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

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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.

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T.C. Steele State Historic Site, Indiana

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.  Continue reading “Day 10 – Indiana, Hill and Dale”