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Al and I are thrilled that you have found your way to our blog. We hope you enjoy reading our journal and viewing our photographs of the natural wonder of our United States of America. Let's hit the road together!
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Friday, April 29, 2011

We're Back On-Line!

Warning: Long post ahead :-)!
Sunday April 26
This is our third day here in Hocking Hills S.P. in Ohio, and as seems to be the norm, we awoke to the steady drumming of rain on the roof. From what we can see on the radar, there's a front stalled across the area and the rain and storms are just hanging right through here. It hasn't been nearly as bad as further south, where the storms have been quite severe along with tornados, but it still isn't making for a pleasant experience.
I know...my home has wheels on it, why don't I move? Well, we are reporting to our workamping job on Thursday, and in looking at the forecast the weather isn't any better anywhere between here and there. By Thursday when we're scheduled to move to Waldenwoods, the rain forecast is only 30%, so we stand a chance of at least packing up and driving without getting too wet. The weather radio keeps going off, but it's for flooding, and we're quite high enough that we don't have to worry about that.

Our campsite at Hocking Hills S.P.

Rose Lake, a short hike behind the campground.
The Hocking Hills region of Ohio is very interesting. I never expected to see anything like it here. I always pictured Ohio as pretty flat and farm-like. There are many farms here, but it is on rolling hillsides. There are massive sandstone outcroppings, deep cool gorges, towering hemlocks and dozens of waterfalls....and yes, all the rain is making for beautiful waterfalls! All of the features of the park have been carved into the Blackhand sandstone by natural erosion and weathering. This Blackhand sandstone is more than 150 feet thick in the park area, and is divided into three layers. The upper and lower layers are firmly cemented and very resistant to weathering, where the middle layer, where you find the rock shelters, caves and recesses, are loosely cemented and easily weathered. Water is the primary erosion agent between freezing and thawing, and the wind also plays a factor.

There are six separate areas to this 2,000 acre park: Old Man's Cave, Cedar Falls, Ash Cave, Conkles Hollow, Rock House, and Cantwell Cliffs. The campground is in the Old Man's Cave area, and was quite the climb up! The park is then surrounded by another 9.238 acres of land comprising the Hocking State Forest. So we really are out in the middle of nowhere :-). The drives along the various roadways are beautiful, and many are part of the Ohio Scenic Byways system of roads.

Saturday we did catch a break in the weather; the skies cleared, and we bolted out to see some of the sights. We had about a three hour window before the rains were due to come back to the area. We decided to go to Ash Cave first. It's about 4 miles or so from the campground to the southeast. Ash Cave is the largest, most impressive recess cave in Ohio.

Neat little cave system enroute to Ash cave...looks like a face to me!

We took the middle approach to the cave, which goes through a narrow gorge lined by hemlocks massive beech trees, and other hardwood trees. It's about a quarter-mile walk through the gorge when it suddenly opens into the massive recess known as Ash cave. It measures 700 feet from end to end, 100 feet deep from the rear cave wall to the front edge and the rime rises 90 feet high. There's an awesome waterfall coming off this rim, with 3 distinct falls of water today. Ash Cave was named for the huge piles of ashes found under the shelter by early settlers. The largest pile was recorded as 100 feet wide by 30 feet wide and 3 feet deep. The source of ashes is unknown, but believed to be from Indian campfires built over hundreds of years.
Recent uses of the caves, besides tourism, consisted of being used for camp and township meetings, Sunday worship services, weddings, and many large group gatherings.

Ash Cave

Waterfalls at Ash Cave

Looking at Ash Cave from behind the waterfalls

We still had plenty of time, so we headed for Cantwell Cliffs, in the northeast section of the park. The erosion caused by Buck Run accounts for the deep valley, steep cliffs and rock shelters under the cliffs. It was really a most interesting hike, with a lot of up and down. Once again, I will say our hills are nowhere near the hills out here! We started out on the red trail, which follows the rim of the gorge , and after descending down into the valley to catch the waterfalls at the bottom, we continued to follow the yellow trail back to the parking lot. There were many steps up and down, a few really narrow spaces, and a couple of stream crossing where we had to hop across rocks to cross. Due to the recent rainfall, the waterfalls here were also very full, and the trails were quite messy as well. The pups had no issues however, although Chelsea wasn't too thrilled with a couple of the tighter squeezes. They are, however, becoming very fond of the pools at the bottom of the waterfalls, where they can grab a drink of fresh water and plunge in for a quick cool off :-).

Headed down to the Rim Trail at Cantwell Cliffs

Part of trail known as "Fat Woman's Squeeze". I really liked the colors when the sun hit this.

They couldn't wait to get to the pool!

