Tuesday, September 27, 2011

On the banks of the Ohio

We’re at Leith Run Recreation Area, 18 miles east of Marietta, Ohio, and part of Ohio’s Wayne National Forest.  The campground is on the Ohio river and right now, we only have four neighbors.  It’s on the water, quiet, and beautiful. 
View from our campsite.  I paced off the distance between our rig and the Ohio River and it is just 43 yards.
We see quite a few barges -- usually full of coal -- being pushed up or down the river.
Jim doing some clean up the day after a brief but quick-hitting and ferocious wind/rain storm.  We’d left our awning out and learned how to take it down fast; we got soaked, but nothing was damaged.  With all the trees and hills, we just didn’t see the storm coming.

Monday, September 26, 2011

A tisket, a tasket...

Carl and I were at a visitors center of the Newark Earthworks (more on that in a bit) when I saw a brochure for the Longaberger building.  I asked Carl how close we were. “Close enough to go see it,” was the answer.  So Carl indulged me and Jim took Cooper for a walk during a visit to the Newark, Ohio headquarters of Longaberger, a company that manufactures hand-made baskets sold via Tupperware-type home parties.
Anyone who knows me realizes I’m too cheap to buy a six inch by three inch basket for $39 -- especially when that’s probably the sale price.  But seeing the Longaberger building is a “largest ball of twine” experience -- and we’re on the look out for those.   Photo below.  Enough said.
This is the Longaberger corporate headquarters.  Jim said he wanted to ask someone inside  if they knew where they were going and what they were in.
Carl also took us to ball-of-twine moment at the Dawes Arboretum in Newark:  "One of the world’s LARGEST HEDGE LETTERINGS" (that’s how the sign explaining it was lettered anyway). Berman Dawes, who owned the land and with his wife Bertie helped create the arboretum,  noticed planes flying over Port Columbus Airport and thought it would make a good landmark for aviators.  So in the 1930s Dawes planted a 2,040 foot long hedge spelling the words “Dawes Arboretum.”  
This photo of the Dawes Arboretum hedge was taken from a nearby observation tower.  It was created out of a shrub called “Woodward American Arborvitae.
Dawes Arboretum also has1,800 acres of trees plus eight miles of hiking trails, plus a four-mile auto tour so you can see plant collections and gardens the easy way (we chose the easy way).  One especially interesting collection was the bald cypress trees.  The trees have what look like knees (called pneumataphores) that poke out of the ground. 

Bald cypress "knees" or pneumataphores. To me they looked like miniature people.
We also visited the Newark Earthworks, which would be the largest set of geometric earthen enclosures in the world, had not some of it been destroyed.  It originally covered four square miles, and contained two huge circles, a square, an ellipse and an octagon connected by banked roadways.  It was built by the Hopewell Indians between 100 and BC and 400 AD and was thought to have been a spiritual center.  Centuries later, only part of it remains, including the Great Circle, which we visited. Before it was set aside as a monument, the Great Circle was used as a union training camp during the Civil War, for horse races, and even for fairs, including the Ohio State Fair. 
I can't do justice to the Newark Earthworks in a photo; it's just too huge.  This picture was taken from the center of the Great Circle, which has a diameter of 1200 feet -- four football fields could fit inside end to end.  It’s a huge, earthen, perfectly symmetrical circle with an opening on one end.  

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Northern state; Confederate cemetery

