franklin park conservatory & botanical garden

The Friday of Labor Day weekend I had the good luck of being able to get the day off of work to spend with Josh’s parents and sister. It was a great start to the day just being able to lounge on the couch with a cup of hot tea and not have to rush out the door to get to work, even though Josh still had to go in to campus for class. My in-laws like to explore and see new things, so I wasn’t surprised when they suggested we head to Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens for the morning while we waited on Josh to get finished with class. Josh and I had been once before with my parents and it was totally worth another visit! Every room offers something beautiful or bizarre, plants that are very common among some you never knew existed. And the exhibits were spectacular- Blooms & Butterflies, Bonsai, and Chihuly: Celebrating Nature. 

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My personal favorite was the Blooms & Butterflies. As soon as you walk into the exhibit, butterflies flutter all around you and the lush greenery. Gorgeous glass Chihuly sculptures are nestled between the plants, hanging from the ceiling, and cascading like a waterfall into a clear pool of water full of plump koi fish. It’s a magical paradise.

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A few days later, Josh and I headed back to explore the outdoor walking loop and the community garden campus. 

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I am so excited to visit again to see the new exhibits with the change of seasons!

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What do you do when it’s the first weekend of November and the weather is quintessential crisp, cool fall weather? Well, we jam-packed it full of zoo adventures and hiking and of course watching movies and eating delicious food! It was honestly one of the best weekends we’ve had since moving to Columbus.

Earlier last week, Josh’s mom called and asked if we would be up for a visit on Saturday. We actually didn’t have anything planned, so we were more than happy/excited to have visitors for the day! With the weather being so nice, we thought it would be a great chance to check out the Columbus Zoo with Josh’s parents. It was maybe a bit chillier than I would have preferred when walking around outside for several hours, but that also meant the zoo was a LOT less crowded and that was just perfect to me. We were quite sad that a few exhibits had been closed for the season, but we still had a really fun time walking around seeing all the animals. I had no idea how huge the Columbus Zoo is- it took us almost four hours to walk through everything and not even all the exhibits were open!

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I absolutely loved the brown bear brothers there and the baby manatees eating their lettuce!

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After working up an appetite at the zoo, we headed to Cap City Diner for lunch. Josh and I had both been recommended this restaurant by a couple different people, so we figured it was definitely worth trying. I loved it and I think everyone else did as well. The decor was exactly what you would think of for a diner- black and white tile, fun food art on the walls, and big booths with red leather seats.

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The menu had lots to choose from- fish and chips, meatloaf, pasta, burgers, eggs benedict, breakfast burritos, sooo many options! I thoroughly enjoyed my leftover Thanksgiving dinner sandwich with a side of mashed potatoes and white gravy.  The sandwich was two thick slices of toasted buttermilk bread stuffed with cranberry sauce, roasted turkey breast, and house-made stuffing. Yummmmm!

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Josh ordered the meatloaf dinner and it was scrumptious! The meatloaf came on a piece of toasted buttermilk bread topped with creamy mashed potatoes, chili onion rings, and BBQ gravy with a side of broccoli.

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We would gladly go back there for brunch, lunch, or dinner! And hopefully next time we’ll save room for a milkshake or a piece of their giant chocolate layer cake!

It was so nice to spend time with family and to have a day out on the town. But homesickness hit me hard just a few hours after they left. Josh had fixed french onion soup with soda bread for dinner, but I was just not feeling it. And I just kept feeling worse and worse. Finally, I couldn’t hold my feelings in any longer. I sat down on the couch next to Josh and just sobbed. I let it all out- my struggles with feeling so overwhelmed by everything – having a new job, living in a new apartment, going to a new gym, having no friends or family nearby. My new coworkers and gym group are all so nice, but I still feel lonely and like I can’t really connect with anyone. I miss my friends, I miss my home gyms, I miss my home. Everything is just different and hard right now. I know eventually it will get better and this will become “home”, but right now I’m having a harder time settling in than I thought I would. I’m so glad I let Josh know how I was feeling. I used to hold everything in and just shut down, but I’ve learned that that doesn’t do either of us any good and I just have to be honest and open about how I’m feeling…whether my feelings make sense or not.

For all the sadness and struggle I felt Saturday evening, Sunday was the exact opposite. Getting everything off my chest helped me to enjoy every last second of our time together Sunday and just live. We woke up around 6:30 am to spend the morning exploring Hocking Hills State Park. I really really wanted to visit there again after our trip there a few weekends ago and I knew this would be our last real chance for perfect weather and the most beautiful shades of golden yellow, burnt orange, and red leaves. On a recent Instagram story, we had seen pictures and video of Rock House and knew we had to visit there. We were the only car in the parking lot when we arrived and took off on an easy ½-mile hike to Rock House. The air was chilly and crisp, the birds chirping in the trees. It was so peaceful and refreshing.

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Rock House was so simple and really beautiful. We were totally alone except for the breeze through the cave and some birds cooing back and forth. I loved the large natural arches cut into the Blackhand sandstone walls allowing patches of fall light to illuminate the cave. It’s amazing to me what weather and time can do to nature, how it can change something from uninspiring to something majestic.

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After visiting Rock House, we drove a few miles over to Conkles Hollow State Nature Preserve. It was a little bit more crowded when we pulled into the parking lot, but thankfully we managed to have the Gorge Trail mainly to ourselves. The ½-mile (down and back) trail was paved almost the whole way and was easily traversed as we made our way past Horsehead Grotto and the tall stone cliff walls.

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As we got closer to the end of the trail, the path became more natural and rugged. I loved hopping over rocks and through the bubbling stream as we neared the waterfall.    

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How breathtaking is the way the sunlight filters through the bright green of the tree leaves?

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The Rim Trail was really, really neat! It was also kind of terrifying- there were several spots along the 2 ½-mile trail with no railings where you could have easily fallen right over the edge of the cliff into the gorge. The views, though, were so worth any small bit of fear.

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The trees down in the gorge were so picturesque, they looked like something from a Pointillism painting.

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And the sky in the background behind the bright red leaves…I just can’t handle how big and beautiful this world is sometimes!   

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I didn’t think it was possible for the day to get any better, but it did! Josh ended up not having much schoolwork to do, so we were lucky enough to have the evening free to go see Bohemian Rhapsody. Josh happened to find the most quintessential local theater- Grandview Theater and Drafthouse.

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We really had no idea what to expect of this little one-screen theater, but it was so fun! They have the traditional candy and popcorn for sale, but they also offer a full menu from Grandad’s Pizza. They’re just down the street and deliver straight to the theater! They also have a full bar with fun specialty cocktails named after the movie, as well as 20-30 different beers/ciders on tap. There is no doubt that we will be going back to this theater as often as possible. Inside the theater, there are several rows of seats in the back that have big wood tables for your food and drinks.  

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The movie was very entertaining and had my attention the whole time. I couldn’t stop singing and bobbing my head along to all the songs. I always forget how much I love Queen’s music until I hear all their songs, then it hits me again what a spectacularly talented band they were.

We weren’t hungry when we went into the movie, but smelling pizza the whole time had us craving it by the end. We tried out a new (to us) restaurant named Harvest Tavern and Pizzeria. We shared the goat cheese pizza and it was just right. The pizza crust was bubbly and brown, covered in a fresh tomato sauce with dollops of goat cheese, pieces chopped basil, the yummiest thinly sliced salame toscano, and plump cherry tomatoes.

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Even though there was a down this weekend, there were so many more ups. I feel so incredibly blessed for the opportunities Josh and I have taken/been given and I hope to have lots more incredibly fun, full of adventures weekends just like this one!

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