April Archives




Bigfoot Adventures in Southeast Ohio

Catching a glimpse of the elusive creature named “Bigfoot” is a thrill many have reported seeing in Cambridge, Ohio.

Named one of the Top 10 “Squatchiest” Places in the country by USATODAY, Salt Fork State Park offers a plethora of Bigfoot adventures for avid enthusiasts or weekend thrill seekers.

Bigfoot has been rumored to live in Ohio since the mid-1770s. Over 36 sightings have been reported in the park since the middle 1980s. As a result, Salt Fork Lodge & Conference Center and Salt Fork State Park host several events to celebrate the legend of Bigfoot.

Make plans to attend the following events in 2023: 

The Ohio Bigfoot Conference (May 6, 2023) features top-rated speakers from across the Bigfoot community who share their experiences and knowledge on the subject of Sasquatch. From television personalities, academies, local and national investigators, and other prominent figures, the conference has something for everyone. The weekend also features many free events, including the largest vendor fair of Bigfoot merchandise, advanced hike, Bigfoot Festival, and family hike. It is a great weekend full of fun and informative events for the whole family to enjoy. Visit www.ohiobigfootconference.org. 

Monthly Bigfoot Night Hikes allow enthusiasts to hike the park trails after dark in search of the legendary Bigfoot. Hikes typically take place once a month during the summer and autumn seasons. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/saltforkstatepark or call the park lodge at 740-439-3521.

Run or walk the new Bigfoot races at Salt Fork State Park. The Summer Sasquatch 50K, 20 & 10-mile trail races will take place on June 10 & 11, 2023. These races will challenge you with a 10.4-mile loop course over rolling hills. Hikers are welcome in the 10 Miler – the generous cutoff time allows you to enjoy a supported hike at your own pace. Hikers are welcome in the 10-mile race. Click here for more information.

Can’t make it to the summer Sasquatch races? Join in the fun this winter on Dec. 9 &10, 2023, for the Bigfoot 50K, 20 & 10-mile trail races. Have your family tag along for an awesome Ohio staycation! Salt Fork Lodge offers great rooms at reasonable prices. Call 740-439-2751 and request the Bigfoot race discount when making your reservation. Click here to learn more.

Did You Know?

  • Morgan’s Knob is where much of one of the episodes of “Finding Bigfoot” and “Monsters & Mysteries in America” was filmed?
  • Bigfoot Ridge, the park’s primitive campground, was where Kathy Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb filmed an episode of their “Today Show with Kathy and Hoda?”
  • USA TODAY ranked the park one of the Top 10 “Squatchiest” Places in the country? 

Keep your eyes peeled for the “furry foot” while enjoying all the amenities of Salt Fork State Park. Tag the local Visitors & Convention Bureau on social media using #CambridgeOhio to share your adventures!

For more information, contact the Cambridge/Guernsey County VCB office at 627 Wheeling Avenue, Suite 200 in downtown Cambridge, call 740-432-2022, email info@visitguernseycounty.com, or visit VisitGuernseyCounty.com.

See Our Sponsors

MAY – We Visit Lehman’s!

Plan now for the MAY 2023 Events at Lehman’s in the heart of Ohio Amish Country!

For family fun close to home, plan to visit Lehman’s, in the heart of Ohio’s Amish Country.

Founded in 1955 by Jay Lehman to serve the local Amish, today, Lehman’s ships practical products all over the country.  The retail store is a rambling 35,000 square-foot building, filled with thousands of products, museum-quality antiques, and four pre-Civil War era buildings.  It’s like going to a museum and shopping at the same time. Lehman’s is open every day except Sunday and is always open at Lehmans.com.

Marvel at the non-electric appliances like wood heating and cooking stoves; shop in the year-round Christmas store; enjoy the toy room and food samples in the pantry; appreciate the oil lamps and lanterns; and spend time in the massive housewares department.

For details on all of the events hosted by Lehman’s, please visit Lehmans.com/events.

MAY 6: Join this iconic business on Saturday, May 6, from 10 am to 3 pm for their annual FREE Customer Appreciation celebration.  Enjoy sales on great products, register to win gift baskets, and watch unique product demonstrations.   Listen to Honeytown, the popular local folk band, from 10:30 am to 1:30 pm.  The band’s eclectic musical mix of original compositions, unexpected arrangements, and tightly-blended harmonies have won them a fan base all over the Midwest. Their varied instrumentation ranging from fiddle to banjo, washboard to bass ukulele, accordion to percussive trash cans, takes their audiences by pleasant surprise.

MAY 13: On Saturday, May 13, Lehman’s west parking lot will be filled with tractors and engines from yesteryear for the annual Antique Engine Show.   Whether you’re a tractor enthusiast or a curious spectator, don’t miss this day dedicated to the engines that once powered America’s agricultural revolution. This is a free event.

MAY 19 and 20: If you have a sweet tooth, you won’t want to miss the Chocolate Tour on May 19 and 20.  Travel the roads of beautiful Amish Country, stopping to shop at seven venues and collecting delicious custom chocolates at each one. Tickets are $25 each, and all proceeds from the Chocolate Tour will be donated to 58:12 Rescue, an organization that provides rescue, shelter, and restoration to female victims of physical and sexual abuse.

Sponsored by The Best of Ohio’s Amish Country, stops on the tour include Lehman’s, Heini’s Cheese Chalet, Coblentz Chocolate Company, Amish Door Village, Homestead Furniture, Walnut Creek Amish Flea Market and the Amish and Mennonite Heritage Center.

Participants will start their tour at Walnut Creek Amish Flea Market, where they will receive a box for collecting their chocolates. Each location on the tour will give out a unique chocolate to add to the box, and a finished box will collect approximately 1lb. of chocolate. Tickets are $25 each and can be purchased through Eventbrite. All proceeds from the Chocolate Tour will be donated to 58:12 Rescue, an organization that provides rescue, shelter, and restoration to female victims of physical and sexual abuse. It is recommended that participants bring their own cooler to store their chocolates. There’s free parking at all locations, including Walnut Creek Amish Flea Market. Click here for more about The Best of Ohio’s Amish Country Chocolate Tour.

MAY 27:  Have you been to Lehman’s to see the unbelievable carvings done by Paul Weaver? They are truly worth the trip itself. Every fourth Saturday of the month, Paul will be at the store to answer questions and give some background on these amazing works of art. Pictures do not do them justice; you need to see them in person!  Come and visit with Paul from 9:30 am to 2 pm.

Plan now to make a trip to visit Lehman’s, in the heart of Ohio’s Amish Country, this May.

See Our Sponsors

Meet in the Middle

Meet In Marion

Looking for the perfect location for your next getaway weekend or a simple one-day road trip? Marion, Ohio, offers a variety of activities that make it the perfect destination for a day trip or a multi-day stay. Situated in a convenient location in the heart of Ohio, Marion sits along State Route 23 just a short drive north of Columbus, making it the perfect “meet in the middle” location for friends and family across the Midwest.

If family fun is on the agenda, Marion offers putt-putt and disc golf courses. Cooper’s Bowl and Bluefusion Entertainment are the perfect hangouts to bowl a few games and enjoy some arcade fun. Let the little ones burn off some extra energy at Max Aiir, an inflatable event space, or the Lincoln Park Aquatic Center. Marion Tallgrass Trails is perfect for wandering, biking, fishing, or birdwatching, and the newly constructed Marion Rotary Club Centennial Playground offers all-inclusive access to kids of all abilities. You’re bound to work up an appetite, so grab an old-fashioned root beer float or visit one of Marion’s many ice cream shops along the Marion County Ice Cream Trail.

Rich in history, Marion is the perfect destination for the history buff. This community offers the opportunity to stand in the spot a president made famous when you visit Warren G. Harding’s renovated home and Presidential Museum.  Make your way along the Cultural Corridor to visit historic locations like Heritage Hall, home to the Marion Historical Society and Wyandot Popcorn Museum; Union Station, a unique experience for train enthusiasts; and the 1928 Eberson-built Marion Palace Theatre where you can enjoy live entertainment in a unique atmospheric theatre.

Marion’s reimagined Downtown is perfect for dining, shopping, sipping, and celebrating. Outdoor spaces offer a welcoming setting for sharing a laugh or conversation with friends. Try a taste of Marion at locally owned eateries all along the Eaterarian Trail; hop between drinkeries that offer various adult beverage options; shop in unique retail stores and boutiques; and enjoy a hands-on art activity or try your hand at throwing axes.

While in downtown Marion, stroll the streets to experience Marion’s public art display, The Cardinal Project. Celebrate Ohio as the seventeenth state to join the Union by featuring 17 statues throughout the downtown area. Each State Bird is uniquely designed and hand-painted with a story to tell.

Golf enthusiasts will enjoy a round of golf with beautiful views, including the picturesque King’s Mill Covered Bridge. Marion’s County Parks provide additional outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing, kayaking, or wandering the woods.

Experience the celebration of the all-American apple at Lawrence Orchard’s Applefest and Harvest Weekends.  Visit in September to experience the Popcorn Festival, a street fair celebrating Marion’s history as the popcorn capital of the world. Enjoy the Blues & BBQ Festival in August.  Be sure to bring your appetite and pack your lawn chair for a full day of fun. Hang out on Third Thursdays from May to September and “take it to the streets” with live entertainment, food trucks, a kids’ zone, and more.

It’s all here waiting for you in Marion, Ohio. For more information on these exciting opportunities, visit the Marion Area Convention and Visitors Bureau website: www.visitmarionohio.com.

See Our Sponsors

Visit Historic Roscoe Village in 2023

Historic Roscoe Village: America’s Canal Town

If you are looking for a place to slow down and step back in time, Historic Roscoe Village in Coshocton, OH, is the stop to make. This once-bustling Ohio and Erie Canal town will allow you to relax and enjoy a full day of activities and adventures. In Roscoe, you can tour buildings of the past, ride the Monticello III Horse-Drawn Canal Boat (Beginning with limited availability on April 20 & 21, 2023, and a full season from May 26 – Oct 22), visit the Accredited Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum, dine in local restaurants, and stop at the unique locally owned shops! Historic Roscoe Village is a one-stop destination for every traveler’s needs and desires.

As you make your way through the village, witness the past become present with a life-size digital kiosk located at several stops of the tour buildings. The simple push of a button will transport viewers back in time with a front-row seat to the inner workings of a weaver, broom squire, doctor’s visit, and many other stops along the tour. Make sure you try your hand at candle-dipping, leather-punching, top-painting, or other hands-on crafts for the perfect take-home keepsake! Enjoy the self-guided Living History Tour and hands-on crafts daily from 10 am-4 pm.

Visit Coshocton Lake Park, where you can meet the huge Percheron draft horse team that pulls the Monticello III Canal boat along a restored section of the Ohio and Erie Canal. Travelers will experience a 45-minute canal boat ride and will be entertained by the Canal Boat Captain as he explains 1800s canal life sharing tall tales and history. This trip will make you feel like you’ve glided right into the 1830s. Plan your trip for Memorial Day opening weekend!

