Spin Cycle on Wednesday, dammit!!  (And it’s pretty much a given I’m so not going to be able to abide by the rules of a Wordless Wednesday post.  Ahem.)  So I thought I’d give you an idea of one of the things I do on Sundays.

Basically, bake bread (which is why I’m upset about my oven slowly going on the fritz – sometimes it heats right up, and sometimes it takes fooooooorrrrrreeeeeevveeerrr).

Interwebs, say hello to last Sunday’s loaf of cheddar bread.

Except I won’t be baking bread this weekend, because Sunday I’ll be driving from Hocking Hills State Park to French Lick, Indiana <insert juvenile Beavis and Butthead impression here>.  You see, we’ve decided to forgo our once-every-other-year Christmas vacation (the only real time we can get off from work) for the incredibly exciting activity of remodeling our bathrooms.

I know – don’t we just live on the edge??

Anyhoo, so we decided I’d go with Beloved on his business trip to Indiana next week, and since we were going to be driving anyway, we’d take Friday of this week off and go rent a cabin down in Hocking Hills for a nice, long weekend.  This cabin is really a small home in a secluded, wooded area, with a hot tub and no cell phone reception.  Woo-hoo!

Hmmm.  Some people have taken Jen’s Spin Cycle “vacation” literally and posted anyway.

Well, me too.  Me too.

Have a lovely Wednesday, y’all.

This Place is a Zoo

And Washington D.C. has a very good zoo, indeed.

Parrot

I’m not sure what kind of parrot this is, but he’s very pretty.

Fuzzy Blue Bird

I don’t know the name of this guy, either, so I call him “Fuzzy Blue Bird.”

Meerkat

The Young One was so taken with the meerkats that he bought a stuffed one in the souvenir shop.

Seal

I am a fan of seals, myself.

Orangutang

The big cats were scarce during our visit, but the orangutangs were all out and about.

Gorillas

The gorillas were very obliging, as well.

Gorilla

One of my favorite photographs from the visit.

This guy, though, stole the show.

Giant Panda

Meet Mr. Giant Panda.

Giant Panda

Okay, y’all can wake up now.

Hello?  Helloooooo…