Tag Archives: hiking

A Galaxy Far, Far Away

(dangling from the shepherd’s hooks are little water wells which help keep hummingbird feeders from becoming overladen with bad bugs when the feeders are out.  but at this point who knows if bugs, or hummingbirds for that matter, are anywhere in the neighborhood at the moment.)

I am laid out flat and irritated with an unexpected spring cold, the likes of which I’ve not seen this year.  Cheekily I thought I was in the clear of winter’s ailments when the blossoms began arriving and we found ourselves sketching in the cool, but sunny breezes.

We managed some hiking with the dogs, were taking note of things beginning to grow and bloom and even my spring allergies had taken root.

We were celebrating.

It was not to last.

“Spring” has other ideas.

With spring allergies comes a lowered immunity, which is part of being human I suppose.  And so, here I am with a roaring head cold.  (and a cough to wake the dead, some sunken eyes and seriously productive sinuses.)  Meh.  Insert healthy dose of self-pity.

My mom always says, ‘this too shall pass.’  And she is, as moms are, absolutely correct.  To pass the time, I have clung to escapism in the form of Netflix shows, a bit of whisky to clear the head (I’m not a huge fan of the regular medicines) and some time, when I feel up to it, to finish a couple of little paintings.  I am grateful for this spaciousness.

There is no escape quite like the escape to other worlds entirely.  I’m pleased to say that I have managed to finish a small series of eight tiny paintings which will go on sale at the local incarnation of May the Fourth, a day which celebrates all things Star Wars around the world.

I join a number of other local artists at Brew House, May 4th for the opening of this eclectic show.

Endor
Naboo
Fourth moon of Yavin (filming location at Tikal in Guatemala where we visited a while back!)
Degobah
Crait
Kashyyyk (Chewbacca’s lush homeland)
Hoth
Tatooine

These are all tiny landscapes of worlds you might escape to yourself, should you like, (penny for scale).  As for me, once recovered I will be escaping next week to the wilds of California for a weekend of travel journaling workshops in the San Jose area and surrounds.  But for now, it’s back to the Netflix.

 

Homestate Tourism

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Eventually, we were a bit thirsty, so we stopped for a beer at the local brewery.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Settling in…

IMG_0092After a long day of travel, peppered with delays, cancelations and many, many hours of knitting, snoozing and sketching, I found myself at long last, arrived in theLand of Enchantment.  Ginger Small was as annoyed with the delay as I was at the way our day of travel had gone…

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…and for the second leg of the journey, opted rather for a hot air balloon ride.

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Last I heard, she may have tracked down her cliff dwelling friends further down the mountain, but that is a tale for another post.

Meanwhile, I arrived, very much alone.  I was greeted by moody skies, a darkening landscape and storms.

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It was all quite lovely really and I just got into my little car and drove, intent to make the most of the last of daylight, intent to eventually arrive in Taos.

Thunderbirds guided me up the mountain.

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After a day off to soak at the hot spring and nap and visit, yesterday finally found me truly landed and ready to get to work.  There are many supply gathering sort of errands to be handled, and meetings with the team of folks here in town and at Mabel’s who make this workshop possible.  But I did take a couple of hours yesterday to hike a well loved desert path.

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I met many new friends, who were in full plummage due to recent rains.

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IMG_5028I was able to sit for a few minutes with my sketchbook and do a quick rendering of a bit of the Rio Grande Gorge before I had to head back up the path to get back to town.  It was wonderful to sit in the quiet and witness Raven riding the thermals, and to feel the sun on my shoulders, and the breeze on my cheek.  The noise of town and traffic well behind me.   I need more open space in this life.

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It feels so precious to be back in this strange land, so very different than my own homeland.  By experiencing, exploring and cataloging new landscapes, we are surely discovering and perhaps even altering our own inner landscapes.  Every visit here reminds me I have much to glean here.  From myself, and from the land.IMG_5025

 

The trip has only just begun, and there are already so many tales to tell and drawings to be made.  I am grateful for this quirky place and it’s rugged landscape and beautiful people who are fortunate enough to live here full time.

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Watery and Windswept – some days on an island in an inland sea

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I have written before of our past journeys to a magical little spot of land in the middle of a not-too-very-far-away inland sea…. Kelley’s Island is a few hours’ drive and a brief ferry trek across the waves and we enjoy a different side of it every time we visit.  (For past inland island tales, click here and here.)

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This year, due to a traffic back up on the highway on our way northward, we arrived rather late to set up camp.  It was windy and threatening predicted rainfall.  No pictures were taken, no sketches were made. Tents were pitched against the bluster and the decision was made to stay off the water until the following morning when the annual Kelley’s Island Poker Paddle was slated to begin as darkness was upon us….

