On a trip to a state park, I’m pretty sure my partner, my dog, and I stumbled into a video game. My personal isekai.
Last Over the weekend, my partner Travis and I took my dog with us and traveled three hours south to the Hocking Hills area of Ohio, where we stayed in a rented cabin for a tiny pre-Christmas holiday. We only stayed a weekend and were mostly busy lounging in the cabin hot tub, frying marshmallows and refreshing our memories of it attack on Titan before the start of last season. Travis had been to the area before and suggested using one of our days to visit Old Man’s Cave in Hocking Hills State Park. Now, I’m not the type of person who looks at a natural landscape and says, “This is just like one of my video games!” But there was something eerie about Old Man’s Cave that made me think, “This is like one of my video games.”
After a short but excruciatingly crowded walk, we found ourselves in a stone-walled, wooded valley that seemed almost too pretty to be natural. The view was perfect, from the fallen log to the bright (but not too bright) natural light to the scant dusting of snow. I kept saying to Travis, “This feels weird, like a video game or something,” while I was taking photos, and he agreed.
Later I showed the pictures to my colleagues, and the comment from colleague Zack Zweizen hit the nail on the head: “The cliffs and rocks seem too big and perfectly placed. As if someone is trying to prevent you from leaving the area and looking beyond the borders. “
Aside from the eerie valley valley, another part of the park convinced me that not only was I in a video game, but I was about to change levels. Right there, in the midst of all the forestry goodness, was part of a cave that looked like it belonged in a desert. See for yourself:
This is a path carved into the side of the cliff that hikers can take if they want to exit the valley and return to the visitor center and parking lot. There is sand everywhere and not a green spot in sight, not even a mossy stone. I’m sure there is a geological explanation for all of this, but if you walked forward into that ledge and didn’t turn around, you’d be convinced you were in a dry desert, not in the middle of nowhere. Ohio. The way this stone-carved path bumps up against the green of the valley gives the impression that the developers dropped their desert zone right next to their forest zone, but the loading zone that was supposed to act as a buffer between them almost completely disappeared . At least that’s my head canon.
Despite our amazement at the landscape and the fact that there are still many miles to discover, we didn’t stay long. My corgi was 10 years old and his short, chunky little legs were getting tired from all the steep steps he had to hop … he was too completely dirty because that’s exactly what happens when your chest is only four inches from the floor. But you could tell from his smile that he had a good time exploring the level with us.