Cheap Ways To Start Off A Great Summer

11 May
It is starting to FINALLY become that time again where I want to go out and mingle with what a summer in Ohio has to offer. Although some ideas are gloriously spontaneous, I tend to plan in advance to get the most out of my trips. Side Note: Most important advice for an  adventurer is to plan in advance. BUT.. that’s it. Plan the activity, but once you get there throw your plan away. Sounds strange but it is way more fun to let things unfold as they will. I really doubt a trip that went exactly as planned is anywhere near as memorable as that trip you took where you got lost, broke down, or just plain lost your mind. 
So here are some cheap ways to get your adventurous spirit warmed up for the summer ahead.
  1. Take time to do some research online about local activities you have always wanted to try. I personally have always wanted to try a Zip Line Course, but have always second guessed it because of my fear of heights. After some searching, I found a course with 10 different zip lines that is close to home. You can bet I’ll be there soon, because it’s a new year and time to leave the fear behind.
  2. Use your local resources. If you live near a park that has a basketball court, tennis court, or baseball field then take advantage of this. All you need to do is barrow the equipment from a friend and you have a new activity to help you get out and active.
  3. Sign up to LivingSocial.com or download the app on your IPhone. For all of the people who don’t have the time or desire to scour the interwebs this site is very helpful. They email/text/smoke signals… whatever. They get the news to you about local happenings with all the details you could ever want. It’s great!! AND FREE!!

Top 10 Romantic things to do this Holiday Season on the Cheap

6 Dec

As the Holiday Season is really starting to get in full swing it definitely appears that romance is in the air. Ironically, even with all this romantic air being shoved in our faces daily there just never seems to be enough time for it. Between job, shopping, sleeping, baking, wrapping, making, sewing, blah, blah, blah, etc. Who has time to romance someone?

Well, with some prior planning to this dilemma and a little bit of research I found 10 romantic things to do with a significant other on the cheap. Since we are all trying to buy the best gifts and still stay in the black with our bank accounts, here are some tips.

Number 10: Link arms and window shop through an outdoor mall (i.e. Easton Towne Center) I’m not going to lie… this was literally the most wonderful thing to do on the first cold day of the season. Window shopping allows you to browse through stores you normally would not shop at, such as Tiffany’s & Co. or Crate and Barrel. Each of these stores brings out a new side of you the other person might not know about and creates great stories. Plus it’s free… except for lunch, but that’s a necessary expense. Side Note: Leave your wallet in the car to eliminate unnecessary spending.

Number 9: Decorate a tree or pretty much any part of your living space together. I have decorated the same banister in our house for 6 years and this is the first year I actually enjoyed every second. It’s hard to explain, but this banister has been the bane of my holiday existence and Caleb actually made it fun. I would definitely recommend listening to christmas music you both can sing along to! Side Note: Pick a space and take turns.. when you get tired or bored lay down on the floor surrounded by the mess and admire your work so far.

Number 8: Make your christmas gifts for each other’s parents. Just make sure they are good ideas and fabulously executed. Don’t give your parents a crappy gift because that’s only acceptable when you were 10. I can’t go into detail about this one because my mom reads my blog. Get creative!

Number 7: Sit by a Christmas tree and tell each other stories about your favorite Holiday memories. Obviously swapping stories about your childhood christmas is a great way to bond. I would recommend keeping the tragic stories about Fido dying or how you didn’t give Stretch Arm Strong when you were 10 for a later date. This experience should be about the good memories and possibly about future Christmases to come.. 🙂

Number 6: Buy two candy cane hot chocolates from Tim Hortons. We discovered this delicious treat this past weekend and if you are willing to put your diet on hold for a hot second… it’s totally worth it. Chocolate releases endorphins which is also associated with the feeling of being in love. So take a careful sip of this hot treat and a good long look at your huni because both of you will be feeling the love.

Number 5: Rent a Christmas Movie you both enjoy quoting. This one is pretty much self-explanatory. Who wouldn’t want to spend an evening quoting ELF?

