2016 in Review

For the past few years, I’ve looked back through my photographs and selected a few (this year many) that tell my story for the year.  It’s a great way to document some of the joys and beauty that fill your life.   My 2016 began with a trip in January to visit friends in Grand Cayman Islands.  For such a small island, there are lots of unique wildlife.  This Iguana was out by the pool…

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We went for a hike and this blue-throated Anole’s vibrant colors caught my eye!

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Not sure if this is an egret, a stork, or something else?

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One of the highlights was swimming with the Stingrays.

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I learned how to stand up (and paddle a little) on an inflatable paddle board…

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After returning to Ohio, we had a beautiful snow.  That’s our small shed.

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I didn’t have to endure the cold for too long because I took a small group (three people) to Central America for two weeks in February, through my Travel Spirit Meetup.  We visited Antigua, Guatemala.

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and Lake Atitlan, Guatemala…

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We then flew to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua and that’s me horseback riding on the beach.  I wanted to gallop and that I did!

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and we watched the surfers…

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We then moved on to Granada, Nicaragua for three nights…

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Next, we flew to Panama City, Panama…

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As a freelance photographer for Cincinnati Refined, I had 30 photo shoots this year.  The cool thing about working for them is that I can pitch ideas and if they like it, I’m given the assignment.  Here are a few of the shoots…

View of Northern Kentucky from the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati…

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The Asian Food Fest at Washington Park in Cincinnati…

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Jazz in the Garden at the Taft Museum of Art

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Top of the Park restaurant/bar overlooking the Ohio River from Cincinnati…

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84.51 building in downtown Cincinnati…

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One of the dishes served at The Golden Lamb Restaurant in Lebanon, Ohio

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Kellie Pickler from American Idol at the Pink Ribbon Luncheon held at the Duke Energy Convention Center.

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Calysta Bevier (from America’s Got Talent)

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A welder (a somewhat unusual assignment for me, but fun)…

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Indoor water park at the Great Wolf Lodge in Mason, Ohio

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The Cincinnati Dinner Train experience.  One of the perks…my husband was able to join me for a free dinner/ride.

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Cincinnati Prime Restaurant Grand Re-Opening…

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Shawnee Lookout Park, North Bend, Ohio

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Horseback riding at Salt Creek Ranch in Metamora, Indiana (there’s the hubby on the right)

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Metamora, Indiana

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Shawnee State Park, West Portsmouth, Ohio

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Thanksgiving Day Race, Cincinnati, Ohio

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Lights on the Hill at Pyramid Sculpture Park, Hamilton, Ohio

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Through my own business, Sherry Lachelle Photography, I had quite a few real estate photos (here are three of them)…

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My third wedding reception for friends…

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A family photo shoot…

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Another family photo shoot, but the little boy stole the show…

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Senior Photos for my beautiful second cousin

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One of the most time-consuming and important accomplishments this year was starting a business in partnership with Urban Adventures, called “Cincinnati Urban Adventures“.  I give tours of Cincinnati.  This group of guys (most from the UK) were loads of fun!

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This is a wine tasting/foodie tour and I have a beer/tasting foodie tour also.

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My longest trip this year and a truly amazing experience was taking two people through eight countries back in June for a month.  We began in Bulgaria (three Cities)…

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Rila Monastery, Bulgaria

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We then headed to a variety of Cities in Romania.  Peles Castle was amazing!

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Bran Castle aka Count Dracula’s Castle in Romania

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These next photos are also in various Romanian cities…

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I took photos of at least three brides in different cities throughout Europe on this trip…

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Sibiu, Romania has its eyes on you!

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We then flew to Helsinki, Finland

Temppeliaukio Church aka Rock Church

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We took an over-night cruise to St. Petersburg, Russia and had 72 hours to see what we could.  The Hermitage Museum was amazing!

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Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood

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Peterhof Park and Palace

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We took a bus to Tallinn, Estonia…

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A bus to Riga, Latvia…

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Another bus to Vilnius, Lithuania and one of the highlights was Trakai Castle…

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Next up, a bus to Warsaw, Poland…

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And then a train to Krakow, Poland…

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Where of course we went to Auschwitz.  Unbelievably sad and horrific…

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I took a long weekend /solo trip to Cleveland and Cuyahoga National Park in Ohio and got paid for my photographs.