Sunday we did get a short break in the middle of the day. The sun never came out, but it stopped raining long enough for us to grab the leashes and go to the 2 closest areas. Cedar Falls is about 2 miles from the campground, and we went there first. It's a 1/2 mile walk to the base of the falls from the parking area, then loops around and comes back up the gorge at the other end of the parking lot. Even with hiking boots, though, the trail after the falls was so mucky, we just didn't want to attempt it, knowing the frightfully muddy mess that the dogs would be. But Cedar Falls itself was awesome, its the greatest waterfall in terms of volume in the Hocking Hills region. In the mid 1800s, a gristmill was built above the falls to utilize the water power for grinding grain, but nothing now remains of it. It did not disappoint us, either! We have decided to make the best of this lousy weather, after all, we can't change it, so we look at it this way: the enormous amounts of rainfall are creating some spectacular scenery for us to look at! :-)

Cedar Falls

The water was swirling really fast around this rock; you can see how the rocks erode from the motion.

Casey earning his mountain goat nickname

If anyone notices in the pictures, which I didn't until I read it, Cedar Falls was actually named as a mistake; people mistook the stately hemlocks for cedar trees. I never knew hemlocks looked that close to cedars; as Al said, guess we have to get a plant/tree identifier book to go with the bird book :-).

We then went to Old Man's Cave area, which is at the base of the campground. This is by far the most popular area in the park, and we could see that from the huge parking lots and the number of cars there! The Grandma Gatewood Trail begins here, a six-mile hike connecting three of the park's most popular areas, Old man's Cave to Cedar Falls to Ash Cave.. This trail has been designated as part of Ohio's Buckeye Trail as well as part od two national systems- the North Country Scenic Trail and America's Discovery Trail.
Our agenda here was to start at the Upper falls area, and make our way along the gorge as far as we could until the rain started. We didn't get very far! About 15 minutes after we arrived, the raindrops started, so we just got a few pictures of the Upper Falls and pool. So we headed back to the trailer, and watched "Lord of the Rings" as our Easter day movie. Luckily the rain didn't affect the satellite dish to badly, and we were able to watch the Amazing Race.

Upper Falls at Old Man's Cave

Monday was halfway clear by midmorning, and we returned to Old Man's Cave to do the entire trail. Old Man's Cave derives its name from the hermit Richard Rowe who lived in the large recess cave of the gorge. He and his two dogs traveled through Ohio along the Scioto River in search of game. On a side trip up Salt Creek, he found the Hocking region, and this cave. He lived the rest of his life in this area and is believed to be buried beneath the ledge of the main recess cave.

The Old Man's Cave area is divided into five sections: Upper Falls, Upper Gorge, Middle Falls, Lower Falls and Lower Gorge. Along the length of the trail the magnificent gorge cuts through the entire 150-foot thickness of the Blackhand sandstone. Halfway through the gorge a series of rapids and small waterfalls occur known as Middle falls. At the base of Middle falls is the main recess known as Old Man's Cave: located on a vertical cliff 75 feet above the stream, and measures 200 feet long, 50 feet high and 75 feet deep.

This is known as the Devil's bathtub area

Bridges crossed the stream at several points along the trail. This one was really neat looking.

After reaching Lower Falls, you may either continue onto Cedar Falls along the Grandma Gatewood Trail, or circle around and after a series of steep steps, and a steep tunnel on the north side of the river, you can return to the Visitor's Center, which is what we did. We had some phone calls to make, and so a trip to the town of Logan was in order. After the phone calls, we picked up a pizza at Little Caesar's ( $9.86 for a pizza with 3 toppings and a drink, can you believe it!!) and went to the picnic area of Lake Logan to enjoy the view. We saw some beautiful Mute Swans here, who were fairly content to be near us so long as the dogs were quiet :-). It was late afternoon by now, and starting to rain again, so that was it for the day.

Top of the lower falls

The lower falls

What goes down.....must go back up!

Tuesday actually had some sunshine peaking through at us...it was the day to do the last two sections of the park! We packed a lunch and headed first to Conkle's Hollow, which is a rugged, rocky gorge, one of the deepest in Ohio. Vertical Cliffs rise over 200 feet above the mouth of the gorge surrounding a trail leading up the narrow ravine, to only a distance of 300 feet from cliff to cliff at the end of the trail. Unfortunately, you'll have to live with only hearing this description and no pictures, as when we arrived, there was this nasty "no dogs" sign at the trail head. Conkle's Hollow is actually a state nature preserve, not part of Hocking Hills State Park, hence the difference. Disappointing, but we jumped back in the truck and headed to our second destination, The Rock House, about 3 miles away.

