Until about twenty years ago, the only thing I knew about Ohio was that it was one of our fifty states. I had been here only once, to attend a party celebrating a friend’s marriage. I distinctly remember driving around and around and around an area with the rather quaint name of Chagrin Falls until we finally gave up and called our host to get more specific directions. It was a wonder we made it back to New York.
Little did I realize at the time that Ohio was about to become our “second” home state. It began to happen within a couple of years. A job opportunity came up and we relocated to – well, Chagrin Falls. It may have the only place I was even slightly familiar with (despite the fact that most of what we’d seen on our previous trip was dark and trees), plus a feeling that the East side was a bit closer to Buffalo. We didn’t stay there long. Two years later, we were back in New York. I’d been homesick and although I’d been delighted with all those trees that had originally frustrated me, and had become acquainted with the Cleveland Indians, I was more than ready to split.
God does have a sense of humor, however. Within two years, due to some quirk of fate, we found ourselves heading back to Chagrin Falls. This time, it stuck and we’ve now been happily ensconced for almost as long as we’d been in New York.
Busy with life, however, we never really took the time to explore the rest of Ohio, so in 2008, to celebrate my birthday (08/08/08), my husband arranged a lovely weekend that started with a B & B on Kelleys Island. From there, we just decided to wander, hitting the Vermilion lighthouse (and the drug store where I had my first chocolate phosphate in years!), then heading south where we stumbled upon a lovely public garden which I can’t at the moment remember the name of (and Google isn’t cooperative today). We ended up in Loudonville on the Mohican River for a leisurely 7 mile paddle along with half the population of Ohio, I think. Just the thing to do on a warm summer day. We headed home across the center of state, hitting the Warther woodcarving museum in Dover as a last stop.
Our 2009 discovery trip started in Cleveland with a corned beef sandwich at Slyman’s, followed by an engaging wander through the art gallery. We stayed at the Wyndham Hotel, enjoying a lovely dinner and meeting one of the staff who unwittingly sent us on our next adventure – zip-lining at Canopy Tours in Logan. It was an exhilarating experience and one that’s on our list for a repeat someday.
For 2010, we drove south along the mighty Ohio River, where we found the Sistersville Ferry that shuttles cars and people between Fly, OH and Sistersville, WV. Did you even know we had a town named Fly? The ferry could hold maybe six cars and was powered with a unique sort of attached tug. It spans the longest straight stretch of the Ohio (some twenty miles) called the Long Reach and takes about five minutes to get across. For pedestrians like us, it’s a free round trip. The ferry operator even provided a loaf of bread to feed the ducks and geese that greeted travelers on both sides of the river.
Our ultimate destination was Marietta, which turned out to be a bit disappointing, mostly due to construction on their main road. The glass museum, which we wanted to see, was closed. We did walk around the historic district with shops full of interesting antiques and art and walked around the confluence of the Ohio and Muskingum Rivers where there is a wonderful hike/bike path and park. We were looking for canoes or kayaks to rent, but was told that although they had been available a few years ago and might be again next, this year we were out of luck. So, we decided to head north along Rte. 60 to see if we could find a boat livery. We did find the Dillon Dam and a great little cafe in McConnelsville, then swung east again, stumbling upon the Longaberger Homestead. Due to it being a Saturday, nobody was working on the huge factory floor, which I found a bit reminiscent of the Boeing Assembly Plant in the Seattle area. The grounds are lovely, although the once-thriving business has hit a downturn. Perhaps people resist buying expensive baskets when they can’t afford the food to put in them.
We did eventually find a place that rented canoes, though – our own Camp Hi in Hiram. Some of the best places are close to home, it seems!
Fall is a wonderful time to go exploring. Even if it’s for just a day or two, Ohio definitely holds treasures for those willing to look in unexpected places.