Bass catchin’ not bar hopping

As a farm girl from the South trapped at a rowdy party school I have approached my past four years of college much like a roller coaster: close my eyes and hope it’s over soon. Unlike other students, the place I know I’ll look back on with nostalgia when thinking about my college town isn’t a bar or a burrito place, it’s a fishing spot.

It’s true that many students visit Strouds Run State Park at some point during their stay in Athens, Ohio but what many of them don’t know about–or maybe just don’t care about–is a more secluded section of Strouds Run that is the core of Dow Lake. The dam built in 1959 that sits in a little off-set pocket right against East State Street.

While the north and west sides of the lake are typically occupied on warm spring and summer days, this little haven remains scarcely populated. Parking, boat rentals and beaches are located on the north and west sides of the lake so to the typical collegiate friend group deciding to embark on an outdoor pursuit this is where they end up. Yes, these city slickers and Midwest rurals are bonding over the great outdoors and it’s wonderful! However, I go to the water for exclusion.

A few times I have been sitting cross-legged on the bank securing my reel to my arrows, a meditative act I enjoy doing to prepare to bow fish, when a stranger suddenly joined me. My dog lets me know if someone is approaching before they could possibly see me. He isn’t a hunting dog by any means, just an overly loving goober who is particularly adept at tracking down hands to pet him.

These visitors are usually middle aged men who grew up here. “Townies” as us students like to call them. They always apologize for interrupting me because they came here to be alone too (after getting over their complete and utter surprise because a student knows this spot), then the bow sparks some interesting conversations.

One morning I was there and had no intentions of fishing. I brought the dogs to swim and to get some fresh air while I tinkered around with my bow. A younger gentleman came walking up (with my dog prancing beside him. Traitor.) and started setting up his spot to fish. He actually was a hobbiest archer himself and we sat and worked on my bow together. He had a set of archery wrenches (tools used to adjust a bow) and when he left he told me to keep them. It was simple and meaningless, yet I wouldn’t trade that wrench set for a million Court Street Snapstories.

I took this Snap when a kind townie gave me a spare set of tools for my bow!

For the most part it’s just my dog, the fish and myself over at the dam. Isolated. Not “experiencing” Athens. Occasionally, I get to listen to fishing stories or see pictures of last bow season’s buck though. It’s times like those that make me feel like I’m not the one missing out but instead the one actually experiencing Athens.

Strouds Run: Athens’ hidden gem

When you’re from northeastern Ohio the closest thing you have to a beach is something man made that is only open for four month and you have to pay to go to it. Lake Erie is there but its cold for the majority of the time
you could use it as a beach. There are lakes scattered through the state, but if you want to go to a true beach you’d have to leave the state. All of this is why I was pleasantly surprised when I started school at Ohio University and learned that there was a beach in Athens.

I was very skeptical when i first heard of Strouds Run. OU is in Appalachia, there’s no way there was a beach here. I could believe that it was a state park due to how much of the area was woodland. I was unable to actually go to Strouds until my junior year since I didn’t have a car until then. So when I made my first trip to Strouds I could not hold back my excitement.

The trip was a winding drive through the Appalachian hills with no cell service (a perk in my book). People always said there is a beach but I never believed them until I arrived and thought there actually is a beach here! I put my feet in the sand, listened to the surrounding families and my fellow college students, who were also ignoring responsibilities, and realized I was truly at the beach.

I’ve made multiple trips back since my first encounter. I try my best to take advantages of all the amenities. You can call head and rent a pontoon boat if you have a group of friends who are up for a little excursion. If you’re flying solo you can rent a kayak or canoe and take it out to relax on the water and possibly cast a line out. Perhaps you’re not feeling the water on a particular day. No worries, there’s miles of trails in the woods. I’ve been able to hike to the top of the hill that overlooks the lake and then get lost on the way back down. that’s the beauty of it though, getting lost.

Strouds offers many options for relaxation, including sunbathing or canoeing and kayaking.

Strouds is somewhere to get lost at. it is an escape for college kids who are stressed out and need a break. you can’t use your cell phone there, but nobody wants to once they’re there. They embrace all 2,600+ acres of the state park. Students, or locals too, rent out a boat and get lost on the lake for a few hours. They fill a backpack with the essentials and hit the trails and get lost in the woods until the real world calls calls you and says it time to get back to reality.

