We are back! We are happy and tired! So how do you blog about a week’s vacation? You don’t! I actually did write in my journal everyday about our adventures of that day, but I will spare you all the details of that! But I just had to blog something about our camping trip to OhioPyle so I decided to share the highlight film with you. Role tape…
10. The Yurt!
Okay, when I first heard about these things I had no idea what they were. But after reading about what they included on the inside (see pics below) and the awesome price for a weeks’ stay ($282), I was convinced that this would be the way to go for a long camping stay.
Here we are just getting to the yurt!!
It had a full refrigerator and freezer, a two-burner electric cook top, a small microwave, and new cabinets! It didn’t take us long to move right in!
Everything was very clean and the appliances looked fairly new.
They yurt slept 5…two in single bunk beds…
And the other 3 in a double bottom bunk and a single top bunk. Guess who got the single top bunk? You will guess wrong…it was me!!! The boys crashed in the double!!
I ended up giving two tours to various people who were walking by who wondered what the yurt’s looked like inside. I’m thinking I should get commission on their rental sales!! We had nice neighbors on both sides of us two. On one side was a family with triplets and on the other a family with twins!
9. War Games
Mike and Zach started a habit of playing the card game, War, after breakfast everyday while I was doing dishes. You know, the game that never ends?! Except in their version they actually played it until someone got all the cards! It was so nice to have the luxury of time to spend on something simple like that and I enjoyed listening to their “war games”.
8. The Hills
The scenery in this area was absolutely breathtaking! From the river, to the lush forests I just couldn’t help, but be in awe of the wonderful creation we were able to be a part of.
But the part that was the most impactful for me were the hills! Not only were they absolutely beautiful to a girl from Ohio, but they were also a little scary driving on them. Luckily Mike was the driver for the trip so I didn’t have to navigate them, but they were a little scary at times. Sometimes just the signs were enough to freak me out!
7. Educational Programs
I was very impressed that throughout the weekend the state park offered various educational programs at no cost for folks to participate in. We got a schedule when we first arrived and there about 5 different programs offered Sat and Sun. We participated in three of them and we enjoyed them all!
The Frog Hunt
After a brief talk in the amphitheater by the ranger about the various types of frogs in the forest we were armed with nets and hiked down to the pond with her on Sat evening.
This was the green frog we caught. We learned that this is a male frog because its ear circles are bigger than its eyes.
The Snake Hunt
This was probably the most exciting of the programs because Zach found a copperhead! We met at the train station and heard a bit about the various snakes in the region and what to look for. Then we hiked out along the river trail on the rocks. Our guide was sure to tell us that if we saw a snake not to touch it, but to tell him and he would come over to see it and identify it.
This was one of the first snakes found by someone in the group – just a nonvenomous one.
We enjoyed watching the river during this program too.
We had only seen about 3 nonvenomous snakes during our hike and we were heading back to the train station when we heard Zach say, “hey, found a snake here,” in a clam voice. This is what he had found along the side of the trail just hanging out!! A copperhead!!! Very cool and good eye, Zach!
The Owl Prowl
We met at the amphitheater on Sun night and first heard a talk on the 3 species of owls found in the region. Then we hiked to the edge of the forest and listened for the owls. The ranger called them with her sound machine. Unfortunately we did not hear any owls on our hike. However, it was still interesting and we were able to identify owls we heard on our own later in the week!
6. Falling Water
This former house of the Kaufman family was stunning and the tour was well worth the money! Pictures do the best to describe it, but even then they do not do it justice! You just have to go yourself!! We weren’t able to take any pics inside, but you can use your imagination!
The original cost estimate for the structure was 20K, but there were overages that brought the final cost to about 156K and that was in 1936! The Kaufman family lived in the house from 1936 to 1965. At that time the Kaufman’s son gave the property to the Pennsylvania Conservancy. This picture shows the river underneath the house. There is a hatch in the living room that opens up to stairs that go right into the river.
Here you can see how Frank Lloyd Wright fused nature into the house’s architecture. He was way ahead of his time to build such a modern structure.
Just beautiful. The balcony’s were a bit low and scary. Mr. Wright made them low in order to not obstruct the view for the family. A house like this would never be able to be built today the same way with our building codes!
Incredible view from a path up the way.
5. Campfires and S’mores!
Need I say more?! We had a campfire AND s’mores every night we were there except one and that was because we had gone out for dinner and a movie. There is just something about staring into a camp fire that is relaxing and awesome. Mike taught Zach the finer details of campfire stuff so that was a good learning thing too. Zach is ready for us to get a fire ring for our backyard now and we just might do that!!
4. Natural Waterslides
Playing in the river was awesome, but I think Zach’s favorite was the natural water slide. He kept going on it over and over again and there were lots of smiles and “woohooos!” After awhile and he had the hang of it, true to form, he started helping and instructing other kids on the finer points of making it successfully down the slides to have a most excellent water slide experience. This kid cracks me up!
