For well over a year, I dreamed of taking a whole weekend to myself. No kids, no husband, no friends . . . just lots of quality alone time. As virtual school dragged into its eighth month, this introvert momma needed a serious solo retreat to recharge her batteries! Finally, a few weeks ago I bit the bullet and reserved a cabin, instead of just talking and dreaming about it incessantly.
Initially, I wanted to escape to the woods in Hocking Hills. Can one get more secluded than that? However, I wanted to maximize my alone time, so a three-hour drive there and back made me look for other options.
Where could I get that retreat in the woods without the long drive? Oak Openings Preserve, of course! It’s just twenty minutes from Toledo, has hundreds of acres to hike, and it boasts two cabins to rent, plus the new treehouses!
Pine Ridge Chalet
With the treehouses being all booked up, even in the middle of winter, I decided to rent the Pine Ridge Chalet. The Pine Ridge Chalet is located on the southeast corner of Oak Openings Preserve, just off Jeffers Road and SR 64, near the cross-country ski trails and the horse trails. With sleeping space for four people, it was a bit of a splurge for a solo retreat–but it was absolutely gorgeous!
The Chalet itself has a sleeping loft above an iron, spiral staircase with a queen bed. The cabin is heated with a wall heater unit (like a hotel room), and even with temperatures just below freezing outside, I was warm enough to turn the heat off the second night! It also has a cozy gas fireplace in the front room, facing two comfortable leather couches. Those couches were the perfect place for journaling, knitting in front of the fire, and curling up to watch movies on my laptop.
The cabin is not equipped with TVs or wifi . . . but that’s kind of the point, right?
On Oak Openings’ website, I was warned to bring utensils, pots, and anything else I would need for cooking in the kitchen. However, upon arrival, I was pleasantly surprised to find Pine Ridge Chalet’s kitchen very well stocked! Of course, I did need to bring everything I wanted to eat (including salt and oil), but dishes, utensils, pots, pans, colanders, and coffeemakers were more than enough, even when the Chalet is filled to capacity! However, I was glad I remembered to bring dish towels and a corkscrew.
I was most looking forward to making a campfire, and the Pine Ridge Chalet’s campfire setup was top-notch, particularly for a winter getaway! Instead of a standard firepit a safe distance from the chalet, there is a warming house a short walk from the house. It’s an enclosed, roofed-in space, complete with ventilation–perfect for winter bonfires! It’s just chilly enough in the warming house that a bonfire is very pleasant, and protected enough that the winter cold isn’t more overwhelming than the heat from the fire! The warming house used to be for the people who would use the cross-country ski trails, but now it is reserved for guests staying in the Pine Ridge Chalet.
After making your reservation on the Toledo Metroparks’ website, the cabin is accessible thanks to a keypad on the door. Even as a woman staying by myself in a very isolated place, I felt very safe there!
What To Do?
With a weekend to myself, what would I do?
I was free to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and eat whatever I wanted (without other people making faces about what I chose)! Ooooo, the possibilities!
Given the acres and acres of woodlands at Oak Openings and their well-maintained trail system, I set off across the cross-country ski trails that border the Pine Ridge Chalet and hiked around Evergreen Lake. Without kids whining, “How much longer?” I was able to wander as far as I wanted.
Back at the cabin, I came prepared with knitting and watercolor painting. Once darkness crept over the horizon, I wandered to the warming shelter, started a fire, and curled up with Pride and Prejudice. (Or, curled up as much as I could on the benches.)
I went to sleep when I got tired. I woke up when I wanted to and spent Sunday afternoon blissfully wandering through more of Oak Openings’ trails.
Before (and even during) my solo retreat, I was feeling a bit guilty about it. Was going away by myself really the right way to spend a weekend? Would it send my kids the wrong message, that maybe I was happiest away from them?
But arriving back at home, and the following week after, I was more attentive to my children. I had more energy than I had had in months. My outlook was rejuvenated.
While I was retreating by myself, the weekend continued to feel decadent and a bit like a useless (although very comfortable) luxury. But when I got back home, I could tell that the weekend away had, indeed, helped me get my priorities back in order.
I put the phone down more often.
I am more grateful for all the time I get to spend with my kids.
I am now taking better care of myself, which gives me more energy to take care of them better.
Yes, a solo retreat is a bit of a luxury. For years, it’s a luxury that I neither had the time or money to do.
But I finally did.
And I’m so glad I did it.