Hocking Hills pilgrimage


By David Lindeman

Contributing columnist

If you ask someone who doesn’t live in Ohio about Ohio, they almost always will come up with these three things: corn fields, Ohio State and cities that used to be a lot bigger than they are now (well, except for Columbus).

They’re missing a lot. Ohio actually has a lot of diversity when it comes to the landscape. Admittedly, none of it is very high off the ground, but still there’s a lot to see. There’s Lake Erie in the north. Yes, there are a lot of corn fields around where we live, but there are a lot of other kinds of fields, too.

Then there is southeast Ohio.

My wife and I take a little pilgrimage to Hocking Hills every few years. We’ve gone with Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts, friends, children … and now grandchildren. Our grandchildren were here from Denver and we decided this year to make the trip with them.

Our trips to Hocking Hills over the years include some memorable moments. We often have gone there in the winter for some winter hiking, which brings its own dangers. There was the time we slid off the vertical driveway to our cabin and ended up in a ditch. There was the time we went to Conkle’s Hollow and it was so cold our camera froze (this was in the days when people actually had cameras on not just phones). There was the time I was there with Boy Scouts and one of them turned up missing. Everyone immediately took off for search and rescue, and pretty soon half the troop was lost. All’s well that ends well, though, and I don’t think we left anyone behind.

Southeastern Ohio is a special place unlike any other part of Ohio. Cool caves and rocks. Some great flora and fauna. And, if you take the back roads, it can be better than a roller coaster.

This year we took our grandkids to the most famous trio of spots – Old Man’s Cave, Cedar Falls and Ash Cave. We haven’t been there since before COVID, and they’ve made some improvements to some of the trails, especially the ones around Old Man’s Cave. The problem is, it seems like the steps have become steeper and the trails harder to walk. You don’t think that has anything to do with the fact that we’re getting older?

Of course, we had to sample ice cream whenever we could, solely for the grandchildren, of course. One place piqued our interest. It has one sign that said “24 Flavors,” one sign that said “48 flavors” and one sign that said “84 Flavors.” We had to give it a try.

After everyone else ordered, I stepped to the counter to talk to the guy who looked like he would rather be down at the gym pumping iron.

“Give me a hot fudge sundae,” I said.

“No hot fudge,” the guy said.

“OK, just a regular sundae,” I said.

“Nope,” he said.

“How about something in a sugar cone?” I asked.

“We only have waffle cones,” he said.

Technically, they also had cake cones, but they are an insult to mankind since they pretty much are just cardboard.

“OK,” I begged, “something in a waffle cone?”

He nodded. After plunking down my $26 for four cones, I made a hasty retreat outside. Apparently, the guy inside was fed up with dealing with old men who couldn’t order the right thing.

When we got outside we watched as a guy pulled up in a minivan. His wife got out of one side and a half dozen girls of various ages piled out behind her.

“Boy,” my grandson said, “the guy behind the counter isn’t going to be too happy to see them.”

Well, I guess there is some justice in the world.

The rest of the trip was without incident and my grandchildren were suitably impressed with the natural wonders, although when you grow up within sight of the Rocky Mountains it’s hard to get too excited about anything else. Plus, they’re just not all that familiar with all that green – green trees, green grass, green corn, green soybeans, everything is green! It’s not like that in Colorado.

They were more impressed with Lake Erie and Lake Michigan the times we took them there. They thought the ice cream was better there, too. So it looks like the next time they visit we’ll be heading back north to the lake. They can get a good dose of all the green on the way up.

David Lindeman is a Troy resident and former editor at the Troy Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected].

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