In August 2017, we spent the last weekend before school started hitting the open road. We jumped on I-75 and headed south to Dayton where we visited the Temple of Tolerance, Woodland Cemetery, Miamisburg Mound, Air Force Museum, Glen Helen Nature Preserve, and the John Bryan Nature Preserve. It was a wonderful two day adventure. However, once we got home, I discovered how much more we had missed! So this spring I watched the weather religiously and when it finally took a turn for the better with no rain in sight, we headed back down to Dayton for another family road trip! And this time we took Mom/Grandma/fellow adventurer with us!
Our first stop was a revisit for us but so worth it.
The Temple of Tolerance
(203 South Wood Street - Wapakoneta, Ohio)
The Temple of Tolerance can only be described as a labyrinth of stones, pathways, and metal oddities. Even that doesn't do it justice as this sits in someone's backyard in the middle of the city.
(View looking up at the largest stone hill in the backyard - picture from 2017 trip)
(View from top of largest stone hill)
(view from top of largest stone hill)
(view from top of largest stone hill)
A little piece of history that was destined for the scrap yard before being saved and displayed.
We left our mark at the Temple of Tolerance with a few Kindness Rocks.
Our next stop took us to one of Ohio's many waterfalls at the
Charleston Falls Preserve
(2535 Ross Road - Tipp City, Ohio)
No hike would be complete if you don't attempt to climb or walk on downed trees along the way.
The hike to the falls was short and sweet and absolutely beautiful. Who knew something like this is just 2 hours south of us?
This trail included a cave that would be fun to climb into during a dry spell.
But due to recent rains, I suspect, the cave was full of water.
The trail wove around for three miles through "Thorny Badlands", "Redbud Valley", and featured an observation tower. But the most loved part of the hike was stepping off the trail and doing a little crawfish searching in a brook.
We may have even spotted a water snake.
Final view of the falls on our hike out.
Day trippin' means car side picnicking to refuel the body.
A short hop, skip, and jump away lead us to the
Tunnel of Trees
(4178 Conference Road - Bellbrook, Ohio)
Jacob and his walking
The Tunnel of Trees, which has an interesting history of its own, has another special stop on its short 1.3 mile hike that is very impressive to say the least. The Three Sisters Oak Trees!
What do 550-year-old trees look like? Find out when you venture 0.7 miles along the Orange Trail to the site of the “Three Sisters,” three ancient white oak trees. Although in decline, two still survive. Borings from the trunk, done in the late 1960s on the largest of the three, indicate that they began growing around 1440. The largest of the three trees, dubbed the Big Sister, is one of the two largest trees in the MetroParks, with a circumference of 226 inches, a height of 141 feet and a crown spread of 93 feet, for a total of 390 points. Sadly, the middle sister, who had been weakened due to a fire, fell to the ground during the summer of 2008. She still lays between the other two soaring sisters, now a place for owls to nest, raccoons to sleep and bugs to eat.
(The kids standing inside the fallen middle sister tree.)
After peeling our eyes off the natural wonder that is a nearly 600 year old tree, the hike lead us to the Tunnel of Trees.
To stop and think that this used to be farmland, that people labored day after day and suffered to make a living on land we now leisurely hike on and that these trees themselves are well over 100 years old is just awe-inspiring.
The fourth stop of the day lead us to the vast
Caesar Creek State Park
(8570 East State Rt. 73 -Waynesville, Ohio)
If you are heading down this way, my recommendation is to stop at the Visitor Center and talk with a park ranger before heading out on your adventure. This place is huge and you can very easily end up on the 13 mile hike around the lake instead of the short 1.2 mile hike to the Horseshoe Falls.
While your hike starts out in a nature looking area, you eventually walk out into this barren wasteland looking area - leading you to believe you missed your trail somewhere. Don't worry, you're still on the right path. And if you ask passing hikers which direction to go, don't hesitate to question their response. Especially if they say to stay right but point to the left.
When you'll hear the rushing water you're almost there.
But first you'll have to cross a pretty awesome swing bridge.
The falls, although small, were a beautiful site to behold.
They would be a great place to visit on a hot summer day. Because even on a semi warm day at the beginning of May you can't stop the kids from going in.
Of course, you knew someone would slip and fall and being wet from the waist down and having to hike over a mile out to dry clothes is pretty upsetting.
Our final stop for the day was the
Hartman Rock Garden
(1905 Russell Ave - Springfield, Ohio)
Upon barely stepping out of the van, the kids found their very first kindness stone!
You can read the full story of the Hartman Rock Garden below but the highlights are... Ben Hartman, age 49, started the rock garden while unemployed during the Great Depression. What started with a cement fishing pond continued with "hundreds of structures and figurines, following the themes of history, religion, and patriotism" until his death in 1944.
The rock garden is normally very well maintained. However, we visited before "peak season" and therefore the fountains and ponds were not up and running just yet.
Of course we had to leave our mark on the rock garden by leaving one of our own, custom made rocks.
There was supposed to be one more stop, another waterfall, on our day trip but dinner won out over more hiking.
I guess that just means we'll have to head back down another weekend for another road trip.
Road trips are not measure by mile markers,
but by memories.