Day 12 – Amish Byways in Ohio

Another great day…I got to spend some time with Kathy, Doug, and Micah.  Kathy has a barn with about 46 horses in walking distance from her house.  Micah, her daughter, has two ponies, Tangerine and Cummerbund (Cummerbund is black), a guinea pig named Sweetie, and two fish who seem to have several names.  We worked a horse jigsaw puzzle before we sat down for a delicious breakfast, banana nut pancakes and bacon, compliments of Kathy.  For work, Doug teaches courses on how to improve sales after having increased his sales at his own IT company.  For pleasure, Doug is a sailor and likes to race his trimaran.  Just like the horse show folks, he likes to get down south to Florida in the winter (out of the cold) to compete in regattas.  Kathy and Micah are Buddhists.  I learned the meaning of the Tumba, a Buddhist prayer…another new experience.

After breakfast, I took the highway to the beginning of the next drive, Lexington, OH.  My first stop was Malabar Farm State Park.  Malabar Farm was once the country estate of Pulitzer Prize-winning author, conservationist, and farmer, Louis Bromfield and was named for Malabar Coast in India.   It was at this farm house mansion where Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall spent their honeymoon.   Bromfield studied agriculture for a year at Cornell University, left to operate his family’s farm, enrolled at Columbia University to study journalism, and enlisted in the United States Army Ambulance Service during World War I.  He went on to become a reporter, publishing several articles, stories, screenplays, and novels.  His third novel Early Autumn won the Pulitzer Prize in 1927.

I happened to visit Malabar Farm on Heritage Days which is one of Ohio’s largest free outdoor living history and crafts festival.  I would describe it to be a combination between Grapefest and Pioneer Days in the Dallas area.  Several booths were set up inside the farm with crafts like soap, dried flowers, and confections for sale.  In addition, a banjo band played old music while horse drawn hayrides passed by civil war demonstrations and old farm machinery.  It was a big day at the park…I’m thankful I didn’t have to try to find a campground up this way last night, as it think I would have failed.  There was a line of cars being directed to overflow parking.  Before I left with some local Loudonville bologna and swiss cheese for lunch and some jam for my PB&J’s, I met three horseback riders, Pam, Tina, and Sandy.  Sandy moved to Ohio from Pilot Point, a town north of Dallas.  What a small world!

I weaved around a few more back roads to Mohican Memorial State Forest.  I walked over a covered bridge that spans the Clear Fork-Mohican River and along a trail toward Big and Little Lyon Falls.  I didn’t have a trail map with me and there wasn’t one at the trailhead, so I asked people along the way how far it was to the falls…”it’s pretty far back, ½ mile maybe”; “oh, it’s a ways back, 1/8 mile and rugged terrain”; and finally a better answer, “oh, it’s far, but if you want to get a good shot of a waterfall, you won’t get it there…no water…if you go a 100 yards up you can get to a nice spot on the river though”.  Thankfully I settled on her advice, as I later found out it was a 1.5 mile roundtrip which would have been hard on the dogs!  I met tons of people along the way, but it was mostly quick chit chat.

Scout, Petey, and I continued our journey through Amish country, between Millersburg, Berlin, and Sugarcreek (aka The Little Switzerland of Ohio).  As we shared the roads with horse drawn buggies, we passed by farmsteads, white houses, and huge dairy barns.  At the same time, I felt like I was at Disney World walking around the lake area where you could sample different cultures…Germans here, Swiss there.  One farm offered produce, pony rides, and buggy rides; while another offered quilt making demonstrations.  I was surprised the Amish country was such a tourist attraction.  I expected it to be simple, though to me it seemed commercialized…maybe it is because it is hard for me to grasp the likes of German and Swiss villages in the middle of Ohio.  North Central Ohio claims the largest settlement of Amish.  I did stop by the Mennonite Information Center to learn more about the culture.  The Amish are the most conservative group in the Anabaptist Family.  The Mennonites and the Hutterites are additional groups in the family.  The Anabaptists differed from popular reformers in that they rejected infant baptism, and they were the first to teach the separation between church and state which was unheard of in the 1500s, thus they were driven away from their homes in Switzerland and Germany by persecution.

