Pat McCarthy is the author of a dozen nonfiction books for children and young adults. She has published numerous stories, articles, puzzles and quizzes in magazines for children and adults. She teaches for the Institute of Children's Literature. She has also written encyclopedia articles and school curriculum. Pat is a retired elementary school teacher who subs to remain in touch with kids. Her hobbies are photography, travel, birding and scrapbooking.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Camping and Photography at Hocking Hills State Park

Gee, it's been a long time since I've written. I guess I've been busy. I've been doing some subbing, mostly in sixth grade, which I like. Today was in fourth grade, and that's okay, too. I just don't want to go to the building that has 700+ kids from Kindergarten-2nd grades! I like the older ones, and those are the ones I like to write for, too.

The biggest thing I've done lately was the camping trip with six other members of the Photo Club. We went to Hocking Hills State Park on Wednesday, October 17. The weather was warm for this time of year, in the seventies in the daytime and fifties at night. We all slept in tents. I learned that I have no trouble with the new tents. The doors are about five feet high, so you barely need to bend over to get in and out. I have trouble with the old ones where the door is only three feet high. My knees won't let me crawl in, and I can't bend that far with my back problem. So these were great. My friend Tim rode down with me, and we met Ken, Terry, Lynn, Kathy and Tom there. The first night we had a weiner roast and sat around the campfire talking and taking pictures.

When we got up Thursday morning, it was pretty gray-looking, but we decided to take a chance and hike to Rose Lake. According to the sign, it's a half-mile hike. Most of the signs seem to say that. I think they don't want you to get discouraged and not go on the hikes! It started raining soon after we set out from the parking lot, but the way led through woods and a huge pine forest, which kept most of the rain off us for awhile. When we finally got to the lake, all we did was huddle under the trees and wait for it to stop raining, which it never did. So we decided to leave. I had on one of plastic ponchos that comes in the little bag you can never get it back into. My head was sweating, so I took off the hood. I figured if my hair was going to be soaked, I'd rather have it wet with nice clean rain than sweat! Water was streaming off my hair by the time we got back to the cars. We decided to go to the Lodge and eat lunch and get out of the rain. Lynn and I used the hand dryers in the rest room to dry our hair and cameras. By the time we finished with the buffet lunch, the sun was out. We hiked Conkle's Hollow, another half-mile hike, in the afternoon. It seemed further, but when you stop every couple of minutes to photograph a stump, a mushroom, or some colored leaves or rock formations, it takes awhile. The coolest thing of the day was a group of purple-rimmed mushrooms growing on a log. We had dinner at the campgrounds again. Tim and I made foil dinners in the campfire with hamburger, potatoes, onions and carrots. They were pretty good. We hadn't been in bed very long when it started to rain again. There were forecasts of severe thunderstorms. We got a little thunder and lightning, but I lay there and counted the seconds between the flash of lightning and the thunder and it was never less than twenty seconds. Didn't bother me, since I knew it was far away. I love lying in the tent, listening to the rain beating on the roof.

Friday morning we got up and the rain had stopped. Tim and I had thought of going up to Amish Country in Holmes County with Lynn and Terry, but Lynn decided it wasn't that nice a day and it was a long drive, so we stayed around the park. We went back to Rose Lake, but only Tim went all the way down to the lake. Lynn, Terry, Kathy and I shot around the pine forest. It's a beautiful place. Then Kathy, Tim and I went to shoot a little church across from the campgrounds. A man came over and asked if we'd like to see the inside, so he unlocked it and we took pictures in there. We were supposed to meet at the Lodge at 1:00 for lunch. As we finished shooting, I asked Tim what time it was, and it was already 1:00! So we were almost half an hour late, but nobody minded. They know what happens when you're out shooting! In the afternoon, Lynn and Terry started home, Ken and Tom went off on their own, and Tim, Kathy and I shot scenes of fall foliage from the road. Between Wednesday and Friday it had gone from sparse color to brilliant red and gold foliage. Had sandwiches at the Lodge and enjoyed another campfire.

Saturday we had to take down the tent and drive to the zoo in Columbus, where the Club had a shoot. The zoo photographer was to talk to us about zoo photography. Marilyn took Adam, so I wouldn't have to go back home and get him. His dad took him to Dayton. We were on the cell phone to people at the zoo and they told us if we went in with the photographer, we could get in free. On the third call, Vickie said, "We're going in right now!" We were still 15 minutes away, so figured we'd have to pay. We decided it was worth a try to tell the woman at the gate that we were with the group that went in with the photographer, and it worked. She let us in free. We did miss the photographer's talk, but we found Adam within a few minutes. He had a great time shooting with my camera. I really have to find a used digital SLR for him, so we can both shoot at once! I didn't get any fabulous shots there, but it was a fun day. We were all pretty exhausted by the time we left the zoo, after walking around for eight hours.

On the writing front, I'm still teaching the two courses for ICL, which gives me a number of lessons to do each week. I'm waiting to hear about the pioneer book. Last week I got an e-mail from a woman who wants people to write testing passages and questions betweeen November 1 and December 1. My friend, Suzanne Lieurance, recommended me to her. I wrote that I was interested, but haven't heard back. That would be a little extra money for Christmas.

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