I had no idea there were Confederate Army cemeteries in the northern states, let alone in Columbus, Ohio where I went to college.  Our friend Carl took us to see it.  
Called Camp Chase, it’s named after Salmon P. Chase, a former Ohio Governor, US Senator, Supreme Court Justice and Secretary of Treasury for President Lincoln.  
Camp Chase was originally a military training camp and a place where men started out or were “mustered” into their military jobs, and also discharged.  Later it became a Confederate prisoner of war camp and the burial place for soldiers who died from war wounds while imprisoned. Most prisoners, however, died from disease (a small pox epidemic in 1863 killed nearly 500 Camp Chase POWs in a single month) or because of a lack of medicine, food and warm clothing.
Just over 2000 soldiers are buried at Camp Chase.  While it’s expected -yet still tragic - that people die in war, this was a time before autos or even reliable mail, and boys from southern states might as well have been on the moon.  Families might never have known that their son/husband/brother was a POW or where he was buried.  
By the the end of the war, over 400,000 Union and Confederate soldiers were held as prisoners of war; about 56,000 of those died while imprisoned.   As many as 620,000 people lost their lives in the Civil War ... that’s more than have been killed in all US wars since then.
Cooper, Jim and Carl in front of the gates of Camp Chase.  By 1865, there were 9,400 prisoners here. Most were housed in tents. 
 A statue of a soldier stands on the arch in the middle of Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery; the word “Americans” is carved into the arch.  On the boulder below it says “2260 Confederate Soldiers of the War 1861-1865 buried in this enclosure.”
 Legend has it that a ghost wearing a gray dress and veil weeps quitetly over the man in this grave.
In addition to soldiers, some men who worked at the POW camps were buried there and were listed on the graves as “citizens.” We also saw a few listed as “conscripts” like the one above.  CSA stands for Confederate States of America.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

On the road again...kind of

The plan is to follow the Ohio River and Mississippi Rivers, with an early visit to  Marietta Ohio.  Our friends Sandy in Carl of Lancaster, Ohio, are right on the way, and invited us make an interim stop at their house with the promise of hiking at Hocking Hills State Park.  What a deal for us!  But when we got to their home, the hydraulic levelers on our rig didn’t work.  So the RV is at the shop and we are staying a litle longer than planned at the home of the gracious Sandy and Carl.
The Hocking Hills hike was great.  The park is about 50 miles south east of Columbus, so we’re in the foothills of the Appalanchian Mountains.  The park’s sandstone was deposited over 350 million years ago when a shallow sea covered what is now Ohio.   The park is full of eastern hemlock, an evergreen with small, fine needles and glacial run off and million s of years of mother nature created many gorges and caves.
One of the caves we visited is “Old Man’s Cave,” named after Richard Rowe who lived in the cave after the Civil War.  Rowe accidentally killed himself when he was trying to chip ice with the butt of his gun and it went off. Legend has it that he was buried by Indians near the mouth of the cave.
Later, JIm and I walked at a lovely park right in Lancaster: Alley Park.  Then I took him to White Castle for lunch.  White Castle is headquartered in Columbus and sells small, square hamburgers.  Each burger has five holes about the size of a soda straw opening punched in the “steam grilled” meat.  The burgers have a near cult-like following and some former Midwesterners even get their White Castle fix via Express Mail.  White Castle’s web site features recipes created by customers that usually start out something like  “LIne a casserole dish with 10 White Castle sandwiches, cover with cheese and cream of mushroom soup.”  Jim and I didn’t love the burgers, but it was worth the trip just for the experience.  The food improved a gazillion percent that night when Carl made cod that was seriously the best fish I have ever eaten.
Jim and Carl walk along the edge of Old Man's Cave.  The Old Man Cave trail is one of nine trails at Hocking Hills State Park.

Hocking Hills State Park has a dozen water falls.  Jim and Coop walk near one of them. 

Carl takes a photo of an interesting uprooted tree.
Jim and Cooper approach one of the 17 covered bridges in Fairfield County, Ohio; Lancaster is the county seat. This bridge is part of Alley Park in Lancaster.
Alley Park has a lot of moisture, which creates a great climate for ferns and fungus.
Twin Lakes at Alley Park.

Jim at White Castle.  Each tiny hamburger come with onions and pickles only, and the company urges customers to "over order, freeze 'em, re-heat 'em and enjoy." 
Sandy and Carl's cat, Sherman, makes friends with Phil, Jr.
Carl gave me a pastry lesson, but I think I'll keep my day job -- which is navigating the Rv and figuring out places to visit.