My final stop before resting at a private campground just across the Ohio River in West Virginia was the Schoenbrunn Village State Memorial, Ohio’s earliest Christian Settlement.  According to Reader’s Digest, it was founded in 1772 as a Moravian mission to the Delaware Indians and lasted only five years.  Today the site is comprised of 17 reconstructed log buildings representing life on the Ohio frontier. ETB

Websites: www.dnr.state.oh.us/parks/parks/malabar/tabid/762/default.aspx, www.ohiodnr.com/forests/mohican/tabid/5160/default.aspx, www.ohsweb.ohiohistory.org/places/ne06/index.shtml,

For notecards and key chains, visit http://www.notablenotecards.com, http://www.etsy.com/shop/nichenotecards

boots website copy


Day 11 – Scenic Southeastern Ohio

Cedar Falls

So now I understand why the campground was so hard to find last night.  As opposed to having an entrance to the park with all the attractions inside it, the park is separated into six separate areas which are named for the attraction, thus Cedar Falls had its own parking lot as did Ash Cave, and the other attractions.  I wound around a few 15 mph curves and through falling yellow leaves, to arrive at Cedar Falls for the first hike of the day.  The attractions visited today were based on the shortest trails.  It was only a 0.5 mile out and back (verified with a local in the parking lot) walk to the falls, albeit mostly steps.  Due to the drought, the falls weren’t really falling.  The side of the rock was wet…that’s about it.  I left Cedar Falls, and stopped at Ash Cave per the lady’s recommendation at the campgrounds.  She said it would be a good path to take for someone with a sprained ankle…I’ll say, it was wheelchair accessible, short, and one of the neatest places I’ve been.  I’m glad the State of Ohio was able to make this area available to the physically challenged.  Moss covered trees lined the path to a giant cave or rock ledge.  Many trails led to the rim above too.  I’m certain neither my description nor the pictures will give you much of an idea of the grandeur as I was only able to capture a portion of the cave in each photo.

At the end of the trail, I ran into the local that pointed me in the direction of Cedar Falls.  He asked if I had walked the 3 mile trail!  “Oh, gosh no”, was my reply…”I see you ran the trail though?”  Not only did he run that trail, Brad planned on running 8 miles worth of trails before going back to Columbus.  He was a criminal defense attorney, who helped kids that mistakenly took a detour in life.  Not repeating felons or gang members, but ones that made that one mistake getting into drugs or stealing from their employers.  He said to help them, he plucks them out of their environment and gets them involved in the outdoors…sort of like the trip I’m doing.  He drives an hour down to this area every Friday for his run and plans on camping with his family at Hocking Hills Park tomorrow.

I drove up and down over some more hills; so steep, that when you pass over the peak, you aren’t sure where the road will be on the

“Best Burger in Town”

other side and when you look out your rear window, all you see is sky; until I got to Nelsonville.  Nelsonville is full of Victorian homes, and its square is home to Stuart’s Opera House and the Dew Hotel which still look almost as they did in the 19th century.  I tried “the Best Burger in Town” per the sign outside The Mine Tavern.  If the mayonnaise had been Hellman’s instead of Miracle Whip, maybe it would have been!  As I walked around the town a bit, a side street on the square had a dive shop…had to take a picture of the red flag with the diagonal white stripe.

The Drive began meandering along the Muskingum River and through river towns that flourished when 10 locks were built from 1837 to 1841 to tame the river for steamboats.  I stopped and toured one of the locks outside McConnelsville.  Each lock required eight muscle powered, geared winches to open the miter gates.  One winch was used to open the gates while a corresponding one was on the opposite lock wall to close the gate, simultaneously.

1 of only 4 remaining

My final stop on the drive was Marietta, the first American settlement in the Northwest Territory.  I stopped at a historic park on the river that displayed the towboat W.P. Snyder, Jr., the oldest pilothouse, and other signs about floods, and the Underground Railroad.  From 1812 through 1861, fugitive slaves fleeing toward Canada were aided by descendants of early settlers who operated Underground Railroad Stations along the Muskingum River.  Additionally, the first documented African American born in the Northwest Territory, James Davis, was born in Marietta.

The towboat W.P. Snyder was first operated by Carnegie Steel Company and launched in 1918 to push barges and accommodate a crew of 20.  It carried no passengers or cargo.  Later it was purchased by the Crucible Steel Company of America and would have been scrapped like most others, but the Ohio Historical Society requested that it be preserved and displayed.

The oldest pilothouse,  was removed from the steamboat called Tell City which was built in 1889 after it sank in an accident at Little Hocking, Ohio on April 6, 1917.  It served as a summer house on the river front lawn of the Bent family.  This is the type of pilothouse that Mark Twain (my favorite “classics” author) wrote about.

After last night’s fiasco, I thought instead of passing up offers for a place to stay in Cincinnati, that I should take Page up on her contacts in Columbus, that is nearby the start of the next scenic drive in Lexington, OH.  I called two contacts, but one was out of town and the other was out of pocket as I never heard back from her.  Around 6:00 or so, I decided to veer off from Columbus and head toward Lexington and hope for a campground.  I’ve learned it is much harder to get a spot on the weekend.  When my cell service reappeared, my iPhone bleeped with a message.  It was Bobby, checking in on me.  Being a horse trainer, he knows horse people everywhere, and yes, he knew someone in Columbus.  One and a half hours later, I was parked in Kathy’s  driveway!  I briefly met her before she and her family went to the movie,s and my van is plugged into her garage.  I’ll have to keep Bobby posted on my whereabouts…I might be able to reserve a lot of driveways.  Hopefully, I’ll get to talk to Kathy a little more tomorrow.

