AM Hikes, PM Lounge

This place, Ohio’s Shawnee State Park, is really growing on me.

On the advice of a couple of friends (hi, Melissa M!), I’m reading Blue Highways by a fellow named Least Heat-Moon. He reminds me how travelers set themselves up for failure by assuming what a place will be like before they get there. Perhaps my deal is that I’m finally seeing life on the road beyond whatever vision I had of it.


Here at Shawnee we’re having coffee and tea with Banjo out on our little flat square directly behind the Airstream, listening to the creek and watching the tree tops at eye-level, which is an advantage of camping right at the top of a slope.  

There’s a lovely tree that’s new to both of us right above the flat spot: a young umbrella magnolia. 

Yesterday, a bright song bird (the American Redstart) flitted from branch to branch right at our faces, watching us watching him.

After tea, we’ve been driving out of the campground to park and go on short hikes, starting early to avoid people (and their unleashed dogs) as well as the afternoon heat. 

The wooded mountains here really are fun to walk through: some sections are dominated by pine and fir, with clean floors covered in brown needles, and some sections are entirely hardwoods, growing from low ravines with very tall trunks up to join the canopy with trees farther up the mountain.

Some of these paths are as old as the park (1930s), with stone benches at cutbacks and covered resting spots at look-out points.  At this lookout, the forest has grown so we couldn’t see much of a view, but maybe that’s the point of a state forest.

I saw something new to me that I’ve probably just missed in the past: a campground for people with horses. This one’s a long flat rectangle of low land right under a small dam, divided in the center by a pleasant little road.  

You park your camper and horse trailer on the side with the creek and tie your horses up on the side with the bathrooms. We saw just one camper and a very young horse as we walked through, but the place looked like it had held entire riding clubs.

The bridle trails we hiked were steep and pitted with deep hoof prints, but that gave Banjo much to sniff, and I was on alert imagining a horse around each sharp bend. 

Oh, get a load of this giant (two-stories, at least) display in someone’s yard near the entrance to the horse campground.  Someone’s got a sense of humor around here.


Our afternoons have been lazy, reading behind the trailer, mostly. Tracy says he’s read so much he feels like he’s back in school.  Ditto.

So, yesterday afternoon we drove out to the nearest town to grab our grocery pick-up and to use the internet for a while. We found a playground on the bank of the Ohio River and sat at a picnic table, watching a barge go past as we did our online banking.  Not a bad way to take care of paperwork. Plus I got a strong cell signal and talked to Finn about not much of anything, which can be the most reassuring kind of phone call.

We had thunderstorms last night so we broke out the Firefly boardgame and cranked an old Grateful Dead show on the stereo.  Check out how stressed Banjo is on the sofa.

We didn’t finish the game, so our one table is still covered precariously with our attempts to “get a ship, find a crew, get a job, keep flying.”  If it’s still raining in the morning and we can’t sit outside (trees are too close to open the awning), morning tea and coffee might happen while we move our ships through space.

And that’s our Firefly’s motto.  We’ve found a ship and a crew. Now we just find a campsite and keep exploring.

Next up: a visit to the one and only Airstream factory (and service center—where’s Kaylee when you need her?)

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