Our friends, Sandy and Carl.  Bev has known them since the three of us went to Ohio State and has also visited them when they lived in Chicago; Fon du Lac, Wisconsin; and St. Louis.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I was scooped

I wanted to write a post about weeds, but thought “that’s dumb.”  Then the Cleveland Plain Dealer ran a two page article titled “Lovely trespassers on native territory.”  So here goes.
When I think of Utah weeds, I think bind weed and myrtle spurge. Bind weed winds its way up and chokes any plant it touches; myrtle spurge is a beautiful chartreuse green in the spring and later a pretty blue/green.  But it will take over if you don’t fight back, and has damaged the Salt Lake foothills. 
Ohio has its weed problems as well, but as a kid I loved three common Ohio weeds:   Goldenrod, Queen Anne’s Lace and Blue Weed.  
In Utah, I actually paid for Goldenrod so I could plant it in my garden. I doubt that anyone in Ohio actually plants it, and if they do, they don’t pay for it because Goldenrod covers nearly every spare inch of Ohio roadside.  My mom was allergic to Goldenrod but we alway brought her bouquets anyway.
Most Ohio kids have at some time put bunches of Queen Anne’s Lace in water with food coloring; the colored water is drawn up the stem and tinges the white blossoms.  Queen Anne’s Lace, also called wild carrot, is a frilly, victorian-looking flower and I once brought  a plant back to Utah.  It didn’t make it, so I tossed the leftovers in my compost heap;  its offspring sprout in my yard every year.  You can’t keep Queen Anne’s Lace in a single spot, as I stupidly thought I could do, so I pull it.  I don't want to create another myrtle-spurge-type problem.  
Blue Weed has beautiful, pastel flowers that last a single day -- but those flowers are on long, rubbery stems that really whipped at my legs when I was a kid. 
The Plain Dealer article said eight thousand of the of 250,000 plant species are considered weeds.  A weed can be just a plant out of place, but  they are classified as noxious if they damage the economy and local resources.  The USDA web site 
has Queen Anne’s Lace on Ohio’s noxious weed list.  Both bind weed and spurge make the Utah list.
Jim goes by Goldenrod at the Wellington Reservation, one of our favorite places to walk.  Wikipedia says Goldenrod gained acceptance as an American garden flower in the 1980s, but was popular in England before that.  It also says that Ohio son Thomas Edison experimented with Goldenrod to produce rubber, and that the tires on a model T given him by Henry Ford were made from Goldenrod.  Was I reading Wikipedia on one of those days when people made things up?

Queen Anne’s lace is also called wild carrot and does smell like carrot.  Each flower has a single dark red spot in the center; legend has it that Queen Anne of England (1665-1714) an accomplished lace maker, pricked her finger with a needle and created that spot of scarlet  
Blue Weed is also called chicory, and is a coffee substitute -- but I think I'll go to Starbucks. I also read that you can eat the leaves -- but they are so tiny that you would not have much of a salad after an afternoon of Blue Weed picking. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Amish in our chicken house

For four years, an Amish family lived in our chicken house.
That’s a true statement.  They lived there from about 1958 to 1962 while the Amish man helped on my parents' farm.
The chicken house was maybe 20 feet by 80 feet.  Dad removed the chicken roosts, put in a partition so there was a separate bedroom (there was a third space for a washing machine and storage) and painted the walls gray -- but not before kiddingly suggesting red, which the couple, Nevin and Emma, vetoed.  They got water from our back porch, heated their home with kerosene, had an outhouse, and I never saw them wear colors other than black and midnight  blue.
Nevin and Emma moved to our farm with their toddler, Lizzie, and had two more babies while they were with us.  I remember Dad taking Emma to the hospital in our car when she had one of her babies because, of course, Amish don’t own or drive cars, but will ride in one if needed.  I’m guessing this was one of those times. 
I also recall their beautiful horse, May, who pulled the buggy.  Mom remembers that before going somewhere in the winter, Nevin and Emma would put a heated stone in the buggy to help keep them keep warm.  
Emma had a brother, Moses, who went by “Mose.”  Mom said if Emma came in the house and the TV was on, she would keep her back to it.  Mose, however, loved TV, especially “I Love Lucy.”  He also liked to take me, my brothers and sometimes my Mom for really fast buggy rides. After one that was more of a buggy hurtle, he asked us if we’d known there were Amish hot rodders.  Mose was a good finish carpenter who built a closet in my parent’s bedroom that my mom designed.
I also remember playing “button, button, whose got the button”  with Emma, roasting marshmallows over her kerosene lamp (they must have tasted awful) and playing with Emma’s sister, who was my age and spent several weeks with Emma every summer.
One thing neither Mom or nor I remember is why Nevin and Emma left -- probably for many reasons, including not living in a chicken house -- but they left on good terms.  We later heard they had a farm in Tennessee. 
There are still lots of Amish in Ohio and, in fact, an Amish family now lives in the farmhouse on the original Burge homestead near Ashland, Ohio.
Jim took this photo of an Amish buggy on a country road.  Many Amish live in the Ohio towns of Homerville, Spencer, Millersburg, Apple Creek and Sugar Creek.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Bathing buzzards

