by Ashley Murphy
As Dorothy said, while stuck in the land of Oz, "There's no place like home, there's no place like home." Well, sometimes there's just nothing like a break from the place you call home. Especially in the town I live in. I often find myself wishing for a break from "home," outside the normal, every day, run of the mill things.
I'm sure there's a lot of other people in Cleveland often wishing the same thing. But, they're probably in the same boat I find myself on a weekly basis, penniless. Well, maybe not completely, I'm sure I could scrounge up about 50 cents in that depressingly light wallet of mine. The good thing is, not every activity has to cost money, or at least not that much.
We all know of the big vacations. The one's that take us on a week or two week break from home. Unfortunately, we also know that those require us to fork over the hard-earned, big bucks, leaving your bank account hanging on by a thread. Trying to recoup that money is even more painful than seeing it all go. While its wonderful to have these types of vacations, sometimes it just comes down to the heartbreaking fact, you can't afford it. With Spring and Summer coming up, how about trying to make every weekend an adventurous vacation? Even if you don't go far and end up back at home at the end of the day.
Luckily, in our area, we have beautiful mountains and scenery surrounding us. Want something amazing AND free? Go hiking! All it costs is the gas to get you there. Just do an internet search to find hiking trails, picnic areas, waterfalls and lookouts. There are hundreds all around us and its so easy to spend the day completely immersed in nature and her beauty. Pack a lunch and a few snacks and you're covered for a day of adventure. Take your camera, I guarantee beauty you will want to capture.
Several of these trails also have bathing pools. Need to keep the kiddos preoccupied? Look for trails that lead to waterfalls and let the kids cool off and splash around at the base of the falls. Rest them up, give them a snack and head back up the trail. I'd definitely stick to the shorter trails, also, for younger kids. Some of those hikes can be very tiring. But worth it!
Walking up and down a mountain in the middle of the woods isn't your thing? Then, how about white water rafting? Cost just depends on the trip you choose. But it's close to home, just up the road off Highway 64, so no outstanding hotel costs and not much gas burned. There are several rafting companies up 64, toward the Ocoee Whitewater Center. Compare rates, pick a tour and they'll bus you up to the put-in slot and your guide will take you on an exciting adventure down the rapids of the Ocoee River.
Still a bit too much excitement for you? Then head on up to the Ocoee Whitewater Center, pay a small parking fee and have yourself and adventure close to an air-conditioned gift shop with ice cream and restrooms. There are some concrete pathways to walk along waterside, plenty of spots to jump in the water and cool off and very large walking bridge above the Ocoee river. There are also several swimming holes off the beaten path if you want to do some walking, or take your bike and get a little pedaling exercise in. If the water isn't released that day, choose a large rock and sunbathe.
I also highly recommend looking to sites like Groupon, SweetJack and LivingSocial for plenty of local deals to keep you occupied, whether it be discount lodging, deals on food, spa packages, rock climbing, hang gliding or hot air balloon rides. I'm sure there will be plenty of deals to consider so you can take your break from home and have a little bit of fun while getting away from the house.
After all, everyone needs a break now and then.