Now is a great time to visit the Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum, where they showcase exhibits of Historic Ohio, Euro-American decorative arts, American Indian, and Asian artifacts, and the controversial Newark Holy Stone unearthed in the 1860s in the Newark Ohio Earthworks. This Spring, visit the museum’s special exhibit of local artist, “Vivian Williams: A Lifetime of Art.”  This exhibit will showcase her many paintings that won numerous awards, which are displayed in galleries from New York to Los Angeles and have become part of Clark Atlanta University’s permanent collection.

The shops and restaurants in Historic Roscoe Village certainly keep things exciting within this historic village. These locally owned shops cannot be missed with treasures and gifts such as handmade leather goods, fine jewelry, baked goods, coffee, locally made flags, homemade dog and cat treats, Ohio-made items, village-made arts, old-fashioned candy, and hand-made woven rugs. Visit the three restaurants in the village for a wide range of foods, from gourmet hot dogs to the best prime rib and some of the best Texas-style BBQ. This village has it all!

Glary Gardens is just around the corner from Roscoe Village. This public garden includes 20 acres of rolling hills, spring-fed ponds, sandstone outcroppings, and a ravine. Over the past years, many native and exotic perennials, trees, and shrubs. They also have trails in the woodlands that let visitors meander through sandstones. This is the perfect place for families to get out and enjoy nature. The gardens are open daily, and admission is free.

Plan for the many events and festivals for the 2023 calendar year, from Spring Homeschool Days (April 20-21) to the Christmas Candlelighting Ceremony (December 2nd and 9th).  For the first time, the village will host a Family Fun Day and a Food Truck Festival on August 19, 2023, from 11 am-7 pm, where there will be a variety of family activities, music, and the best food around!  From there, mark your calendars for the Roscoe Village Apple Butter Stirrin’ Festival for the 52nd year! This popular festival will be held October 20-22, 2023. The Apple Butter Stirrin’ is one of the largest festivals that offers homemade apple butter, live music, 100-plus crafts, and the best food vendors! Admission for this event includes the living history tour, free crafts for kids, and so much more! To purchase tickets for these events or to see other events happening at Roscoe, visit the website at  www.roscoevillage.com. For more information on events in the area, visit www.visitcoshocton.com. Come and experience all that is Historic Roscoe Village and more today!

See Our Sponsors

It’s Time to Get Back Outside

Take a break from the day-to-day and get back to nature in Sidney, just 36 miles north of Dayton, Ohio. Here, you’ll find over 400 acres of parkland to explore, along with unique shopping and dining destinations that evoke all the charm of small-town Ohio.

Outdoor Oasis

Outdoor enthusiasts, rejoice! There’s plenty to discover in the 220 acres of woodlands, waterways, and lakes in Tawawa Civic Park. This natural oasis offers something for adventurers of all ages. The wooded park is a popular outdoor sanctuary for family get-togethers, picnics, and cookouts, offering more than 20 shelters and play areas, along with plentiful opportunities for solo activities like fishing and hiking where visitors can unplug and unwind.

Trekking along the park’s seven miles of trails, you’ll encounter Big Rock, a 12-foot-tall glacial boulder left from the Ice Age. The one-mile-long Benjamin Trail follows a millrace the length of the park, which used to supply water to Sidney’s first water and electric plant located on Brooklyn Avenue. Next, you’ll want to seek out the Ross Covered Bridge in the middle of the park for postcard-worthy photo ops. For those who like to venture off the beaten path, longer paved and natural surface trails can be explored toward the rear of the park.

Fore!

In addition to its parks, Sidney is home to a variety of golf clubs, perfect for an afternoon on the links. Shelby Oaks Golf Club provides a fun and challenging experience on its 27 holes for players of all skill levels. Rob Fridley, director of operations at Shelby Oaks for forty years, notes that the course is home to one of Dayton’s Top 50 Golf Holes, Number 9 South.

Situated on the grounds of the Sidney Moose Lodge, the Moose Golf Course is also open to the public. Originally the Shelby County Country Club, this 9-hole, 35-par course features tight fairways and smaller greens, much in the tradition of early golf course design.

Established in 1965, Arrowhead Golf Club is just 15 minutes from Sidney and offers an eighteen-hole course layout, practice facility, and full pro shop. In addition, Arrowhead boasts an on-site restaurant, The Bunker, a favorite among visitors and locals alike for great food and cold drinks.

Trail Ways

Hop over to Sidney’s Canal Feeder Bike-Hike Trail for even more outdoor fun. This 3.4-mile paved trail follows the former Sidney Feeder Canal and later runs parallel to the scenic Great Miami River, a popular spot for kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. Did you know that the Great Miami is #1 in Ohio for smallmouth bass? The U.S. Department of the Interior has designated the river itself as a National Water Trail — a distinction given to only 32 other locations in the United States.

The Veteran’s Memorial Walkway is a multi-use ADA-accessible path that provides 4.5 miles of paved trails for walking and cycling. Memorial trees line the walkway commemorating organizations, friends, and family.

Shop Local

After your reacquaintance with nature, how about a stroll around downtown Sidney for a taste of small-town charm? The Ivy Garland is a locally owned shop specializing in gifts and décor for all occasions. Moonflower Effect offers essential oils, custom blends, diffusers, ethically sourced clothing, and more. While there, why not book a one-hour dry salt therapy session in their salt room for the ultimate in relaxation? Greenhaus Coffee offers a unique Coffee Shop | Plant Shop concept in the heart of downtown Sidney. The retail side offers indoor plants, home décor, and locally crafted gifts. In addition, guests enjoy their café offering a wonderful selection of Purebred Coffees, made-to-order seltzers, natural fruit sodas, teas, toasts, pastries, salads, and more.

If you’re up for a detour, check out Gallery 2:TEN and Re:Vive Home Décor & More, just minutes from downtown. Shop original pottery, jewelry, metal sculpture, and hot-blown glass creations, along with a wide array of vintage, reclaimed, and artfully repurposed furniture.

Small-Town Bites

Feeling hungry? Downtown Sidney offers compelling reasons to stick around for a bite to eat. Partake in a refreshing chilled beverage on one of many outdoor dining patios overlooking the idyllic town square with the majestic Shelby County Courthouse positioned at its center. During its construction in 1883, limestone, sandstone, and marble were brought in by canal boat, and the courthouse’s looming 170-foot center tower features four clocks. The town square is often the site of many local events, including cruise-ins, concerts, and a Saturday morning farmers market from June through early October.

Sidney’s iconic diner, The Spot, was first established in 1907 as a lunch wagon operated by Spot Miller. Today, it’s an art deco-style diner loved by locals for its fresh-ground hamburgers, crispy onion rings, thick malts & homemade pies. It’s a great place to stop for a dessert, meal, or snack. Dine in or carry out to picnic like a pro in the shade of old-growth oak trees on the Shelby County Courthouse lawn.

Family-owned Italian pizza shop Amelio’s Pizzeria serves up years of family heritage and Italian culture. Toni Thorne named the restaurant after her great-grandfather, Giuseppe Amelio Cecere, who came to America from Italy in 1920 and opened a pizza shop in his garage.

Other tasty options include The Bridge Restaurant, serving upscale eats like steak and seafood prepared fresh in-house daily, and Tavolo, offering modern Italian fare. Before calling it a night, check out what’s on tap at Murphy’s Craftbar + Kitchen. This trendy bistro boasts 48 taps featuring a wide selection of Ohio brews and craft cocktails.

Visit Sidney Ohio. A spirit we share.

See Our Sponsors

Boutique and Sweets & Spirits Trails

NEW Boutique and Sweets & Spirits Trails Open in Miami County

The Miami County Visitors and Convention Bureau just launched the Miami County Boutique Trail and the Sweets & Spirits Trail.

Boutique Trails are popular!  They provide a fun way to explore an area of interest for visitors and even residents of the region. And as those destinations are discovered and experienced, it helps increase visibility for the venues along the trail.

Creating a boutique trail was a natural fit for Miami County since its communities have many locally owned boutiques. Shopping across the county in this unique fashion expands awareness of the diversity of the area to new a new audience.

The Miami County Boutique Trail features 20 boutiques, with more likely on the horizon. Half offer a discount or free gift for those participating in the trail. Make sure to show the Boutique Trail website or brochure when shopping. Brochures can be picked up at any of the participating shops.

Sweets & Spirits Trail pass holders are sure to find some of their favorite things or combinations of delight like candy and cocktails, cookies and craft beer, or even brownies and bourbon. Along the trail, visitors experience wineries, distilleries, breweries, bakeries, and candy shops filled with childhood favorites.

Visit any of the 15+ locations along the trail to earn points towards amazing prizes. Earn even more points by taking advantage of discounts at select locations! The mobile-exclusive trail tracks your visits and purchases directly on your smartphone. Trail participants must be 18 or older, and minors are not permitted at certain locations, so please check before visiting. Click here to sign up for the Miami County Sweets & Spirits Trail.

So, whether you’re looking for that perfect dress or want to satisfy that sweet tooth, these Miami County trails can take you on a fantastic adventure. Visit www.homegrowngreat.com to learn about other experiences throughout Miami County and where you can eat and stay while visiting.

See Our Sponsors

Mom And Pop Amish Shops

Walmart, Lowe’s, and other big box stores have squeezed out mom-and-pop shops nationwide for decades. But one last outpost of retail is making a stand – Amish merchants.

If you ever heard the line, “They don’t make it like they used to,” it certainly wasn’t muttered by Daniel Miller’s customers. Nor would you hear Mr. Miller say, “We don’t have that.” It’s because if they don’t have it, they’ll make it, and when they do, it will be every bit as good as it used to be.

For this reason, “Mom and Pop” Miller’s modest rural outpost in Adams County, Ohio, has grown to include a bakery and bulk food store in addition to a bustling furniture store. All of which attract people from Southern Ohio, Northern Kentucky, and beyond.

Not much has changed since Daniel’s parents, Harry and Lydia Miller, settled here and started baking with their six children in their modest farmhouse in the 1970s. Once they shared their goods with neighbors, a business was born. Harry often visited Holmes County, Ohio, to bring back furniture to sell too. The more they provided, the more word spread, and the business grew. So the farming days for the Miller’s – raising cattle, hogs, sheep, and such – were over.

The Miller family has provided friendly service, lively conversation, and quality goods for decades. Nothing’s changed except the size of the family working behind the counters to help their patrons. No wonder their reputation has grown, floating across the land like the aroma of freshly baked pies cooked in the farmhouse kitchen.

Today, the 300-acre farm has 34,000 square feet of furniture under one roof, plus more outside, and a separate building for the bakery and another for the bulk food store. The cash registers are powered by solar and wind-generated energy. The Amish have excused themselves from modern conveniences, believing that a life of simplicity and hard work brings them closer to God.  Families and travelers come from miles around to visit their friendly shops and to get a glimpse of the Amish way of life as they travel Wheat Ridge Road and the Wheat Ridge Amish community, which even features a historic covered bridge.

Throughout 2023, the Miller’s will show their customers appreciation with special events and discounts to reward their loyalty. They know in modern times, it’s easy to go to an “all-in-one” store around the corner to save time. But they also know that many are tired of narrow selections and lack of customer service, which is why Miller’s is a destination shopping experience. People look forward to taking a pilgrimage to a place with a wide selection of unique offerings you won’t find anywhere else.