Turkey vultures, or buzzards, are common in Ohio.  I saw them when I was a kid, and I see them every time I come home to visit. A lot of them.  But this morning I saw turkey vultures do something I’d never seen before:  take a sun bath.
Jim and I were walking at the Wellington Reservation, part of the Lorain County Metro Park System and close to my mom’s house, when we saw a half dozen vultures sitting in a tree with their wings spread.  I got on the 'net as soon as I got home and found out that vultures do this to dry their wings, bake off bacteria, and get warm.  I also learned that they do this most often following damp or rainy nights and it rained like heck here yesterday.  

Some other buzzard info:  
Buzzard stomachs contain digestive acids that kill virtually all bacteria and viruses, so they actually sanitize what they eat.

A group of vultures is called a "venue.”
Buzzards fly by spiraling upward until they catch an air current, and then ride the current.
When I was a kid, I actually laid down in a field for about an hour, hoping to attract some spiraling buzzards and get a better look.  Didn’t work.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Fun run

This morning we saw several dozen tractors quickly chug past mom’s house.  No plows, discs, corn pickers, etc. were behind them, which made sense because it’s not planting or quite yet harvest time.  But where were all the tractors going?  Later, when I made a quick trip to town, I saw a sign with the words “tractor poker run” and an arrow pointing down mom’s road.  
In a poker run, instead of sitting at a table and having cards dealt to you, you travel to various locations to draw a card.  I only know that because Jim told me.  But a tractor poker run? 
Apparently the local FFA (Future Farmers of America) alumni sponsored the event.  Twenty-eight  tractor owners registered; the run began and ended at the county fair grounds and stopped at five farms.  
Poor Jim.   He called the red and black tractors Cases; mom and I immediately corrected him, letting him know those are made by International Harvester. 
Proposal for next week:  a motor home poker run.

The next best thing to being there

Ohio State Buckeyes beat Toledo 27-22.  And the band successfully dotted the "i."

Friday, September 9, 2011

Still in the Buckeye State

My parents were dairy and grain farmers, and my mom still lives on the farm I grew up on. The farm is just outside of Wellington, Ohio, 30 miles due south of Lake Erie and about 50 miles south west of Cleveland.  Wellington was settled in 1818 and has over 200 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.  It does have amazing-looking homes; in fact, in 2010 Wellington was named a "best old house neighborhood" by This Old House magazine.  The story an be found at http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/photos/0,,20343298_20738508,00.html 
In the 1800s, Wellington was the cheese capital of America thanks to the many Holstein cows, which what we raised. And, Wellington played an important role in the underground railway, an informal network of safe houses and secret routes used by 19th century slaves to escape with the aid of abolitionists.  
Wellington claims Myron T. Herrick, an ambassador to France and former Ohio governor (Warren G. Harding was his lieutenant governor) and Archibald Willard, a painter whose best known work is "The Spirit of 76" as two famous sons.
Wellington homes have interesting architecture. The village web site at http://www.villageofwellington.com says the architectural styles found include Gothic Revival, Italianate, Second Empire, Queen Anne, Folk Victorian, Shingle Style, Colonial Revival Greek Revival and American Neoclassicism. 
Another pretty home.
Wellington's town hall.

The steeple at the church I attended as a child and young adult.  In memory of my dad, my mom donated lights that shine on the steeple at night.

Another Wellington church.

