TGIF! The kids and I are off to enjoy some last minute fun before school starts AND celebrate a 12th birthday. But I would be remiss if I didn’t share what I did last weekend…which was one of those rare kid-free weekends.
Hubby and I went to ZipZone Tours a new place for columbus zip lining. I had no idea that we could even go zip lining in the heart of the city. Not that it would have mattered though. If you asked me two weeks ago if I would ever consider zip lining a fun weekend activity I would have laughed…and then changed the subject. I am afraid of heights and things that go fast. Roller coasters and I do not mix. I absolutely hate that butterfly, stomach dropping to your toes feeling. HATE it.
So how did I end up zipping through the tree tops on a steel cable? Well, another local blogger was kind enough to ask if I wanted to participate in a free tour for digital influencers. I quickly decided that if someone was going to hand the opportunity to me on a sliver platter I should at least try it. My husband was also excited to give it a whirl. Okay…GULP.
The day of the tour we arrived a bit early to sign a long waiver (gulp again) and along with four others in our tour group we got all our gear on. It was a lengthy process to put all that gear on and get if fitted just right. After we were geared up and ready to go we took a short hike into the woods and then climbed some stairs and sky canopies to get to the first zipping platform. On the way we learned about the history of the company, the owners, and the land hosting the zip lines. It was also interesting to hear about how green something like this is. You are well above the forest so you are not disturbing the land during your travels and only two trees had to be cut down to make room for the lines. This was all carefully planned and designed to have minimal impact on the environment. Zip liners want a beautiful place to zip right? It only makes sense that they want the area around the lines to stay pristine and beautiful. Once you get over the initial terror you DO want to look at the views. Trees, waterfalls, creeks…love.
Before my first zip I was shaking quite badly. I wanted to turn around and go right back down actually but I made myself give it a try and was pleasantly surprised. You don’t feel as though you are in a free fall or something. It feels more like you are on a fast ski lift. The views were also gorgeous. I wish I could say that I was a cool cucumber by the 5th zip but that is just not me. I cannot go backwards down the line, hang off the edge of the platform, or let go of the handlebars (like my husband) and feel safe but I did enjoy the experience quite a bit. I really want to go again and take my 12 year old. I know he would love it.
Many thanks to ZipZone tours for hosting us for the afternoon and to Alaina for the invite. It was a blast and I will remember it always. I would say I checked this off my bucket list but zip lining never made it to the list. What a nice surprise!
This lovely lady to the right is my 8 year old daughter. I have two boys and yet she is the one who would gladly spend every available moment outside playing with friends and getting dirty. She is such an outdoor girl and she needs boots that will not only keep her feet warm during our cold Ohio winters, she also wants some that are fashionable. Whether you are splashing in puddles or building a fort you need to look good right? Well, I hear that you do anyway.
The good folks at Bogs offered to send me some boots from their collection a few weeks back and I knew immediately that I would pick some for her. For whatever reason we were lax this year in picking out some new boots for her growing feet and these looked perfect. We chose the vegan Classic High Tuscany. We love the bright colors and fit of course but I am most impressed with how warm they keep her feet. When you have to send your kids outside to wait for the bus in 10 degree weather, that is so very important. These boots are tested to -30!
I deliberately got them about two sizes too big so that she can wear them for at least another winter or two. Even so they fit comfortably and she often prefers to wear them instead of her sneakers on warmer days. I think she will also be wearing them on rainy spring, summer, and fall days as well! In the winter they are perfect for snow play and casual wear. This photo was taken today in our backyard where she was happily filling pots and toiler paper rolls with soil from our garden beds and then planting starter seeds for indoors. No matter how dirty they get, they seem to wipe clean and look good as new. At $68 they priced just right, especially for something that doesn’t look like crap after only 2 weeks. I did choose the black quite deliberately though, just in case…
Bogs boots get an A+ here!
When I attended the Auto Show in Detroit last week I met lots of interesting business people and bloggers that is a large part of why it was so much fun. As I was standing in line to get into the Ford press conference I met Jonathan Marshall of Parks By Nature and we chatted for quite awhile about the company and their mobile apps. I just got a smart phone a couple months ago and my main reason for upgrading was to have access to apps that would make it easier to geocache and explore our city and state parks. Parks By Nature offers an app close to my heart, though sadly they do not have one for my state just yet. Even so, I wanted to recommend it for anyone who lives in a state where they have an app and also so you can keep an eye out for your state to become available, if they don’t have it yet.
Basically, it is a mobile tour guide of your state parks. It has maps of the trails and campgrounds, weather info, event info, and lots more. You can make reservations and plan your visit using the app as well as use it to navigate if you get a little lost. From what I can tell it is very well done (ie user friendly) and very attractive to the eye as well. The rep that I met was also very excited and passionate about what they do and how it can benefit families.
