Sunday, November 15, 2009

It started last year

It seems I now have a collection of Made in Japan cream pitchers (it says so right on the bottom). Anyone who was here last November knows that I found the first one on our annual couples weekend to the Hocking Hills. This year I found two of the little beauties!

Last year's find is in the middle.

And I added a couple more at other times during the year. Both found at Goodwill.

I like the blue tones in these and the more vibrant colors.

But the main reason for our weekend wasn't about buying antique cream pitchers. It was about relaxing, communing with nature and connecting with family and friends.

The other couple participating in our annual getaways is Mark (David's first cousin) and his wife, Cindy. Cindy is one of my dearest friends. She has been there for me in times of deep joy and immense sorrow...feeling my happiness and despair as if they were her own. And it hasn't been one-sided. I've run to her side when both her parents died suddenly and when she thought their soon-to-be-adopted daughter was going to be returned to the birth parents. We've sobbed in each other's arms and laughed hysterically over things that only the two of us think are funny. We have a silly name for my role in her children's lives...Cant Susan (part cousin, part aunt). I'm the fun "cant", but also the one to have serious talks with them.

This annual event is so important to us that we aren't willing to give it up, no matter what. This year Mark was let go from his job and that's a tough position to be in when you're 55. Cindy bakes for a local flower shop and she took on extra baking to help pay for their part of the cabin we rented. Mark worked this summer installing roofs and doing home repairs. He's very good at it, because he has built two of their homes, doing most of the work himself.

This year we had to rent a different cabin than last year. I waited a little too long, not knowing if we would be able to go or not, and the cabin we had last year was already booked. (The secluded ones go fast.) But I think we like this new one even better. No stairs to climb and the kitchen was larger. I was a little bummed that there was a gas-log fireplace instead of the wood-burning one, but it worked out fine. It was very realistic and oh-so convenient. Turn a switch and it's on. Turn the switch again and it's off! Magic! Of course, I still love the crackle and smell of the wood-burning fireplace in my home and would never change it, but this one served its purpose well.

One of the reasons we liked this cabin so well was it's location. Right around the curve about half a mile was this gorgeous hiking trail leading to a rockhouse. It is a fantastic outcropping of sandstone and granite and really huge. I'm sure Native Americans (Shawnee, most likely) used it for shelter.

So, how about a little tour.

Watch that first step, it's a doozy!

Cindy giving a little perspective.

Mark and David know how to do it, too.

Inside the rockhouse.

Looking back to the approaching trail. It was hard to see beneath all the fallen leaves.

What do you see?

I love the colors in the rocks. The red indicates a lot of iron and I'm told that the green is copper. There are thousands of name and initial carvings, some dating to the early 1800's.

Looking out the other end to the forward trail. It's a long way down!

Lots of pigeons roost inside on the ledges and crevices. As you can imagine, there are also a lot of bats.

Getting ready to descend the steps to the lower trail.

A beautiful rock bridge that has been covered by a wooden one to preserve it. These trails are heavily used and it was in danger of collapsing.

Looking straight up from the bottom of the ravine. I was really dizzy and had to sit down after this shot. Large cliffs and dizziness are not a good combination!

Taken from the bridge. See those teeny-tiny people up there about halfway? Those are really full-sized adults!

See the elderly couple at the bottom left of the picture? His name is Tom Hanks and her name is Dottie West, which he delighted in telling us! They needed a little help getting back up the trail out of the ravine. He was in his 80's and she looked to be in her late 70's and had just had knee replacement surgery a couple of months ago! How they ever got down there, I haven't a clue! David and Mark helped them climb out and find the right trail back to the parking lot. Tom was a real talker and was such a cutie-pie! He told us they are just "friends". Isn't that sweet?

It's always hard to leave on Sunday and return to family responsiblilities, but we know reality is waiting for us at the end of the road. And if it weren't for reality, this wouldn't be nearly as sweet. Until next year....

To find out more about this beautiful area of Ohio, please click here.


Oliag said...

I love this collection!...Not only the beautiful bright contrasting colors of them but the story behind how you acquired them...

How lucky you are to have such a good friend to share experiences with...doesn't it make those experiences even more memorable? I have to tell you though that your title of Cant would not work well the way we pronounce aunt here in New England:)

Loved this walk you have taken us on...Beautiful area! The caves are spectacular!

Ruth said...

Ha, laughing at Oliag.

I'm utterly amazed at the perspective, seeing the people in the photos. They're huge! Much larger than our Grand Ledge ledges, which look like these, but are maybe half the size or less.

Your post is gorgeous, and it does a person good to have a tradition with a dear friend. Those bonds make us better people, and stronger.

Ruth said...

I was so taken with the hills that I forgot to tell you how much I admire your Japanese collection. One is sweet, and a collection is even better.

CottageGirl said...

Your cream pitcher collection is charming, Cant Susan!
It's fun to go on a quest when antiquing ... Everybody gets into the act.

What a place for a get-away ... great house, wonderful friends AWESOME trails... away from all your cares and woes ... Bye-bye blackbird!!

I'm sure it is hard to leave. The pictures were terrific!

Thanks for giving me a little break from the mountains of things I'm doing today!

