Heralding Summer

Once upon a time, what seems like a whole lifetime ago, my husband was in the Navy and I was a Navy Wife. It was a difficult time full of long separations and compromises for both of us. It is not lost on me, especially on the more poignant military holidays, that it is only a stroke of luck and timing that we happened to spend our military service at a time of Peace. We were especially thankful this past weekend for the opportunity to be together for Memorial Day while so many military families are separated or perhaps grieving for fallen loved ones.

Over Memorial Day Weekend my family did what so many Americans do during the gift of a long weekend; we got out of town. We decided to do some backpacking down at the Red River Gorge in Kentucky, one of our favorite green places to go. The weather was stunningly perfect and basically, we had a blast. We had planned to go to a place called Dog Fork Creek but due to some apparent villainous sign turnage, we wound up in an unplanned spot that suited us just fine in the long run. We had the area to ourselves and were not even a mile away from the car, which works out well for kids with heavy packs and one aging dog. We took all three pups actually and miraculously, it was smooth sailing with them. Iris and River are new to camping and we weren’t sure how they would do. But after a day of romping in the woods they crashed in the tent with us and slept the night thru.

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Caskie was a real trooper and kept up with the kids and the puppies pretty well for the majority of the trip. But it is strange to see him beginning to show signs of age. He’s a little slow after a woodsy romp and tended to settle into leafy soft spots around the campsite.

We like to eat well on our backpacking trips and consider the limited kitchen items a Chef’s challenge when on the trail. We baked potatoes in the fire and had a basil parmesan pasta for dinner, which hit the spot after hiking and exploring all day. In my opinion the best meal was breakfast which was a curried tofu scramble. Yum! Even River wanted some!

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One of the best things about the gorge is all the hidden treasures you can find tucked away in the woods. Near our campsite was a recessed cave with a water fall. It was cool and mossy there and we all visited the spot a number of times during our stay.

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Below are some weird moss formations (at least I think it’s moss) that had formed in a puddle in the cave.

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Moss and mushrooms and ferns abound in the Red River Gorge. I sketched a little bit and took lots of photos that I hope to work off of this summer. I have always really admired the work of illustrator Jan Brett whose books such as “Town Mouse, Country Mouse” enchanted my children when they were little while captivating me with her lovely naturalistic yet magical drawings.

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No trip the gorge is complete without a stop at Miguel’s Pizza shop (bear with me on the link, Miguel’s doesn’t seem to have a website but this dude seems to know what he is talking about!). This place not only serves up my favorite pizza in the world but provides a camping spot and gathering place for rock climbers who come to the area for the world famous rock climbing the Red River Gorge is famous for.

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The very next day, although a little trail weary, I joined Maddie and some of her class mates for a field trip to the Cincinnati Zoo. As usual the zoo provided beautiful animals and plants to observe…

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while giving the kids a chance to spend some well deserved out of class time together.

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Today was the last day of school for both of my kids. On the one hand it seems rather early, but on the other, the timing is perfect. We all need a break from structure and routine and are ready to greet what magic Summer has to offer.

I went for a run around the neighborhood this morning. I found a robin’s egg shell and saw a group of squirrels having what seemed like a squirrel convention. I also ran by a fellow runner. She was a woman running along in her bright red, long, flowing, beautiful sari… and a NY Yankees ball cap.

Bring on that summer magic!

One thought on “Heralding Summer”

  1. Wow Ames, looks like great camping! Post some more of your kitchen project so we all can see the progress. If you can get a chance! xo, Lisa

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