Free Family Fun in Ohio

I had all my boys together this weekend. We were looking for something to do, so we headed out into the country-side. It was a beautiful day and Hubs had seen this area and wanted to explore it more. We headed out to a state nature preserve called Fowler Woods in the north end of our county.
We got a little off-track along the way to. We took a swing out to the Ohio State Reformatory where Hubs, Kiddo and Buddy went to a haunted house this fall. The reformatory is where they filmed the Shawshank Redemption. It makes for a good haunted house these days, but I’m glad I didn’t stand around for 5 hours to experience it (that’s how long the lines were!).
We also saw a field where the farmer’s combine broke down several years ago. Rather than try and get the combine out of the field, it now sits there like a rusted piece of farm art. The farmer just farms around it. It’s pretty funny. 
The drive-through of the old county “Poorhouse” was less well-received by the boys. I guess they were hoping to see poor people?
Here’s our trip to Fowler Woods. I made my “boys” pose for me.
Man-Child (21) and Kiddo (12) are in the front row. I told them I was renaming them to Peat and RePeat! Hubs and Buddy are in the back. Hubs got my memo on wearing OSU gear. He’s just too cold to take off his jackets to show his shirt.
Next, I made the boys pose with me after we found a spot with more color in it. How did I get so short? You can see that Kiddo is sneaking up on Buddy in height, even though he’s two + years younger than him. I guess Buddy didn’t like getting his photo taken! Nice tongue, Buddy, but I’m still putting this picture on my blog.

Usually my visits with Man-Child these days are drive-bys. He manages a bagel shop in Columbus, so whenever we’re down there, we stop in to say “Hi,” buy some over-priced, delicious bagels and get a hug. I’m 5’5″ and Man-Child is 6’7″. When I give him a hug, my lips are over his heart and he kisses the top of my head.

 Hubs and I have been married for 23 years now. He is always coming up with adventures for us to go on. We don’t always appreciate them “in the moment” but these adventures are the bedrock of our family’s strength and unity.

 Whenever Man-Child is home, he feels compelled to remind his “little” brother that he’s still King of the Castle. Buddy is happy to play along.
There was a sign at the beginning of the boardwalk that talks about “Forest Invaders.” Whenever anyone stepped off the boardwalk, the others called them a “Forest Invader,” which spawned another game.

 As we meandered along the 1.25 mile boardwalk through the woods, I came upon a discovery.
These woods should be renamed “Amy’s Woods of Love.” This was the only picture that came out, but Amy, apparently, gets around. There was Amy + Mike; Amy + Steven O (although another tree told us that Steve found true love with Krista), Amy + Bruce, Craig +Amy = Family. That was the last one we saw, so maybe Amy finally settled down. It’s a fascinating study of people’s lives to read the messages carved on the trees here.

 The Daddy tree is sheltering the baby tree. 
Some of the trees in the woods are more than 200 years old. We used to live by the Sequoia National Forest, where the trees can be up to 2,000 years old, so the trees here are babies in comparison. Still, more than 200 years ago, our country was just being founded and some of these trees have been here ever since.
This wasn’t really the most picturesque time to visit these woods. The part of the boardwalk that winds through an old field that is being reclaimed by the forest, is especially stark and creepy this time of year. There were still some beautiful things to see and just getting out and being with the family was more than worth the price of admission (free – but the car ride took its toll!)

Now, lest you think this trip was all fun and games, I want to be real with you–getting my kids out to do family “fun” activities is usually an arduous task. Buddy was hungry and grumpy when we left the house. He’s generally a very happy kid, but you really wouldn’t like him when he’s hungry angry. A stop at a convenience store for some snacks solved that problem. 
There was also a lot of whining, and wanting to get back to warm house. We only have one car. A Hyundai Sonata. Try sticking three boys who measure 6’7″, 6’1″ and 5’10” into the back of one of those cars and you’re going to hear a lot of “When are we going to get there? I need to stretch my legs NOW!” comments.
Get Outdoors – Explore Your Surroundings
Despite the whining, Hubs and I have learned that spending time together as a family is always worth it. When money is tight, it’s easy to think that you can’t afford family activities. Because we’ve moved so much and money has never flowed like milk and honey, we’ve always had to be creative for our family fun. Being new to a place was a good excuse to get out into nature and see what that part of the country had to offer.
It still surprises me that people don’t take the time to explore the area where they live. We’ve walked the ruts that are still formed in the land by the pioneer wagons of the Oregon trail. We’ve examined Indian pictographs in the slot canyons, biked the San Rafael Swell and have canoed through the Labyrinth Canyon in Southern Utah. We’ve hiked mountains, discovered waterfalls, swam in hot springs, combed beaches, inner-tubed down rivers and repelled down many, many cliffs.
You’ve seen my pictures. I’m hardly built for athletic adventures. Plus, I have a foot issue that makes walking painful. I could use those as excuses to stay home (and sometimes, I do). Next time you’re looking for some family fun, try heading outdoors. You may just enjoy it!