Rock House is unique in the Hocking Hills' region, as it is the only true cave in the park. It is a tunnel-like corridor situated midway up a 150-foot cliff of Blackhand sandstone. It has a ceiling 25 feet high while the main corridor is 200 feet long and 20 to 30 feet wide. You have to be very careful while walking around in here as its slippery and dark! Its really neat inside, and a a series of enlarged joints form Gothic looking window-like openings. Deep shading of brown, red and orange in and around the cave are caused by staining by iron compounds.

Entrance to Rock House

Inside Rock House, looking out the end at the cliff

One of the "windows"

Headed down, then back up...again! Watch your step, it's a long drop off the side :-)

After our lunch, we stopped at a small general store near the campground for some ice cream and butter (which I had forgotten to get while in town, but even here it was STILL cheaper than at King Kullen!) and headed back to the trailer. The flowering trees are starting to come out in full force, and allergies are really bothering Al right now, although I think he may have somewhat of a cold as well. And, no surprise, it was starting to rain again! Tonight into tomorrow is not suppose to be nice at all, so we are hunkering down.
Wednesday was truck cleaning day, as it was quite dirty from these last few days of rain and mud. I also vacuumed out the trailer as long as I had the vacuum out, and Chelsea was outside :-), and dusted everything off. It gets dusty very quickly in here. I've also been re-arranging cabinets, and getting ideas on how to better contain things. I've also decided that I needed to pay attention to what Linda said in her seminar, that things may need to go places where you don't think they should. I need to get the everyday stuff at hand easily, and the other stuff put away. Also, once the business has closed, and that paperwork settled, I can pack all that stuff away into the farthest recesses until we return to Long Island and I can put it in storage!

More phone calls in the afternoon, filled up with diesel, replaced a blinker light, and washed the outside of the truck at the self-service car wash in town finished the day out, and we're ready to go in the morning!
Thursday was moving day, up to our final destination for the summer, Hartland MI and Waldenwoods. It was an easy drive, and finally a dry clear day. We headed out of the campground around 11am. I did not enjoy the hilly twisty drive with the trailer any better the second time, but in short order we were back on the highway and headed north. We arrived here at 5pm, and checked in with the office to find out where to go. Our manager David is just as pleasant in person as he was on the phone, and got us settled into our site for the summer; our address is 15 Dogwood Lane :-). The ground is really soft from all the rain, and it took us awhile to get level, but we're set now. We can move in a couple weeks to a 50 amp site is we want, but we'll see. If this is good, we'll probably stay here. The site is next to a walkway, but it's on the back side of the trailer, and our front yard is really quite large and has a nice little pine tree for some shade. The campground looks very nice from a quick walk around, and we'll explore further tomorrow. Cell service is good, and internet is strong as well, and the TV satellite is locked on...life is good :-). Today we'll do some errands and chores,( I need some clean jeans!), and then check in with David to discuss our specific duties and schedules. We'll keep you posted, and hopefully will have much more regular postings now. Have a great day!


  1. Thanks for sharing. Love all the beautiful pictures. We are going to add it to our Must-See List

    Travel Safe
    Dawn and Denise

  2. I felt like I was there in some of your pictures :) Glad you made it there safe and sound. Hope the job is exactly what you wanted it to be.

  3. Beautiful pics. A very different view of Ohio!
    Hope you enjoy your summer job.

  4. Glad you made it ok to your summer job. Enjoy it and keep up posted on how it is going. I am particularly interested on how the workcamping goes with the dogs. We are talking workcamping too but not sure how it would work out with the two goldens.

    I enjoyed your post and the pictures. Can't wait to take my own.

  5. Hi Guys.....
    So happy to hear all is well and you arrived safe and sound. Really glad you have service back!!! Alot easier than going to Walmart to make calls, etc!!! LOL..
    As usual, the picture's are awesome! Someone said above..it does almost feel like we're there with you. So glad you love to take pic's and "story tell". As I said before..you're a born story teller!!..HHMM a travel/adventure book in your future perhaps?? ;)
    Love to you both...will talk soon!

    Beth & Bill

    P.S. Great news about the boat being put at "A" dock here in "the Harbor"!!! Your brother is pretty happy..but can't wait until October when "Capt. Al" makes his return!!

  6. Terrific pictures..Sometimes you forget just how beautiful places are! Good luck with the workamping...anxious to hear about it.

  7. I grew up in Ohio and have not been to Hocking Hills SP. I think the rain made it a great time to be there. Thanks for the pictures.

  8. Gorgeous photos!! Really enjoyed the tour and have put this State Park on our TODOS list!!

    Glad you arrived safe and sound. Hope all goes well this summer and we will be following your work-camping experience. Also hope you get time to do some Michigan exploring and reporting ;o)


  9. What a great post and pictures. I grew up in Ohio by my folks never took me to this gorgeous place. Makes me think about including Ohio in my travels. Thanks.

    Good luck at your summer post. Anxious to hear all about it.