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Don't forget about your New Year's resolutions

FIT Staff
Feb 2, 2014
I'm back.
 
It's been a whirlwind the past few months.
 
New job, old job, road playlists, a snowy owl, holiday happenings, weather whiplash and laughing eyes.
 
Hello 2014. 
 
New Year's resolutions. You're probably sick of them by now. 
 
I, on the other hand, love New Year's resolutions. If it jump-starts me to be healthier, I'm in.
 
If it gets me to dream big again, sign me up.
 
If it helps me remember a bit of who I am and what I'm here for when I forget, let's do it.
 
Some of my beautifully vague resolutions, include being a student for a year, keeping in touch, relating not comparing, as well as showing up. 
 
One of my more specific resolutions has taken on a life of its own. I'm calling it "From the Heart of It All."
 
I do, after all, live in Ohio.
 
In 2014, I'm heading out for one uninterrupted weekend adventure a month to places I've never laid eyes on before.
 
I'm working within a 200-mile radius (as the crow flies) of central Ohio to share a little slice of the Midwest with folks and prove once and for all that it really is the heart of it all.
 
I'm hoping to find some mating slugs, wild sky, fresh tracks, towering trees, crooked trails,  blazing sunsets, muddy waters, billowing owls, fresh veggies and wild travelers.
 
What I'll really find — who knows?
 
The point, my friends, is to GO. We may not have jutting mountains or vast road-less expanses, but we do have aching landscapes and the bright eyes and hearts to take it all in. We have the foothills of the Appalachians, Lake Erie and her islands, the crooked, creeping Cuyahoga, the Mounds of our history,  mastodon bones, water snakes, prairie sunsets waving, glittering snow sparkles and enough homegrown food to go around.
 
The New Year started on the road. I caught Red Wanting Blue (www.redwantingblue.com) in Cincinnati at the historic Art Deco 20th Century Theater (http://www.the20thcenturytheatre...). I can't tell you enough how happy these guys were! Not to mention the music ... a new favorite of mine — Stay on the Bright Side.
 
What other way to start the New Year than to slip into Kentucky and wake up in a place I've never laid eyes on for a sunrise hike?
 
It seemed like a no-brainier so that's exactly what we did! Carter Caves State Resort Park (http://parks.ky.gov/parks/resort...) is located in Olive Hill, Ky. It has a great lodge, miles of trails, plenty of activities and a nature center.
 
It also has a kind front desk attendant who opened the door at 4:30 a.m. so I could use the restroom! They have a sure-to-be-awesome Winter Adventure Weekend (www.winteradventureweekend.com) coming up the end of January. Be sure to check it out if you are looking for guided outdoor activities! 
 
Carter Caves boasts two spectacular geologic features — massive cave systems and arching natural bridges. It does offer guided cave tours of three of its five caves.
 
The other two are closed due to White-nose Syndrome or WNS. WNS kills anywhere from 70-100 percent of hibernating bats in infected caves. This fungus typically grows on the bats muzzles and disturbs their hibernation. If they wake up, they expend crucial energy reserves before alternative food sources, such as mosquitos, are available to sustain them.
 
WNS was found in some caves at the park in February 2013. Carter Caves now has a list of rules and requires decontamination before cave entry. The caves are also closed to individual exploration. 
 
While we did not hit any of the caves, we hiked one of the more popular trails, the Three Bridges Trail. As the name suggests, you get to view three natural bridges. After some coaxing, I made it out of my mummy bag from REI (www.rei.com). Ten years, thousands of miles and temps down to minus 15 that bag has seen more than the average Joe! 
 
We caught the sunrise over the tree line as we climbed up the first ridge. Oh me, oh my! If you've never woken up to see the sunrise, you must! And in winter, you only have to wake up around 7:30 a.m. to catch it.  
 
We ate breakfast on the trail with a stunning view of Raven Bridge. Oatmeal, apples and my favorite Pataschio Lime mate from Sub Rosa Tea (www.subrosatea.com). Back to the basics and oh, so tasty!
 
The last bride we encountered, Smokey Bridge, is one of the largest natural bridges in Kentucky. Massive really and full of nooks and crannies that beg to be explored. 
 
I hope you started your New Year right — snuggled in bed, dancing the night away, toasting with friends (or dogs or grand kids like my parents did). However you spent it, it's yours.  
 
I hope you will join me for my New Year's tesolution. I'll be posting here monthly (that's the plan!), and on www.jesslhenning.blogspot.com.
 
Regardless, I hope you take in more soul shine sunrises, flitting butterflies, calling owls, winding trails, grinding cicadas, mud between your toes and smiles from the heart of it all in 2014.