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The Rock n Rock Hall of Fame in Cleveland

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Cuyahoga National Park

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Later in the summer, just for fun, at Serpentine Wall along the Ohio River in Cincinnati…

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Fountain Square at night, Cincinnati

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A car show

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Canoeing at Green Acres Canoe in Harrison, Ohio (and got paid for this one)

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A Bengals football game.  We had nose bleed seats, but I had my zoom lens…

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Of course there were family get-togethers.  My son and his girlfriend at our home for a Bengals watching party/bon-fire etc.

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and at a holiday party…

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Jake trying to catch frogs in the Koi Pond…

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Kate walking the tight-rope…

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My husband and I spent a week in the Cape Coral/Ft. Myers, Florida area in mid-December…

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I read or listened to almost 50 books.  A few of my favorites, in no particular order, were: Flowers for Algernon, A tree grows in Brooklyn, The invisible bridge, The red umbrella, My name is Lucy Barton, The Shoemaker’s Wife, These is my words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, Lilac Girls, Me talk pretty one day, Salt to the Sea, Someone knows my name, and Plainsong.

In between, I prepared new and old recipes, hiked, biked, ran a 5-K fundraiser, went motorcycling, lots of girls’ nights out, and dinners/parties with my husband.  The older you get, the more you want to squeeze in!

I hope next year is as good as this one was!

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from our family to yours!

Best hiking in Ohio

Remember the handsome and helpful Park Rangers I mentioned in my last post about hiking the Ledges, well this is the gorge they told me to visit instead of going to Rocky River Reservation.  It’s called High Bridge Glens Park and there’s an overlook that you would easily overlook (no pun intended) unless someone in the “know” told you about it.  As I walked out and saw the view, I literally said “wow” out loud!

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Looking to the left, I changed from my wide-angle lens to my 18-200 zoom lens and captured this series of cascading waterfalls way down below…

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I got back in my car and drove a couple of miles down the road to hike the Gorge Trail.  All of this area is part of the one of the Metroparks

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There are two trails and one of them was down by this lake, so I decided to see where it took me…

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I came to a boardwalk…

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that led me to this cascading waterfall that I’m assuming is a dam…

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After that gulp of beauty, I drove to Brandywine Falls and walked along a boardwalk until I came to these stairs…

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and another boardwalk…

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to these stairs and alas…we can see the falls!

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It’s beautiful, but I’ve heard when there’s been a lot of rain and in the spring they’re even better!

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Stepping back to take in the view…

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and down the boardwalk we go to another vantage point up above to see them.  I took a photo from that view also, but it’s better in person.

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I probably got in a total of 4 miles of hikingCleveland’s Metroparks are amazing!

Hiking the Ledges in Cuyahoga Valley National Park

I’ve hiked all over the world, but absolutely loved my 1.8 mile hike at the Ledges in Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio!  It was my third and final day in the Cleveland area and the Ledges were first on my Itinerary for the day.  In contrast to the hot sunny day yesterday for biking, this day was overcast and a bit humid.

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These rocks were so massive and they went on and on for most of the trail!  I was happy to see a few people along the trail to provide a perspective of the scale of the beautiful formations…

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Backing up to my arrival at the trail head.  I ran into these two friendly Park Rangers who gave me pointers about the trail and also information about their recommendations for hiking at the area Metroparks later in the day.

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I entered the trail here…

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Very green and serene.  I felt like I had entered the enchanted forest…

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A Walk in the Woods

Having four miles of hiking trails five minutes from my house in Goshen, Ohio is a blessing!  Although most of the trees are still barren, the blue skies, green grasses, and budding wildflowers were beautiful.

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The last few weeks have brought much rain and the trails are quite muddy, but we don’t let that stop us.  I’ve found the best times to go hiking are when it’s too cold, too hot, too muddy, or too early.  That’s when no one else is there and I’m able to enjoy the solitude.

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Springing into Spring

“It was one of those March days, when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold:

when it is summer in the light and winter in the shade.”