Visitors through the years come back, time and again, because Miller’s helpful workers believe in honesty and humility, which are the bedrock of their small community. The person across the counter often made the product they were selling, like Larry Miller over at the bakery (Daniel’s brother). It’s the quality assurance that’s hard to find at a shopping mall.

They may be the last outpost of Mom & Pop shops, but they’re thriving on a business model built the old-fashioned way – they aim to please!

To plan a visit to Millers Furniture, Bakery & Bulk Foods and a genuine Amish community dotting the countryside of rural Adams County, call 937-544-8524 or visit www.WheatRidgeAmish.com.

See Our Sponsors

Home of the Mity Nice Hamburger

“Hamburger Pickle On Top!
Makes Your Heart Go Flippity Flop!”

 

When we looked to stop at this staple of Lima, Ohio, we knew they had three locations. We wanted to go to the one with the iconic naked baby on the roof (11 N. Elizabeth St. in Lima, Ohio). When we read about the restaurant, there was a catchphrase: Kewpee Hamburgers – Home of the Mity Nice Hamburger!

The line of cars outside wrapped around two sides of the building. Inside, the line was from the counter to the door. I read the menu repeatedly, looking for the “Mity Nice Hamburger.” I couldn’t find any mention of it, so I asked some teenagers next to me if they were local. I caught them off guard, and they didn’t seem too chatty. A guy, my age next to me said he’s lived here his whole life, and that was the first time he heard of the “Mity Nice Hamburger.” We debated if it was a “Mitty” or “Mighty” nice burger. I asked a younger person behind the counter, but they looked at me like the teenagers. Then a kind lady my age smiled and said, it’s “Mighty” spelled “Mity” and refers to all the burgers there.

Sometimes, it’s nice to chat with strangers. You can learn things even Google, Siri, or Alexa can’t tell you.

The first Kewpee hamburger shop opened in Flint, Michigan, in 1918. It’s one of the oldest hamburger chains still in existence, albeit not many Kewpees are left. The Lima, Ohio, location downtown opened ten years later thanks to Hoyt F. “Stub” Wilson and his wife Julia M. “June” Wilson. It only cost a nickel to order a “Mity Nice Hamburger” back then.

We ordered the daily special and grabbed an orange chair booth to dig in. I started with the fries. They were perfectly goldened and crispy. I must say, those were “Mity Nice” fries! The meat patty was so juicy and soft that it melted in my mouth. And the tomato on top was ripe-soft delicious.

With all the gourmet burger joints today, this classic stop beat any burger I’ve tasted in years. And the price was extremely reasonable!

Oh! Don’t leave without getting a shake or malt for the road.

By Frank Rocco Satullo, The OhioTraveler, Your Tour Guide to Fun

See Our Sponsors

Cathedral of Steam

An Age of Steam Dream Turned Reality

The Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum is the culmination of one Jerry Joe Jacobson’s undying love of steam locomotives, the old, smoky machines of a bygone era. Mr. Jacobson caught steam in his blood at a very young age, growing up in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio during the last few years of steam operations on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad in that area. He would always ride his bicycle down to the local B&O railyard to see the great, black giants chug in and out, with freight cars loaded with many goods to be delivered to Cleveland and other destinations. On one particular hike through the train yard, a friendly engineer invited a young Mr. Jacobson up into the cab of their steam locomotive, and the future railroader and Museum founder held onto that memory for the rest of his life.

Mr. Jacobson went on to enter the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division and was trained as a nurse anesthetist, administering anesthesia to patience for various medical procedures. He continued that practice after his military career, saving every penny he had until he could start purchasing his own railroad equipment and trackage to build his dream railroad. Mr. Jacobson’s Ohio Central Railroad started with a cast-off Wheeling & Lake Erie line, running between Zanesville and Brewster, OH, and it later grew into a larger, successful shortline system that spanned over 500 miles throughout the eastern portion of Ohio and stretched into western Pennsylvania. While the, usually, diesel-powered freight trains were what brought in the money, his passion remained with steam. Starting in 1989, summertime steam excursions began running on the Ohio Central, running from downtown Sugarcreek, OH to Baltic and return. Mr. Jacobson’s steam fleet grew and grew as his railroad brought in more revenue, amassing an already impressive collection of both operational and non-operational steam locomotives before he ultimately canceled all regular excursion operations after 2004. He later went on to sell the Ohio Central to the Genesee & Wyoming Railroad Company in 2008, maintaining ownership of only his collection of historic steam locomotives, several older diesel locomotives, and a small fleet of historic rolling stock. In conjunction with the sale of the Ohio Central to G&W, Mr. Jacobson was making plans to construct a facility to house his entire collection, a structure whose kind had not been constructed new in the U.S. for decades.

A roundhouse is a railroad building that is constructed around a central turntable and such facilities were utilized on every major and minor railroad that employed even a moderately sized fleet of steam locomotives. They were built specifically to accommodate the maintenance of steam locomotives and were used from the mid-1800s all the way until the end of the steam era. No such facility had been constructed in the United States since the 1950s and, at that point, some roundhouses were already being demolished as the more cost-effective and fuel-efficient diesel locomotives took over. Mr. Jacobson had always dreamed of having such a facility to house his collection but did not have the time to devote resources to such an endeavor while he was running the Ohio Central. He had a small locomotive shop built out at Morgan Run, just east of Coshocton, OH, where his heritage fleet was restored and serviced, but there was not much room to hide his ever-expanding collection of steam locomotives from the forces of nature. With the sale of the Ohio Central finalized and Genesee & Wyoming assuming ownership of the Morgan Run shop, Mr. Jacobson was able to devote all his newfound time and resources to his new big project, what would later go on to be called the Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum.

With the purchase of a large, vacant cornfield on Smokey Lane Road (a rather appropriate road name) in 2008, Mr. Jacobson began construction of his brick-and-mortar “Cathedral of Steam”. The track, locomotive shop, and roundhouse were completed by 2010, allowing the transport of the entire collection of historic railroad equipment to the new, 18-stall roundhouse and grounds. More construction continued, but Mr. Jacobson finally had a place where he could safely store his collection and display them to visitors. In the early days, any tours were composed of just friends and family. Now, the Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum, fully open to the public since 2019, offers regular tours from April through November, on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. The tours run approximately 90 minutes in length and go through the entire Roundhouse, showcasing the steam locomotives, the restoration shop, and the Museum’s 115ft., operational turntable.

If you would like to come out to see this amazing collection of railroad history, please visit our website at www.ageofsteamroundhouse.org to purchase tickets for a tour! We are located at 213 Smokey Lane Rd. S.W. Sugarcreek, OH 44681.

By Daniel Condo

Alligator on the Wing

This is part of a series of stories
“Wrong Turns Write Life”

Sometimes vacations bring a moment of panic.

Our first family vacation that involved air travel had us flying the last leg on a small, bumpy flight with one row of single seats on one side of the plane. I sat in front of my six-year-old son, and behind him was another six-year-old. The seatbelt sign was on. We descended before our stomachs. That’s when I heard two remarkable imaginations echo through the hollow tube with a play-by-play for everyone to hear.

“We’re going to crash!” One boy yelled at the other.

“Ah, that was close.”

“Holy moly, there’s an alligator on the wing.”

The plane bucked in the air and then tilted to turn.

“The alligator is gone, but seaweed clogged the engine, and now it’s smoking.”

From the other side of the plane came an elderly voice, “Is there really smoke?”

I tried to squeeze my face between the back of my seat and the metal wall with desperate “SHHH” noises, but these two were on cloud nine all the way down.

By Frank Rocco Satullo, The OhioTraveler, Your Tour Guide to Fun

A Tale of Two Spring Breaks

This is the first of several stories in a series,
WRONG TURNS WRITE LIFE

Spring break can look wildly different through the lens of a 21-year-old versus a 40-some-year-old.

Let’s call the 21-year-old’s adventure, Down the Road. 

“Pull off here; I have to take care of something,” Jimmy said.

“Already? We just left!” I complained.

This was my first spring stateside in three years. Having officially started our road trip, I just found out my driving partner had to test to get his driver’s license back. Between the written exam and the driving exam, I asked how he did.

“I think I got a hundred percent this time,” he smiled as an officer came out to meet him. “Let me have your keys.”

I had a small sports car, Mazda RX 7, packed to the gills.

“What’s all this?” the officer asked, somewhat surprised as she opened the passenger door.

“When I blow this popsicle stand, we’re Florida-bound!” Jimmy said with his signature grin and enthusiasm.

She shook her head as if to say, NOW, I’ve seen it all!

Winding through the mountains of West Virginia on the Interstate proved difficult. It was dark, the fog was especially thick, and Jimmy was sleeping. I almost turned into the dividing wall numerous times as my mind played tricks on me. My eyes followed the reflecting strips with such monotony that they danced in my head. After a close call, I woke Jimmy to have a co-pilot.

We switched driving duties at every fill-up. The gas tank was nearly empty, and we hadn’t seen signs of a gas station in a quarter tank or so. We were desperate, so we decided that the next time we saw a sign, we’d follow it no matter where it took us, as long as it eventually led us to gasoline.

We ended up miles from the highway, navigating the hilly terrain deep into no man’s land until we finally spotted a glow on the edge of the rural road. It was a run-down place with nothing – and I mean nothing – else around. We pulled in, pumped the gas, and went inside together to add munchies to our purchase. It was very late at night. So, we were surprised to see several guys hanging out.

As we walked past two of them sitting on top of a floor cooler, I noticed their filthy bare feet. Nobody said anything to us except the guy behind the counter, and even that exchange was minimal. His accent was so thick when he spoke that I couldn’t understand him. We could feel all eyes on us, perhaps even some whispering. It was uncomfortable, to say the least. And it became obvious how easily we could disappear, and nobody would ever know what became of us.

When we plopped back into our car seats, Jimmy said, “Get the hell out of here!”

I didn’t notice until later that I drove two consecutive shifts. It may have been an honest mistake, but my co-pilot’s nickname was “The Shyster!”

Somewhere in Florida, Jimmy woke me up. I squinted; the sun was so bright. He pointed my attention to the car, keeping pace next to us on the highway. I quickly ran my fingers through my hair, trying to get rid of my “window head.” When we looked right, we got an eye-full from the car full of girls pacing us.

About an hour later, we were still full of energy, traveling at our cruising speed, well over the speed limit. A police car flew up on us like we were in a school zone. Jimmy pulled to the slow lane thinking we were busted, but the cop car blasted past us, trailed by several other cop cars.

“What the hell, Jim!” I yelled in dismay.

Jimmy was in hot pursuit of the police convoy, traveling in the three-digit range.

“Oh, they’ve got bigger fish to fry, so I’m taking advantage of our police escort,” Jimmy said with a grin.

Soon, we found out why. It was a horrific sight. A van of spring breakers must have lost control and rolled for nearly a quarter mile, based on the carnage strewn alongside the highway. Jimmy slowed down considerably after that.

We stayed with one of my old Army buddies on the Atlantic coast and hit the beach. One day, we drove to Ft. Lauderdale but spent most of the day at an outdoor bar with a roof. It was raining steadily. That didn’t dampen our time. At least that’s what I gathered from the other partiers pointing video cameras our way – until “naked man” on a balcony across the street stole the show.

