Family Vacation 2019

If you were wondering where I was for the last 10 days or so, or maybe just why there were no posts for the last little bit, I’m going to address that in the next couple posts. If you really need to know and don’t want to wait, here’s the condensed version. I took some PTO to indulge in a birthday, anniversary, vacation, and being sick. If you want or need more, keep reading.

I took a stretch of PTO to encompass my birthday and wedding anniversary (not the same day) and extended to a weekend trip with the family to Hocking Hills, Ohio. Last year my mom set up a trip to Mackinac Island here in Michigan and my brother hooked us up with a nice condo on the island. This year my mom found us a cabin at Trickle Creek, so I loaded up the arohen family and set off to meet up with the same crew that was with us last year.

Three of us packed up and hopped in the car to pick up our fourth on the other side of the state. We were on the road before nine and had the whole crew together and on our way toward Ohio by eleven. The youngest of our brood was feeling a bit under-the-weather, but he persevered for the sake of a free vacation.

The trip there was mostly uneventful. We missed one turn on the GPS and it recalculated our route before we realized we’d missed it, which led to a long trip across Ohio through farm country, nearly running out of gas, and then stopping for gas at what was probably the only gas station in 10-miles or better. Seriously, they were 3-deep waiting for gas on a Friday afternoon. It was kinda crazy. We had one stop for lunch at what I thought was an unknown BBQ joint. Turns out it’s a chain and I’ve eaten at the one in Jenison, Dickey’s. Not bad. Not great. We finally arrived at the cabin and into the arms of our waiting family just about 5:30 PM. We watched a couple of my mom’s vacation videos, had a chicken dinner, played some apples to apples, and just caught up with everyone’s lives to finish out day one of the trip.

There were eight of us in total and the cabin was plenty roomy for us all. Two decks, a fire pit, hot tub, and even a tabletop shuffleboard and bumper pool tables. There was a decent sized kitchen, a grill on the deck, and a big farm-style dining table that fit everyone. It was very nice. A good choice on my mom’s part.

Saturday morning I made coffee and started breakfast with a little help from the middle-child and everyone else; eggs, meats, potatoes, and breads. Then we split-up into two cars, hit the Hocking Hills visitor center for some touristy information, and then made for Ash Cave. We went for a short hike, saw some amazing rock cliffs, and what passes for a cave in Hocking Hills. Really, more of a rock overhang. I’ve been to caves. This, a cave, it is not. But still very cool and very inspiring for wilderness adventures.

Our next stop was a bit more elaborate welcome center and another hike, this time to Old Man’s Cave. Just as we headed out towards the cave the park rangers raced past us and we heard enough to know someone had fallen. Turns out it was a 22-year-old man who fell 75-feet somewhere by the upper falls. We didn’t hear the details until later, but we saw him brought past on a stretcher and heard the helicopter come in. Sad to hear that he died the following wednesday. Honestly, I’m surprised he didn’t die on impact. Everywhere we walked was rock and falling 75-feet onto limestone is no laughing matter. The trails here were a bit rougher than expected and my folks were convinced to turn back, though they did venture down and then back up a very dark carved staircase. I don’t fault them in the least, it was something of a struggle to convince my lovely wife to take a few of those trails and she’s got 20 years on them both. We backtracked and walked some of the smoother trails, saw more amazing rock faces, and wished there was more water rushing over the falls. Probably the early spring, during the snow melt, is the best time for that vista. It made for a nice day.

Afterward, we went back to the cabin for a afternoon cocktail and then split into smaller groups. One group went to a moonshine distillery tour, split again, and one group went fishing and the other went grocery shopping. I stayed at the cabin with the folks and visited, moonshine and gout don’t really get along well together. Once we all reconvened, our aspiring chef prepared hamburgers for dinner. A bit later we did s’mores around the firepit and even later still, after I was asleep, there was some drinking and hot tubbing to finish out day number two of the family vacation.

Sunday morning I made pancakes, blueberry and pineapple upside down, along with some help making the rest of the feast. Afterward, mom passed out a couple Christmas gifts that she found in her garage for Lady Ronn and myself. Which was unexpected to say the least. Then we loaded into the cars and headed to Rock House. Which is a real cave and not much of a house, though it’s not a terribly big cave. I’d say it’s bigger than a house, but with far less level floors. Again the path got rough and we split. I took the boys and went up to the Rock House and over the ridge trail. The rest of the crew turned back, which after forging the trail I think was for the best. There were some serious steps going up to the top of the ridge. Once we were done at the park we went to see a glass blowing show, but they weren’t blowing on Sunday. Which kinda blew. And then we stopped at a big flea market for browsing and lunch before heading back to the cabin. We finished the last of the cocktail, had an afternoon snack, and listened to a lively debate between two individuals 60-years apart in age. The day ended with us leaving, but it was great to spend time with the family and we had a great time. I only wish we could do this sort of thing more often.

We had the cabin until Monday morning, but the arohen family had to leave Sunday evening so that one of the boys could get to work and Lady Ronn could start the Fall semester at GRCC the next morning. We left closer to 7 than 6 PM on Sunday, stopped once for gas and food, and made it home at 4 AM. School was at 9 AM, work at 11 AM, and I slept in until noon. Ain’t vacation nice. But then, by Wednesday evening I knew I had contracted whatever plague the youngest boy had brought with him on the trip. I’ll write about that next. Later.