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And other ways to avoid the gym

Now that I’m with transportation and slowly exploring army life in the “mid-South” of Tennessee, I’m giving my love affair with Jillian Michaels some time to breathe. All relationships need space.

My latest attempt to avoid a gym membership was a romp through some local hiking grounds with Jonathan. Or what should be more accurately called chasing my fiancé through the woods for 1.9 miles.

Dunbar Trailing

Only go hiking with an army guy if you want to be slightly out of breath and reminded that traversing wild terrain has never been one of your job requirements or great skills.

I’m spoiled by my home state’s proximity to Appalachian hiking trails (my engagement photo shoot took place right next to one of my favorites), so I’ll admit I was judgmental about Tennessee’s options. Luckily I’m not an expert hiker, so my judgements were mostly based on Tennessee’s trails not boasting any overlooks (I’d be more into hiking if I could even slightly handle bugs, or low-growing plants that brush against your ankles and in that moment sort of feel like they could be bugs, so screaming and jumping away frantically is probably an accurate response move along nothing to see here).

Jonathan found a medium-difficulty trail that sounded like a good mid-South hiking starter at Dunbar Cave State Natural Area.

Dunbar Cave Trail

Not to be a narc, but I totally saw some bikes beyond this point. Which (I’m going to agree with the sign here) is probably a pretty bad idea; some of the downhill sections on the trail were steep enough for me to lose my balance on my very flat-and-un-wheel-like feet.

Dunbar Cave Hike Closeup

This is basically how it went.

Dunbar Trail Animals

There was a ton of nature, too. There was a deer eating some nature. There was a butterfly landing on same nature. Then there was a turtle being the nature, because turtles are almost exclusively method actors.

The just-under-two-mile path winds to a close around the cave that gives the trail its name. Unfortunately, only the cave’s exposed opening is still accessible to the public; the bulk of the cave is gated and chained to protect us from diseased bats. Is it too late in my life to develop an unnatural fear of caves?

Dunbar Cave

Don’t worry; this cave is too shallow to hide bears. That was my initial main concern too.

The signs before the cave’s mouth gave a little history of the area (the cave at one point had a man-made wooden dance floor and was a book-able party spot), and introduced some of the wildlife you could expect to encounter in the cave.


And by “wildlife” they actually meant SPIDER CRICKETS, (sometimes called cave crickets, sometimes shortened to “sprickets,” and always, ALWAYS a giant, blind, wildly-jumping-at-my-face bug that I’ve had WAY TOO MUCH EXPERIENCE WITH AND WOULD PREFER NEVER TO SEE AGAIN) so I climbed up for this picture and then was like “okay let’s go I’m done with nature.”

Despite my resistance to be friends with all the earth’s creatures, the trail was a decent-enough challenge for an amateur hiker; in the future I’ll likely repeat the loop twice and pick up the pace. Separating myself from the sprickets is great motivation.

How do you avoid a gym membership, or add to your membership with at-home/outdoor workouts? What are your favorite body-weight or low-equipment exercise routines?

12 thoughts on “And other ways to avoid the gym

  1. I have acquired knowledge about the cave bats from my husband who thoroughly enjoys climbing in caves in the dark and underground. The fences and such within the cave are actually intended to keep the bats safe from us because we are spreading the disease to them.
    Also, sprickets exist in MD. My sister has had multiple invasions in her basement in Frederick. I have also had them in one of my basements. They induce a lot of screaming, jumping and flailing of limbs.
    Additionally, I recently had a dream where you wrote a song about my husband. It was a new version of Flash, Bam, Alakazam. Or you possibly wrote him a poem. And we may have been back in high school biology.

    • I did some reading about this White Nose fungus the bats in this cave have, and if humans gave that to them then we should be ashamed of ourselves.

      Please tell your sister how sorry I am that she’s had to deal with sprickets. I lived in basements in Virginia for about three years, and one of them was INFESTED with them. Constant. Fear. I basically lined the perimeter of my room with sticky traps, and had Virginia’s gun laws been different, I may have started sleeping with a rifle next to me. I made do with a Swiffer Wet Jet.

      I probably wrote Chris a poem; I could never compete with Vanessa’s songwriting skills. Is it weird to miss high school biology? It might be the only high school class I miss.

  2. If you end up back in the Maryland / Frederick area, you and/or Jonathan should join my way of avoiding the gym – I’ve been training at a traditional Japanese Jujitsu dojo here in Frederick for the last 2.5 years and love it. The structured nature of martial arts, combined with the progression through the years, is the thing that really keeps me going back every week. Plus a lot of it is very practical for self defense and has gotten me into a lot better shape at the same time!

    • I’ve actually been wanting to try Jujitsu! My muscle isolation/control is crap, and I’ve heard Jujitsu does wonders. Not to mention that my current self-defense tactics mostly involve a lot of crying.

      • We do free Women’s Self Defense seminars every 2 months in conjunction with Heartly House, the next one is July 27th so there should be seminars in September and November also so if you happen to be in town let me know! Other than that, if you do ever move “back” here we’d be more than happy to have you come by the dojo and try it out.

  3. “I’d be more into hiking if I could even slightly handle bugs, or low-growing plants that brush against your ankles and in that moment sort of feel like they could be bugs, so screaming and jumping away frantically is probably an accurate response move along nothing to see here.”

    My life, in summary.

  4. I am a big fan of nature hikes myself. There are trails in the ravines near my apartment that prove to be excellent running paths, because I feel like a confused race horse at a rodeo when I have to run around in circles on a track at the gym (“Wait, you made me sprint just to end up where we started? I hate you jockey!”), or a lost hamster in a metal wheel when running on a treadmill (“Why am I not moving? I’m clearly out of breath. Physics, you make no sense!”). I’d also like to thank my daily heavy-walking lifestyle as a means to stay away from the gym. Ugh, the gym is like the garlic to my inner-vampire. Gross!

  5. My husband and I are stationed in Fort Campbell right now and we went to the Dunbar Cave State Park once last summer. I loved walking through the trails, although my main fear was some giant unidentifiable bug jumping on me. Thank goodness I didn’t see any spider crickets when I went lol I’m cringing just looking at that picture!

    • If you see a spider cricket there, WARN ME SO I NEVER RETURN. Have you been to Greenway? It’s a wooded walking/running trail out in Clarksville that I really liked. I hope you’re enjoying your time in Campbell!

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