What I did on my summer vacation

We took a mini-vacation this week and rented a cabin in a state park for two nights. The weather was good, the scenery was awesome, and the opportunity to relax (even for three days) was good.

The drive up to the park and cabin was a bit grueling, a two-lane road with many hairpin turns. To my great relief, it was not raining and there was not much other traffic. Our cabin was ready when we arrived, so we were able to unpack and put food into the refrigerator right away. Then we set out on the Summit Trail, a one-mile loop up and down the side of the mountain. That went so well that we decided to try the Bench Trail next, a four-mile excursion around the mountain. While the Summit Trail went right past our cabin, the trailhead for the Bench Trail was about half a mile from the cabin. We thought it would be silly to drive the car half a mile in order to take a hike, so our total walking for the afternoon was six miles.

There’s one thing they don’t tell you about hiking in state parks. Not only does your lower body get a good workout on a hike, but brushing away spiderwebs and swatting away flies and other insects provides an upper body workout as well. We were accompanied by buzzing insects pretty much every step of the way. We also saw some beautiful butterflies, lizards, chipmunks, rabbits, and a fair number of deer. We spoke with other people at the park who had seen a rattlesnake and a bear. While we were there we heard cicadas, treefrogs, and songbirds, as well as blue jays and crows. One afternoon we sat on the porch of our cabin and watched a thunderstorm travel along a valley some miles away.

We brought food for our breakfasts and suppers, but we had our lunches in the town at the foot of the mountain. We discovered a wonderful Mexican restaurant, as well as an interesting shop that sold anything from tableware to lawn decorations. The town’s Front Street along the river had a sad number of empty stores, and the riverfront park itself was unexciting, but the town seems to be doing well. We were told more than once that it was good we had come during the week and not for the weekend, when the town would be filled with visitors for an annual festival.

All that hiking, especially the first afternoon, led to some tired muscles and early bedtimes. In fact my legs are still a little sore this afternoon. It was good to break the routine (although you can be sure that I brought along some leisure reading!). More than a century ago, we would not have been able to visit this location—it was a resort owned and shared by a few very wealthy families, not open to the general public. National parks and state parks are a wonderful resource. Even though our cabin cost a lot more than a motel room would have cost, we are glad that our dollars are helping to support the state park system. J.