Before scooting up the coast to Daytona, Jimmy spent an evening “working” for a friend of my Army buddy. The friend repossessed cars, and Jimmy was invited to help him. Jimmy had the time of his life.

We rolled into Daytona wondering if we had enough money left for a room and if any rooms were still available. If not, we decided we could live out of the car for a few days. A hotel on the beach advertised Playboy Bunnies and MTV as their guests. We were amazed that a room had recently become available. We snatched it, no questions asked.

We ran into friends from home, so I’ll skip some of the other shenanigans we got into, but the start of our last night was worth a mention once our friends from home were gone. We left the outside concert at our hotel and retreated to an indoor club. Sitting at a long bar, we were an island unto ourselves. Partying was going on all around, but not where we perched. Our little pocket of paradise disappeared quickly when a bunch of guys surrounded us. They seemed intent on squeezing us out to claim the bar as their own.

Jimmy nodded my attention toward one of the guys and said in a star-struck voice, “I think that’s Tone Loc!”

“Who?”

“You know, the guy that sings Wild Thing,” Jimmy explained. “This must be his entourage.”

Tone Loc may have been a one-hit wonder, but he was riding a full wave of fame at this time.

I clanked my beer glass against Jim’s and loudly broke into song, “WILD THING! YOU MAKE MY HEART SING. YOU MAKE EVERYTHING …”

Jimmy tried to shut me up, insisting I was singing the wrong “Wild Thing,” but the entourage finished “…GROOVY.”

Fast forward over 20 years. We’ll call this tale Spring Break for Old Dudes.

Spring break means different things to different people in different stages of life. For me, as a middle-aged man, married with two young children, it meant a long weekend getaway for Easter break with family and friends.

Every January, my friend Matt and I get our families together for a three-night stay in a nice large cabin with a hot tub somewhere in Ohio. But for whatever reasons, January drifted into February and then March. So, we decided that since both of our wives were teachers, we’d book a place over their spring break. That way, the wives and kids all had time off. Perfect, right?

When we arrived, it was not what we had expected. First lesson; don’t trust what you see online. It was a mini cabin in the woods, located on a cul-de-sac road and nearby a lake. The surrounding cabins were bursting at the seams with college kids on SPRING BREAK! That is every cabin but ours and, as I would later learn, one somewhere across the street.

Matt was unusually quiet as we drank some beer and fired up the grill. Bon Jovi’s music was bouncing off the trees all around us. I guess that’s what the “kids” considered classic rock these days. The only good thing was that these small cabins somehow had thick enough walls, soundproof enough, to block out the noise from all-night partying next door. Fortunately, there was a vacant, tree-filled lot separating us. We decided to brave the night and express our disappointment to management at the main lodge in the morning since it was already getting late and the kids were ready for sleep. Our kids that is!

Stepping out back, Matt and I drank beer a little faster than we had in a long time. That’s when “Mr. Buff” appeared. Buff had a chiseled …everything.  I tried to stick out my chest but realized it was left behind in Germany when I was in the Army years ago. Either that or the good life had grown my stomach.

Anyway, Mr. Buff said, “We were talking over there and decided, ya know what? Let’s give these old dudes our cell phone number, so we’ll know if they need us to pump down the volume.”

I was puzzled and looked around for these old dudes. It was like a truck hit me when I realized Buff was referring to us! He was so nice, though, in that fake, but believing he was sincere, kind of way.

I kept having visions of us being in the middle of one of those insurance commercials – “LIFE! It Comes At You Fast!”

All things inside the cabin were quiet – proof that miracles do exist.

The next day, we did some sightseeing, ate lunch at a nice place, and then someone suggested we go antiquing.

Although I wanted to, something inside me screamed, “Noooo!”

So after we spent two hours in the antique mall, we went to the lodge, swam, played games, and had a fine time. On the way out, we stopped at the front desk and said we hoped there would be patrols to keep the college kids at bay but that there were no complaints at this time.

We drove back to “cul-de-sac Ft. Lauderdale” to see nearly every rooftop shingled with girls in bikinis and guys with no shirts. Below, a wiffleball game was going on at the end of the cul-de-sac. Our kids asked if they could play too. Yeah right.

At dusk, I had to take some trash to a nearby dumpster. There were raccoons. Yippee! So, I got the kids, walked back, and showed them “wildlife.” After the little scavengers entertained us, it grew darker, so we headed back to the cabin.

Fortunately, only I saw the streaking from afar. At least this night, the party was at the cabin across the street instead of next door. Things were definitely getting wilder.

In the morning, we decided we’d had enough. After packing the van, I had to make another walk to the dumpster. On my way back, I was startled to see a family of four emerge from a cabin kitty-corner from ours and next door to last night’s party.

Here’s their story:

“In the middle of the night, my worst fear came true,” said kitty-corner dad. “Someone was banging on the back door yelling, let me in. I yelled back; You better get out of here; this isn’t your cabin, now go away. To which the drunk on the other side pleaded, ‘Come on dude, stop mess’n with my head and just let me in.’ This repeated a few times before the stranger at the door fell silent.”

And he remained snuggled up to the door until Kitty Corner Dad rousted him this morning.

And so, it goes.

I could tell us “Old Dudes” had a new story to tell.

By Frank Rocco Satullo, The OhioTraveler, Your Tour Guide to Fun  

Living The Amish Life

The Miller’s Family Story

Amish folk like any other seek greener pastures to stake a claim in the pursuit of happiness.

Harry Miller’s family went from Kansas to Iowa, and that’s where he met the love of his life, Lydia. Together, they started a family and added to it after moving to Wisconsin and, from there, Indiana.

The Indiana Amish community was significant. Sometimes, Amish adventurers like to start smaller communities and keep things modest. When they find suitable land to begin a community anew, they work together to erect their schools.

An Amish friend and carpenter said to Harry, “Let’s check out Ohio.” …For the rest of the story, CLICK HERE.

CLICK HERE
for the rest of the multimedia story

Best Dude Ranch in Ohio

KD Guest Ranch
Bringin’ The West to the East!  

There’s a dude ranch east of the Mississippi – in Ohio – that rivals the best in the west.

Ohio was once known as the “Gateway State” to the Wild West because its trails, rivers, canals, and railways connected the eastern states to the open plains of the west.  So when people today look for an authentic experience living, working, and vacationing all at the same time on a real dude ranch, they naturally think they must go west. That is until their search for the best dude ranches in the country uncovers a golden nugget known as KD Guest Ranch in Adamsville, Ohio where they are Bringin’ The West to the East!  

So plan now for a getaway close to home that’ll seem like another time and place. You’ll have lots of space so social distancing is pretty much built into this escape. KD Guest Ranch is family-run so if you want to help support a family-operated Ohio business once we are free to roam this summer, reserve some time here. The memories will last a lifetime.

Trip Advisor.com features 5-star reviews for this rare experience. In fact, all 54 reviews on the site are rated “Excellent.” There is nothing less than that. Here are some quotes from past visitors: “The food is amazeballs!” “Most memorable vacation ever.” “We are now cowboys – kinda.” “Extreme hospitality.”

So if you want to make sure this year’s family retreat is money well spent, consider that. And in a time of concern over what we come in contact with, know that many of the reviews emphasize the cleanliness throughout the facilities on the ranch.

This all-inclusive “breath of fresh air” vacation is perfect for families, friends, and small groups. But no matter what family you come from, you are going to be a part of the Burkey family during your stay. From the get-go, Kari (K) and Dave (D) Burkey turn on the charm at KD Guest Ranch. It is nestled in rolling hills untouched by man as far as the eyes can see, spanning hundreds of acres of family land. There, they lasso up trail rides, team penning, dude rodeo, evening entertainment, BBQ, and a whole lot more! The first thing that takes hold of guests is the serenity of it all. It is vividly colorful with wood lines, green pastures, and valleys with watering holes.

The best part is, you never have to cook or decide where to eat. Three hearty squares a day are served up with great conversation. When the metal triangle dinner bell is rung, there won’t be any stragglers. That’s for sure. The enormous dinner table is loaded with hot from the kitchen appetizers, bread, mouth-watering entrees, and plenty of salad, fruits, and veggies, compliments to the Burkey family chef.  Throughout the stay, whenever you find yourself parched, no matter where on the ranch that may be, there are pitchers of lemonade, iced tea and water served up. Fruit, ice cream bars, and other snacks may accompany it. The main meals are served in a variety of ways from family-style to buffet-style, and of course cowboy-style. Bacon, eggs, and grits may greet you in the morning, followed by a tasty lunch only to be topped by a lip smackin’ dinner with BBQ ribs or a thick juicy steak, not to mention fresh vegetables and mouth-watering homemade desserts. Common words you’re bound to hear meal after meal are, “I need that recipe.” You may be surprised that Kari and Dave are more than happy to give it to you. If someone has special dietary needs, no worries, your menu will be prearranged.

Some guests find the lodge life is just their speed and get lost in a novel on a comfy sofa in the rustic library flush with natural light. It’s where Kari permanently sealed a chest of Dave’s old rodeo gear from his bull-riding days.

The saloon has plenty of table space to spread out, billiards, fireplace, and on some evenings, a cowboy pluckin’ away at the guitar singing the night away while card games, conversation, and laughter echo throughout the lodge. When it’s time to retire to your guest quarters, you hit the trail and land in your cozy cabin done up special to make sure you never leave “the west.”

Once everyone is settled in and strangers become friends, you are matched with your horse for your 2 – 6-night stay. During orientation, you will observe a round pen demonstration and see how horses are trained. This lesson teaches horse psychology, how to ride and tack your horse. Pay attention because you will be responsible for grooming and saddling your horse.

When the dusty trails come to a calling, you’ll enjoy nature’s vistas, riding the fence lines and driving cattle. Each day, guests get to enjoy two horseback riding activities. The trail rides wind through more than 800 acres of rolling hills, creeks, and woodlands.

Afterward, it’s time for some cowboy fun. Enter the arena for rodeo games where you can learn to pen calves by separating three at a time from the herd and heading them into a small pen. With experience, you may partake in timed team penning. The sorting and penning of cattle originated from the open lands of the west when ranchers needed to sort their cattle from their neighbors.

Each night offers something different. There’s bonfire night, poker night, movie night, and saloon night to name several. There’s also live music or just a chance to kick back and relax on the porch. Other amenities include a game room, hot tub, massage, and exercise space, and conference rooms. Activities may include roping lessons, horse painting, arena games on horseback, or riding a mechanical bull.

KD Guest Ranch usually entertains smaller groups so that everyone feels like they’re part of the extended family. Just a stone’s throw from the lodge, there are several cabins. The cabins are spacious with rustic ranch decor but also include modern amenities. Watch the sunrise or set from the sprawling porch sipping a drink or passing time in a rocking chair.

Dave takes special care in putting together his groups. When families, couples, or individuals want to book 2 – 6 nights, they are matched to optimize camaraderie when possible. In addition, there are opportunities to book exclusive family reunions, corporate retreats, and team-building groups, as well as church, scout, and other groups.

Again, it’s clean as a whistle anywhere you go on the grounds. Located in the Southeast Ohio foothills of Appalachia country, KD Guest Ranch is ideally located for folks to mosey on over from any corner of Ohio, the surrounding states, and across the Midwest.

