Make Your Next Vacation an Ecofriendly One

Sustainability isn’t black and white. You can still travel in style and be ecofriendly. (Photo courtesy Canva)

Transportation, destination, and lodging. All these elements and more come to mind when you plan a trip to remember. However, one factor usually falls through the cracks of even the most detailed of itineraries: sustainability. While the tourism industry as a whole isn’t known for being the most environmentally friendly, every vacation you take doesn’t have to make you feel guilt-ridden. That’s because sustainability isn’t black and white. Taking small steps and making mindful choices within your control makes a difference.

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Big Bone Lick State Park

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On our first day of vacation, we awakened to a gorgeous, sunny day in Cincinnati. Clear, azure skies seemed filled with promise, and after sitting through a three-day convention in Dayton, we wanted to stretch our legs a bit. So we packed a picnic lunch and drove south 30 miles along I-71 to Union, Ken. to investigate a park we’d never visited before.

The drive alone delivered a beautiful respite from the city. We left behind the skyscrapers and smog of downtown Cincy and within minutes we found ourselves surrounded by rolling hills, shady groves and green pastures. Long white picket fences separated family farms and hand-painted signs offered fresh eggs for sale. We had entered “God’s country,” as we heard one woman call it later that day.

A big wooden sign surrounded with flowers and decorated with mammoths and mastodons welcomed us to Big Bone Lick State Park, “birthplace of American vertebrate paleontology”. We headed straight for the visitor’s center to get a lay of the land, which proved to be the best initiation to Big Bone Lick. There we gathered a map of the park and perused the museum that educated us about the history of the area, then we began our journey back in time along the Discovery Trail that recreates the savannah as it once was.

Some 20,000 years ago, a huge glacier stretched from Wisconsin down to the Ohio River. As time passed, the ice receded and soon giant sloths, bison, mastodons, mammoths and other beasts gathered to drink and feed among the salty bogs there. Because the soft land sucked at the feet of these creatures, many animals got caught in the mud and mire and died. Their massive bones would later be discovered by scientists excavating the area. A diorama showcases this scene in vivid detail.

Today, however, the marshland has all but disappeared, leaving behind only one salt-sulphur spring, rolling grasslands, mounding flowers and lush forests that are home to a bison herd, deer, countless insects, amphibians and other wildlife. As we hiked along the Bison Trace trail, the day began to warm up, but the towering deciduous trees offered a shady reprieve from the heat as we enjoyed a meandering hike through the woods.

If you visit, be sure to wear good hiking shoes, because the ground along the hiking trails can be slick, muddy and rocky in places, and some points deliver a rather steep climb. Still, the scenery is beautiful and offers a lovely diversion to an urban lifestyle. On our next trip, we want to camp out for a long weekend, bring our swimsuits to relax by the pool and don our visors or hats and test our putting skills on the 18-hole miniature golf course.

Big Bone Lick State Park offers so many amenities there is truly something for everyone. Fishermen can enjoy bank-fishing on the 7.5-acre lake which is stocked with largemouth bass, bluegill and catfish. Athletes will love the tennis, volleyball and basketball courts, softball fields and horseshoe pits. To make the camping experience even more pleasant, the 62 spacious campsites offer utility hookups, grills, a playground, showers, restrooms, laundry facilities and a grocery store.

When you go:

  • Grounds are open year round, from daylight until dark.
  • Museum and gift shop are open between April—December, Monday to Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Friday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Campgrounds are open April 1—November 15. Check-in time begins at 2 p.m. and check-out time is 1 p.m. Make camping reservations by calling 1-888-4KY-PARK or visit

© 2011 Jadeworks Entertainment

Celebrate family and friends this July

Jathan and Heather's wedding cakesJuly 2011

Dear Friends,

July is always one of the busiest months of the year for us. To begin with, our wedding anniversary is July 16th, and we always do something special to commemorate the day we exchanged vows. One of our favorite traditions is that we splurge and buy a box of juicy chevron dipped strawberries (chevron dipped means that they are covered with both dark and white chocolate—YUM!) because these covered the top of our groom’s cake when we got married. Our good friend Val O’Dell made our cakes, and they were gorgeous with a basket weave design that took her countless hours to perfect. We’d looked forward to eating the cake that day with great anticipation, and yet the chocolate strawberries were the only part of it that we were able to eat! As you can tell from the picture shown here, they were to die for. Tell us what some of your wedding anniversary traditions are here. If you would like to view some of our other wedding photos, check out our new photo gallery.

