a trip to Red River Gorge!

this past week, i survived a few nights in the woods! it doesn't sound like much to many people i'm sure. but the idea of  being surrounded by bugs and not being surrounded by wifi gives me just a touch of anxiety. but it seemed like the perfect time to go out to the gorge and unplug for a few days. it's about a 2 hour drive down into Kentucky and i had never been there but heard amazing things about the scenery. so with a few friends in tow, we headed out! car full of dog life jackets and canned chicken (more on both of those in a minute) there was supposed to be the most amazing meteor shower on the nights that we would be there and what better place to watch than on top of a Kentucky mountain away from the city?? 

just to add a little extra flavor on this adventure, i woke up the day we were leaving with the worst pain ever in my right hip. i dont know if maybe i pulled a muscle or a bone out of place or who knows what but no amount of ibuprofen was helping. trust me, i tried. so once arriving to the camp spot, which was a mile hike in the dark, spider covered wilderness, i had a mini breakdown and cried because leg pain and bugs and sweat and wahhh i just want a damn s'more. but after a brief yet effective melt down, i felt better. ready to take on the rest of the trip! here's a few key points i want to remember and share with the world and also a few things i realized while camping…this should be good. oh, and there's obviously a video up there, too! haha it's worth it just to watch Bronson swim with a life jacket. 
 first and most importantly-- when going camping, don't let anyone tell you that you can't bring something. my roommate was evidently preparing to film an episode of Man vs. Wild on our trip and made me feel ridiculous for wanting to bring a few extra things. stuff like pillows, extra blankets for sitting, a cutting board and a few of those pool noodles (there was a swim hole. i'm not just a weirdo) i left the noodles, but brought my pillow and an extra one to go between my legs for when i slept on my side and who do you think asked if he could have my extra pillow around 2 am? mmhmm. so case and point, bring whatever the hell you want. if you're willing to carry it, you grab that bottle of wine and your extra pair of shoes and have a ball, baby.
 Dawn dish soap is not just for dishes, my friends. oh no no no. on our second night, i convinced my friends to move our camping experience to a campground because all i wanted was a fire pit with a grill top and maybe access to water. i got more than i bargained for because that place  had the most beautiful public restroom WITH A SHOWER inside. we used to go to campgrounds all the time when i was a kid and i remember the bathrooms. spiderwebs in the corners of the building, they smelled funny and there was always inevitably hairs all over the shower walls. even as a fearless 8 year old, i was totally grossed out. but these bathrooms were 4 star quality and worth every penny of that $15 it cost to camp there. so by the second night, after 2 days worth of being covered in sweat and grossness, i decided i wanted a shower. but having no shampoo or soap created an issue so i resorted to the next best thing- my bottle of Dawn dish soap to the rescue! (that i snuck into my duffle bag, for your information) and it worked great! just a dime size in my hand and i washed my hair and body and got a great lather and felt squeaky clean. i don't recommend this if your hair is colored but in a pinch, this worked great for me! 
Bronson was MADE for camping. that little champion wore his life jacket most of the time just so that he was super visible when running around and he had no problems with it. he's a city dog after all so he's used to dog parks and walks. not woods where he can roam free. that hike to our camp spot the first night was on a narrow trail high above the river and even involved climbing over multiple broken down trees. that dog jumped on top of all of them like a damn cat and made it look easy; life jacket and all!  it's been decided on the next camping trip, he'll be used as a pack mule and carry a gallon of water or something on that life jacket, because he was literally running circles around us while walking. And speaking of the life jacket, watching him swim in the water was the best. pit bulls have pretty heavy little heads on them so swimming is a bit harder. but once he swam out and realized how little he had to work to stay above the water, he liked it! (i wish i had had some sort of floating device *cough *cough) now, he did bark like a mad man and got super nervous every time someone jumped off of a cliff into the water, but i take that to mean he's just super caring of others :) 
though i had my hesitations at first, one thing we packed for the trip was canned chicken and it was such a blessing. i know, it sounds mehhhh but hear me out. it's $5 for 10 big cans and it comes cooked already. and chunked! so we broke out a can of it and threw it in the cast iron skillet with some salsa. a few minutes on the grill and then smear it all over a tortilla. some of the best quesadillas of my life, people! never mind the fact that i was starving at this point but whatever. canned chicken. good call. 
if you ever get a chance to make it out to Red River Gorge, hit up Miguel's Pizza. oh my goddddd it was so so so good. you build it yourself sort of, ya know, where you just put a check mark next to all the stuff you want on your pieces and then they bring it to your table once it's cooked. it was delicious. and the locals were so sweet. 
while at Miguel's, we ran into a few friends from home (small world!) and they invited us to their camp site that night to watch the meteor shower. by this point, night #2, i still hadn't gotten my hands on a damn s'more so i packed up all my s'more needing supplies and prepared to make a million of them for all of our new camp buddies. we got to their site and met a few new people, which is always the best i think. especially when you realize how many friends you have in common back home. so i sat on my blanket (one of the extra ones i insisted i pack, ya know) and made about 10 s'mores. i tried to give people the option of how they wanted their marshmallows prepared- golden brown or charcoaled- but i have little patience and they all came out pretty crispy. though i heard no complaints! also, i learned that you can turn your world upside down by replacing the hershey chocolate bar with a peanut butter cup in your s'more treat. yeah. try that.
once everyone was full of hot dogs and s'mores we walked down a little path and set up on a giant cliff/rock/stone thing to watch the meteor shower. it was incredible. i wish 1. i knew how to shoot the night sky better with my camera and 2. my leg wasn't still killing me at this point. but we all laid around on our backs and watched the shooting stars. everyone drank their whiskey and smoked their cigarettes and laughed and talked and it was awesome. we saw a shooting star every other minute or two. it was one of those, "is this even real life?" kinda moments. where you just feel super lucky to be where you are.
by the next morning, i was ready to get my butt home. i was ready to use real shampoo and could barely remember what sheets felt like. but it was a great trip and was nice to get away. everyone had fun and survived and the gorge was amazing. i know i sound like a broken record on this blog sometimes, but cincinnati is just the freaking best. being able to leave the city and drive just a few hours and be somewhere so amazing makes us very lucky. we kind of get the best of all the worlds. and there's no better site than coming up 75 north and seeing that beautiful skyline welcoming you home!

so thanks again, red river! you were GORGEous! 
(don't worry, i'm not taking credit for that pun. i know it's posted everywhere. haha)


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