At Home Abroad: Great Expectations
By Regina Costello
Having been stuck at home like everyone else for the last number of weeks; we were itching to get away once the school year ended. Not sure where to go, or how far away to venture – one thing we agreed upon was a getaway that allowed for lots of walks, fresh air and as little time as possible indoors.
We were tired of living inside four walls and overdosing on screens and books. Friends recommended Hocking Hills. We had never been, and so the idea piqued our curiosity. Googling the environs, it looked like there was lots of fun things to do there – numerous trails of various levels, zip lining, caves to explore, a state park to visit, canopy tours to book.
We chose a cabin that was pet friendly; we could not leave our terrier behind us. Equipped with buckets of paper towels and bleach (just in case) and a backpack of supplies each, we headed off and took a family friend with us. We had great expectations of an action packed few days.
We arrived midafternoon, to find a cozy cabin hidden from the road by beautiful trees that gave shelter to a fire pit and picnic table. Climbing the stairs to the porch we met the generous hot tub under the awning of the porch. We were already on vacation.
The cabin was a real treat inside. Not much need for our cleaning supplies. Instead, our entrance quickly turned to bickering as to who would sleep in the loft and who would get the king size bed, who would gather twigs for the fire. It was a home from home.
After settling in and the quibbles subsided, we ordered dinner. While waiting, we jumped in the hot tub and enjoyed the relaxation as the chill of dusk made the experience all the sweeter. Later, as night descended, we had desserts of smores at the firepit. Thanks to my son Neil, for gathering the sticks and maintaining the blaze.
The following mornings I walked Ash and stopped at the Coffee Emporium, located not far from the cabin. The store offered wonderful fair-trade coffees, selections of pastries, scones and breakfast sandwiches.
Yes, the Emporium was dog friendly, and allowed me to sip my coffee at a picnic table with Ash gratefully resting in the shade, before we made our way back. My kids dug into hot chocolates and unexpected breakfast delights. We talked about plans for the day.
Neil and Deepak wanted to go fishing, and the three girls wanted to stay back and avail of the hot tub. The boys found a bait shop nearby and received welcome advice from the store owners. They fished at different lakes each day and made fast friends with the locals who were too happy to share their expertise. One of the afternoons we went for a hike in the Clear Creek Metro Park.
We had the same plan each day. Deepak and Neil went on their fishing expeditions. Fiona and I, along with our family friend, Garima, hung out at the house. We kept Ash company and had to remind ourselves to take breaks from the hot tub.
We ordered dinner from a different restaurant each night and the food was good. Quiet chats in the evening over the firepit (after some more —- yes, you guessed right, hot tub time) were much enjoyed.
Sometimes I guess it’s good to not have great expectations. This was the first vacation where I really did not do anything. I mean I literally did nothing. I usually am a very active person, with a never-ending list of things to do – whether at home or on vacation. I surprised myself.
This was one of my favorite getaways. It taught me the importance of completely slowing down and forgetting about all expectations – never mind great ones. A new type of vacation at home abroad.
*Regina is a Graduate from the National University of Ireland, Galway and a Postgraduate from the National University of Ireland, Dublin. She is the former Curator of the Irish American Archives at the Western Reserve Historical Society, former Executive Director of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument Commission and former Executive Coordinator of the Northern Ohio Rose Centre. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Mayo Society of Greater Cleveland. She can be reached at rc*******@am*******.net