Innkeeper Challenges Guests to Take on Her Job

Over the years, innkeeper Ellen Grinsfelder has overheard plenty of comments about how much fun it must be to run the cozy bed and breakfast where she works in Logan, Ohio. Since so many people have wondered how grand of a time it must be work at the inn, she’s decided to take the day off and let a guest step in and run the place.

The Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls, located near Hocking Hills State Park, is now on the hunt for a friendly, energetic person to take over innkeeper duties on Sunday, June 3. Anyone who thinks they are up for the job-a task that includes checking in guests and taking phone messages, among other duties-is encouraged to contact Grinsfelder by email at ellen [at] innatcedarfalls [dot] com. In return for their service, one “lucky” applicant will receive a free overnight stay that evening. We’re looking forward to hearing whether or not the chosen one still feels like they got the better end of the bargain after Grinsfelder returns.

Photo of Innkeeper Ellen Grinsfelder courtesy The Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls.

Zipline canopy tour: A fall foliage adventure option

Back in June, when I zipped from sycamore to oak trees along the highwire cable lines of the Hocking Hills Canopy Tours in the Hocking Hills region of Ohio, I thought, I bet this is gorgeous in the fall.

Now that yellows and reds are just beginning to show their colors, I’d say trees will be in their autumn glory in a week or two. Cold has arrived at night to hasten the palate switch. Meg’s posts about fall foliage tour options, reminded me of this one.

I blogged about this tour before I took it, and am not surprised that it has remained so popular that the season has been extended through November–although the hours will change.

As a person with first-hand experience, I can vouch for the thrill of heading off on a wire from one tree to another. My favorite parts were the sections where I was zipping through the air, far from the platform I had left, high above the ground, and the platform where I was heading had yet to come into view. There is a moment where you can’t see where you are exactly because of the leaves. Then, the next platform comes into view like a surprise of “oh, there you are.”

For anyone who is afraid of heights, a zipline canopy tour might be your cure. A friend of mine said she was afraid of heights when she started the tour, but by the end she was not. Because of the process of clipping and unclipping safety lines, and the calm voices of the two guides–one who leads and one who follows, ensuring everyone’s safety, you know you are in capable hands.

Before you go out on the real ziplines, there is practice session (seen in picture) with a short zipline that’s only shoulder height off the ground. This is when you learn to stop yourself by applying pressure with the palm of one of your hands to the top of the zipline cable. It’s enough of a practice to give you the feel for how the cable, harness, clip and pulley system works.

Before the moment when you leave an actual platform to head off to another platform, you’re always clipped to either the line attached to the tree where the platform is or to the zipline. During the transition, you’re clipped to both to make sure there aren’t any mistakes. There are two clips fastened to your harness. One clip is unfastened from the platform cable and then fastened to the zipline cable. Then, the next clip is unfastened and fastened. This means if you did slip, you’re held up.

The picture is of the only part where you start from the sloping ground and run until your feet lift off. Then off you go.

Seriously, you won’t fall and the harnesses are designed to hold you properly–almost like an adult version of one of those things you strap babies into so they can jump and bounce in a doorway. There is a pulley wheel system that enables you to glide along using the weight of your body, the distance of the cables and the angle of the points where the cables are affixed to the trees.

I did slow myself down too soon and stopped about 25 feet from one of the platforms, but I was able to use my hands to pull myself along easily until I reached the point where the lead guide could pull me the rest of the way.

Seriously, zipping was a piece of cake. (In the picture above, you can see the lead guy on the platform. The person heading toward him is slowing down, partly due to the slope upwards of the zipline caused by the angle and the person’s weight.)

One terrific aspect of this trip is that you don’t have to be an athletic type to have fun. There’s not a lot of physical exertion involved. The oldest person to do the canopy tour, so far, I was told, was in her 80s. Not that 80-year-olds aren’t athletes, but the point is, this is a multi-age, multi-ability activity. You do have to be at least 10-years-old though, and weigh at least 70 pounds to be allowed to go. You also can’t be above 250 pounds. The reason for the weight limit is not that the cable won’t hold, but because of the principles of physics that make the system work. Too much weight throws off the system.

When I took the tour, one of the co-owners of the company was one of the guides. Here’s some insider information not found on the website.

Hocking Hills Canopy Tours came about after she and her husband went to Alaska with two other couples–one of the people was her sister. While in Alaska, all six of them took in the Alaska Canopy Adventure zipline tour, loved it, and thought Hocking Hills would be a perfect setting for a canopy tour company. Instead of thinking about all the reasons their dream might not work, once back in Ohio, they went for it. All pieces fell into place including the land for sale. In months, they had a booming adventure travel business.

