A couple of days ago I took the plunge to schedule a trip on my own back down to Guatemala to scout out a new sketch trip option, the lovely town of Antigua. I will meet up with friends there next March who know the area and will be there already on a service trip. And I will explore the town as a tourist and as an artist and as a teacher. It’s exciting to think about offering a second sketch-travel option to the wheel of my working year and I will certainly keep you posted as this new workshop develops. Of course, my Taos based class offered at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House will continue to grow and change on its own as well from year to year, and hopefully for years to come.
All of this booking and planning, along with our recent and up and coming travel has me thinking a lot about the notion of tourism. My practice of keeping a travel journal, even for the mundane day to day, developed out of a desire to be more mindful and grateful for what is right here in front of me. It has worked, and continues to work for me, whether I’m doing any actual sketching or not. I’ve learned to open my eyes to things through this practice. It’s a true gift.
And so yesterday, with artful eyes wide open, my Hub and I took a day to drive to out to Clifton Gorge, near the town of Yellow Springs, Ohio for a hike, and to be tourists for the day in our own neck of the woods. Something I’ll admit I forget to do at times being so busy running off to other seemingly more exciting places.
The gorge is a natural thing, having been created amidst the havoc of the glacial era of our state’s history. It is deep and mysterious and we could hear the roar of its river as soon as we began our hike through the woods.
Often times here in our region, nature has been altered in some way, such as a river dammed up to create the lakes we sometimes kayak, so it’s really nice to visit something that feels so wildly unstructured. And yet, there were nice touches of the man-made along the path, created in the days of the CCC, which reminded us that we weren’t so far from civilization.
We hiked for a good while on the path, photographing and taking note of things along the way. It felt good to just move so I didn’t do much sketching until later in the day. Sometimes knowing when to sketch and when not to worry about it all is part of the fun.
All of the water that rushes through the gorge prompted early settlers to build mills to harness the power of the water. After our hike we visited the old Clifton Mill, still in operation as a mill and restaurant.
Eventually, we were a bit thirsty, so we stopped for a beer at the local brewery.
This place not only has delicious beer but also has a ‘no television’ policy in place which thrilled me. One of my deepest annoyances with the modern world is this idea that there must be a television going at all times in all places. One can hardly escape it these days so it was really a treat to enter a place where people were conversing and enjoying each other’s company. While dogs are not permitted inside the brewery itself, they do have a lovely back porch area where dogs are welcome. So, now comfortably seated by the bike path, we did pull out the sketchbooks. I doodled the dogs.
All in all, it was a beautifully spent, perfect October day. We could have stayed home and done chores, sure. But instead we opted to be tourists in this beautiful place we call home. Ohio.
It’s true that I often think of living elsewhere once again, perhaps a place near a pebbly sea-shoreline I could walk each day. These wishes persist.
But for now, we are here in Southwestern Ohio. And, to be quite honest, not entirely unhappy with it. Being a tourist for the day right here at home was a nice reminder of contentment.