Spring Break Adventure - Part II

(Click here if you missed Part I.)

The next day we did the one part of our trip Chris had arranged just for me. We toured one of the most famous Frank Lloyd Wright houses ever built: Fallingwater! The home is amazing; it’s actually built right over a waterfall!
Photograph © Holly Bowne. Used with permission of Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

When our kids were in elementary school, I volunteered as an art presenter and taught a lesson on Frank Lloyd Wright’s work, so I was especially geeked to tour the place. On our way there, I handed each of the boys a handy two-page fact sheet I’d created, complete with pictures, to help them fully appreciate what they were about to see.

Daron politely took his packet and began reading. Joshua groaned, “Not again, mom!”

(Yeah, yeah. So I’d done the same thing when we had our European Vacation Adventure in Rome.)

“Don’t you want to understand what you’re looking at?” I said.

*Dramatic Sigh*

“Daron is reading it!”

*Another Dramatic Sigh*

“Look, I know you only pretended to read the last packet I gave you, so I’m quizzing you this time.”

*Grumble, grumble*

We arrived and took the tour. Even though it was raining, it was so cool. You could hear the soothing rush of the waterfall throughout the house.

Afterwards, we returned to OhioPyle State Park for more hiking. We chose a trail renowned for its steep, rocky passes and spectacular overlook of the Youghiogheny River Gorge. As we hiked, white stuff fell from the heavens.

“Is that…hail?” I said, as little white balls bounced on the ground and pinged off my cheeks.




Well, at least I was dressed for the chilly 30° temps we were experiencing; I just kept my face down, trying to appreciate the natural beauty, until…

“Is this what you thought hiking would be like?” Chris asked Daron who had confessed earlier that he’d never been hiking before.

“It’s great!” he responded.

(Pay attention, because here comes the critical part) “Is this as rough a trail as you were expecting?”

“Actually, I thought it would be rougher.”


At this point, Chris guided us all off the trail and down the edge of the super steep gorge. After hiking down and sideways for a while (really awkward, by the way), what goes down must eventually come back up. So we started making our way up the steep ravine.

Now I exercise regularly, but I admit… I. WAS. DYING! I had to stop continually to catch my breath and get my heartbeat back into a normal range. By the time we reached the top, I was soaked with sweat which was trapped inside my hiking-for-30-degree-weather gear. By the end of the day, I was exhausted. I was not having fun. And I freely shared these thoughts with my fellow hikers. I knew I should really give myself an attitude adjustment.

Unfortunately, day three arrived…

It was our last day and time for our return trip home (Yeah!). On the way, Chris drove us through an area of West Virginia he’d in lived as a boy for our final hiking adventure. We stopped at Tomlinson State Park where it had been in the low 40s and pouring rain the entire morning (of course). It was still drizzling as we climbed from the car.

Standing in the middle of a rain-soaked path, Chris asked, “Which way?”

“It doesn’t matter,” I said, rain dripping from my eyelashes and chin. “As long as we do NOT do what we did yesterday.”

The boys chose a direction and we headed out. Although the trees were bare, it was sort of pretty and there were some beautiful views.

Then…they did it again.

As if I’d never spoken, Chris asked, “Is this a challenging enough trail for you guys?”

Now I ask you, is that really a question to ask two teenage boys?

Off the trail we went. AGAIN. Hiking down and sideways along an even steeper ravine than the day before. We stumbled over tree roots and rocks and clambered behind waterfalls. It was rougher going because of all the rain, and every one of us (except Chris) fell at least once so that our backsides and legs were covered in mud. (Please note: we still had the four-hour ride home ahead of us.) Sharp brambles smacked at our faces and Chris actually had his knife out, hacking a trail for us through the bush like he was Indiana Jones or Crocodile Dundee or something. And to top it off, three out of four of us definitely heard bear-sounding snorts coming from surrounding caves. I am NOT making this up!

Then, it got worse…

Tune in next week for the conclusion of Spring Break Adventure!