Learn more about KD Guest Ranch and available specials by calling 740-796-0099 or visiting www.kdguestranch.com/.

By Frank R. Satullo, The OhioTraveler, your Tour Guide to Fun

VW Bug Tower

Volkswagen Bug Tower In Defiance, Ohio
is at the corner of Hwys 18 & 281

The VW Bug Tower is a fun little stop in Defiance, Ohio. Five colorfully painted vintage Volkswagen Beetles rise to the telephone wires.  There’s a large parking lot at the corner to park and walk around the tower to check out the artwork and subtle touches. I gasped looking through my camera lens in the high wind and rain when I saw a man climbing out of the windshield of the fourth car up. My wife’s laugh said, “I told you about the mannequin when we first pulled in. See, you don’t listen to me.”

Drive-Thru Safaris

at African Safari Wildlife Park

You’ll want to visit African Safari Wildlife Park this season, featuring the Drive-Thru Safari, the largest area of African Safari, where guests drive their car through and interact with hundreds of exotic animals.

African Safari’s Walk-Thru Safari, the Park’s traditional zoo setting, has also seen an addition of new animal exhibits. The new Giraffe Encounter allows guests to get up close and personal with giraffes and feed them!  The Walk-Thru Safari is scheduled to open around Mother’s Day weekend, weather permitting.  

“We are beyond excited to welcome new and familiar faces to the Park for African Safari’s new season!  Everyone can enjoy the newer Park amenities and continue to make memories here for seasons to come,” said African Safari Wildlife Park’s Director, Kelsey Keller. “We have so much more in store, and we encourage everyone to stay tuned for more zoo news and updates…coming soon!”

The Park is open daily, rain or shine, from 10am to 5pm with the last car admitted at 4pm for the Spring Season. Summer Season begins the last week of May.

The Midwest’s Original Drive-Thru Safari Park, African Safari Wildlife Park, is at 267 S. Lightner Rd. in Port Clinton, Ohio.

Float Troy: Tents on the Water

 

This is a past feature story from OhioTraveler.com

Float Troy, Where Floating on the River
and Tent Camping Collide

Ohio’s first and only public floating-tent experience!

Thousands of people spend time on the Great Miami River, one of only 22 national water trails, every year…canoeing, kayaking, and fishing. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to camp on the river? In Troy, Ohio, outdoor enthusiasts can experience Ohio’s first and only public floating-tent experience.

Located at Treasure Island Park, in Troy, the Float Troy experience, uses Shoal floating tents manufactured in Miami County by Smithfly. A first of its kind, the Shoal Tent is an inflatable, floating raft with a tent topper that allows campers to sleep out on the water. The tents come inflated, anchored, and ready to use with several amenities to provide an enjoyable experience. In addition to the tent, each rental includes a kayak or raft to travel to and from the shore, oars, and life vests. Do not forget to bring the Smores supplies…there are four floating fire pits located in the river near the tents and are available free of charge. In addition, there are two grills, a shelter, and restrooms on the shore for all Float Troy guests. To learn more about Float Troy or request a tent, visit www.float-troy.com.

Along the Great Miami River is the Great Miami Recreational Trail, which is part of the nation’s largest paved trail network. Campers should bring their bikes and running shoes because they will want to take advantage of having the bike path so close. It’s okay if you don’t own a bike, J & D Bicycles is located right across the street from Treasure Island Park and offers bike rentals. To round out your outdoor adventures, in addition to the river and the recreational trail, Miami County is filled with fantastic parks, waterfalls, and Brukner Nature Center where you can hike, bird watch, and learn about a variety of animals. Brukner also has some very special animal ambassadors that love to see visitors.

If you prefer to sample the local fare rather than roast hot dogs over the fire, downtown Troy, and Miami County, offer a variety of local restaurants to fit anyone’s taste buds. From tacos and steak to burgers and milkshakes, everyone in the group will be happy. And, make sure to check out the local shops while in any of the nearby historic downtown communities…you never know what treasures you will find.

Often, if the timing is right, an overnight in the shoal tent coincides with one of Troy’s summer concerts. When this happens, visitors can enjoy the music or watch the fireworks on the Fourth of July right from the tent or in a kayak on the river. In addition to summer concerts, there are events happening all summer long throughout Miami County. Before visiting, check out the current list of events on the visitor bureau’s website here.

For additional information on places to see, things to do and where to eat and shop while in Miami County, visit www.homegrowngreat.com and start planning your adventure today.

See Our Sponsors

Bring Back The Family Roadtrip

Save the day with a love-restoring getaway

Here, you decide your story. Every hill and curve promises adventure. You pass the county line sign and sense that buggies are near. Do you: follow the dirt road down the driveway with a hand-painted sign for baskets and eggs? Follow the sporty AWD complete with kayaks and “trees-are-friends” bumper stickers? Follow your nose to discover the origin of that intriguing aroma reminiscent of apple? Every route leads to a new adventure. Which road will you take?

There are no wrong choices in Ohio Amish Country. Pursue your day with a vigorous spirit and know that you’ll make a memory. A turn down that drive to find baskets takes you to a chat with an Amish family weeding their produce patch. That sporty AWD leads you to the tree-tops for a zip-lining trip you’ll never forget. And the nose knows it’s apple pie. That smell carries you straight to the source of deliciousness where you sample the day away on pastries and pies. There’s a tale here for you.

There are vacation horror stories and vacation heroes. One fun-filled trip to Ohio Amish Country and your kids will suddenly see that secret superhero cape tucked into your mom jeans or trailing your dad bod. Load the kids onto a horse-drawn wagon ride through the hills to feed potbellied piggies and even giraffes. Pick your own berries and pumpkins. Watch a magic show or tour a one-room Amish schoolhouse and country barn. Sample fresh-made chocolates or rank your favorite fry pie flavors.

Bring your bikes for a ride along the rails-to-trails. You will probably spot cool critters and kid smiles on the route. Fish, tube, or float your way through summer afternoons. Drop into town for a double-dip of ice cream, the hallmark treat of true superhero parents. After a day of adventuring, you deserve that hug from your teenager.

Do your senior folks need a break from retirement? There is plenty of entertainment for them, too. Hike through the day or find a bench along the wetlands for birdwatching. Museums dedicated to Amish history tell the fascinating story of the area. Or tour an Amish home and learn how some of the locals really live.

A family-style dinner and a stop at one of the theater shows are a perfect end to the day. Amish Country has experiences for night owls but caters to the early birds. Your folks have earned the right to simmer down and cozy up in their B&B by twilight.

Gal pals or bromance. Best friends or new friends. Kids, partner, or pet. An Amish Country vacation — long or short — will bring about a bonding experience. Some adventures are constructed from adrenaline. Others are woven together through the easy moments experienced with dear companions. This place is about escaping the mundane and embracing the life you have with the ones you love. In Amish Country, you will never be asked to see your superhero credentials.

Looking for inspiration as you plan your next stay? Go to https://www.visitamishcountry.com/ and see all that awaits you in Amish Country.

See Our Sponsors

The Pastry Factory

North Market in Columbus is pleased to announce the addition of The Pastry Factory, the newest merchant to join the community of “best-in-class” businesses at North Market Downtown.

The Pastry Factory’s owner Allyson Blackwell began baking as a child. Her passion for baking brought her to obtain a culinary arts degree from Sullivan University, which led to a career in the restaurant industry as a Sous Chef, Pastry Chef, and Head Baker. Outside of the kitchen, Blackwell also has experience as a restaurant manager and as a retail manager.

The Pastry Factory was founded in 2012 and, what started out as a part-time home-based bakery, allowed Blackwell to combine and build upon her vast experience in the culinary arts. When the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns caused Blackwell to lose her position as a café manager, she decided to take the leap and make The Pastry Factory a full-time gig. The Pastry Factory participated in the North Market Farmers’ Market downtown last summer, followed by winter pop-ups inside the Market. The Pastry Factory is dedicated to making delicious, unique desserts. Everything is made from scratch with the finest ingredients available to ensure the best quality and taste come through.

“We’re excited to be joining the diverse family of merchants at the North Market downtown,” said Blackwell. “When we were welcomed with open arms last summer at the farmers’ market, we knew we had found a great place to call home.”

The Pastry Factory specializes in delicious gourmet desserts & pastries for sophisticated palates. The Pastry Factory’s products include gourmet cupcakes, tarts, French pastries, cookies, cookie sandwiches, brownies, pies, and cakes. Flavors rotate regularly, and seasonal and holiday items are also available. Customers can choose from gluten-free, vegan, sugar-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and nut-free options as well.

“Allyson has gone from farmers’ market to pop-up vendor, and now permanent merchant,” said North Market’s Executive Director Rick Harrison Wolfe. “We can’t wait to have The Pastry Factory’s unique treats on a regular basis. Allyson a natural fit for the Market!”

The Pastry Factory will occupy the stall between Stauf’s Coffee Roasters and Green Olive Company, across from Barrel & Boar. The Pastry Factory will begin construction on their new space in the coming weeks with plans to open this Spring. An announcement will follow when an opening date is finalized.

In operation since 1876, North Market has made it its mission to provide an authentic Columbus, Ohio experience with local merchants, farmers, and makers serving the community and its visitors. As central Ohio’s oldest public market, North Market highlights the diversity and vibrancy of the community, both economically and culturally by promoting and incubating “best-in-class” local, independent businesses.

Tour Air Force One

Climb aboard Air Force One at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. The museum’s Presidential Gallery features 10 historical aircraft representing more than 70 years of dedicated presidential service. Visitors can walk through four of the aircraft, including those that carried U.S. Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt through Bill Clinton.

Presidential aircraft featured at the museum include the VC-54C Sacred Cow, which was first used by President Roosevelt in 1945. The aircraft features a one-of-a-kind battery-powered elevator that was installed at the rear of the aircraft so that Roosevelt could board it easily while in his wheelchair. This aircraft was also the location where President Harry S. Truman signed the National Security Act on July 26, 1947, establishing the Air Force as an independent service. The pen used by Truman to sign the Act is displayed nearby.

Another popular presidential aircraft on display is the VC-118, which was the second aircraft built specifically to transport the President. A military version of the Douglas DC-6 commercial airliner, it was used by President Truman from 1947 to 1953. At the suggestion of the aircraft’s pilot, Truman named it The Independence in recognition of his hometown of Independence, MO.

Climbing a nearby flight of stairs leads visitors through the only Lockheed VC-121E ever built, which served as President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s personal airplane from 1954 until he left office in January 1961. A military version of the famous Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation commercial airliner, its fuselage “stretched” 18 feet longer than earlier versions, and with more powerful engines, greater fuel capacity and greater speed, these aircraft became popularly known as “Super Connies.” Eisenhower named this aircraft, his third Constellation, Columbine III, after the official state flower of Colorado in honor of his wife Mamie.

Finally, visitors can walk through one of the most important aircraft in aviation history – Air Force One (SAM 26000). Over its 36-year career, it served eight presidents – Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Clinton. However, the aircraft is most widely known for flying President Kennedy to Dallas, Texas, where he was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963 – and it was on this airplane that Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as the new president. SAM 26000 then carried Kennedy’s body and President Johnson back to Washington, D.C.

For more information about these and six other Presidential Gallery aircraft on display, click here.