~Charles Dickens

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“The naked earth is warm with Spring, And with green grass and bursting trees

Leans to the sun’s kiss glorying, and quivers in the sunny breeze. ~Julian Grenfell

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“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
“Winter is dead.”
―A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young

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Hiking to the Cerro de la Cruz and Hotel Museo Casa Santo Domingo

Hiking to Cerro de la Cruz (the Cross) in Antigua, Guatemala has been dangerous in years past due to robberies, but I had read that the local Police have been much more vigilant in recent years and crime has dropped in the area.  The hike only takes about an hour round-trip and the view is worth it!

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Zoom in with your camera to the town below and you can almost look into someone’s living room!

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We started bright and early trudging up the steps…

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Once back down, our next stop was the beautiful Hotel Museo Casa Santa Domingo!  This place was amazing!  The gardens were filled with colorful Macaws or Parrots (not sure which)…

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A gorgeous dining area…

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Hiking Pacaya Volcano in Guatemala

Located 90 minutes drive time from Antigua, Guatemala, Pacaya Volcano is a great day trip for those seeking adventure!  Our driver picked us up at 6:00am so we’d get an early start for the three hour hike.  I had watched a video of someone hiking it and roasting a marshmallow over the flowing red lava, so my anticipation level was high!  When we arrived, our guide explained that after Pacaya erupted in 2010, there hasn’t been a river of red lava (darn!), but it turned out to be a great hike with beautiful weather and scenery!

You can see the steam behind me in this photo…

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The two hour mostly uphill hike began on a short paved path…

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We took a few minutes break on this overlook…

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The view of another volcano was breathtaking!

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As we approached the top, the landscape appeared almost alien…

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Another group taking a rest…

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Reaching the site where the other group was proved to be a cross between slip n slide and surfing…

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Turkey’s Turquoise Coast and Oludeniz

My group and I arrived by foot to Oludeniz after hiking 7 kilometers from the ghost village of Kayakoy, which you can read about here.  The blue waters of the Mediterranean sparkled and looked so inviting after our rather sweaty hike over the mountain hill, along with these colorful, plump soft seating areas, under the shade of draped cloth.

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Most of us ordered a freshly squeezed frozen lemonade with mint that was sinfully delicious!

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The beach was lined with people lazing beneath thatched umbrellas, enjoying the beautiful warm weather.

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A few boats swayed in the light breeze on the dazzling waters…

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The sky overhead was filled with vibrant, bold para-gliders…

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After having lunch, and exploring the town a bit, we took a taxi back to our heavenly retreat at Villa Rhapsody.  What a wonderful day!

Hiking the Lycian Way Trail beginning in the Ghost Village of Kayakoy

I plan trips and take people around the world through my site at “Travel Spirit Meetup” and for the eight night Turkey trip in mid-September, six people joined me for four nights on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey and four nights in Istanbul.  One of the adventures I was really looking forward to was hiking a small portion of the Lycian Way trail along Turkey’s turquoise coast.  Everyone arrived from the States and settled into our accommodations at Villa Rhapsody the first day, and after a delicious poolside breakfast the following morning, we walked 10 minutes from our Villa to the ghost village of Kayakoy and began exploring.

The village was deserted by the Greek Orthodox that inhabited the village during the 1923 forced exchange between Turkey and Greece.  Our goal was to take the trail head that leads from the village and hike seven kilometers to the town of Oludeniz.  During my research at home before the trip I found a great website with information about the hike, and read other information, but we still experienced some difficulty finding the trail head.  Another couple armed with a map were also a bit lost.  The trail is marked with red and yellow paint stripes on rocks along the way.  One of our groups’ members took off ahead of us exploring the ghost village and once we’d found the trail head, we shouted for him to no avail, and another member went off looking for him, which added another 10-15 minutes wait.  We weren’t able to find him and with the knowledge that he would be able to make his way back to the Villa if necessary, decided to begin our hike.

There are a number of ways to enter the ghost village, one of which requires a fee of 5 Lira ($1.65) and of course that’s the entrance we found.

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The ghost village was amazing!  The sunlight illuminated the windows of the decaying buildings.

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Climbing Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh

Climbing Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh was high on my list of things to do while in Scotland and early in the morning on our last day there, my friend and I walked 10 minutes from our Airbnb to do just that!  Located a mile from the Edinburgh Castle and standing 822 feet above the City, the views are breathtaking!  This is the highest we got because it had drizzled and was a bit slippery and the route we chose to hike was a bit more like rock climbing.  But the view of the city was spectacular!