Websites: http://ohsweb.ohiohistory.org/places/se09/index/shtml

For notecards or key chains, visit http://www.notablenotecards.com, http://www.etsy.com/shop/nichenotecards

colorful canoes website copy

Indiana, Ohio

Day 10 – Indiana, Hill and Dale

If I had a redo day, this would be it.  I’m not going to complain since Scout is doing well, and I’m unemployed and homeless, but I have to say all my mishaps resulted in a frustrating day.  I began the morning in the park where I camped last night.  The park is almost 16,000 acres and the largest in Indiana.  It had three separate entrances…the southern one was specifically for horse campers.  The entrance I came through had a covered bridge.  I drove for miles within the park.  It was quite nice.  As I said yesterday, I finally had cell service, so I opted to go caching to make up for lost time in Missouri and Illinois.  The geocaching website showed 5 caches around Ogle Lake.  After reviewing the trail map, I opted for trail #7, the Ogle Lake Trail.  The first cache, which I found, ended up being on the upper ridge and I had to climb up a steep, slick incline to get to it.  I tried with the dogs, to no avail, so I tied them to a tree, ran up there, signed the log, and ran back.  In the process, I rolled my ankle, but it seemed fine.  We proceeded along the 1.2 mile loop to the area where the next cache was supposed to be.  It was on trail #4, 500 feet from trail #7 in a hollow tree.  I searched and searched and then decided to reference the logs as the logs state if other cachers found it or not.  At least 4 in a row didn’t find it, but the last person said he did.  Huh, well I looked in every hollow tree in the vicinity, it was getting hot, and the dogs were going to need water soon, so I aborted the search…there were a handful more in the area, or so I

Ogle Lake

thought.  Anytime I got near one, the GPS always showed them hidden up on the ridge, thus virtually none of the caches were on trail #7.  Ok, so if that is the worst part of your day…not so bad…there were other places in the park.

As I drove toward the exit, I navigated to a cache at a scenic overlook…number two found!  I really wanted to find three (one each for my failures in Illinois and Missouri and one for Indiana).  So as I continued toward the exit, there was another one hidden on trail #8.  It was only 0.2 miles away.  The dogs just had a long hike, so I thought I would just leave them in the car and jog down the path…I haven’t gotten much aerobic exercise aside from slow paced strolls.  At about 450 feet away, I stepped on a root, heard a

Scenic Overlook

pop-pop-pop, and felt a searing pain in my ankle…yes a severe sprain, and I’m 0.2 miles from the car with my dogs locked inside.  It’s amazing what adrenaline can do.  After a few seconds of hobbling around, the pain dissipated and I returned to the mutts promptly.  The best thing to do for an ankle sprain is to leave the shoe on, apply ice, take ibuprofen, and prop it up above your heart.  My best solution was a cooler pack that I had in the refrigerator – not exactly as cold as ice, but still cold.  I had to briefly remove my shoe to wrap the cooler pack on my ankle so it would stay on while I was driving…OUCH…the throbbing kicked in!  Of course, I had every type of medicine you can imagine, except Advil.

My next stop was supposed to be Nashville, Indiana because I wanted to try the Nashville House’s famous fried biscuits.  I thought it would be a nice change of pace from hiking and history, and it was time to test the local flavor.  Outside of my free fish dinner, I haven’t ventured out to the local restaurants which I really like to do.  For some reason, however, I got it into my mind that I was supposed to try fried biscuits in Ohio tomorrow, so I didn’t even stop in Nashville because the town didn’t look that historic.  I didn’t figure out that I missed out on my chance until I was almost to Chillicothe, OH, so there was no turning back.

I skipped Nashville to go to the T.C. Steele State Historic Site.  T.C. Steele was a painter, who was inspired by the local scenery and the barn at his home site, which Steele used as a studio, displayed his paintings.  At this point, my ankle felt like it was on fire, so I just took a picture of the barn, limped back to the car, and took The Reader’s Digest’s suggested route to Bloomington, home of Indiana University.  I’m not sure why I really kept going that direction, because I didn’t intend on touring the campus looking for the Auditorium Hall of Murals or the Art Museum which display works by Picasso, Rodin, and Warhol.  And while I think it would be fun to watch the Little 500, a bicycle race at the University, it doesn’t take place until April!  After driving around the town, I typed Chillicothe, OH into my GPS.  It promptly led me to a dead end into the campus, so I drove farther away from the University area and tried again.  Before backtracking right past Nashville again, I picked up some long overdue Aleve, an ACE bandage, and a McDonald’s burger for Scout.  I find it doubly annoying that not only did I have to backtrack (I don’t like that), I unknowingly had a second chance to try the fried biscuits!!

