Tag Archives: family time

A More Private Public Preserve

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


After years of tornado watches, warnings and thunderstorms, the unexpected happened: an outdoor-friendly Mother’s Day afternoon.  The forecast for 2011 had predicted the usual.  Showers.  Storms.  We scarcely dared to believe what appeared to be a clearing of the clouds but took off immediately for a nearby nature preserve to enjoy the weather gift as soon as it unfolded.

Char-Mar Nature Preserve north of Columbus, Ohio lies to the east of a popular mountain bike trail.  It has the extended quiet spells of a new and yet-to-be discovered park area. And its secluded location makes it unlikely the tract will ever experience the burgeoning trail traffic that can dispel nature on good weather days at other area parks.

The Glacier Ridge Trail is short but with enough hills and ridges amongst the woodlands and wetlands to keep it interesting. Streams wind along and beneath the trail and a newly constructed viewing blind offers panoramas of a tranquil pond.

Being Mom to three amazing young people makes any kind of Mother’s Day a treasured event.  Spending the afternoon doing my favorite thing -enjoying the outdoors, with them felt like tossing confetti into the celebration.

Updated from May 16, 2011.





Leave a comment

Just a Peek

My dad must have known that same little thrill during our “photo hikes”,  watching his daughter lose herself in the framing of visual elements -twisted upward, bent over or kneeling in the dirt, aiming her lens as she focused and fingered the shutter on her camera… That was me way back when, and is me yet today.

Wish I could gesture toward one of my own three kids and tell him, “I get it.”

Because I do.  “Mom, I see a shot!”  “Mom, can I use the extra camera?”  Those words warm my heart.  Those words mean that my kids are engrossed in a moment.  Living in the present; savoring it and saving it, to relish and share again later.

A photo reveals the foremost details and the chosen perspective of the photographer.  It can be an intimate telling of the heart. I like to think that, through their photos, for a moment I am seeing the world through the eyes of my children.

Photo Credits: Hannah Hartzell

More album photos: Heather Dugan Creative on Facebook

Updated from April 22, 2011.



Four Wheeled Furniture

Where it all began… my love of travel, passion for adventure, and the realization that the world stretched sooo much further than what I could see down my front sidewalk. Dad drove us from Ohio… to Alaska. Five females, one Winnebago and one very brave man ; )


My parents’ first home had an empty living room for many years. For my three sisters and me, it was a welcome extension to our play space. But for my parents, it represented a decision that enriched our lives.

The story goes that when my dad purchased a camper, the neighbor girl next door wanted one for her family too. Within a couple of days, Julie rang our front doorbell, stepped in far enough to peer into the vacant room just off the entry, and then wordlessly walked past my mother and back home. We found out later that her visit was to verify her mom’s explanation that, “Yes, the Dugans may have a camper, but they don’t have any living room furniture!”

That room eventually gained my grandparents’ baby grand piano, and later, a sofa, love seat, and a couple of swivel chairs. By then, however, my dad had already driven us through most of the United States and Canada. His curiosity took us up the east coast and by ferry boat to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. It carried us across the Plains, into the Southwest, and even north to Alaska. I remember fresh lobster at Peggy’s Cove, a late lunch atop the revolving Space Needle with views of Mount Rainier and a pre-eruptive Mount St. Helens in Seattle, fresh salmon in Fairbanks, and countless peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the road.

There was the occasional battle for a KOA or Jellystone RV Park where my sisters and I luxuriated in chlorinated pools and ate canned stew as our camper sat, resignedly parked within a grid of lots that felt strangely similar to the suburbs of home. The remote sites next to untouched streams or under canopied pines are the mental snapshots that linger with clearest focus, however. These explorable playgrounds of rocks and trees and water held wonderful secrets for even the casual adventurer. We reveled in the acoustics of our “concert performances” atop giant boulders in the northwestern woods. We optimistically tossed rock after rock into the edge of a crystalline Canadian lake in hopes of crossing to the mountain on the other side. We sketched the elaborate castles and cities our imaginations discovered within the eerie majesty of Bryce and Zion National Park’s pinnacles and cathedrals.

Dad eventually “upgraded” to a motor home, apparently realizing that five females would never make it up the unpaved (at that time) Al-Can highway without restroom stops. Alaska had been on his travel list for years and was our lengthiest summer adventure.

We ferried up the Inward Passage, sleeping at night in our sleeping bags stretched across the boat deck.

We camped beside Mendenhall Glacier, peeking at a fresh iceberg through our bunk window in the starlight.

We traveled to Denali National Park, which was just as majestic and rife with wildlife back then when it was named ” McKinley”. Through Fairbanks and the Yukon… We went as far north as Dad could take us -to Pt Barrow, the northernmost US community where a young Eskimo girl became my newest friend and most distant pen pal.

We learned in spite of ourselves. We were on vacation from school, but history and geography lessons readily seeped into our curious minds. I took my first photographs with my dad’s old Brownie and began journaling in green stenographer notebooks. Wish I knew where those pages were today…

My parents died young twelve short years ago. In the moments I miss them most, I slide back into these distant memories; to the family explorations that fueled the curiosity that drives me yet today. I smile when I remember that empty living room and am so thankful my parents filled young girls with dreams before they filled their floor space.

*Forgive the old photos. I took them as a twelve-year old in August of 1974, and they hold more sweet memories than pixels…

Updated from July 8, 2007.

1 Comment

Page 5 of 21« First...345671020...Last »
View Heather Dugan's profile on LinkedIn Subscribe to me on YouTube
Follow Me on Pinterest