A return to John Bryan State Park (and Clifton Gorge) after so many years away would be significant and meaningful at any time, but this reunion was especially exciting and gratifying, because the state finally rebuilt the old crumbling bridge while we were gone!
Before we left Ohio, they had finally been forced to shut it down to foot traffic, making our favorite hiking loop impossible. So when we rounded a bend in the trail this time and saw the beautiful new bridge in all its glory, we were overjoyed (especially E). (Now if they could just rebuild the disgusting outhouse, our lives will be complete!)
Not only that, but many of the old disintegrating boardwalks and stairs had also been replaced and improved, so our hike past all the iconic natural landmarks in the cool, damp forest along the river was all the more enjoyable. Here are some of the old familiar and new improved highlights. So you see, something good came out of 2020.
Of course this called for a celebration at HQ (Ye Olde Trail Tavern), where we are now officially recognized as “regulars”! This was a two beer occasion! Appropriately enough, they had a Tröeg’s which hopped me up. Pictured is the second, a Belgian, by which time I was properly schnockered (that’s how lightweight I’ve become)! Yay Ye New Bridge!
I’ve been cleaning up the yard and garden beds, such as they are. I’ve started to clear out some of the huge masses of invasive honeysuckle bushes along the back property line. I planted some herbs and mixed lettuces and greens in a small kitchen bed. There’s not much to show yet, and the few flowers still blooming are mostly not native, of course, but I’ve included a few first photos.
I’m hoping to connect with likeminded natives groups and gardeners and do some swapping or buying of native wildflowers and trees. It’s a minuscule yard, full of typical exotic invasives too numerous to totally eliminate, so I’ll have to be very selective and particular about the few natives I can add in. At least it’s not a vast, overwhelming space like the last place, and the soil here is actual workable soil, not toxic cement.
The realty company has graciously entrusted me with the landscaping, knowing of my hort background, so even though it’s not our place, I can go ahead and improve it and make it more eco-friendly. Say no more, and I’m off!
Next up in our reunion series we have the namesake Yellow Springs of irony water fame in Glen Helen Nature Preserve (as popularized by Chappelle and Letterman, who hung out there recently and did a special on Netflix).
There are many natural and human-made improvements since our last visit years ago. Most significantly, there is a gorgeous beaver dam in the significantly wetter land, with a new boardwalk along the Little Miami River. The iconic orange waterfall of course is still flowing (one must stop and taste the iron), as are the main falls and cave falls. Other areas still look familiar, just more grown up and watery. It was a perfectly sunny, breezy day for walking one of the loops (and walking off some excess poundage!).
Last but not least, here is a typical dramatic Ohio sunset in front of our house. On top of our house, we now have a brand new roof, completed yesterday by the amazing contractor team in just 8 hours! And inside, we finally received and installed all the furniture shipments, and the items we bought from Ron. It’s starting to look home-like. Soon there will be photos.
Three occasions in one– Sukkot, Fall Equinox, and E’s birthday! Several inches of rain have fallen in just a few days, and it’s still coming down. My new herb bed is now a pond.
Most of the day, E. assembled a Jenga jumble of furniture parts into two dressers, including repairs to the pieces that arrived damaged. Now we have somewhere to put our clothes! The rest of the shipment is still taking the scenic route, apparently.
Meanwhile, I worked on straightening up my office, incorporating one of the shelving units we got from Ron. Now I have places to put things. You can see it met with the Misu seal of approval.
Today we had a very pleasant reunion with our friends Ron and Steve. Ron used to own the Bird Cage consignment shop in Fairborn, and is selling off his stock. We were happy to take some furniture off his hands, but mostly to see him again. We had already run into Steve at Kroger, where he is a manager. It was good to catch up with our old friends, including Toto the dog. Now Misu has a nice table for her sunroom, and E has somewhere to put her globe. There are wooden shelf units, a lamp, some crystal stemware, etc. strewn about the house for now.
When we got home, part one of the wayward furniture shipment had finally arrived, after circling the country, possibly on a NJ garbage barge from the looks of it. Somewhat the worse for wear, it was bashed up and had parts missing. Very frustrating. E tried to call the company, but it turns out they’re religious Jersey Jews and were closed for the holiday…convenient. Right now the living room looks like it had an IKEA attack, complete with appropriate cussing!
Meanwhile, our driveway is filled with roofing materials to replace the leaky roof. Of course it proceeded to rain for days right when they were scheduled to begin, so that job is delayed. Happily, we don’t have to pay for any of it! Yay, leasing! One of these days we’ll get it all sorted out.
Here are festive flowers and a festive German festbier by one of the many local breweries. Last but not least, here is a birthday cake for E by yours truly. It actually looks like one, and hopefully tastes like one.
Happy Sukkot to those who celebrate. A sukkah isn’t happening this year, but I still try to decorate and cook festively. It seems my son has taken up the sukkah torch this year, which makes me happy. Here are some harvesty scenes. You can see the boxes we’re still living out of in the background. One day the furniture we ordered will stop orbiting the planet and find its way here.
Here is Her Majesty Tricky Wu Misu lounging decadently in her luxury high-rise condo. “Bring me foie gras and caviar”, says she, “and a cat-tini, stirred not shaken!” Her new arch-nemesis, a fluffy black cat from next door, has learned the terror of even approaching Her Awfulness Who Presides Over The Turf. It sounds like bloody murder.
Our driveway has become roofing materials central, as our leaky ancient roof is about to be replaced–at no cost to us! Ah, the joys of leasing. Meanwhile, it seems some furniture we’re expecting to be shipped has wandered off into the FedEx ether, or been lost on a NJ garbage barge, or something. Oh, the joys of living out of boxes.
Also, mowing a postage stamp lawn is so much easier and less waste of time! The “garden”, such as it is, is so tiny, I have to figure out what I can squeeze into it. It’s a different kind of challenge. It’s the Suburbs.
Misu now has more furniture than we do! Here is her latest luxury acquisition. She pretty much owns the sunporch.
It’s Yom Kippur, the holiest, somberest day of the Jewish year. I’m feeling mighty somber. Not sure about the holy part. I have nothing profound or otherwise to say. I’m not even thinking about food, which is different.
The pandemic rages on here as everywhere. Towns are finally reinstating mask mandates, it’s getting so bad. People really must have a death wish.
Anyway, we’re still alive here, so that’s something.
A lot has happened in a short time. We met up with our wonderful agent, Tracy, and her son, who drove us to the closing, which went smoothly. That marked the official ending of our TN chapter.
Then we drove straight back to OH, check in hand, which went straight into our new credit union. We came out ahead, ironically, due to the pandemic state of affairs. It’s literally a new lease on life. Now we can get back to mundane suburban pursuits like ordering much-needed furniture. We had to leave most of it, and major appliances, behind.
Here are some shots of the Luxbury Inn, which served us well over the years, the drive back toward Cincinnati, the still-shrouded bridge, and entering Ohio once again. I will miss the mountains.