Hocking Hills, Part I: Getaway

I had thought I would take my cup of coffee and go sit outside and read.  Reading or writing with coffee in the peaceful quiet of the morning before the world is awake is one of my favorite past times.  For some reason, though, on this morning, I just decided just to go outside and sip my coffee.  I didn’t want a book (even a good one) to distract me from my environment.

I brought a blanket along with my coffee and sat on one of the Adirondack chairs on the front porch intending to enjoy the quiet.  However, at a cabin in the middle of the woods in Hocking Hills, OH, it was anything but!  It was early September and acorns were falling off the oak trees.  They fell onto the roof, and then bounced several times off the roof before finally hitting the porch, or my lap.  It seems like it would really hurt, if someone were to throw these acorns at you with the same force at which they were falling.  Dozens of acorns went through this; falling, bouncing, landing in pieces on the ground.  Pretty soon, the neighbor’s rooster started welcoming the day with his constant non-stop cock-a-doodle dooling.  Chickens joined in, then started the steady barking of dogs.  Then the donkey started braying; short loud honking noises.

For a few minutes, all of the animals steadily made their noises, the cacophony of the farm.  Then one would stop and another would start.  It was like an orchestra; each animal knowing when to start and stop.  I found myself trying to identify this dog or that chicken, like trying to identify that one trombone player in the very back row of the orchestra.

From my right, a bird high in a tree started squawking.  As if to say to the farm animals, “Hey, I’m here.  I want to talk too!”  From behind me, I heard the swift, soft rustling of leaves.  I couldn’t see anything, but it sounded like it could have been a deer.

My JD and I had come to the Hocking Hills for the sole purpose of zip lining.  Then the trip morphed into a getaway, a secluded time and place without any distractions, then a day in Columbus.  On our first night, when we tried to sign into the WiFi, we realized that there wasn’t any!  I couldn’t believe it; I had planned to do all of this work; homework for my online class, setting up social media accounts for my travel blog, posting a blog entry.  At this realization, we stared at each other in shock.

Despite myself, in spite of the mild temper tantrum I felt building; I couldn’t help but stifle a smile.  How could we have purposefully booked a place without WiFi?  How is it possible that in 2016, there isn’t WiFi everywhere?  As much as I wanted blame this “calamity” on someone, I couldn’t.  We both had agreed to book this beautiful cabin with a sleeping loft, a grill, a hot tub and a fire pit.

After a few minutes, my JD remembered that his phone had the capability to set up a mobile hotspot, so we managed to do that.  Then, quickly discovered that the reception was so spotty, and everything was loading so slowly, that it wasn’t worth the trouble.  I started to relax, and to get used to the idea that everything would be ok even without WiFi.  Maybe this is one of the things I needed to get away from.

At home, it seems like there are constant distractions, social media, movies, our cats, our plants, our (google) calendars, the constant feeling that we have to move on to the next thing, like we’re trying squeeze our life into itself.  But lack of Internet access takes away those those distractions and sensations (except for the cats, they’re just not here), and that is ok.  As avid readers, we were both glad to catch up on that in the “quiet” of the woods.

img_1433-blogWe made a fire in the fire pit and roasted marshmallows for s’mores, and grilled steaks on the back patio with nothing but the woods for a view and each other for company.  I wrote and read, and let my mind be still.

The first night we arrived in Hocking Hills, I had thought it was so quiet.  It isn’t quiet; the noises are just different depending on the time of day.  At night the crickets call and respond to one another, a woodpecker rat-a tats a tree and a dog occasionally barks.

This environment free of digital distractions, and the different noises got me wondering, is it really a “getaway” if you expect everything to be the same as it is at home, just in a different location?  I also got to thinking about how to define a getaway.  What is its purpose?  Is it to get your mind to think in a different way?  Is it to partake of leisure activities in a guilt-free way?  Or is it to do things you wouldn’t normally do at home, like make s’mores, which to me are reminiscent of an easier time?  Or is it all of these?  I don’t really know, yet.

Without WiFi, there is no work, no “being productive” or “getting things done”.  There is just being.  And that is wonderful, in the noisiest of ways.

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