After our year in Alabama, we had a few weeks to (sort of) settle into our Indiana cabin before hitting the road again. Our destination this spring/summer was Columbus, Ohio. I’ll be upfront; I was not excited about this trip. We had decided to jump into a job with travelling so that we could explore new places and Columbus, only two hours from where we both grew up, wasn’t exactly new. It would be nice to be able to visit with my grandmother, but I wasn’t quite sure what we were going to do with the three months we had been assigned!
As usual, my misgivings were completely without cause. Once I let go of expectations we had a blast exploring Columbus this summer, and in truth I wouldn’t mind another assignment there as there was a lot left uncrossed on my ‘must see’ list.
Places to Stay
Alum Creek State Park
I’m not sure how we missed this beautiful state park directly across from the campground we inhabited during our last assignment (read about that here) in Columbus, but Alum Creek is now our go to for that area. A beautiful park with a lovely little lake. Wooded trails and places to ride our bikes (this is where Ocean kicked off those training wheels!). The sites are a little on the small side, but they are a few hidden gems here and there surrounded cozily by the trees. We knew going in that there were a limited number of full hook up spots (read: we have to haul our poop to the dump station. Just in case you were starting to glamorize our lifestyle), but we were surprised to find when we arrived that the sites without sewer also did not have water. That’s something we had never actually encountered before! With sites close to the dump / fill up station and an amazing husband willing to get us settled each morning before going to work we were able to make do sacrificing a bit of convenience for a serene surrounding.
We also met a few full timing families here! It is always such a great renewal to connect with families with whom you feel an automatic bond. I mean, it obviously takes a certain kind of person to jump into this lifestyle, so it’s easy to connect with those ideals right away. We had fun with playground playdates, tree climbing, and hot dog roasts. If you like to peek into the life of full timers be sure to check out this inspiring family living the life with their four kids on YouTube! (see them here).
Being close to our hometown also had its perks- friends coming to visit! What an amazing weekend getting to have our ‘at home’ friends meet our ‘on the road’ life!
In the interest of full disclosure if you’re considering a stay here, we did have some tools stolen out of our truck one night, and heard of several other robberies during our stay. On the plus side the ODNR officer we worked with was very nice, and they did end up locating the tools. So, definitely keep your belongings locked up, but don’t let it stop you from visiting this charming park!
Cross Creek Camping Resort
This is the campground we stayed out during our last trip to Columbus. Sites are a bit packed in, and it was definitely more crowded this visit compared to our last one in winter. There is a pool and jumping pillow which the kids enjoyed. And we had water hook up, which was a nice break.
Mt. Gilead State Park
Remember when we got kicked out of John Bryant State Park? (read about it here) Well… we did it again! Due to miscommunication about the maximum length of stay we came home from a trip to the park one day and received notice that they wanted us out, immediately. I wasn’t wearing my pajamas this time so I’ll count it a win. Our exile drove us north to Mt. Gilead and I’m so grateful that it did! What a really beautiful park. The tall majestic pines made me ‘homesick’ (nomadsick?) for Alabama. Lots of great hiking trails and a very quiet campground. Most of all we really enjoyed getting to know the naturalist of the park who gave us private edible plant tours (how did no one else show up for that??), helped us make nature journals, and let us hold the visiting hissing cockroaches. Were it not so far for Tom to commute to work we would have loved to have lived out the rest of our Columbus stay in this wonderful little park.
Cardinal Shooting Center
I don’t have much to say about this one, as we basically used it as a parking lot with electric to keep the fridge cold while we stayed at the cabin for a week when Tom had some work to do in Cincinnati. We were booked at the same time as a shooting event so it was extremely crowded, and our ‘site’ was literally in a gravel parking lot. The rest of the park didn’t appear to be much more appealing, however, I suppose if you’re into shooting it would be a convenient place to stay!
Berkshire Lake Campground
We were still past our limit of stay on Alum Creek and wanted to check out something different from Cross Creek so we decided to take a chance on this small privately owned campground that was close to Tom’s job. It’s not often that we don’t recommend a campground, but this is one of those times. It did have a pool and, obviously, a lake which was nice. However many parts of the park were in disrepair and we had more than one disappointing interactions with the staff. Given the price, and the other options close by, this isn’t one we plan to return to.
What’s to eat?
With my eating restrictions and three young kids, our method of experiencing food in a new area is less restaurant and more farmer’s market. Being near a large metropolitan area there were plenty of markets to choose from in Columbus! We decided to give three of the major ones a try – Clintonville, Worthington, and Delaware. All of the markets were bustling with many stands and streams of patrons. Clintonville and Worthington were very similar, with many of the same vendors. Delaware, being a little further from the city, was a little less active. All three are spread across the main streets of the area, which, honestly, we found a bit strange! We had to dig through a lot of soaps and cakes to find the produce, but the Columbus spring and summer had a lot to offer. Truly though, we were missing the bounty and set up of the market in Greensboro North Carolina. Nothing ever compares.
The best surprise this area had to offer was the little organic farm market across the street from Alum Creek. I had just finished reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle when we arrived in Columbus (you should stop reading this blog and read her book, so good!!) I immediately started plugging the words “organic” “farm” and “market” into google maps hoping to get lucky. And lucky I was! The GPS told me we were ten minutes away from Hunts Farm Market. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I knew we had to check it out. I messaged the owner to find out about store hours, only to be disappointed that he wasn’t quite open for the season. But, wait! He would be happy to pick from his early crops whatever I desired and would have it ready for me to devour in the morning. I couldn’t contain my excitement! I got one of everything. And what’s more, when we went to pick it up we discovered that we could (and did, on several occasions) walk to the market from the campground. I was truly in heaven. The produce was amazingly delicious. I didn’t have to worry about not having room in my tiny fridge as I could go whenever I wanted (I was there all. the. time.) And the kids were begging to eat their vegetables because it was grown by their new farmer friend. Just by hanging around so much we got to know the sweet farmer and his family that run the small (but steadily growing!) market. What an amazing service this man is doing for his community by providing all of that fresh healthy food so readily, and not poisoning their water, air and soil in the process. I am extremely thankful to Josh and farmers like him, and so glad that we had this opportunity to meet and support them.