Downtown Wellington.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Food and laughter in Lancaster

If William Tecumseh Sherman ate as well -- and as much -- during his time in Lancaster, Ohio, as we did during ours, people might have mistaken him for William Howard Taft.

OK, that’s a stretch. But we ate a heck of a lot of good food while visiting our friends Sandy and Carl who live in Lancaster, Ohio, birthplace of the famous civil war general.

Lancaster is about 35 miles from Columbus, Ohio, in a beautiful rolling area at the foothills of the Appalachian mountains.  Sandy lived in the dorm room right above me at Ohio State;  I’ve known both her and Carl since my freshman year at college.  I’m lucky that they’ve kept in touch with me all these years.
Among many other interests, Sandy and Carl love to cook.  They made us Scotch eggs (hard boiled eggs surrounded by sausage and bread crumbs and then deep fried), Syracuse potatoes (baby red potatoes boiled in salty walter), and a type rib eye that I don’t remember the name of but could never recreate.  And more.  
When we weren’t enjoying great meals, one of the things we did was to visit the Ohio Glass Museum.  Lancaster is the long time and current home of Anchor Hocking, and once had 30 glass factories. Then we visited the birthplace and early home of General Sherman, who lived in Lancaster until he left for West Point at the age of 16.  We climbed “the mountain,” the highest point in Lancaster with a spectacular view of the city of 40,000 people.  We went to a beer, blue grass and barbecue dinner at Shaws, a beautiful restaurant downtown, and of course, watched Ohio State beat the aptly named Akron Zips, 42 to 0.   And we talked and talked and laughed and laughed.
It was a great weekend.  Thanks, Sandy and Carl!
Carl, Sandy, Bev and Jim at the Ohio Glass Museum, where the director of the museum gave us the tour.  The exhibit featured cracked glass, goofus glass and historic and art marbles and called “We’re Cracked, We’re Goofy and We’ve Lost our Marbles.”  
Bev and Jim with General Sherman.  The Sherman House Museum was General Sherman’s birthplace and where he lived with his parents and ten siblings, including his brother US Senator John Sherman.

Sandy and her Syracuse potatoes.
Carl and his rib eye dish.
Carl, Jim and Sandy at the highest point in Lancaster.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Findley State Park

After the cows were milked, my parents used to take my brothers and me to “Findley Forest,” a park just two miles from our home.  We had time to go swimming for maybe 30 minutes before the life guard closed down the small beach; then we’d get ice cream.  I also went to Girl Scout Day Camp at Findley, and camping with my Girl Scout troop.  On summer Sunday mornings, I’d also go there for breakfast cookouts with my friend Sally and her family . 
Now it's called  “Findley State Park” and Jim and I go walking there when we are in Ohio.  It’s a great place with 838 acres plus a big lake and 16 miles of hiking trails.
My mom told me the land for the park was donated to the state of Ohio by Judge Guy Findley and that Judge Findley was a student of my grandmother, Grace Stine Burge (my dad’s mom), who taught school in Sullivan, Ohio.  I did some research and read that Judge Findley graduated from Sullivan High School, so that fits because Grandma taught at Sullivan. 
I also read that Guy Findley was a Lorain County prosecuting attorney from 1917 to 1920 and later a Lorain County Common Pleas Judge. Because he felt area forests were disappearing, he donated farmland that is now Findley State Park, with the intent that it be maintained as a forest. The Division of Forestry planted nearly half a million trees on the property with help from the Civilian Conservation Corps.  Apparently Judge Findley also actually planted trees along country roads himself, and became the president of the Ohio Forestry Association and the vice president of the American Forestry Association.  He died in 1958, and his ashes were sprinkled over the park that bears his name.
We didn't camp at Findley State Park, but since it's so close to my mom's we did go there to dump our black and gray water tanks shortly after we got to Ohio.  Mom -- who's always up for something fun -- went along with us.
Hiking at Findley State Park.  Cooper got his leg caught in the bridge you see on the trail, so Jim avoided it on the way back.
A view through the trees of Findley Lake, where my parents took me and my brothers swimming and where we took swimming lessons. An earthen dam completed in 1956 created the lake.