This month is also the time we take our summer vacation. What will you do this month? Are you going to travel or have a “stay-cation” as many are doing this year? Since money is tight for everyone, we’re going to investigate inexpensive and free things to do with your family, then we’ll share our discoveries with you here. So stay tuned for money-saving vacation tips and reviews of the places we visit this month. If you have tips you’d like to share, send them our way as well.

As some of you may have noticed, June was not an eventful time in our “test kitchen.” However, we did dish up some tasty recipes that you will want to serve, perhaps for your very own barbecues this month. Scoop up our chunky guacamole with Serrano peppers with your favorite tortilla chips or dollop it on top of a juicy burger! If you love hummus, you’ll definitely want to try our simple and delicious recipe that goes great with our refreshing Israeli salad. And, if you want a sweet treat with breakfast, be sure to spread a little tropical sunshine on your toast with our homemade pineapple jam.

We’re also adding a Shopping section to our site. Here we will highlight companies we’ve done business with over the years who have not only delivered great products and customer service, but they do so consistently! New vendors are being added regularly, so be sure to visit our new Shopping section often.

Whatever you’re doing this month, we hope you find a great way to beat the heat, curl up with a good book, and enjoy time with friends and family. Have a safe and happy summer!

Jathan & Heather

© 2011 Jadeworks Entertainment.

Summer is ablaze with activity

2010 University of Cincinnati graduates

June means more graduates, like those pictured here during the 2010 University of Cincinnati's Hooding ceremony and class of 1970 recognition.

June 2011

Dear Friends,

With the arrival of June, hot summer nights are officially here! After an especially wet and stormy May, I think we can all agree that we’ll take the warmer temperatures as long as the countless tornadoes stop their rampage across the country, like the ones that blasted through Joplin, Missouri and Woodward, Oklahoma leaving devastation and death in their wake. Having grown up in tornado alley, I’ve seen firsthand what happens when these storms appear without warning, so I’m always urging everyone to pay attention to the sirens and meteorologists when they say we need to seek shelter. Stop what you’re doing and go to the basement, the hallway, or wherever you need to go to be safe. Sure, it can be inconvenient to get up in the middle of the night and go to the cellar when you have to work the next day, but nothing is more precious than your life. So please pay attention!

In addition to the heat, June is always bustling with activity. A number of our friends are graduating from college this month with degrees in Journalism, Engineering, Organizational Leadership, and Dental Hygiene Technology, among others. It is always exciting to see where everyone goes after that long, hard-earned walk to accept their diplomas and start the next chapters in their lives. We have the best time cheering for them all, snapping pictures and exchanging hugs and well wishes before they move on to different cities, new relationships and exciting careers. So if you’re one of those new graduates, whether you’re graduating from college or kindergarten, we send you big congratulations and best wishes for all your future endeavors.

We also start planning for summer vacation this month. Whether you’re dipping your toes into the salty surf of the ocean, swimming at the lake, exploring a museum or hanging out in your backyard with friends, we hope you get some well-deserved time to relax and enjoy time with a good book (like May’s book club pick, Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris) and people you love. Like many of you, we’ve had to modify our plans somewhat and do some things a bit closer to home due to the high cost of gasoline this summer. Visit our Calendar page for some activity ideas that are inexpensive (some entirely free) and filled with music, food and fun.

Speaking of food, check out some of the awesome recipes we posted last month, including reader favorites like our light and fluffy Belgian Waffles or Blueberry Muffins. If your summer plans include a cookout, little goes better with hamburgers and hot dogs than our Slow-Cooked Baked Bean Medley and our Spiced Corn on the Cob. Summer is also the perfect time to serve up a vegetarian menu like our Grilled Portobello Mushroom Steaks served with Creamy Polenta with Mozzarella Cheese and Maple-Thyme Roasted Carrots. But the carnivores in your family will love a slow-cooked Cuban-Style Pork Roast and Yuca with Mojo Sauce. They can even use the leftovers to make hearty Cuban Sandwiches later in the week! Have a hankering for something sweet? Try our Rhubarb-Strawberry Crumb Cake, Mango Daiquiri Sorbet, or our classic Banana Pudding.

Whatever your summer plans include, make sure to kick off your shoes, sip something cold and delicious, lather on the sunscreen and make some lasting memories.

Jathan & Heather