S. Etole said...

Beautiful photos ... all the way around.

VioletSky said...

I have to go lie down. Your photos are making me dizzy.
Maybe some tea.... shame I don't use cream or sugar, but I also collect creamers.

Sandy Nawrot said...

I always feel so...HAPPY when I read your posts of this nature. What a wonderful, magical, healing annual event. These are moments that you will cherish forever!

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

Wow, what a trip! Fantastic scenery.

ds said...

I second Sandy, while also laughing with oliag and ruth. That is a special way to celebrate a deep, cross-family bond (those are rare). Thanks so much for sharing it. Amazing cliffs!

Also love your 'sunny' new background--and the little pitchers are very cute.

dutchbaby said...

Those rock formations are awesome! Their red colors together with the green moss are perfect complements.

I'm glad you had a chance to relax for a great tradition.

Deborah said...

This sounds like a wonderful experience - no wonder you go back year after year. And an extraordinary setting as well - I enjoyed the photos.

Char said...

what a gorgeous place. the colors in those rocks are just beautiful. and the couple are so sweet - just friends. that made me chuckle.

The Bumbles said...

Thanks for the virtual walk-along. The colors in the rocks were beautiful. Your Tom Hanks sure is an inspiration isn't he? Our friend's grandmother who is in her 80's has a "friend" too that she enjoys spending time with out and about at her lake house. His name is Guy Savage - no one has the heart to tell her it sounds like she's dating a porn star ;0)

Susan said...

Oliag, I thought about the regional pronunciations of "aunt", believe it or not! It would still work, but would be a little embarassing! lol

I am very blessed with wonderful friends who have seen me through thick and thin throughout my life. And now I'm blessed with such lovely blog friends who make my days interesting and filled with new things to learn and beautiful photos to feast my eyes upon. And that includes all of you. Heartfelt thanks for being part of my life.

Susan said...

Ruthie, I'm glad you liked the pictures! This is just one small area in the larger area of the Hocking Hills region. There are so many beautiful and fascinating trails there. It really is uniquely Ohio. A lot of people think of our state as being flat and boring with lots of cornfields and soybeans and cows...and there are plenty of those, but Ohio is so much more than that. I hope someday you can visit so I can show you those hills and cliffs.

Isn't it funny how you buy one little object and before you know it, it has turned into a collection? I really like this one though.

Susan said...

Susan, thank you so much! I'm happy that you liked them!

Susan said...

Sanna, tell me about it! Boy, was I woozy after all that! It didn't help that I was coming down with a head cold (caught from the grandkids) and my head felt like it was stuffed with cotton.

Aha! I had forgotten about your creamers, and Ruth has them, too! Quinky-dink? I don't think so!

Susan said...

Sandy, I FEEL happy writing about this place. It has nothing but good memories for me. We've been there dozens of times and every one has been an adventure. We would love to buy our own place there someday. I would sure be in a lot better shape if I were out there climbing those hills several times a week!

Susan said...

Thank you, Natashya! I'm glad you enjoyed the little tour!

Susan said...

I always like making you smile, ds!

David almost grew up with his cousin, though Mark is a few years younger. Cindy and I became instant friends as soon as we met in 1974. Our kids are the same ages (except for their adopted daughter) and matched up...boy, boy, girl. They were very close growing up.

I just decided yesterday that I was tired of the blue background and wanted something more cheery. Thanks for noticing!

Susan said...

Thank you, dutchbaby! I'm so glad you came over to see one of the wonders of our Ohio! It's my favorite place here. The formations happened when glaciers pushed them during the last ice age.

As in most natural wonders, pictures don't really do the colors justice. The subleties are so much more beautiful in person.

Susan said...

Deborah, I really appreciate your compliments, especially when you live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Thank you!

Susan said...

Char, thank you! I just wish we could have been there when the trees were in full color. It's really something to see then!

Susan said...

Molly, I'm still giggling at "Guy Savage"! That is too funny! I'm torn between porn star, soap opera character, and character name in one of those bodice-ripper romance novels! Classic! Thanks for the laugh!

Susan said...

CG, your part of Illinois is very similar to this place, so it probably wasn't much of a surprise. We'll have to compare someday!

Pack up all my cares and woes, here I go, singin' low, bye-bye Blackbird.
Where somebody waits for me, sugar's sweet, so is she, bye-bye Blackbird.

(sorry, CG, I had to delete my response to correct something, so you ended up out of line)

Julia @ Hooked on Houses said...

What a gorgeous place to explore! And I got a kick out of Tom Hanks and Dottie West explaining that they're "just friends." :-)

Susan said...

Julia thanks so much for your visit! It's our favorite place in Ohio and many other states, too! I really love your blog!

Shaista said...

Dear Susan,
thankyou so much for this journey through the trail of rock and cave and height and history. I live in the flat fenland area of Cambridgeshire... autumn is past and I am always so happy to travel to other parts of the world through this incredible medium of blogging :)

Susan said...

Shaista, I'm so glad you enjoyed your visit. I would dearly love to visit your part of the world and see those fens up close. There's a natural fen near us, but most likely doesn't compare to yours.