Other resources related to the presidential aircraft collection are available online:

  • Fifteen high-definition panoramic interior photos of SAM 26000
  • An interview with former Presidential Flight Steward
  • Former Air Force One crewman speaks about his experiences
  • Interview with former White House pool reporter

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, is the world’s largest military aviation museum. With free admission and parking, the museum features more than 360 aerospace vehicles and missiles and thousands of artifacts amid more than 19 acres of indoor exhibit space. Each year about one million visitors from around the world come to the museum. For more information, visit www.nationalmuseum.af.mil.

Secret & Lost Amusement Parks

The Secret, Private, and Lost Amusement Parks of Ohio

What can be better than going to an amusement park to ride roller-coasters? How about going to a park with coasters but it’s rarely open to the public. Ah, anyone getting an image of golden tickets to enter the Willie Wonka Chocolate Factory?

Well, it’s kind of like that.

Stricker’s Grove in Hamilton, Ohio is open to the public only four times a year: Fourth of July; Family Day, which is always the second Sunday in August; Labor Day; and Customer Appreciation Day, which is in October.

Ralph Stricker is the only person in the United States to build his own coaster. Construction was started in November 1990 and completed in June 1993. The Tornado is a wooden roller coaster. The second roller coaster at this little-known amusement park is the Teddy Bear. The original Teddy Bear was located in kiddie land at Coney Island in Cincinnati. Ralph Stricker obtained the blueprints and rebuilt the Teddy Bear at Stricker’s Grove.

The park also has a train, Ferris wheel, Merry Go Round, Scrambler, Tilt A Whirl, pirate ship, flying scooters, and other rides, including kiddie cars, boats, and rockets.  In addition to the rides, Stricker’s Grove also has an 18 hole miniature golf course, arcade with video games and skeeball, shooting gallery, horseshoes, and more.

Stricker’s Grove is a family-owned and operated private amusement park available to rent to groups, organizations, and churches for family picnics, wedding receptions, meetings, etc. for groups of 500 or more from mid-May to early October. Unlike most other parks, Stricker’s Grove only rents to one group most of the time, therefore, guaranteeing complete privacy without the hassle of sharing the park and picnic facilities.  For more park information, click here.

Stricker’s Grove maybe Ohio’s best-kept secret as far as amusement parks go but some parks of its nature are forever lost to time.

* * *

Chippewa Lake Amusement Park was located at Chippewa Lake south of Cleveland. It operated for 100 years, finally closing in 1978 due to the lack of attendance. After the park died, it birthed renewed interest but for all the wrong reasons. Although it closed for good, its rides remained largely intact but neglected for the next 30 years. It became a stunning site as nature grew around the fun park’s once colorful rides. Perhaps the most picturesque scene today is the Ferris wheel that still stands but with an enormous tree that grew up from the ground, dead center, and now shoots through the top, towering over the rusted metal frame. Much of the decay began to pose such safety issues for trespassers that over recent years, rides such as the old wooden roller-coaster were turned to rubble. Here is a video of what was still left behind as recently as just a few years ago.

LeSourdsville Lake Amusement Park was located in Middletown, Ohio where signs of its past are still there. The park dates back to 1922 when it was a family retreat for picnicking, mostly. It added rides in the 1940s and became a regional amusement park that served up summer memories for generations. In the 1970s it changed its name to Americana Amusement Park. But in 1990 a freak electrical fire did millions of dollars worth of damage. It struggled afterward. Nearby Kings Island contributed to that. Finally, it closed its turnstiles in 1999. It came up for one last gasp of air in 2002, reclaiming its original name but this rebirth was short-lived. Since then, its rides were demolished and sold off.

A more recent casualty of the amusement park world is Geauga Lake in Aurora, Ohio. It was one of the big-3 amusement parks in the state and was also one of the oldest. It had major roller-coasters that competed with Cedar Point. But with Cedar Point’s world acclaim, perhaps the northern part of Ohio just wasn’t big enough to support the two major parks. However, it wasn’t the first major park to shutter its doors at Geauga Lake. There was a time in the 1970s when one side of the lake hosted the amusement park and the other was home to Sea World. Sea World Ohio lasted from 1970 to 2000. The site later became a water park. As for Geauga Lake Park (which was renamed Six Flags Worlds of Adventure for a time), its rides were auctioned off and the park stripped down to its skeleton leaving modern-day ruins still awaiting new development.

One survivor of the small and regional amusement park mass extinction that has occurred over the past several decades is Memphis Kiddie Park.

Memphis Kiddie Park in Brooklyn, Ohio is an amusement park for toddlers and preschoolers. Here, you hope that you’re shorter than the height stick! There are about a dozen rides, including North America’s oldest steel kiddie roller-coaster. Other nostalgic favorites include the train ride, airplane ride, boat ride, a little Ferris wheel, Merry-Go-Round and more. It’s a survivor of a bygone era when kiddie parks thrived. This one remains family-operated. Located in an old Cleveland neighborhood, it is a delight for generations of tiny thrill-seekers and parents alike. But this decades-old secret is getting out and folks from afar are making the trek to this little amusement wonder for their toddlers to enjoy. For park information, click here.

And then there are the two modern-day mega amusement parks thriving to this day in Ohio – Kings Island in Mason, Ohio, and Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio.  Cedar Point Amusement Park is the reigning “Roller Coaster Capital of the World!”

There’s no secret about that.

Click here for over a dozen more thrilling attractions in Ohio.

By Frank Rocco Satullo, The OhioTraveler, Your Tour Guide to Fun!

Sweet Tooth Tours

Ohio has a confections trifecta that will satisfy any sweet tooth! Unlike Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, you don’t need a golden ticket to see candy galore at Spangler Candy Company, b.a. Sweetie Candy Company and Anthony Thomas Chocolates.

Spangler Candy Company in Bryan, Ohio makes millions of sweets daily. Hop on a trolley tour to see the museum, factory and store. This is the place where all of your Dum Dum Lollipops come from as well as candy canes. Did you know that the stripe on a candy cane has to be done by hand? They also make marshmallow candies and a variety of bulk candy. Learn how a paperboy turned $450 into the purchase of a factory and launched his own candy empire. For tour information, click here.

b.a. Sweetie Candy in Cleveland is the largest candy store in the country. It features over 4,000 different kinds of candy totaling about 400,000 pounds of candy under one roof with nearly 2 million pounds in stick. They have everything from old-time favorites to the latest craze. There’s even an old-fashioned truck full of candy just inside to greet customers as their jaws drop upon entering this sweet store. For visitor information, click here.

Visitors to Anthony Thomas Chocolates in Columbus can walk along a glass-enclosed suspended catwalk to see candy made at this 152,000 square-foot state-of-the-art candy factory. In one shift, 25,000 pounds of chocolate are produced. Even Augustus Loof would be left satisfied (sorry, no chocolate river here). To plan your tour, click here.

Ohio, it’s sweeeet to be here!

My Long Walk Home

This fictional short story set in spring is a different kind of trip.

My hand reached for the withered door. If the wood had consciousness, it would have thought it saw its reflection.

Darkness was blown out by the breeze that flowed through my nostrils and lit up my eyes. I smiled while the world outside came into focus. It was time for my long walk home.

I paused at the curb and waited for a car to pass.

“What was that again, Fred?” were the words gargled from my rusty pipes.

I was relieved that the gentleman across the street could hear me above the engine still reverberating in the car’s wake.

“Sure was – brutal one at that,” I smiled, waved and shifted my weight to the cane assisting me on my way.

At the corner, my head was pulled to the side by curiosity. A teenage boy was hanging out of a side window, desperately clutching the long grass to pull his body free. My eyes squinted in an effort to wrap my mind around this peculiar maneuver. An instant later, my head was pulled in the opposite direction to see a man enter the front door.

Shaking my head as the lad hopped away and into his pants, I shifted my weight to the cane. It assisted me another way so as to pretend I didn’t see a thing. But a belly laugh blew my mouth open.

Joyce was tending to her tulips. Once my memory pieced her together, I tried to flee but it was too late. That added 20 minutes but it could have easily been 60. The whole time she kept turning up the same dirt.

I dusted off and continued on my walk home.

A young man, grinning ear-to-ear, hammed it up for a pretty lass to snap his picture. He pulled a real estate sign out of the ground and pointed to the word “sold.” As if it were my reason for being, they recruited me to take a snapshot of the two of them in front of their home. I held up my shaky hands and snapped away hoping one of the shots wasn’t too blurry.

I tried to make my break – in slow motion – before they analyzed my work. But a tender touch halted me. The woman planted a gentle and kind kiss on my cheek that made me feel like all of the spring bloomed in an instant.

Ten steps down the road I managed to swing my cane in my hand. It was a daring maneuver. One that I didn’t repeat. The smell of flowers, or maybe it was her perfume, danced in my head.

Another fella on the opposite side of the road was walking one of those “don’t mess with me” dogs. Just then, my eardrums were pierced by so much yapping I could have sworn it was my late wife scolding me. The thought of her yammering away made me feel warm all over.

Several miniature dogs ran up to the invisible boundary separating the big dog from their onslaught. The big dog cowered and whimpered, wrapping his body around the man’s legs, nearly tripping him. It was shameful.

Then, with a touch of bravado, the big dog extended his leash and stopped just before the imaginary line where the other dogs clamored. With leg raised, the big dog brought silence back to that curb.

I smiled and tipped my hat to the man. He looked rather relieved.

Ah, the dandelion house came into view. I loved the dandelion house because it sang out its unabashed brilliant color for the world to see …and judge. I would never keep a lawn like that but I was glad they did.

A small group of little girls called out – “Lemonade!”

It sounded perfect to me so I trekked over to their makeshift stand. I noticed that the plastic tabletop where they mixed their concoction was filled with Kool-Aid packets and lots of colored powder that had spilled. There was no lemonade in sight. They were silent, bursting with anticipation as I raised my Dixie cup and threw back the refreshment in one big gulp as if I were downing a shot with my war buddies. I went bug-eyed. I gasped and asked if they had water. Of course, they didn’t. But they sure had a whole bunch of sugar and who knows what else to make their “lemonade” as sweet as could be – much like their precious souls.

“I think you just rotted my teeth out,” I said, setting up my joke.

Then I pulled my false teeth out of my mouth giving a gummy laugh.

Those poor little girls ran every which way, shrieking for the whole neighborhood to hear. I moved with a fleet of foot that I hadn’t known for decades.

A house and a half separated from the mayhem I caused, I slowed to catch my breath.

As I stood still, drool fell from my mouth onto my shirt. I’ve learned to accept my undesired lack of bodily control at times. Then my stomach lustfully cried out, “Where’s the barbeque?”

A moment later, I quickly ducked and almost shouted, “Incoming!”

Someone had lit off fireworks and the series of explosions that ricocheted through the trees scared the crap out of me. Hell, it was broad daylight and at least two months before Independence Day.

I pressed onward with my journey home, my heart still racing, my mind flashing back to…

As I walked with my cane again, the hammering of roofers drew my attention upward. When I neared – it took a while – this small group of 20-somethings sat down in a row across the peak of the rooftop for a water break. I thought it was strange that they looked straight out, nobody talking at all. They looked like birds on a wire.

