Category Archives: Running/Health & Fitness

Winter Wildlights

As evening exercise it beats running mindless laps at the gym or stumbling along a dimly lit running trail.  But a walk through Ohio’s most spectacular light display offers much more than a Christmas cookie calorie burn!

Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo has become an annual Christmas tradition for many of us in central Ohio.  It’s a jeweled version of an Ohio winter with acres of glittering trees and walkways rainbowed by glowing lights.  Musical light shows and live music, reindeer, a scuba Santa diving amongst tropical fish in a coral reef (as well as a dry one, available for souvenir photos), a 1914 carousel, a Christmas train ride…  Wildlights is geared to engage the whole family.

And actually, it can simply be a great evening stroll. Even on a crowded night, it beats tangling with frantic shoppers at the mall.



Wildlights runs through Jan 1, 2012 at the Columbus Zoo in Columbus, Ohio.  Admission is $14.00. Reduced admission for children (ages 2 9) and seniors. Parking is $5.00. Free admission/parking for Columbus Zoo members.

*Purchase and print your tickets on-line to avoid waiting and save $1.00. Even better, buy a season pass. Walking through Wildlights is a lot warmer (and more fun) than standing (and shivering) in long admission lines.

 (Photo credit: Columbus Zoo Ornament; Hannah Hartzell)

Information updated for 2011-2012 season from December 6, 2010.



Go Hannah Go!

Footsteps, by virtue of its author’s devotion to an active outdoor-oriented lifestyle, has often included mention of the dynamo who is my daughter: Hannah. Most of our best adventures, whether kayaking, hiking, snorkeling, cycling or running have included her at center stage and been enriched by her special spark. While also a talented writer and photographer, my girl’s natural state seems to be one of graceful motion. She joked once that she and I were the only ones she knew who sported mother/daughter running clothes rather than the traditional matching dresses. I guess workout gear just fit both of us a little better. And for Hannah, solo time with her dad is better enjoyed on a running trail than at a movie theater. But, while she may have grown up amongst runners, she has embraced the passion and made it all her own.

Her love of running began young. Hannah always seemed to possess her own rechargeable battery, allowing her to effortlessly fly across soccer fields, around tracks and over park trails. She still does.

And this Saturday, her gazelle-gaited gift, along with a truly impressive work ethic, will take her to the State Cross Country Championship to race the best of Ohio’s best. As her proud mom and a die-hard Hannah fan, I just had to take a moment and say: Go Hannah Go!!!

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Detour to Dawes Arboretum

Pink peony by Daweswood House; Dawes Arboretum; Newark, Ohio

An In-Town Tourist Feature:
…because Adventure begins in the heart and Travel starts at the end of your own driveway.

If not for photography I might run too much. Sadly, when friends refer to rehab projects, I think of ankles and knees. Anything in excess is unhealthy, even “good for your body” things like exercise. Fortunately, photography provides enough outdoor thrills to compensate for an endorphin-less “rest day”.

The Dawes Arboretum Visitor Information and Map

Kentucky coffee trees with farm field; Dawes Arboretum; Newark, Ohio

One of my favorite photo stops is Dawes Arboretum, east of Columbus in Newark, Ohio. Dawes cradles some 1700 acres of botanical beauty. Founded in 1929 by the colorful Beman and Bertie Dawes, the park is free to the public and offers an impressive display of more than 15,000 living plants. Eight miles of trails allow visitors to wander through a cypress swamp, a Japanese garden, a woods and multiple collections of labeled plant specimens. The grounds are well manicured in a non-fussy sort of way. It’s the kind of place one could imagine as his own backyard with enough money, time and the knowledge to make it so.

Japanese Garden; Dawes Arboretum; Newark, Ohio

The serene Japanese garden includes a reflection pool, meditation house and two islands, artfully accessed by stepping stones and arched wooden bridges.

Bald cypress swamp; Dawes Arboretum; Newark, Ohio

The Bald cypress swamp is other-worldly with pneumatophores or “cypress knees” protruding all over like odd little families wading through the algae coated water.

Collections of conifers, holly, oaks, ginkgoes, magnolias and many more fill the seemingly endless acreage that eventually rolls into Dawes Lake at the southern edge of the park.

The view from an observation tower just beyond allows one to decipher the “secret message” in the hedge planting at the park’s southern tip: “Dawes Arboretum.”Japanese Umbrella tree; Dawes Arboretum; Newark, Ohio

The park was a Sunday drive destination for my family when I was a young girl, but as many times as I’ve wandered the grounds there, I still discover something new every time.

Tulip bloom on tulip tree; Dawes Arboretum; Newark, Ohio

Tree bench at Dawes Memorial; Dawes Arboretum; Newark, Ohio

This time a deciduous variety of holly, a blooming tulip tree and bench grafted into the trunks of two sturdy trees caused the double-takes. The bench sits within the family cemetery just beyond the Daweswood House Museum and History Center, which I aim to check out next time.

Yellow flowering shrub; Dawes Arboretum; Newark, Ohio

On my last visit we tried identifying as many trees and shrubs as we could without peeking at their labels but found that even the most common tree species have impressive families.  Who knew there were so many varieties of ginkgoes?!

That afternoon slipped by as gently and sweetly as the rolling hills around us, and I found plenty of thrills through my camera lens.  Should the truly shocking occur this year, a non-stormy/non-freezing Mother’s Day, a picnic at Dawes sounds about perfect.

Updated from June 2, 2008.


The Dawes Arboretum Visitor Information and Map

The Dawes Arboretum (Newark, Ohio)
1800 acres of botanical beauty to drive and walk through.
Eight miles of trails with labeled specimens.
Collections of holly, azalea, conifers, cypress, bonsai and more.
A 36-foot Outlook Tower and serene Japanese Garden are visitor favorites.
Picnicking permitted.
Free to the public.
“Yes” to pets (on leash)

Directions: Take I-70 east from Columbus. Take Newark exit and travel north on Jacksontown Rd. Arboretum entrance will be on left.
Visitor Center: Open Mon-Sat, 8AM-5PM; Sundays and holidays, 1PM-5PM
Address: 7770 Jacksontown Rd. SE; Newark Ohio 43056
Phone: 740-323-2355 or 800-44-DAWES
Admission: Free!

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