The moral of the story, follow your dreams, particularly if you have the dream when you’re traveling.

Washboard Festival: feet tappin’ fare for Father’s Day

Here’s another Father’s Day weekend option. Not to pull you away from the Duct Tape Festival plans you may have made, but the Washboard Festival, June 13-14 would make a fun day trip if you live close enough to Logan, Ohio. The Washboard Festival celebrates the music traditions that stretch from Appalachia to the Louisiana bayou. Dating back to the mid-1800s, this is the kind of music that is guaranteed to put you in a happy mood.

The musicians are renowned, and if you’ve ever heard a Zydeco band, you’ll know that it’s impossible to stay still once the music starts. Dixieland Jazz and Jug Music are part of the two day event. If you haven’t been to town-run festival, you’re missing out on one of the greatest parts of summer. This one is particularly special because tours of the Columbus Washboard Factory are included. This is the last washboard company in the United States.

Logan is at the threshold of Hocking Hills, one of the most beautiful areas in Ohio. If you can stretch your weekend into another day, take some time to see where your exploration takes you.

Canceled flight equals missed meeting after hours of waiting

Checking a flight schedule the night before a flight and finding out it’s a go doesn’t mean it’s a go–not if you happen to be going on United Airlines from Columbus to Chicago. At least, not if you are the person I met yesterday at the Inn at Cedar Falls in Hocking Hills, Ohio. I was able to meet him because he was not at the business meeting that he was scheduled to attend.

Friday night, he checked his flight status. Everything was fine. He checked the status again before he left for the airport the next morning. The flight was still fine. At the airport, two hours later, he found out after the drive from Hocking Hills, that the flight was canceled, and he was rebooked on a flight for an hour after that. Then, that flight was delayed because of some plane trouble. It was unclear how long he would have to wait. As he sat in the Columbus airport waiting and waiting, the business meeting started and he decided not to go after all. What was the point?

United extended his ticket so he can go to Chicago another time. He doesn’t necessarily want to go to Chicago another time. I forgot to tell him that Chicago is one of the top 10 summer destinations which might have changed his mind.

During this conversation, as the details unfolded, people were tsk tsking over the state of the airlines.

I’m thinking that in the future, more and more business meetings will be held in cyberspace as the airlines struggle to deliver service. If people can talk to each other in video conference calls, why hassle with trying to meet in person for a meeting, unless it’s crucial?

National Trails Day: Get moving

Yesterday was National Trails Day. Sorry not to give the heads up sooner, but I found this out while I was hiking on a trail and without WiFi access. If you can swing a hike today on a national trail, I’d take one. If not today, than soon.

Make a plan for next weekend if you must. It doesn’t have to be major hike, but give yourself enough time for your arms and legs to move in a rhythm with each other where you have time to find your stride. If there are trees around, a bit of nature, wildflowers, a bubbling brook–great.

On such a hike, keep an eye out for things you don’t normally notice. A spider web that’s stretched between two twigs, a large leaf clump high over head that marks a squirrel’s home, a bird’s nest, a butterfly that’s dipping down for a drink in a stream, the way water shimmers in the sun when it’s illuminated on a rock face. These are some of the reasons for taking a hike in Ohio where this picture was taken.

In New Mexico, it’s the smell of juniper berries and pinion trees and the steady progress as you make your way up the Sandia Mountains or the Jemez–or any other steep mountains in the state. There are switchback after switchback. Notice how the earth turns brilliant orange or deep red depending on the time of day and the angle of the sun.

However, even if you live in an urban area, make up your own trail in the spirit of National Trails Day. Head out on the streets on your own volition–much further than your parked car or the closest subway or bus stop or metro. See where you live from a more intimate angle. Say, “Hi,” to folks as you pass. See what’s going on and which people’s yards make you smile with their riot of flowers if you live in suburbs, or in a neighborhood like I do–not downtown, but not suburban either. If you live in true city terrain, see which people have planted flower boxes and have hung them on the windows of their brownstones. Notice the way your feet move along a sidewalk and the strength of your gait.

No matter where you live, a hike does good, which is one reason to celebrate National Trail Day one day late-plus it gives the exclamation “Why don’t you take a hike?” a positive spin.

When I was on my hike at Old Man’s Cave in Hocking Hills area of Ohio, thanks to the state park naturalist I was with, I saw treasures like spider webs that look like jewels clinging to the gorge’s walls and columbine, the tiny flowers that serve as a hummingbird’s drinking fountain. The flower he showed me had been used by a bee that had opened the petals further.

To help plan ahead, National Trails Day is always the first Saturday of June. Find a 2009 calendar and mark it.