My eyes followed their line of sight to a house across the street. People were on an opposite low hanging roof over a front porch. I squinted and realized that that roof was shingled with bikinis so small it left little to the imagination.

CRACK.

Right in front of me, a teenage boy rode his bicycle straight into a mailbox. He caught the attention of roofers and bikini girls alike.

“Son, are you okay,” I asked with genuine concern.

I could tell he was hurting badly but he shook it off as if it were nothing and acted all cool as he pushed his bike away, flipping it back on its rear wheel, holding the crumpled front end by the handlebars.

The roofers hammered away again as I turned the corner, heading for home.

At the end of my street, I remembered that it was trash day. Old lady Thompson had left hers on the curb already. Every week, her trash amounted to nothing more than a stuffed little plastic grocery bag. It made me wonder how that could be.

Although I am old as well, I have always referred to her as “old lady” because she was old the day we moved in all those years ago. But she was young at heart. Everyone loved her energy. There she was weeding her flowerbeds. That spunky thing popped up when she saw me coming and asked if I could start her lawnmower. Chivalry washed over me so I even offered to mow her grass. Even though there wasn’t much grass to mow, I couldn’t do it and we both knew it.

“No-no, I really enjoy cutting the grass,” she insisted. “I just don’t have the strength to start this mower anymore.”

So I played hero one more time.

Halfway down the street, a group of young boys and girls lined up on a lawn to race from one driveway to another. I watched them do this back and forth several times as I walked by them. Then, one of the boys stumbled and skid his knees across the concrete driveway. He stood up, paused and looked down. When he saw blood, he cried until some lady threw open a door and ran to his rescue before I could get there. She held his little sobbing face against her as she kneeled low to comfort him.

His sob muffled.

When she stood to take the boy inside, she smiled at me and said, “It’s good to see you. It’s been so long.”

Finally, I arrived at my driveway.

I paused for a car to pass.

“What was that again, Fred?”

Fred repeated himself.

“Sure was – brutal one at that,” I smiled, waved and sauntered up the hill to my porch to sit in my chair.

With the sun on my face, I closed my eyes and leaned my head back.

When I heard car doors shut and a bunch of footsteps pitter patter up the drive, I rose to greet them.

As they poured up the hill, I rose even higher.

That’s when I saw me on that porch, head back and eyes closed.

I had a smile that radiated like the sun. Much as the smile I felt as I drifted through my porch roof, higher. Not just higher but all around and through and through. I seemed to be everywhere and touching everything. And everything was touching me.

That’s when I realized that this wasn’t about me. It never was.

The harmonious connectedness of everything, as one thing, was something that that old mind on that porch could never comprehend.

But now everything made perfect sense.

It was beauty words cannot describe and minds cannot comprehend.

I was home.

By Frank Rocco Satullo

Wild Orphans: To Rescue Or Not?

“Mommy, look what I found!”

Whether it is a baby bird, squirrel, bunny, or other wild animal, children have a knack for finding wild orphans.  Across the United States during the spring and summer months, thousands of young wild animals will be picked up; some need to be rescued, most do not.

“At Brukner Nature Center, we care for more than 1,400 animals each year,” said Becky Crow, Curator of Wildlife.  “They are brought to us by well-intentioned individuals, but many of them did not need to be rescued,” Crow added.

Baby bunnies, also known as kits, are one of the wild animals rescued most often, but usually do not need human help.  Mother rabbits are only at the nest to feed their young twice a day for about five minutes—at dawn and dusk.  And, yes, they really did put the nest in the middle of your backyard!  One reason for this is so mama rabbit can see any predators that may be approaching while she is nursing her young.  Kits are in their nest for only two to three weeks; a pretty short time before they are independent.  Leave the nest alone unless you find cold, limp babies, or obviously injured ones.  Brukner Nature Center has more advice for you on how to keep the young safe in the nest until they are ready to live on their own.

There is a myth that once a baby bird is touched by a human, it will not be cared for by the parent birds.  Not true!  First of all, birds, except for those in the vulture family, have a poor sense of smell.  They cannot even tell that you touched the nestling when returning it to the nest.  However, if you put a cold baby bird back in the nest and it is unable to beg for food when the parent arrives, it is in trouble.  It is always best to call Brukner Nature Center for help and advice.

Did you know that mother deer forage for food, leaving their camouflaged, spotted fawns alone for several hours at a time?  People who come across these vulnerable-looking fawns in the woods, their backyards and along roadways always assume they need help.  Unless the fawn is obviously injured—broken leg, open wound, flies buzzing around it—it is most likely perfectly fine.  Its mom intends to come back soon and expects to find the youngster right where she left it after the last feeding.

“It is illegal, as well as unwise, to keep wildlife as pets or even to try to raise orphans unless you are trained and have the proper permits from state and federal wildlife agencies,” said Crow.  Licensed wildlife rehabilitators have the knowledge and experience to care for wild orphans that need help.  They know how to raise orphans to be healthy and wild.  When you find a wild animal you think needs help, it is best to call for advice so both you and the wild animal remain safe.

In this area, you can call Brukner Nature Center at 937-698-6493.  Please make certain the wild animal in question needs to be rescued.  Even with the best efforts of Brukner Nature Center, there is no substitute for Mother Nature.

Brukner Nature Center is a non-profit, privately-funded organization promoting the appreciation and understanding of wildlife conservation through preservation, education, and rehabilitation.  Hours of operation are: Monday through Saturday from 9:00am-5:00pm and Sundays, 12:30-5:00pm.  Admission is $2.50 per person or $10 for a family of 4 or more (cash or check).  No admission charge on Sundays!  For more information, call 937-698-6493, email info@bruknernaturecenter.com, or visit www.bruknernaturecenter.com.

Dennison Depot is a Standout!

Dennison Railroad Depot Museum is a standout in tourism and in history. This is one heck of a whistle stop! The depot is incredible. It’s like buying a ticket to a bygone era. And then you wander through the museum which is housed in one train car after another stretching down the track in what has to be one of the longest museums around. But that’s not all, this depot is special. The G.I. generation saw 1.3 million servicemen stop at the track side canteen in Dennison, Ohio. This town earned its friendly service offering a free cup of coffee and a sandwich to all the servicemen. At the Dennison Railroad Depot Museum, you can find a great mix of WWII Canteen stories and tales of the railroad in an area where the trains made the town! Click here for more information.

This award recognizes Ohio’s standouts in tourism. More details about the award and all award recipients are at ohiotraveler.com/standouts-in-ohio-tourism/.

 

Spend a Day or Night in Space

scout-overnight-programs

A Day or Night at the
Armstrong Air & Space Museum

In the dark vacuum of space, no one can hear a scream. At the Armstrong Air & Space Museum though, the stillness of the night is often broken by the sounds of Scout troops camping at the museum. This program, offered since 2011, allows groups of Scouts a more in-depth museum experience and a chance to spend the night with spacecraft, a moon rock, and other extra-terrestrial artifacts.

Christopher Moynihan has seen the overnight program expand during his years working for the museum. Now, Director of Programming and Education, he describes a typical overnight experience as starting soon after the museum has closed to the public. “The kids are always excited when they first get to the museum.” Scouts are let in and unpack before taking an extended tour of the museum, its artifacts, and the stories behind those artifacts. A moon rock, space suits, and the actual capsule that first took Neil Armstrong to space illustrate the Cold War, Space Race and, of course, the life of the first man to set foot on the moon. A short film in the museum’s unique domed theater further captures the excitement of that historic day in July 1969. Following the tour and film, Scouts can work on requirements for astronomy and engineering badges, complete challenge activities, or learn more about any particular aspect of space exploration.

New in 2016 is the Astronaut Training Program, where campers simulate exploration of the moon’s surface. One group of Scouts are helped into heavy, replica Apollo spacesuits to look for geological evidence of life on the “lunar surface”, while other Scouts act as mission control monitoring the astronauts’ health and mission status. Astronauts must quickly find the rocks, evaluate their scientific potential, and bring the best sample back to their base. Mission control communicates with the astronauts, alerting them to remaining time in the mission, oxygen use, and lunar environment dangers. The Scouts have to work together to make smart decisions quickly. Will the mission find evidence of life? Will the oxygen run out or spacesuits fail? It is really up to mission control and the astronauts themselves as to how the mission ends.

When the evening activities are over, everyone is ready for snacks (no campfire inside!) and sleep. “Even though the kids are all wound up when they get here, by bedtime they are tired out,” says Moynihan. The background noise of exhibits and flight simulators in the Modern Space Gallery replaces the more typical camp sounds of crickets and owls. This unique indoor camping area allows Scouts to sleep among the artifacts, resting in their sleeping bags next to a space shuttle tire, pressure suits, and astronaut food.

Morning brings a light breakfast and packing up. One final activity and yet another group of Scouts end their overnight visit to this unique campground, the Armstrong Air & Space Museum.  

Programs and tours of the Armstrong Air & Space Museum may be scheduled through the Education Department at 419-738-8811 or education@armstrongmuseum.org.

Click here for more information about Scout Overnight programs.

Rare Oceanic Mask

Saibai Island, Torres Strait (Northern Islands, Australia), Mask, 1870, wood, human hair, shell, seedpod, fiber, pigment, melo shell and coix seeds, Toledo Museum of Art, Purchased with funds from the Libbey Endowment, Gift of Edward Drummond Libbey, 2015.

Saibai Island, Torres Strait (Northern Islands, Australia), Mask, 1870, wood, human hair, shell, seedpod, fiber, pigment, melo shell and coix seeds, Toledo Museum of Art, Purchased with funds from the Libbey Endowment, Gift of Edward Drummond Libbey, 2015.

This masterwork of Oceanic art has been added to the collection at the Toledo Museum of Art. The extremely rare oceanic mask is one of four known distinguished examples from Saibai Island in the Torres Straits and has been heralded by scholars as the most notable. The Saibai Island Masks are among the rarest and most spectacular works of art created by the artists of the Torres Straits.

The earliest written record of a Saibai Island mask was in 1606 when Spanish explorer Don Diego de Prado y Tovar wrote of a turtle shell example while on exploration voyage with Luís Vaz de Torres, for whom the region is named.

Masks in this style are called “mawa,” meaning “face,” and are believed to represent mythical heroes whose appearances signal important events and rites of passage. The “mawa” ceremony was held to celebrate the ripening of fruits and other crops around the month of September. The masks were carved from wood and distinct because they do not have sight apertures for the wearer, meaning that they were likely worn on the top of the head by a dancer wearing a costume of coconut leaves. They could also have been used as a kind of architectural ornament. There are only three other examples in this style, two in the Australian Museum in Sydney and one in Barbier Mueller Museum in Geneva, Switzerland.

Dr. Brian Kennedy, president, director and CEO of the Toledo Museum of Art, commented that “This is an extraordinary, spectacular example of the sculptural tradition of mask making in the Torres Strait Islands. We have rarely seen such a striking and memorable mask. We are thrilled to have acquired an object of such rarity which expands the global range of the Toledo Museum of Art’s celebrated art collections.”

This example, from the Jolika Collection, demonstrates the powerful proportions used in Torres Strait Islander art. It is revered as the best and most remarkable example of an extremely rare body of Torres Strait art. The mask measures almost three times the size of a human face and the trapezoidal shape combined with shell eyes glowing against the dark brown wood create a haunting expression and make this one of the most memorable among masks from the South Seas.