So if you’re ever in the mood to get lost for a few hours and you don’t believe there really is a beach in Athens, Ohio, head to Strouds Run State Park. I’m sure you’ll be able to find your escape.



A quiet place amid the bustle of Athens

While I spend an inordinate amount of time (and money) at Donkey Coffee, and often spend time with my friends in various places around campus, my absolute favorite place in Athens is Strouds Run State Park.

Strouds can be found at 11661 State Park Rd., after traversing up the steep hills of eastern Athens and the winding, tree-line roads of the state park.

Strouds is a great place for hiking, swimming, canoeing or any other outdoor activities. On nice days, the park and beach area are often packed with visitors, from old couples relaxing on a picnic bench, to college students throwing a Frisbee on the beach, to young families hiking together.

Some of my favorite memories from my first semester of college were made at Strouds. During one of my first weekends in Athens, a group of my friends and I spontaneously decided to go to Strouds. We all packed into a Green Cab, gawking at the narrow, curving streets of Athens that were previously unknown to us.

When we arrived at our destination, we spent the whole day lying on the beach and swimming. I remember being in awe of the natural beauty of the park, and I felt grateful to attend school in such a picturesque, serene area.

Dow Lake in Sept. 2016

About a month later, I found myself at Strouds again after Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. After services, it is customary to perform tashlich, which involves casting bread into a body of water to rid oneself of the regrets of the past year. The congregation at Hillel decided to do tashlich at Strouds, so my friend and I rode in the car of an older couple from the community.

After Rabbi Danielle handed out stale challah and leftover cookies from Shabbat services to congregants, we dispersed around the beach to do tashlich and quietly self-reflect.

Of the forty-some people who were there, I spent the longest time sitting by Dow Lake, in awe of the scenery around me. I thought a lot about the past year as I crouched in the soft grass—the places I’d traveled, graduating high school, beginning college—and what I looked forward to in the upcoming year.

After I did not have any more bread to toss into the lake, I joined the rest of the congregants on the beach. They were all gathered around Luna, the one year old daughter of Lauren, a Hillel employee, for Luna’s baby naming. It is traditional for Jewish kids to be given their Hebrew names sometime during their early years of life, and Luna’s parents chose to have the ceremony on the banks of Dow Lake that day. Lauren emotionally spoke to members of the Athens Jewish community of the origins of her daughter’s Hebrew name. It was an incredibly special moment to be a part of.

Taken while hiking on one of Strouds Run’s many trails

I have always loved hiking and connecting with nature, and Strouds is the perfect place to do that. On nice days, I crave the feeling of solitude and peace I know that I can find at Strouds. Even though it is over six miles away from campus, I am happy to make the trip and reconnect with the world around me. Amidst the stress of school and work, I know that I can go to Strouds and find solace.

How to make the best of your second choice school

When I imagined college, I wasn’t thinking of snowy Ohio winters, colonial style buildings and rolling hills. I wasn’t sporting the classic green and white and I had no idea who Rufus was. When people said, “F–k Miami,” I wondered what an Ohio college could have against Florida.

According to a quick poll on my twitter, OU was the first choice for about 45 percent of participants. I did not fall under that category.

If you would have asked me during my senior year of high school, I was bound for The University of Texas in Austin — until I saw the bill.

So, coming to OU was my only choice, and for a while, I let that bother me. It took me a while to find my feet and fall in love with being a Bobcat.

Here’s five things that helped me — and hopefully will help you — fall in love with a second choice college.

Julia Fair and Megan Henry hang out in The Post's newsroom.
Julia Fair and Megan Henry hang out in The Post’s newsroom.

1) Get involved

When you feel like one of the only freshmen who doesn’t want to be in college, it can be hard making friends. Find a club or group on campus who share your interests. I found some of my best friends after joining The Post. Remember, it’s the people who make the memories, not the place.

My mom trying to keep it together when she dropped me off at OU.
My mom trying to keep it together when she dropped me off at OU.

