Enjoying all that returning home has to offer

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paddle board

Even after a delightful trip exploring new places, there’s no place like home. 

Glacier National Park is almost 2,000 miles away from my house. It seemed even farther when I looked at a map. When I punched in the directions, it said it would take us one day and four hours of non-stop driving to reach our home. 

I must’ve been hungry after three weeks of camping food. I love s’mores and camp pies, but they eventually get mundane. All I could think about was the great food found in Ohio. 

Sweet strawberries and ripe blueberries that get plucked and eaten in one quick swoop were at the top of my list of longed-for food. It wasn’t just healthy food; I was looking forward to the fair and the unhealthy indulgences of Rotary fries and dairy barn milkshakes. 

We arrived home on a Sunday morning after a thankfully uneventful trip broken up into a couple of days of driving. We knew we hit the midwest region when we saw corn popping up in rows, and the sun was well hidden behind gray clouds. 

Delicious food aside, we were very excited to see family, friends and our pets. Even after hiking on some infamous trails, we were ready to see our favorite places close to home. 

Paddleboarding

My summer birthday came and went quickly. However, I was given a gift that I was able to use for the entire summer — an inflatable stand-up paddleboard. I had been checking them out since last fall when I watched people paddleboarding together at Punderson State Park. 

Stand-up paddleboards originated in Hawaii and were first introduced to the mainland in 2000. The sport quickly gained popularity for many reasons. It’s easy for all body types and ages, which makes it a wonderful family activity. It does not require a lot of practice like surfing. 

Paddling is also a great way to exercise. It combines functional fitness with a cardiovascular workout. It is an excellent way to practice balance and strengthen core muscles. 

One of my reasons for wanting a stand-up paddleboard is because it is an affordable way to be close to nature. I love that aquatic life is right under my feet when I am paddling. It is easy to sneak up on other animals along the shoreline or on the riverbank since it is stealthier compared to a motor running. 

It is also very easy to transport because it all fits into a backpack, even the pump. We have taken it to two nearby state parks in Ohio, Guilford Lake and West Branch. 

Local lakes

During our travels, we discovered that many states charge an entrance fee to enter state parks. Ohio and Pennsylvania are two of the few states that do not charge an entrance fee. 

Guilford Lake State Park is located near Lisbon, Ohio. The lake itself is small by state park standards at 396 acres. Paddleboarding was a serene experience due to the 10 horsepower limit on boats. I was able to watch ducks on the lake while bluegill and crappie swam beneath me. 

We also went paddleboarding at West Branch State Park in Ravenna, Ohio. West Branch has a much larger 2,650-acre lake with unlimited horsepower. We found a primitive boat launch we liked in the no-wake area west of Rock Spring Road causeway. The primitive boat launch consisted of a wide sandy beach in a large bay. Additional no-wake areas can be found 300 feet from all the shorelines. 

Paddleboarding at West Branch made for a peaceful afternoon. I saw many schools of minnows darting around my board. Along the shore, birds jumped from branch to branch. Female cardinals swooped from one tree to another. A blue heron was fishing in the quiet setting.

Many Ohio state parks are offering paddleboarding lessons this summer. Information on dates and location can be found on the ODNR website: Events Calendar | Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ohiodnr.gov). 

I highly recommend stand-up paddleboarding as a new activity for all ages to restore health while at the same time enjoying nature.

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