If it is one of your New Year’s goals to get out and do some local exploring or take a Staycation in your own state check out Parks By Nature and @PocketRanger on Twitter. Enjoy!
Yesterday kicked off the winter hiking series at our local Columbus Metro Parks. I have said it before but it is always worth repeating… the Columbus Metro Parks are pure awesomeness. All year long they arrange fun stuff for families and it is usually free.
Where I was raised a patch of green grass with a baseball diamond and a swing set was called a park. Here the parks are full of wild, forested land and swamps, ponds, or rivers with trails winding through. Each park is diverse and unique and it is so fun to explore them all. Our very first hiking experience in Ohio was organized via the park system and the winter hiking series. We have been hooked ever since. Our house is sandwiched between the larger Blacklick Woods (where we went yesterday) and a quarry park. This was not accidental.
Yesterday we set out and let my youngest choose what trail to follow… red or blue. He chose blue, the 4 mile trail versus the 2 mile.
It was in the 40s so not too cold, although too cold for what my husband dressed in… shorts and t-shirt. The trails were also super muddy because the snow that covered the ground all week finally melted. We were all pretty dirty by the time the hike was done.
Afterwards there was free hot cocoa and Snowville Creamery Chocolate Milk (a local dairy). There was also a fire and marshmallows. Had to pull up a hay bale and enjoy that too.
There was a more substantial vegetarian minestrone soup but we passed on that. In previous years it was so hot the kids couldn’t eat for about 20 minutes and this little pit stop wasn’t the end of the hike… still more to go. Mom and dad didn’t eat any because it had pasta/wheat in it. I did have a toasted marshmallow though and I snuck some sips of hot cocoa. Those kind of foods have gone extinct in our house but what can do when you happen across them in the wild?
Good exercise, good fun, and my fave people on the planet. Can’t wait for hike #2 at Sharon Woods!
I don’t usually post about all the various pitches and requests I get (via this blog) that are seeking donations to further a cause or a charity. If the cause sounds good I might tweet about it or post on Facebook but I get so many of these requests and I don’t want to inundate everyone with them. But this week one caught and held my attention. It wasn’t about clean water for third world children or feeding the homeless but it is still something that pulled on my heartstrings and made me open my own wallet. I guess maybe that is because the email sent to me had the secret words in it… Appalachian Trail.
I am thinking that perhaps the email was sent to me specifically because I am an Ohio blogger and Emma Gatewood was from Ohio. I don’t know if the sender had any insight into my love affair with the Appalachian Trail or not, either way they had me hook, line, and sinker with any mention of the AT. It has been my dream since my late twenties to thru hike the AT, which is a 2,181 mile long trail that extends from Georgia to Maine. It takes about 6+ months to hike it start to finish and I want to do it so very badly. Every year I dream of the day when my family and I can pack up and hit the mountains together for that once in a lifetime experience. And sometimes I acknowledge that it may have to wait until my kids are grown but either way I don’t think I will ever consider my life complete until I have done it. It’s at the top of my bucket list.
Anyway, Emma Gatewood was the first woman to ever thru hike the trail solo. That is an amazing and courageous accomplishment. I would never consider hiking it alone (to chicken) and I admire any lady that has the stones to do that. BUT there are several other wow factors to share as well. She made this hike in 1955 at the age of 67 and after raising 11 children!! She also ended up becoming a pioneer for ultralight backpacking because she made this trek with only a pair of Keds sneakers, an army blanket, a raincoat, and a plastic shower curtain which she carried in a homemade bag slung over one shoulder. If you are familiar with what long distance hikers are toting around nowadays you will understand how amazing this woman was. But that is not all. She ended up hiking the AT two more times after that initial foray, she hiked The Oregon Trail (2000 miles), and she helped start The Buckeye Trail (1,444 miles) in Ohio.
Eden Valley Enterprises is a not-for-profit corporation that specializes in living history programs and storytelling through theater, usually about historical figures that accomplished amazing things. They recently premiered a storytelling program about Emma to a sold-out house at a community center in Ohio and that spurred them to try and bring Emma’s story to life as a film documentary. It will be produced by Peter Huston of FilmAffects and WGTE (PBS Toledo) has agreed to be a broadcast sponsor and production partner for it.
If this sounds like a worthwhile cause to you, donate via Kickstarter or directly via PayPal or check to Eden Valley.
Never heard of the Appalachian Trail? Let me suggest some of my fave books!
A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail
Becoming Odyssa: Adventures on the Appalachian Trail
Walking Home: A Woman’s Pilgrimage on the Appalachian Trail
Hiking Through: Finding Peace and Freedom on the Appalachian Trail
Photo Credit: The Appalachian Trail Conservancy