I put the car in drive and almost reverently drove down my still-asleep street, as if afraid to wake the neighbors. Daylight was still hours from being realized and the chill in the air did a better job of waking me up than my cup of coffee. I felt excited and hopeful and ready for adventure!
My destination? Hocking Hills. This was my third trip, and was (as I hoped) quite the adventure.
I wanted to take part in the Winter Hike that is held every year in the State Park; between Old Man’s Cave and Ash Cave. When I was there last October I experienced the former during the daytime in beautiful fall splendor and the latter, at night on a Haunted Hocking tour with the very entertaining Pat Quakenbush. This was a chance for a different view. Winter’s splendor this time. If only I’d known that more than 5,000 people – had the same idea as I did. And that it would turn out to be more of a muddy, spring day – than a winter’s splendor kind of day. A park ranger that I talked to stated this was their most heavily attended hike in the history of the annual event. I was reminded of Woodstock or New Years Eve in New York City – only in a State Park, that was unprepared for such a flood of humanity.
I’ll skip ahead and tell you that I didn’t get to experience the full 6 mile hike that has been a tradition since the 1940’s. However, I did pay a visit to my friends at the Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls for a refreshing lunch by Chef Anthony, managed my own “off the beaten path” tour of the park and visited the Lunch Box Museum at Etta’s Cafe on Route 56.The Inn is beloved to me for a few reasons & it is the first place I ever went in HH. I talked with Anthony at length before sitting down for an amazing roast beef/watercress/red-pepper mayonnaise sandwich and it was so good I ate it all before remembering to take a photograph. I did however, remember to memorialize the *very* good and still-warm-from-the-oven peanut butter chocolate chip cookies!And that porch swing, I sat there to journal and think a while before embarking on a little walk around the Inn property. I highly recommend that porch swing on a warm, sunny afternoon.Etta’s…a place that can hardly be described and really just *needs* to be experienced. There were honeymooners enjoying lunch while I was there. It was so cute!
A camera full of images accomplished & a day of fun memories earned – I decided on the long way home that avoided all highways as the last rays of sun sent long shadows over the rolling land. I drove down winding dirt roads, by beautiful but abandoned old farmhouses and past antique stores that I longed to pay a visit to. But I had to leave something for next time; because I’ll be back Hocking Hills. You haven’t seen the last of me!