When you’re told to stay home for two months, even a road trip to a neighboring state can be exciting.
So, when our family recently vacationed in northern Indiana, I enjoyed it more than I would’ve in other summers.
Although not a popular destination, our extended family found a big house, and all 17 (soon to be 18) of us met from three different states in Granger. We had planned on going to Gatlinburg, but for various reasons due to the virus, changed the location to Indiana. Under the current circumstances, we did not take the decision lightly as to whether we should get together or not. But, after careful thought and prayers, we decided to go ahead with the somewhat risky plan. And, we agreed to some basic hygiene and safety measures.
Originally, we were going to celebrate 70-50-70, my parent’s birthdays and their 50th anniversary. But, it turns out, we celebrated even more – three graduations and an engagement! My Dad, Lloyd Miller, said while we were there that he’d better be careful or else I’d write about him in the paper. All I have to report is that he behaved himself, he took my sister and me on a bike ride, and didn’t even keep me awake with his snoring!
It was interesting to see how Indiana was slowly reopening too. Some restaurants were closed, some required masks. When we went canoeing and kayaking, we had to wear masks in the shuttle van. When I Googled things to do, there was always the disclaimer “Hours may differ due to COVID-19.” One of the features of the place we stayed was a huge shaded lawn. It had lots of room for us to play outside – plus, in a painstakingly close battle, my husband beat his brother-in-law in Molkke, aka Stick Bowling.
A second trip to Pennsylvania was inspired by Yoga with Adriene on YouTube. Seriously! I’ve been doing some yoga with her most mornings, and one day I chose a more scenic video. In this early morning routine, she was in Washington state, with a misty mountain of trees and a lake behind her, the morning light just emerging. She stopped in a pose and pointed out a wild seal. I knew then that I really wanted to get out into nature again!
We’d heard about canoeing and kayaking between islands on the Allegheny River. Our family has gone backpacking several times. It’s like camping except everything has to be lightweight because you carry it, yep, on your back. We got out our box of backpacking gear and organized and reorganized things – honestly, it wasn’t very restful! We brought along some things we wouldn’t want to on a backpacking trip — a cooler, fresh vegetables, a cast iron skillet, and Coke. The first night of roughing it, the river was rushing by. It had carried us and all our things, like a moving walkway, 10 miles south of where we’d started. We were tired and sore from using our arms so much, and we all slept about 10 hours.
The next day was another hot one. After lathering on sunscreen, we paddled down the river 14 miles, and ended up at another island campsite. Writing this makes it sound easy, but we were whooped by the time we got to our campsite! The next morning, I woke up earlier than everyone else and had some time to myself. I looked across the misty river and saw a foggy mountain of trees. I started with some yoga and got to hear the loud squawk of a Great Blue Heron. The last day, we had three or four bald eagle spottings, and we even got to see a deer nurse her fawn.
Sometimes, I’m not sure why I even like this sort of thing. I mean, it’s a lot of work to set up a new campsite each night — (think hanging a hammock, unpacking your bedding, making your food over a mini stove, filtering water, cleaning your dishes by hand in the river), and paddling or walking until you’ve got blisters, but seeing nature in the wild like this was pretty amazing. And, when you get back to civilization and have air conditioning, running water, and clean clothes, you appreciate them much more.
After these two trips, I realize I have a lot to be thankful for – a healthy family that gets along most of the time, a world of beauty, and the ability to travel. Hopefully this summer, you’ll get a chance to be reminded of all the things you have been given and are grateful for. And, if you are outside on these 90 degree days and then have a chance to get in a pool or air-conditioning, you’ll see what blessings those things can be, too!
Are you vacationing this summer, or have your plans had to change?
I’d love to hear from you! Email: JacquiLHershberger@ gmail.com.
Jacqui Hershberger is a correspondent for The Dalton Gazette & Kidron News and is a Sugar Creek Township mom of three.