There he is – see his arms?
Don’t let the look fool you – he is loving this!
Okay, let’s do this about 100 more times!!
3. The Bear!!
We decided to go hiking on Wednesday. We planned our course, packed some snacks, water and a map, and headed out. We hiked on the Gorge Trail all the way to Cucumber Falls and stopped for some pics.
We decided to head back, but weren’t sure if we should head back the way we came or take a different trail back to our campsite. We left it up to Zach and he picked the Beech Trail, which turned out to be a great choice! So we were off again. There was a really pretty part of the forest that we stopped to set up the auto timer for the camera.
This trail had not been traveled much so it was a pretty rugged trail. Mike kept us going at a pretty good clip as our leader. We came upon some giant rocks and met some people who were getting ready to do climbers instruction training. We continued on. When we got to the part that was a steep incline up the mountain ridge we all just put our heads down and walked quietly. It was this way for a good while when all of a sudden I heard some rustling in the bushes followed by a big “huuuffff” noise! About the same time I heard it and before I could say, “hey I heard something over there”, Zach says, “Hey, there is a black bear over there,” just matter of fact like that. I stopped dead in my tracks and said in a whisper, “No you didn’t!”, but I knew that he did because I just knew what that sound had to be! Oh my gosh!!! We paused for a second and I was a little freaked out, but then Mike said we just need to make noise and keep moving just like the bear did. We talked later about how we could “sneak up” on a bear about 20 yards away! Well, it was a remote area, he was upwind from us and we had been really quiet. Mike had heard the “huummff” noise too, but Zach is the only one who saw it. I’m not sure if I’m glad I didn’t see it or if I wish I did! Mike explained that the bear hadn’t heard us or seen us until then and made the noise to let us know he was there and then he moved on. So we made some noise and did the same. But I was a bit freaked out! I know this is a rare occurrence and so close! Zach was not afraid at all – it was amazing – well that, and naive! It was a very special moment that I hope he never forgets. I don’t have a photo op of that experience – just in my mind and in my journal. I certainly won’t forget it. The rest of our hike was filled with bear jokes at my expense, of course. We had hiked 6.5 miles and felt every bit of it. What a great day!
2. White Water Rafting
So our whole trip started because of white water rafting. I remembered doing it my senior year in college at a place called OhioPyle and it sounded like fun. So Tuesday, our rafting day came and Zach and I were so nervous! My stomach was on overdrive just like before a race!! I was mostly scared because the last time I went through these rapids 22 years ago I was tossed out at Cucumber Rapids! I was not anxious to do that again! We were on a fully guided raft with a guide in our boat because of Zach’s age (I was thankful for that!). The weather was overcast and a little sprinkly, but not too bad. It actually gave the river a mysterious quality to it. There was one other raft on our trip with four young guys in it. We had another guide, Joel, in a kayak helping them. After a brief, but frightening safety class (i.e. we learned that we probably will fall out and that our legs will probably get broken!), we put in the river. It was really fun and we got through the first set of rapids with no problem. Then we were coming up to Cucumber Rapids, my nemesis!! It really wasn’t that bad and we looked the camera and I smiled!
We had done it and I had conquered it and stayed in the boat. Yes!
Zach loved every minute of it and would not stop paddling even in the flat water! The other boat flipped over at Pinball Rapids so that was entertaining to watch the guides rescue them all! We pulled off to eat lunch and enjoyed lunch meat sandwiches, watermelon and cookies. At one point we stopped at the jumping rock and Zach jumped off a rock about 12 feet above the water – another hit and he had to do it twice! I was wishing I had a camera. I had some close calls, but we all managed to stay in the boat the entire time. Of course we had to buy the CD of pics that they sell in the store and we also got “I survived t-shirts”. Definitely a huge highlight of the trip!
1. Doing Nothing
Yes, you read that right. Doing nothing was the best thing about our trip! If you have ever been camping you know that there is downtime. There is time when you just are chilling out and you are literally doing nothing. I think this is challenging for us today with so much constant stimulation, entertainment and screens going at us the whole time. It was tough at first for me, but I pretty easily transitioned into the rhythm of camping in about a day. For Zach it was a little harder, however. He got really frustrated easily with “nothing to do”. He also kept asking what we were going to do next and was eager to give suggestions about “after lunch could we do”, or “after this could we do” . We talked about how just “being” is a good thing to do. We reminded him to enjoy what we are doing right now and not rush into the next thing and the next thing. BE WHERE YOUR FEET ARE is the mantra I tried to teach him. But this is hard for a 10-year-old to grasp as well as a lot of adults! However, I could definitely see a change in him (and me) as we moved further into our week. He was able to let go a bit and just enjoy being. Being together, just living and being in the moment. This was the best lesson from our wonderful week!!