Number 4: Make gingerbread houses to be table center pieces. (You may add children to this activity if you wish) For the past 3 years my mother and I have made gingerbread houses and it has literally become my favorite tradition. Swap Caleb in for Mom and this will be a very cute way to spend an afternoon being playful and creative. Creativity fuels the romance in a relationship… I read that somewhere. Anyways… All you need are eggs (mixed with sugar to make the glue), graham crackers, M&Ms, and gum drops. With these essentials you’ll be spending just over $10 and building a tradition that is totally awesome.

Number 3: Hold hands and take a walk at night in the snow. I literally don’t think there is anything more romantic than the first snow fall at night. Something about being surrounded by the perfect little flakes, preferably near an old fashion lamp-post, just gets my heart a-fluttering.

Number 2: Experience the Christmas lights at your local Zoo. Going to the zoo during Christmas time is an experience I’ll  never forget. Admission for two adults is about $24 unless you are lucky enough to get some sort of discount. After wandering around the place make sure to check to see if your Zoo offers a light show. The one at the Columbus Zoo is absolutely mind-blowing. Side Note:  I would recommend getting there at 5pm when they open because no one is there yet and the animals are eating dinner. Two very good things: No pushy little kids and very cute animals munching away!

Number 1: Buy some Mistletoe. This is my number one favorite romantic thing because it is sooooo simple, but gives the best stomach butterflies. You can pick up a fake mistletoe piece at your local grocery store like Walmart or Meijer for under $2 or make your own. Then, just stick it over a doorway both you and your love muffin walk under frequently and BOOM… you’re kissing every other trip down the stairs!

So even though you are probably starting to stress out because you haven’t found the perfect gift for your significant other… take the time to be romantic. I guarantee this holiday season will be a lot more fun and it’s a good way to end the year with lots of love.

Renaissance Festival, Harveysburg, Ohio

20 Oct

It feels like forever since Caleb and I have had time for an adventure. I proposed a challenge to my dear boyfriend to plan the entire weekend, which also happened to contain Sweetest Day. Obviously it wasn’t a challenge at all considering basically the next day he had the entire weekend planned with schedule and everything. Friday: New Release of Nightmare on Elm Street and pumpkin full of flowers. Saturday: Renaissance Festival, dinner, then Haunted Hayride. Sunday: Putt-putt. I’m going to focus solely on the Renaissance Festival, though.

First off, in continuation with our evident poverty Caleb managed to get a discounted rate for the Renaissance Festival tickets when purchased online. I believe he spent around $16/ per ticket, where at the door they were close to $40 (I wish I would have paid a little more attention to the prices, but I will explain why I couldn’t focus upon arrival.) Alright we were off on our adventure to Harveysburg, Ohio and all along the way we discussed how we wanted the day to go. Our expectations were to see some jousting, drink some beer, and get a souvenir. Whoa… were we in for a shock.

Side Note: Now if you have ever been to a Renaissance Festival you will understand OR if you are one of these following people.. uh interesting past time..? Anyways.

We should had been prepared from the bumper sticker on the car in front of us that read “Royalty on board”, but we weren’t. About 75% of the people there were dressed up in these over the top Renaissance period outfits. (If you aren’t aware of what that means.. It’s a lot of tights on men, way to much boob showing on women, and fairy wings <- This left us baffled.) They ranged from royalty (head to toe clothing) to peasants (slutty) and some sort of middle class (middle-aged women to worried to be “slutty” and to poor to be royalty.) Either way, it was a spectacle, that’s for sure. But the backdrop village, castle, pirate ship, and jousting arena were amazing!

Side Note: There was so much detail that I sorta felt like I was back in that time period. For a split second I wanted one of those silly costumes (fully covered royalty, of course), but then I was brought back to reality by an overweight gentleman gorging himself on a large turkey leg while walking past.