2) Stop calling you mom

Yes, mom’s voice is always comforting. Yes, mom has been making you feel better about things for the last 18 years. But, it’s also mom’s job to do that, so she won’t tell you that you have to accept the situation you’re in and stop calling her.

Anyways, your mom isn’t going to come back and pick you up (I asked), so stop trying.

Taking a step away from mom is taking a step into being independent, which is essential for succeeding in college. Once you stop calling mom to talk about your problems, you can start finding friends to talk to.

Emily Bohatch, Liz Backo, Julia Fair and Patrick Connolly attend an OU football game.
Emily Bohatch, Liz Backo, Julia Fair and Patrick Connolly attend an OU football game.

3) Go to a Bobcat’s game

Sportsball may not be your thing, but something about standing in a sea of green and yelling builds up team spirit. And if you’re not particularly interested in watching football, the Marching 110 will get you fired up about being a Bobcat.

Stroud's Run State Park
Stroud’s Run State Park

4) Explore Athens

I grew up in a town with two stoplights, so Athens was an upgrade for me. But for you city-dwellers, small-town Appalachia can be a shock. Believe it or not, Athens has a bunch of gems hidden just around the corner. Take a day to explore the Ridges or hike around Stroud’s Run. Hit up every shop up town. You’ll be surprised at all of the kitchy, Athens-esque things you find.

OU students enjoy Mill Fest.
OU students enjoy Mill Fest.

5) Get out of your dorm

Some of the most fun events in Athens are held outside of your dorm (can you imagine that?). So, instead of sitting inside on a Saturday afternoon marathoning Netflix, go out and enjoy one of the many events Athens is famous for: Halloween, Fests, International Street Fair, Humans versus Zombies, karaoke nights, house parties, ect.

6 great alternatives to drinking

Drinking, legal or not, may seem like one of the only ways to have fun in a small town like Athens. But that’s simply not the case. Athens has many amazing hidden gems that encourage sober fun with friends.

Down Lake at Stroud’s Run

1. Strouds Run State Park: Strouds is located a couple of miles from campus and is loaded with fun activities . There are several trails to hike, a beach to lie out on, and canoes, kayaks and pontoons to take out on the water. The best time to visit is during the fall and spring, and you will be sure to find other students grilling or playing sand volleyball who would be happy if you joined in on the fun.

The Athena

2. Catch A Movie: While going to see a movie may seem like a cop-out, Athens does movie theaters a little differently. There’s Fun Barn, where you can treat yourself to a $4 movie and popcorn for a dollar. Yes, you read that right. At most theaters, you would pay more than twice that to see the newest Hunger Games installment, but at Fun Barn you can get by with a couple of bucks. The added bonus is the full arcade inside of the theater, where you can hang out before or after the show. Another theater, located right on Court Street, is The Athena Cinema. This theater shows movies old and new, featuring a film festival in the spring and movies to go along with the season. And the Athena Grand on East State Street is a multiplex featuring current movies.

intramural sports
3. Intramural Sports: Ohio University offers students the opportunity to participate in several sports each season, with male, female, and coed teams. Get a group of friends together and sign up for the next session! Spring 1 registration opens on Jan. 12, 2015.

chris young

4. Performing Arts and Concert Series: This is an awesome opportunity to see your favorite artist, comedian, or musical at a great price. Ohio University has a scheduled performance almost weekly, and there is something for everyone. The shows are always at the Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium, and in 2014 alone there have been visits from country star Scotty McCreery, comedians from the MTV hit show Girl Code, and The Golden Dragons Acrobats performers.

hocking hills5. Hocking Hills State Park: Okay, this may be a bit of a stretch because you do have to drive a half-hour to get there, but it’s definitely worth it. Hocking Hills is filled with beautiful, undisturbed forests, rugged cliffs and enchanting waterfalls. There are several hiking trails to explore, and activities like zip lining and horseback riding. You can camp out or rent a cabin for a weekend with a few friends, and you will forget that you’re in Ohio.

football game
6. OHIO Sporting Events: Ohio University is a Division 1 school, and the student sections at the games are always exciting to be a part of. The Marching 110 takes over at halftime, and their impressive playing earned them the title of Best College Marching Band in 2014. The best part? The games are free for students when you show your student ID.