Monday, August 10, 2009

Back to Nature

A weekend outdoors in the nude is a prescription that every doctor should write.

Armed with lots of sunscreen, a new tent with all the accoutrements, and a cooler full of bottled water, my wife and I drove down to Cedar Trails Nudist Retreat in Ohio for a couple of days of glorious sunshine.

The weather on Saturday morning was extremely iffy with clouds and light showers over Columbus, but in we must trust, and the promise of 87 degree sunny skies in the afternoon put us in the car and on the road.

Fred and Jo Anne run a lovely, laid-back campground on 60 acres in Adams County, perhaps the prettiest area in Ohio. After pitching the tent, we began our visit by hiking up to the horse meadow and along the overlook by the Serpent Mound meteor crater. The hiking trails here are well-maintained and clearly marked, and new painted wood markers have been added this year. Kudos to the members who have lovingly worked on these fine trails, over three miles in all.

To me, walking about nude in nature is the ultimate naturist experience. Setting aside the obvious insect irritations (use some bug spray), listening to the sounds of the birds and the rustling trees without the icky feeling of clothing sticking to your skin is sublime. On Sunday morning my wife was not up for another walk, so I went by myself, and being totally alone, completely nude (except for my socks and shoes), and standing over the meteor crater looking at the vista is something I will always remember. No cell phone, no wallet, no keys, no worries.

If all I could say was one thing about Cedar Trails, it would be about the friendliness of the people. This is a very outgoing and welcoming crowd, and although the numbers were fewer than usual, probably due to the uncertainty of the weather, everyone greeted us with a smile.

The centerpiece of the retreat is the pool and the adjacent CT Cafe, where the owners cook food to order at lunch and dinner on weekends. Soft drinks, bottled water, coffee and bags of ice are available on the honor system, just put your cash in the jar. That alone tells you a lot about this place.

The 20x40 heated pool is not large or deep enough for diving or serious swimming, but it's a great area for socializing and keeping cool on a hot afternoon. There's plenty of grass for sunbathing, bring your own lounge chair and umbrella. There are plenty of floats and pool toys available, and it doesn't take the kids too long to find the super soakers. There's a corn hole game on the lawn, and darts and billiards under the cafe roof, so there's plenty to do besides sunbathe. The retreat boasts about its volleyball court with cedar ships as a base, but it was just too hot for anyone to start a game this weekend.

A planned afternoon scavenger hunt had to be scrapped due to the small crowd on Saturday, but a fundraising bingo game and 50s dance event went on as planned from 8 PM until midnight in the cafe. Yes, bingo sounds lame, but it turned out to be lots of fun, with fun and practical prizes for all the winners, plus 50% of the pot went to the lucky winner of the final game. The other half of the pot went to a fund for building a deck on the north side of the pool.

The dance featured an evening long trivia game, and my wife and I both won AANR t-shirts for our efforts. During one game of pool, my wife cleared the table and made a spectacular 8-ball shot to end the game, prompting high-fives all around.

For anyone contemplating nude recreation, Cedar Trails is an ideal place to start because of the friendliness of the people and the sheer size of the retreat. The no-pressure, laid-back atmosphere is perfect for total relaxation. For us, the only negative aspect of our visit was having to put on clothes to come home.

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