Tuesday, July 31, 2012


My son about to hit the overhang part of the rappel.
I'm back from my vacation in the Hocking Hills region of southern Ohio--a land of majestic Blackhand sandstone cliffs, ravines and "caves" (really rock shelters and overhangs mostly) covered with lush, green forest.  We stayed in a group camping area, and I got to do a fair bit of hiking--we hiked to Old Man's Cave, Ash Cave, Conkle's Hollow (rim loop), the Rock House, and the rock climbing and rappelling area of the Hocking Hills State Forest.  In addition, we floated in tubes down the Hocking River for a while until we got to a great old-fashioned swimming hole, with deep enough water to permit a serious rope swing off of a deck and cliff-jumping of about 30 feet or so.  We got quite a bit of rain on the last night there, and while we might have gone and done Cantwell Cliffs on Friday, honestly after a night of non-stop rain and being wet, everyone was kinda ready to just come home.

Stone bridge in the ravine at Old Man's Cave.
Also, my daughter has continued to improve dramatically, and is in great shape given this point in her recovery from her spinal fusion surgery.  I don't think she really accepts fully the notion that she's going to be in a lengthy recovery period and won't just be able to live life "as normal" for a few weeks exactly--but we're coming along.

So, with everything going relatively well in my private life now, all I have to do is get caught back up at work after being gone, and then I can settle back into a groove of sorts, which hopefully includes more blog posts.  I don't, however, have a lot to say right now... yet.  I'm not up to date on my Avengers episodes, I haven't finished a new book in weeks, and I don't really have any setting information ready to post right now either.  So, other than posting those few pictures of my trip, I only have a handful of minor updates.

Sunlight rays downstream from Old Mans' Cave.
First, I recently got a $100 Amazon gift card, and with that, I ordered a new Arkham Horror novel and several Paizo setting books--my first in many months.  These include Isles of the Shackles, Blood of Fiends, Blood of Angels, Magnimar, Lost Kingdoms and Distant Worlds.  This will mean a spate of new RPG related reviews in the near future.  I also, of course, have tons of fantasy, science fiction and even mainstream thriller fiction to review still, and that list has been shrinking depressingly slowly, and continues to be interrupted by stuff I get from the library.

And finally, because one of the books I'm reading is The Tarim Mummies by J. P. Mallory and Victor Mair, I recently pulled out this older geographical paradigm of the DARK•HERITAGE setting and am posting it for fun.  The geography was meant to be loosly based in the actual Tarim basin as the Strachina basin.  This is very loose (the Tiran basin, which corresponds to the Junggar Basin, for example, is twice as big relative to its real-life counterpart.)  If you've never heard of the Tarim basin, well--it was the "middle portion" of the Silk Road, which split at Kashgar and went along the northern edge of the basin or the southern.  Using this as a "calque" of a real-life geography, you can loosely associate features on my map with the following features on a real map:
  • Strachina Basin = Tarim Basin
  • Parete Mountains = Tien Shan Mountains
  • Tiran Basin = Junggar Basin
  • Rapire Mountains = Kunlun Mountains
  • Leng = Tibetan Plateau
  • Rharia = China
  • Komewan = Persia/Parthia
  • Shanerisha = India/Sindh
  • Razina = Kucha
  • Iclezza = Kashgar
  • Nevaz = Khotan
  • Sutaka = Loulan
  • Sutaka = Karashar (yes, I noticed that the name appears twice in two different locations)
  • Caerddyn = Turfan
  • Kvuustu = Hsiung-nu
As you can see, I've long been a fan of the map-making style popularized by Christopher Tolkien and included in pretty much every printing of The Lord of the Rings since I first read them thirty years or so ago.

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