All Photographs © Holly & Chris Bowne

Quote of the Week

"The quality of mercy is not strain’d
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice bless’d;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes."
~ William Shakespeare ~

Image by: Iris Dragon

Spring Break Adventure - Part I

All right, that’s it! I’ve had it. No more “boy” hiking trips for me!

For Spring Break this year, we opted for a three-day hiking adventure among the foothills of the Appalachians in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. We allowed our son Joshua to invite a friend, to make the trip a little more enjoyable since we didn’t have his college freshman sister with us this time. *Sniff, sniff*

Now before I share the details of our adventure, I want to emphasize the fact that I love hiking. I grew up hiking and I even enjoy a little “rough” hiking. But what I discovered on this particular vacation, is that I do NOT enjoy “boy” hiking.

Let me s’plain.

Before we left, I was a bit concerned that the promised sunny forecast had turned dismal, with threats of rain, thunder and snowstorms.

“It’ll be fine,” my hubby Chris said.

I resigned myself to hiking in yucky weather and packed accordingly. Our first day, we arrived at OhioPyle State Park in Pennsylvania. It promised beautiful waterfalls and the rugged terrain the boys were hoping for. The day had started out raining, but miraculously stopped soon after we began our hike. The wet weather created a glowing mist along the trail, giving the landscape this cool, ethereal quality.

Pretty, right? So far, so good.

Occasionally the boys and Chris would veer from the trail, exploring little patches of wilderness. I remained ON the trail and took pics.

Again, so far so good. I could see them while they explored and I got to stay on the trail. The first trouble arose around 6:00 p.m. Josh and his buddy Daron were hiking faster than Chris and me, probably because we stopped to take pics like these:

We knew it would be getting dark soon and I could no longer see the boys’ bright-colored coats amongst the bare, brown tree trunks. So we began calling for them. And calling. No answer.

The sky grew dark and angry looking. We called louder. Still no answer.

Then it started thundering.

Have I mentioned in the past that I tend to panic easily? I think it’s safe to say that in a crisis situation, or anything that resembles a crisis situation, I’m not the person you want to be standing next to.

I started to FREAK OUT! I knew the temperature was supposed to drop dramatically overnight, and snow was predicted. Why hadn’t we brought our cell phones?! Why oh why hadn’t we let Joshua finish his Boy Scout training?! If he’d become an Eagle Scout, he’d have known what to do while trapped in a freezing cold forest. I immediately envisioned the boys lost in the woods and freezing to death overnight. I sobbed and screamed their names louder in the rising wind.

Chris grabbed my hand in an effort to calm me. “The only thing I can think is they may have taken that off-shoot from the main path back there,” Chris said, indicating the way from which we’d come. “Let’s go back and check.”

“But what if they didn’t? What if they kept going?” I cried.

Chris took a stick and wrote Joshua’s initials in the dirt with an arrow pointing in the direction we went to find them.

“He’ll never see that!” I wailed as he pulled me along beside him.

We came to the off-shoot and Chris told me to stay put while he jogged up to see if he could spot them.

I was truly hysterical now.

Hours passed (okay, it was probably more like 15 minutes) when I heard Joshua’s voice calling me. I looked up the main trail and saw the boys headed in my direction. I ran and fell onto my son, bawling like a crazy woman, and babbling incoherently about how terrified I’d been for their lives. He patted my back, while poor Daron gaped at me with wide, bewildered eyes. And Chris, hearing my screams and sobs, of course, came jogging back.

Apparently the boys had simply gotten further ahead of us than they’d realized. Both boys being possessed of good common sense, had heard the thunder and simply turned around to come back. Just as they should have. Why had we doubted them?

Needless to say, I was completely wiped out as we drove to the hotel. I only hoped the rest of our trip would be better. I should have known…


Photographs © Holly & Chris Bowne

The Perfect Daughter

My son would call this post "cheating" because I'm not actually writing anything. But it's been one of those weeks, you know? I'm deep into a travel writing project about Austria--which looks like an AMAZINGLY beautiful country, by the way--and have had an unsual number of circumstances draw me away from my writing time. So, I decided to share this funny video my mother sent me instead. It cracked me up!  It's titled The Perfect Daughter.  Enjoy!

