Clifton Gorge

I can be lazy and even though I hate that about myself, I seldom go out of my way to change it. Take for example, the area where I live. I have lived in Yellow Springs, Ohio for over 3 years now. There are so many nature-places nearby that I have been telling myself I want to explore ever since I came here. There’s the Glen (read my last post for more on that) and I have managed to get over there plenty of times, but not as many, honestly, as I should. There’s John Bryan State Park, only about 3 miles or so from my house, and I have only been there once, and not even for exploring, but just for a picnic (it was a very tasty picnic, though). And then there’s Clifton Gorge, roughly 4 miles from my front door and in over 3 years of living here, I have never set foot there. Or had never. That is, until I got a very lovely, and very welcome phone call last week.

My cousin Lauren and I grew up incredibly close. We were always together, less than a year apart and I loved her dearly. Then, as sometimes happens, we grew older and grew apart. We just didn’t see each other as often and I never thought about going out of my way to make sure we still did (my lazy side?). Now as adults, we are reconnecting better than ever. She is married to an absolutely wonderful man, Dan, and has two incredible children, Adelaide and Lyla. They live in Columbus, so, in addition to my best friend Raven, they are closer to me than anybody else, family or friend, excepting those that live in the Dayton area, of course. Sadly, we still do not manage to get together as often as we could, but the times we do are lovely.

So back to Clifton Gorge. Last week, they phoned and said that they were going to be venturing there and since it is in my backyard, asked if we would like to join them. I wish that Caleab would have been able to join us, but he had to work. However, Rudy Mae and I met up with Dan, Lauren, Adelaide, and Lyla at Clifton Gorge and went on a hike of epic proportions. To say it was hot would be a joke. It was a lava pit. And we went the wrong way at first. And we had some falls. And we had some crying (that would be my child). But what I remember and hold on to the most is, we had a ton of laughs. And it was absolutely beautiful. And we had a terribly terrific time.

Upon seeing the Hughes family, Rudy Mae got pretty excited.

Not 10 steps onto the path and you are greeted by this sign. It was a nice welcome to the group with two toddlers who insist on walking on their own.

We were lagging behind, and the roots tripped us up even more. Down goes the girl.

I was cracking up when Adelaide leaned in and peered into Rudy’s face.

Sizing each other up.

Hmm…was someone putting the rocks they were picking up in their mouth??

Going down?

Lauren and Lyla lead the way.


The deeper we got and higher the rock walls got, it seemed to offer a degree or two of cool down.

Thank goodness I’m so out of shape, not that I wouldn’t mind the sign if I wasn’t.

Had it been just a bit cooler, it would have been completely blissful.

The trees were growing out near the top of the cliffs at such an odd angle.

“Have we reached Steamboat Rock yet??” The answer is no.

Along the rock wall, here and there were little ledges like the wall wanted you to set down a cool drink and relax.

They just sat down together in the dirt once we reached Steamboat Rock. It was super precious.

Sharing leaves and rocks.

And rocks…

and leaves.

This beautiful spunky little girl makes my heart smile!

Ok, it’s now way past naptime. I think she started to feel it.

Adelaide doesn’t sit still for long! She’s ready to get back to business.

This was our ultimate goal: getting a photograph with Steamboat Rock. The rock itself was pretty anticlimactic. This was certainly a case of “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” :)

I didn’t forget you, Lyla dear! You were just tucked away in a back pack and I didn’t see you as much!

Adelaide rounded off the nature walk by reading a book about root-children (I believe that’s what Lauren said). I swear as she was reading aloud, she was pointing at the little characters and now and then inserting a “Rudy”. So sweet.

Short Trip to the Parents

Enough about having to part with the boys, I know!, but I just need to mention it right quick to explain why I was at my parents’ house. To drive 2 and 1/2 hours with the baby in the car to drop the boys off to their other set of grandparents who were going to drive them out to Minnesota, I really felt like I wanted to not just turn right back around and drive home. I wanted to feel like I could justify that kind of a drive with something a little more upbeat and lengthy. Five minutes at a gas station holding back tears did not seem worth the drive. As soon as I had all the plans set in stone with the boys’ grandparents and knew that we were going to be meeting at a gas station just minutes from my parents’ house, I called my mom and asked her if Rudy Mae and I could spend Thursday and Friday with her (Caleab could not get out of work and I just happened to be off those two days). Of course, she was game and more than excited. A short, random trip up north does not get to happen often, so we tried to make the most of it. And of course, I took plenty of photographs.

A strawberry plant in my parents’ garden.

A hiding gnome.

Line drying the bedding that Rudy Mae and I were to sleep on.

An odd looking fungus that Rudy Mae was peering at with me, if you notice her two little hands supporting her crouch.

Harry the Dog and Rudy Mae are always best friends when we visit. It reminds me of the ‘Carl’ books.

Fresh herbs, an awesome cast iron plant stand, and a watering can.

Beauty was all around us.

I could have taken photographs for the longest time in my parents’ backyard. There was inspiration everywhere I looked. It was a beautiful day back there.

My mom brought an old doll down for Rudy Mae to play with.

Eating lunch at the island.

She is starting to be very silly when I take her picture.

Finding food she dropped is like finding new food :)

Getting pedicures!

My lovely Aunt Karen and wonderful Mama.

Rudy Mae, who was sitting on my lap the entire time I was getting a pedicure, found her swimsuit in the diaper bag and insisted on it being put on. It was a very relaxing pedicure.

Mom, Aunt Karen, Lillian, and me.

We spotted Lillian air-drying her newly polished nails out the car window and had a giggle.

Poor girl was carted around all Thursday and Friday. She probably hated the car so much in those 36 hours.

Moma, Mama, and the bebe.

My Aunt Jacque and Rudy Mae, after a nice Mexican lunch with as much familia that could make it.

Lillian, Parker, Natalie, and Aunt Karen. We were all sitting around chatting for a while after the food was gone.

Tia Mary, Mom, Aunt Jacque holding Rudy Mae. Tia Mary had brought cookies for everyone after we ate. Delicious.

We talked about books, movies, television, and more. I really enjoyed lunch and the time with my family.

Caleab’s brother Courtney’s wife, and my friend for years and years before I ever even met Caleab, Lynn, and her daughter Vivian stopped over for a quick visit before I had to get back on the road to Yellow Springs.

Rudy Mae and Vivian played in my parents’ backyard for quite some time, pretty happy to see each other.

Rudelle Mae.

It was very surprising to me to see Rudy sitting in the grass. She couldn’t stand to touch it for the longest time.

Rudy Mae, 15 months, Vivian Louise, 12.5 months. Cousins 10.5 weeks apart.

Vivian didn’t want to be in the chair anymore, but Rudy Mae was quite comfortable and stayed put for a while.

As I drove back to Yellow Springs without the incessant talking and video game noise of my boys, the silence was overwhelming and depressing. Rudy Mae was fast asleep within 3 minutes of starting the drive and I felt terribly alone. I put on envelopingly beautiful classical music and instead of wallowing in the quiet, I cherished it. I thought about the positives the summer would bring the boys and soaked in the incredible landscape. I started to feel so much better and actually enjoyed the rest of my drive. It was an indescribably beautiful day.