Once you get adjusted to the scenery and stop staring at the “locals” you notice there are more than 100 shops on the property. They offer anything from fairy wings (yet again..”?”), costumes, jewelry, old fashion beer mugs, Viking furs (with two very large Viking men to stare at you as you enter their shop), commonly known food (but with strange names), and Wood Chuck Cider Beer. It was WONDERFUL, but very expensive so bring cash. Also, hope you don’t get too inebriated because it will cost ya a pretty penny. One of the things we decided to indulge in was getting a wax mold of our hands together. The process is quite painful, consisting of putting your arm in ice-cold water for 30 seconds then dipping it in hot wax about 25 times. In the end it was totally worth it and cost $10.

We managed to catch a few shows throughout the day, as well. The first one we were drawn to was a juggler/fire-eater with a crude sense of humor and an affinity for using sexual innuendos. He was very entertaining for about 20 minutes, but then I started to grow tired of this jokes about “balls” and the temperature, color, and amount of them he had. So we moved on to the pirate ship where 10 pirates and Shakespeare were telling a very funny story based off the board game “CLUE”  and doing stunts off the ship. The third show was the Full Armored Jousting in which the best part was the incredibly intoxicated man behind us who kept shouting inappropriate things at no one. Also, one of the jousting sticks broke and flew into the audience and hit someone. Caleb and I thought that was pretty cool. The fourth and last show we managed to see was the “Mud” show. This is where three half naked men jumped around in mud and the unsuspecting viewers in the first 5 rows got very dirty. It was very odd, but also awesome with their sexual innuendos and full-out hilariously raunchy jokes. Needless to say.. I don’t believe the Renaissance Festival is made for ages 13 and younger, but that didn’t stop those amazing parents from sitting their young children in the front row. Idiots.

Needless to say, we managed to keep entertained for a full 6 hours at the festival and it was totally worth the $16/each. We went on the final weekend, but the festival runs from Labor day weekend through mid October. Each weekend is themed and on the final weekend “Market Weekend” everything is on SALE! Information about the Renaissance Festival can be found at renfestival.com.


“O-H” “Oh-No” aka Michigan

21 Sep

Well, lately, with all work and no play.. Kate was becoming pretty pissed off. So I decided it was time for Caleb and I to set off on a trip out-of-state. I have a sister to the South and a cousin, who is basically like a sister, to the North, so I had to choose. Ilene, the cousin, won the toss-up because A. she is closer and B. she has two ADORABLE daughters who I am determined to win over and claim the title of “Favorite Aunt.” So I packed up my Ipod, stay-over bag, and my travel-size entertainment/boyfriend, then we hit the road.

All was going quite well until we hit the border between my beloved Buckeye State and the ‘state to the north.’ Side Note: I would like to point out that I don’t care about football one bit. So why I dislike Michigan is not because of some stupid rivalry. Why you ask then? Read on. Now if you have ever been to visit the lovely state of Michigan I hope your GPS or Map steered you in a direction that was correct and straight forward. Unfortunately, I was unprepared for something called the “Michigan U-Turn.” Side Note: Since making my complaints public I have been informed it is also called : “Michigan Lefts,” “Trooper Turnabouts,” “Barney ol field,” & “Just plain stupid and not practical.” Anyways, I was directed right into the path of this menace to the Out-of-State tourist. After much confusion, screaming, tears, and deep breathing I was able to get through this obstacle and on to our fabulous destination of Canton, Michigan.

Side Note: Now Ilene has a perfect, little, story book family with two beautiful children and a wonderful husband named Kevin. Kevin is so wonderful because he lives in a household with three opinionated woman and he manages to have no grey hair and still has a sense of humor. So upon arrival our perfect, little, story book hosts whisked us away to a Cider Mill called Apple Charlies. This was located “down river” as I was informed. Although I couldn’t tell you the geographic location of “down river.” I’m assuming it was somewhere near Canton, but south. Apple Charlies was a very interesting place with children’s fair rides, pony rides, hay wagon rides, apple cider (YUM), barn animals, acres of apple trees for picking, and apple cinnamon donuts (double YUM). I had never been to a Cider Mill before, but for my first time I thought it was great! And FREE!! (My empty pockets and cheap boyfriend beamed with joy)

After the Cider Mill we headed off to dinner at the Rusty Bucket. I am told we have these in Ohio, but I have never heard of it before. I would highly recommend their food. Then came Cold Stone where Mary Grace (19 months old) discovered it was much more practical to fill her spoon with ice cream, turn it upside, then stick whatever hadn’t fallen onto her shirt into her mouth. Much to Caleb and I’s delight she managed to do this several times before her parents finally took the ice cream away.