We slept fitfully in our tents, which while protecting us from the elements, still allow in the roar of the waves and the voice of wind; and awoke to angry skies and rumors of badly-tempered waves.

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Alas we found that for this day at least, the poker paddle event was canceled.  So a few of us hopped into cars to drive the island roads and survey the moods of the waves battering the rest of the island.  Lake Erie is a shallow lake compared to its cousins and just an overnight’s wind can kick up some surf.

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Some spots seemed more dangerous than others.  And we contemplated this temperamental lake.

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I snapped pictures of not only the lake’s moodiness, but signs that autumn was already more into full gear just this far north of us.

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Eventually, there were signs that although a circumnavigation of the entire island might be in poor judgement, there might be enough sunshine out to warrant some play amongst the waves in the safety of the little harbor at our camping place…..  And some intrepid souls decided to head out to play.

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I debated.  On the one hand, I have this boat I like to spend time in.

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But I was a bit chilled, and was enjoying being beached.

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I had just brewed a pot of tea.

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But in the end, I opted for a little time in the rough water, more as practice time than anything else.

 

I was rewarded with a few seconds here and there of good surfing.  And while the wind was cold, the water was not, so we practiced getting in and out of the boats to stay up on emergency skills in case of a water-bourne mishap one day.  Hopefully we will not have to use these skills in real life, but it is good to keep up to date.  And to test my stomach.  I had been on the ginger for a number of days, and thankfully, had no sea sickness.

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I came into harbor sooner than most, but eventually we all caught up with each other to warm up and see what else the day had to bring us.

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While the more intrepid stayed out on the water for more surfing, I sat with my sketchbook and watercolors and watched the colors dance on the water and the sky.

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Eventually we decided an afternoon hike might be in order.

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Kelley’s has a rich history of industry and quarrying and so one is likely to wander across remnants of days gone by being recaptured by the forest.

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We continued on through the forest, following the voice of the lake….

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…aided by what felt at times like the spirit of the place. Most places have a spirit of sorts and the spirits of Kelley’s are alive and well and willing to show us the way.

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This island is not a really big place and soon, we had once again reached the water’s edge….

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Kelley’s is renowned for a number of special things such as glacial grooves.  On this hike we visited the Alvar region of the island….

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This side of the island does take a beating from the perpetuation of the waves.

 

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There are even fresh water ‘tide’ pools of sorts which shine like jewels.

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We walked along pebbly shores which were seemingly made up of all shades of beigey whiteness.

 

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Upon closer inspection, of course, we see that no two stones are alike.  Some speak of lives lived ages upon ages ago.

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While others remind us that to show our true colors in a sometimes seemingly-bland world may be the best gift we can give.

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I broadened my collection of heart-shaped stones, recognizing that to show the shape of a heart in a hardened world often means to have been a bit broken along the way.  And perhaps tossed about on the shoreline before being picked up and treasured.

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The light began to change and to call us back through the woods and back toward camp…

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We greeted the forested friends along the way.

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Finding our way back along the path toward a dinner of perch and a more restful night in the tent.

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Fortunately, the winds and waves of one day gave way to a calm and gentle beauty of the next.  We were greeted with a spectacular sunrise just outside our tent door, which I watched for awhile….

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…before finally deciding to step outside and brew some coffee.

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It was to be a perfect day of paddling, at least in my opinion.  Placid and calm.

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It was like four hours (11-ish miles) of a water-based moving meditation.  At the end I was deliriously high from it all.  I was thankful the Kelley’s Island Kayaking Club opted to wait a day for the official event and thankful that my more adventurous cohorts still got their play time on the waves the day prior.  We all got what we needed and wanted from the weekend. The rest of the pictures from our trip to Kelley’s are merely those in my mind’s eye. I didn’t have the camera out for the tail end of this tale which involved some sunshine, a few Lake Erie water snakes popping their heads out of the water to say hello (though I kept missing them by a hair’s breadth of a moment!), grilled snacks and a poker game and finally, some well deserved brews for our group at the end of it all.

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With a somber ferry’s ride back to the mainland and more cornfields than we cared to witness, we were eventually back home where we have traded in the sound of waves crashing for the far off hum of the nearby highway.  Seagull’s cries have been replaced by the sound of sirens and car-horns in the nearby city streets.  But if I listen more closely, I can hear the cluk-cluk-clucking of my chickens out back, and the sighful snores of my dogs. Down the hall, I hear my hub back at his work-a-day.  Life is good.  I am thankful for little island side trips as a gentle reminder of this.