Chillicothe was about four hours away…cool, I could drive just past there to Hocking Hills State Park and pull in around 6:30 or so.  Mind you, my friend Page had two people lined up for me in Cincinnati, but I decided it would be best for me to get farther on my route because the next two days I have to cover a lot of ground.  It was time for David Baldacchi’s First Family books on tape.  I listened to the first disc, but then needed to concentrate on where I was going.  The GPS wanted to take me a different way to Hocking Hills State Park which bypassed Chillicothe, and I wanted to at least drive through the town if I wasn’t going to stop .  On the way to Chillicothe, I passed the first Dental School in America and Margie’s Crafts (I don’t think my Margie would have liked them).  According to Reader’s Digest, Chillicothe is the Shawnee Indian word meaning town.  It was the first capital of the Northwest Territory and in 1803, the capital of Ohio.  The town was smaller than I expected and was home to several historic buildings.  I was glad I rerouted my GPS up until I got to the road construction…a long delay.  I kept thinking, what are you getting so uptight over…you just have to get to camp and you know the reservations line confirmed 70 sites available.

I guess I could feel the ACE bandage tightening, and I wanted to get my ankle up with some more “ice”.  Furthermore, I had reached for my point and shoot camera to take a picture of the Ohio State Line Sign and noticed it wasn’t around.  When I stopped for gas, I still couldn’t find it.  For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out where I would have left it.  I looked under every seat, under the dog beds, in the seat pockets.  I was only going to have one picture to post from my good camera.  Not only would I have lost my pictures, it would have been the 3rd time something had happened to this model camera.  I was beginning to think it was jinxed, and I was irritated with myself for being stupid once again (I lost one and waterlogged another).  Furthermore, it is much easier to have on the trails than my good camera, and I have to buy it used because technology has improved with newer models that don’t fit in my underwater camera case, thus it is harder and harder to find and more expensive than a new model (but the case is more expensive than the camera and cases for the new models tend to be designed a year behind).  If that wasn’t a run on sentence, I don’t know what was!

So, it’s getting late, I’ve driven for four hours, I’m in traffic in the middle of nowhere, I have a sprained ankle, I missed the fried biscuits, and I’ve lost my camera.  I was starting to get frustrated and to add fuel to the fire I got lost!  Now it is dark and a black cat crosses my path.  My GPS wants to take me all over these back roads with no lights.  The map shows the same route, but there isn’t a sign the Hocking Hills State Park anywhere!  There are signs to places in the park, but not a park entrance to the campgrounds.  After circling around and backtracking I don’t know how many times, I found a convenience store and the lady there confirmed it was just a mile away…FINALLY.  So the fee station is generally closed at night, so the procedure is to pull in, pick a spot, and pay in the morning.  Lucky for me, I found a ranger near the entrance, and he gave me a map.  He said, if I didn’t have a reservation that I could only pick from the 12 or so “walk in” spots.  Since reservations said there were so many spots available, I didn’t make a reservation because I wanted to be able to look at the locations before I picked one.  At this point, however, I didn’t really care how many choices I had, as long as there was one (and hopefully near the bathroom because I didn’t want to walk far on my ankle).  I get all set up, go look for the water pump which I can’t find, and then realize the bathrooms don’t even have running water…nice…no flush toilets, no showers for the “walk ins”.  The shower house is in the reserved area.  Furthermore, my electric didn’t work and my camera was still missing…UGH…and it was all in the dark.  With my headlamp attached, I went to work, and I am happy to say, everything is in working order…electric on…and camera found – hiding between the back seat and the storage cabinet.  I think I set it on the back seat when I was wrapping my ankle, and it must have slid to the side.  I’m very relieved now, but as you can tell from the number of pictures and the story, I didn’t do a whole lot of sightseeing.  I did manage, while I was lost, to stop, take a deepbreath, and snap a picture of the moon because it was pink from the sunset.  It was so cool.  Now, after having cell service virtually all day, none is available on the campgrounds!  Maybe I should have stayed in Cincinnati!

Websites: www.dnr.state.oh.us/parks/hocking/tabid/743/default.aspx, www.tcsteele.org, www.browncountyinn.com/content/nashville-house-restaurant, http://www.notablenotecards.com, http://www.etsy.com/shop/nichenotecards