Wooden masks in the Torres Straits are particular to the Western island of Saibai, unlike the more typical turtle shell masks of the South Seas. This is attributed to the proximity of Saibai Island to the sculptural wood tradition of New Guinea.

About the artists of the Torres Straits

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have the oldest continuous culture in the world, with a legacy of tens of thousands of years. Their art is often referred to as the oldest in human history.

What began as rock carving and body painting evolved to ritual and ceremonial objects carved from wood to modern art forms today such as ceramics and glassware.

The story behind individual works of indigenous art is often a direct tie to a sacred ceremony, historical traditions and geographic landscape. Works of art show the cultural diversity among communities, differences in language and what material resources were available for making objects.

More about Saibai Masks

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brc8AMPDlfc

Admission to the Museum is free. The Museum is open Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, Noon to 5 p.m.; and is closed Monday and major holidays. Thursday evening hours are sponsored by Huntington Wealth Advisors. Friday evening hours are made possible by Fifth Third Bank.

The Museum is located at 2445 Monroe Street at Scottwood Avenue, just west of the downtown business district and one block off I-75 with exit designations posted. For general information, visitors can call 419-255-8000 or 800-644-6862, or visit toledomuseum.org.

Ohio Butterflies Found in Mexico

 toledo-zoo-monarch-tag-butterflies-in-mexico

PLAY VIDEO

From a past edition of OhioTraveler.com

The Toledo Zoo made it to Mexico. Well, at least nine tagged monarch butterflies released by the Zoo’s conservation initiative, Wild Toledo, completed the 2,200+ mile migration to their historic overwintering grounds south of the border. Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus plexippus) are easily recognizable because of their orange and black coloring. However, monarchs are also a declining species because of loss of habitat and food sources, making this recorded migration a true success for biologists and butterflies alike.

Nine Toledo Zoo tags were recovered in El Rosario Butterfly Reserve, located inAngangueo, Michoacan, Mexico. Data shows that the recovered tags were from seven males and two females that were released on Zoo grounds between August 30 and September 7, 2015. The recovery of these tags means that at least those nine butterflies completed the entire journey from Toledo to Mexico, which if one were to walk the believed route would take almost 700 hours! However, as Wild Toledo coordinator, Ryan Walsh, hypothesizes, finding these nine tags together in an area probably means that the monarchs stayed together throughout the migration and that a lot more actually made it but were not recovered. He went on to point out that it is still early in the typical recovery period, so more tags may be located.

Tag recovery rates vary year to year but are typically quite low due to the incredible density of monarchs in the protected land and the small groups of locals and eco-tourists collecting the tags. Reports and pictures from the area show huge Cozumel fir trees completely covered in butterflies with branches drooping from the weight of the humongous monarch colonies. In 2014, the Zoo released 280 tagged monarchs and no tags were recovered. In 2015, 760 monarchs were tagged and released, meaning 1 in approximately every 85 butterflies were recovered. That is an incredible increase from when tagging began and only 1 in 1,000 tags were recovered! Walsh chuckled: “We’re not sure exactly why we had such a good year, but that doesn’t take away from how incredible it is to have these tags recovered.”

All monarch butterflies reared at the Toledo Zoo are raised from eggs collected in the native prairies on Zoo grounds and feed on milkweed grown from seed inside the greenhouse to control the possibility of disease. Before release each monarch butterfly is tagged by hand with a small sticker indicating an individual identification number from Monarch Watch, a dedicated group of students, scientists and citizen scientists committed to the conservation of the iconic butterfly species. Each tag displays three letters and three numbers along with an email address to report the finding. Each identification number corresponds to a record entered into the database that contains information such as sex, captive or wild-reared and the release date. Once recovered, tag numbers are recorded and the results released online so contributing institutions may track their own progress.

The increase in monarchs being reared in the greenhouse at the Toledo Zoo is thanks in part to the Zoo PAL (Proud Animal Lover) sponsorship program that enables the public to symbolically adopt a monarch for a nominal fee. Walsh assures that he is emailing the “monarch parents” from 2015 to relay this exciting news and that the Zoo is already preparing for another release this summer. “We will definitely do it again. We are very excited and encouraged by our results and can’t wait to continue sharing this incredible natural wonder!”

Bear’s Mill is a Standout!

Bear’s Mill is to the art community what flour is to baking. This standout in Ohio tourism has been around since 1849. And it is still operational today. The four story grist mill stands strong with its weathered look wearing its history in plain sight. Its photogenic features, inside and out have drawn national attention. Its shop – the Mill Market – and special events have drawn fans from near and far. Visitors are treated with history, food and art. Exhibits rotate photography, paintings, pottery and sculpture. Tours and demonstrations are available year round. Complete information is available at http://bearsmill.org/.

standout-in-ohio-award-seal

This award recognizes Ohio’s standouts in tourism. More details about the award and all award recipients are at ohiotraveler.com/standouts-in-ohio-tourism/.

Camp & Canoe Capital

mohican-wildlife

Excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler.

The Camp & Canoe Capital of Ohio Is Ready for Spring! 

Spring is right around the corner and that means it is time to Discover Mohican! The Camp & Canoe Capital of Ohio is ready for the warm weather and events to continue throughout the year. Campgrounds are opening, canoes, rafts and kayaks will soon float down the Mohican River, sporting events will begin and the horses will be out on the trails.

Spring also means the Annual Mohican Wildlife Weekend. Mohican Wildlife Weekend is a celebration of wildlife, heritage, habitat and natural history. There are seven sites with over 30 programs available. Visit mohicanwildlifeweekend.com for more information.

It is also time to put that training to use and join in on the sporting events taking place in Mohican. Forget the PR Run, in April, will take 300 runners for a scenic and challenging run through Mohican State Park; crossing rivers and more. The month of May is the world renowned Mohican Mountain Bike 100. This race will crisscross four counties along a single loop, climbing more than 11,000 feet and go toe-to-toe with the top pros on this legendary ultra-endurance loop in Northeastern Ohio. After those exciting events, take a rest and then challenge the Mohican Trail 100 Run. Often referred to as the MO100, the race has become one of the nation’s premier ultra-marathons. It is reportedly the fifth oldest ultra-running race across the Nation.

History is alive with the museum showcasing a rare 34 star American flag on display, as well as one of the oldest motorcycle sidecars. Enjoy sponsored hikes along Mohican State Park and Mohican-Memorial State Forest. These hikes, with the help of the Mohican Trails Club, will showcase some of the hidden gems of the park; that few only get to see.

Make sure to make time to venture out to the Wolf Creek Grist Mill opening in April. Considered to be one of the oldest working mills in Ohio, they also host many worthwhile events. Join in on the fun of a nature scavenger hunt, take a tour of the mill and its cabins and start making plans for the International Wine at the Mill Festival.

Plan to stay for the week or weekend. With over 4,000 campsites, private cabins, a castle, resort, historic B&B and more. Take a stroll through downtown Loudonville for shopping and dining. There is plenty of room to discover the best of Mohican. Visit DiscoverMohican.com for more information or find them on Facebook, twitter and Instagram – Discover Mohican.

Plan Springtime Adventures Now

sidney-shelby-cover1Don’t Wait… Now is the time to begin planning your Springtime Weekend Adventure!

Ok… for most of us living in the continental US the previous three months has ill afforded many opportunities to get out and enjoy the great outdoors.  Coming out of one of the coldest winters on record has given us all an unmistakable case of cabin fever.

What to Do?  What to Do?

Located in west central Ohio on Interstate 75 is Sidney.  Here and in the surrounding area you’ll find a region rich with unique experiences sure to satisfy the most serotonin craved among us.

For those looking for a shot of adrenalin, you’ll find all you want at Vandemark Farm.  High speed zip lines and a ride on their giant swing await and are sure to elevate your heart rate.  As an alternative, how about 18 holes of mini golf to relax a bit as you hone your putting skills?  A petting zoo and full size golf practice range are also offered.  After it all, maybe an ice cream, snow cone, or something cold to drink will catch your eye at their concession stand.

If zip lines aren’t your thing, how about we step it back a little and go cycling on one or more of Sidney’s picturesque bike paths.  Ride the paved and rolling terrain of Tawawa Park.  Cycle a path running adjacent to the Great Miami River.  Stop for a picnic or simply to enjoy one of the many scenic overlooks.    All ages are sure to enjoy their time in the saddle touring the spring beauty of Sidney’s city parks.

As for lunch options, there are many and all are easy to get to by motorized vehicle or peddle power. Burgers, chicken, pizza, salads, wings and several ethnic options can be found in Sidney.  Indoor and outdoor dining choices are available at many locations.  Whatever your taste, you’re sure to find a satisfying location to curb those hunger pains and recharge your battery for an afternoon activity.

Nearby Jackson Center is home to the Airstream Company where each weekday at 2 p.m. they offer a factory tour that is free of charge and ranked by FoxNews.com as one of the best factory tours in the US.  A second afternoon option may find you to nearby Lake Loramie for a boat ride, fishing, or maybe even some additional hiking and biking.  Lake Loramie is a beautiful Ohio State Park located just outside Sidney and offers overnight camping options in tents, cabins, or campers.

So, no need to wait!  Now is the time to get off the couch and begin planning your springtime visit to Sidney.  Everything you need to know can be found at VisitSidneyShelby.com.  Sidney, Ohio… they’re waiting for you.

Ohio Motorcycle Takes Another Spin in History

thor-motorcycle-allen-musExcerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler

Several years ago, Dean Edward, a local motorcycle enthusiast, was amazed to discover that the Allen County Historical Society owned a vintage Thor motorcycle.  Excited by the discovery of the rare bike, Edward contacted Dale Walksler, CEO of the Wheels Through Time motorcycle museum Maggie Valley, North Carolina.

The 1912 Thor motorcycle belonged to Ralph Marshall, former Allen County Sheriff, board track racer, 1936 Olympian, and Marshall Sporting Goods store owner.  As a young man, Marshall raced the bike locally and in surrounding counties.  His donation to the Historical Society included the original bill of sale and the bike’s travel case.

Last fall, Walksler contacted Allen County Museum director Pat Smith to request permission to enter the Thor into the highly prestigious, world-class Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance car and motorcycle show in Florida.  The theme for the class was “Orphan American Motorcycles”, giving the opportunity for America’s lesser-known brands to be seen by the world.  The first weekend in March, ten rare machines were displayed, ranging from a 1904 Yale to a 1914 Flescher Flyer.  All machines were at least 100 years of age.

The award for preservation and provenance, going to the original machine with the best-documented history, presented by Concours Board Member John Duss, went to the stunning 1912 Thor Board Track Racer.  Walksler stated that “the 1912 Thor is among the most original early racing motorcycles in the world.  It is preserved in original paint, with original racing saddle, “Blue-Streak” racing tires, chains, and number plate.”

The bike will soon be returning to the Allen County Museum, where it can be seen with its original racing crate, in which it was shipped from the factory to its owner and from race to race.

The Thor will also be featured in an upcoming episode of “What’s in the Barn.”  The television series can be seen on the Velocity Channel and will also be shown on the Discovery Channel.

Click here to learn more about the Allen County Museum’s many unique relics.