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My friend Teresa took a photo of me with her camera navigating my way up the steep hill and she remarked that she wasn’t as worried about going up as she was with coming back down.

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Ohio Bucket List

Miles of pristine forested hiking, outdoor cafes, resplendent architecture, astonishing views, thrilling adventures, intoxicating gardens! Does this sound like your kind of get-away? Ohio has all of this and more!  Here are a few of my favorite places…

The Fling Barn (Hillsboro, Ohio)

Situated on a 200-acre farm, an hour East of Cincinnati, The Fling Barn is a well-kept secret (well…not anymore) where you’re guaranteed to have a good time! Stuffed to the gills with Americana décor, featuring two bars, a dance floor, outdoor deck, and live rock n blues…it don’t get much better than that! In case you have too much fun, they have their very own Bed & Breakfast for your convenience, if it’s available.

~view from The Fling Barn (Images: Sherry Lachelle Photography)

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Put-in-Bay

Located on Lake Erie, just over 4 hours North of Cincinnati, Put-in-Bay is Ohio’s split personality playground with a wild side to dive into…pretty people in skimpy bathing suits guzzling tropical adult beverages, but hop on a golf cart and within minutes you’re transported to a lake-side paradise of glistening blue water, rolling hills, and tranquility!

(Images: Sherry Lachelle Photography)

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Hiking at Buzzardroost Rock & don’t forget the Wine

Buzzardroost Rock is a moderately difficult 3.5 – 4.4 mile round trip trail (depending on where you begin) in the Edge of Appalachia Preserve system of Adams County, Ohio.  Far above the waters of Ohio Brush Creek, the panoramic scene from this hilltop has been called Ohio’s most spectacular view.  I organized the hike through Tri-State Hiking Club, one of my meetup.com organizations and guided approximately 20 people.  Most of us met at a carpool location because the trail is almost an hour and one-half from Cincinnati.

The view is outstanding!

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Here I am looking quite triumphant having reached the top.

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All of the colorful jackets and accessories added some pizzazz to the dreary scenery!

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15 Extraordinary Experiences to add to your Bucket List

There are some destinations and experiences in life that are etched into your memory and looking back at the photographs tends to rekindle the wanderlust that’s burning in your soul! It may have been the exotic aromas wafting through the air, the peaceful and serene feelings evoked, the indescribable beauty of the landscape, or the delightful people; most likely a fusion of these events served to secure their designation as extraordinary for you. These are a few of my amazing experiences.

Okavango Delta, Botswana, Africa

Ears tuned to the varied wildlife within the Okavango Delta, leaning against a pillow in a traditional dugout mokoro canoe, transported through the shallow waters with the lulling sound of poles dipping in and out of the water, I was living in the moment.

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Petra, Jordan

Emerging from the mile long narrow “Siq” trail with rocks towering over 250 feet on each side, the stunning “Treasury”, carved into the sandstone cliff face dating back to the 5th century, leaves you breathless!

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Sossusvlei Dunes, Namibia, Africa

Ready for some adventure? Try walking the spine of Dune 45 in the Namid Desert at sunrise. It’s only 557 feet tall and you’ll be tromping through sand that is 5 million years old. The views are otherworldly!

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Deadvlei Salt Pan, Namibia, Africa

Believed to be about 900 years old, the dead skeleton trees are set off by the contrasting colors of burnt orange sand, biscuit cracked earth, and cobalt blue sky!

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Hocking Hills Autumn Splendor

A quick two-day mid-week trip to Hocking Hills State Park for hiking followed by soaking in a hot tub with girlfriends was just what the doctor ordered!  Located in Southeastern Ohio, 2 1/2 hours from Cincinnati, the rugged cliffs, breathtaking gorges, cascading waterfalls, and flourishing forests of Hocking Hills State Park, afford visitors a pristine outdoor wonderland.  Our first hike was to Old Man’s Cave.  The well-marked one mile round trip trail, includes both man-made and natural steps.  The view from inside the mouth of the wide cave looks down onto a small stream and stone bridge…

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Autumn is one of my favorite times of the year to visit this park…

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