After a pretty packed afternoon we all changed into comfy pj’s and decided to play a wholesome game of “Battle of the Sexes” and then “Clue.” Ilene and I, of course, won the “battle,” but we decided after one round the cards were too cliché. Now “Clue,” well that was an educational experience in its self. I have played this game many times, but never surrounded by 3 VERY shisty people. If the goal of the game was to confuse Kate and Caleb.. it worked. I’m not going to go more in detail because I learned a few tricks to win every time and I don’t want people to know them. 🙂

The last eventful thing to happen was we changed our first stinky, baby diaper. And this isn’t your normal, tear it off, wrap it up, and throw away ordeal. This is a clothe diaper on a baby that is lactose intolerant. Kevin was at work and Ilene left us with the kids while she went to church and then my worst fear happened. Mary Grace started to smell, I made eye contact with Caleb and said “are you ready for this?” To which he replied with deadly calm, “let’s do this.” lol. So now that we had each other’s backs, we got down to business and set up an assembly line. First, mat on floor. Second, wipes and lotion station. Third, clean diaper/ happy baby station. Caleb, the best boyfriend in the world, stood at the bathroom door waiting for me to slide the diaper to the door to rinse and repeat. I understand how its good for the baby and the environment, but holy cheese and crackers that’s quite a chore. Overall we made a good team and it wasn’t as bad as I had always imagined.

After dancing around the living room with Caleb and the girls for an hour, we were both beat and ready to go back to our childless lives in Ohio. It was a wonderful trip and a great adventure!

Kings Island/Boomerang Bay and Cox Arboredum, Dayton, Ohio

9 Aug

Well this past weekend we decided it was time to tackle one of Caleb’s fears.. Roller coasters. I am personally a big fan of roller coasters and consider myself a mild adrenaline junkie, so this was right up my alley. Best part was that by planning ahead and ordering our tickets online we were able to get them for $29.99 as opposed to the $49 or $50 each ticket would cost at the door. Also, since it is Breast Cancer Awareness month we were able to get a discount through the CinnySaver. This deal only lasts through August 21st though, so get on it! So since I planned ahead I was pretty pleased with my savings.

We got up decently early Thursday morning (thinking I was being clever by going on a Thursday because there would be less crowds… ha) packed up our swim suits and we were on our way. We arrived an hour after opening and the place was already packed and in full swing. Side Note: Caleb really hates roller coasters so as soon as we pulled into the parking lot he started to turn a shade of green. Poor guy. Anyways, we find a place to park and head for the closest and scariest roller coaster I can see. The name escapes me at the moment, but that’s irrelevant, I LOVED IT! For Caleb, the pouting pretty much commenced immediately upon arrival, but the volume got louder and became more frequent the closer we got to the ride. We happened to be sitting across from a lone rider of about the age of 16. He was a panicked, little creature that appeared to have been forced to ride the ride due to peer pressure and his desire to impress the girl sitting behind him. Lucky for him, she didn’t have the view of his face that I did during the ride. While Caleb didn’t make a sound, ‘lone rider’ managed to scream, cuss, and cry all in a matter of seconds. I very much enjoyed the show. After this fantastic event the rest of the rides were great, but nowhere near as entertaining. I only managed to get Caleb on three more before we left, but I would recommend them all to thrill seekers.

Side Note: I was informed the first ride was called Invertigo. VERY FUN!

Side Note: DO NOT get your caricature done at Kings Island. It is not worth the $15 we splurged because neither of us looked anything like ourselves. I looked like Kathy Lee Griffith (clearly not even close) and Caleb looked like Chris Tucker (which is clearly not even the right race).

So more to Caleb’s liking we headed to Boomerang Bay, which is the water park attached to Kings Island. This place was fantastic with great service and clean/clear water. Although I always had the thought in the back of my head of all the small children that had peed in the pools and lazy river.. it was still great. If you can manage to block out the evil thoughts it’s definitely worth the price of admission, which was FREE with your ticket from the theme park! 🙂

The next day we went to relax at the Cox Arboredum in Dayton, Ohio. For those of you that don’t know what that is.. it’s basically a big butterfly farm with lots of beautiful flowers. It was absolutely breath-taking to see everything in bloom with the bright colors complimenting the stone walkways. There are plenty of benches to sit and talk or read a book if that is more of your style (which I will be returning to do at some point in the near future). Then, the pathway leads you to this netted building FULL of butterflies of all shapes and colors. I could have stayed in there for hours just watching them and taking pictures. Side Note: I actually tried to stay in there for hours because I was determined to have my Disney princess moment where one landed on me. This never happened and Caleb dragged me out the door to eliminate further agony of being rejected time after time.

After the butterfly house there are three different paths you can choose from to wander around and take in nature. Since this is one of my favorite activities we decided this was a must. We spent about 2 hours at the arboretum and it was a fantastic/ relaxing way to spend an afternoon. There is no admission fee to go visit this piece of paradise, but I will make you aware of the fact that there is a local dog that guards the grounds from geese. His name is Zip and he has his own website, which is thoroughly entertaining

http://www.metroparks.org/Parks/CoxArboretum/zippthedog.aspx.

Mini Adventures: Wright-Patt Air Force Museum, COSI, & Anthony Thomas Chocolate Factory

1 Aug

Alright so we have gone on a few adventures that, while very cool, were just not worth writing a lot about…. mostly due to the fact that they are self explanatory.

First on the list is The National Museum of the United States Air Force located on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, Ohio. This place was HUGE! If you have any interest in planes, history, or war, this is the place you should visit for an afternoon. (And I do mean an afternoon.. it takes forever to walk through and see everything.) For those of us, including me, that has no clue or interest in planes, no worries. They figured out how to keep people like us entertained as well with interactive games and variety of subject matter in the museum.

The best part about the museum is that you get to walk around and under most of the planes to see inside. I happen to be nosey so I enjoyed looking inside to see where people slept, ate, etc. Side Note: They have signs everywhere saying “DO NOT TOUCH,” but really, come on, how could you not touch a piece of history like that if you had the chance, right? Silly museum people. They also had exhibits about the Holocaust and the survivors from the Dayton area. One that really touched me was a picture of a Nazi camp prisoner where he was emaciated and had to be carried out of the camp. Then right next to it was a picture of him from 2008 where he is nice, healthy, and happy. There was so much stuff to see its very hard to pick what to write about so I’ll just let you go discover for yourself.

It took us about 3 hours to walk around everything and we were actually rushed because of a military banquet. It’s a very interesting way to spend the afternoon and it’s Free!

Next on the list is COSI, which most Ohioans have gone to at least once in grade school. The exhibits really have not changed much over the years, but the building has been completely renovated. Side Note: Not going to lie, I miss the old pendulum (and you all know what I’m talking about) because the new one just is not as impressive. Anyways, I would personally recommend taking a child or a child-like adult with you because it is way more entertaining to watch them try.. and fail doing experiments. (i.e. Caleb trying to shoot a ball from a sling shot into a hoop and failing, while the little 10 year old behind him did it perfectly, haha)  Like I said, this place is pretty much the same as before, but still worth the price of admission: $13.75 for adults/ $8.75 for kids.

Last on the list was something I had SUCH high hopes for, but due to seasonal issues, failed in my book. The Anthony Thomas Chocolate Factory in Columbus, Ohio is something I have passed on I-270 my entire life on my way to my aunt’s house. I have always dreamed it was something similar to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory and little mini Lindsay Lohan’s (referencing her orange complexion) with green hair held hands and sang songs.  Side Note: I’m definitely referring to the original Willy Wonka because, although I love Johnny Depp, his version is just plain scary. Anyways, so we decide to take one of their FREE hour long tours through the factory that are available on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30am- 2:30pm.

So like giddy, little children we skip through the parking lot to the front doors that will provide a magical experience. