Robert Lowendick’s interest in the great outdoors began early on with fishing trips with his father.
Lowendick’s father would keep journals of our their fishing trips, keeping a tally of what species of fish was caught and what the weather was like. Salt Fork Lake was one of his favorite fishing spots.
"I would page through those every now and again," Lowendick said. "I got a thrill out of reliving those adventures in my head."
Lowendick was about 40 years old when he developed an interest in writing about some of his outdoor adventures.
He started during a winter which he described had piled up the snow so deep he could hardly get out of his door, so he spent some time writing a few stories.
"I came across a website called Backwoods Bound and they were taking stories so I thought, it’s deer season almost. So I wrote a story about getting my kids outside and away from electronics at home," Lowendick said. "So we made a treasure hunt out of hunting white tail antlers shed by the deer. I submitted that story and they traded me chili mix as pay that was kind of the start of it. I wrote for them a couple of times and then other web sites."
So while his love of the outdoors came first, he is just as passionate about writing on his outdoor adventures.
When he is not working or writing he is spends his time enjoying the great outdoors
"When I would hike, backpack or fish or something and had a great time I loved to share the story," Lowendick said, "That’s me, I guess. I have the drive to share the story and encourage others like, hey man this is a good time, and not to seem to corny but I see the pressures of our world on people today. People need to get outside more. They need to step away from that TV for a little bit to clear there mind and let their own sense get directed."
Lowendick has no journalism training but has had mentors along the way. He attributes members of the Ohio Outdoor Writer’s Association of which he is past president for helping him fine tune his writing skills.
It was through the Ohio Outdoor Writers Association, they Lowendick came in contact with the publisher of his book Best Tent Camping, Ohio.
"I was contacted by a publisher in 2012 for the first edition. These publishers are looking for niche writers so they contacted our organization and said does anybody want to do a camping book and of course I was like that’s kind of my thing," Lowendick said. "So we talked for a little bit and we struck up a deal."
Lowendick noted that at this time Menaha Ridge Press already had the BEST Tent Camping series, but Ohio hadn’t been included in that.
"I pitched a query about Ohio and they said, yeah, why would someone want to camp in Ohio? We are not West Virginia we don’t have the mountains like West Virginia or Kentucky with a river and a canyon or Michigan with all that wild wilderness. I said Ohio still has some good stuff. Half of it is farm county but the other half is good camping and there is still good camping in farm country."
So Lowendick wrote the first edition of Best Tent Camping, Ohio in 2012 and eight years later the second edition is being released with a few campgrounds removed and some new ones added.
The book lists 50 of the campgrounds throughout Ohio, that Lowendick believes to be the best ones for tent camping. He has stayed at least one night at each of the listed campgrounds.
The book has campground location broken down by regions throughout the state along with a list indicating which campgrounds are best for bird watching, canoeing and kayaking, cycling and mountain biking, equestrians, families with kids, fishing and boating, hiking, solitude, scenic vistas and photography and swimming.
The book user a star rating system to let readers know which site is best suited for the activity they are looking for. It also offers tips on knowing what kind of plants to avoid, what to pack in a first aid kit and overall camping tips and camping etiquette.
When asked which of the 50 were his favorite. Lowendick selected Mohican State Forest and Salt Fork State Park.
He selected Mohican State Forest based on it’s primitive-style camping.
"They have three park and pack sites in the forest so you get away from the crowd at Mohican. You take a couple of forest roads that lead you to a nice little gravel lot that and a nice trail that leads you less than a mile to three separate spots," Lowendick said. "It gives you some backpacking feel and you can even take kids to that campground. If you want that backpack flavor with no RVs in site that’s probably one of my favorite ones."
Salt Fork was chosen as a favorite because of the amenities and not wanting to overlook the state’s largest park.
"If you have some kids who have lots of energy and like to interact with other kids and stuff like that Salt Fork is perfect for that." Lowendick said, "There are so many amenities and that kind of thing so kids can have their s’mores at the campsite at night and during the day there’s always stuff to do with all the marina’s boat rentals and those kind of things. Most of the state parks offer that kind of stuff but Salt Fork is one of my favorites it really is."
Lowendick wants readers to know that if they haven’t camped in a while they need to get out and try it again.
"There is a common thing among folks who may have had a bad experience years ago. But they should try it again." Lowendick said. "The new gear is user friendly. You can do camping and keep it simple without purchasing all the gear available in the store. Marshmallows and hot dogs cooked on a stick over a fire still taste just as good. The gear is much better and there are resources that will give you plenty of information, guides and suggestions on how to have a good comfortable camping trip,"
Lowendick’s next possible project is a backpacking guide for those over 50.