Quote of the Week

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls, and looks like work."
~ Thomas Edison ~

Image by: CarbonNYC

Dressing Like a Mom

Twittering birds, warmer days, fat buds cropping up on formerly bare tree branches. Ahhhh. Often with the coming of spring, comes the desire to revamp our wardrobes. Out with the old and in with the new. In honor of this, I thought you might enjoy this abridged version of an essay I sold to Girlfriend 2 Girlfriend magazine a while back.

“You look fine,” my friend Vicki said, in response to my question. “You look like…well, like a mom.”

What?! Yeah, so I AM a mom, but that was beside the point. I didn’t necessarily want to look like one. Heck, when I was in my twenties I was known for my funky, artsy style. I mean, I used to work in advertising and everything!

I walked over to the mirror and stared at my sit-at-the-waist jeans complete with belt, and button-front oxford, neatly tucked in. I guess they did kind of scream “Hello, 80’s!” With a shock I realized I was vintage, and not in a good way. I decided right then, I needed to do some serious style revamping.

With my teenage daughter’s fashion advice ringing in my ears, I headed to the mall, a woman on a mission. In the jeans section, I chose several low-rise styles and locked myself in a dressing room. Squeezing into the first pair, I rechecked the tag. Strange. They were supposed to be my size. Well, I had to admit it was kind of liberating to have my stomach pouf sitting on top of the waistband for a change. But the rest of me was so uncomfortably packed in, I quickly took them off.

Moving on, I pulled up the next pair. Or rather, I tried to pull them up. They were so low my underwear hung out a good four inches above the waistline. Not quite the look I was going for.

The third pair actually fit, but sported so many holes and tears in strategic places they didn’t really fit the over-forty-yet-sophisticated effect I was trying to create. I finally discovered some hole-free styles which sat “slightly below the waist,” then headed to the Intimates Department to find low-rise undergarments to wear with my new low-rise jeans.

I found myself surrounded by thongs. I held one up for closer inspection.


I know there are women my age who actually like these, but I totally don’t get it. How could they possibly be comfortable? So after selecting some regular hip-height styles, I moved onto tops.

According to my daughter’s recommendation, I wanted tops that didn’t need to be tucked in. When I was younger, tucking in was good. Now apparently, it’s bad. I grabbed a bunch of different styles and once again closeted myself in a dressing room.

Okay, here’s a question: why does everything need to be so form fitting?!

I peered over my shoulder where unflatteringly magnified were some “lovely lady lumps” of which, up until then, I’d been blissfully unaware. Several tops sported wide, low-cut necklines which, my daughter told me, I was supposed to layer over camis. After trying everything on, I was sweating and feeling suffocated by all of this “layering.” But I plunged gamely on, finally selecting some not-too-low-cut, not-too-form-fitting shirts. I made my purchases and headed home.

Hmph! Let’s see who ‘looks like a Mom’ now!

A few weeks later, my daughter and I were out shopping when I spotted a woman about my age. She was wearing a pair of the torn-and-shredded variety jeans with a low-cut top (no cami!). She cruised the aisles comfortably untucked, with a smidgen of tummy peeking out.

“What do you think about that?” I asked pointing in the woman’s direction. “Should I be dressing more like that?”

My daughter’s eyes grew wide, “No way! She’s a Wannabe!”

“What’s a Wannabe?”

“You know, a mom who wishes she was still a teenager.”

Ugh! Seriously? I wouldn’t go that far! I felt relieved; at least I wasn’t a Wannabe.

My daughter paused and looked me over in my slightly-below-the-waist jeans and untucked but-not-too-form-fitting shirt, and she smiled. “I like how you’re dressed, mom. You look fine.”

Cool. I guess I look fine. And that’s fine with me.

Image by: Playingwithbrushes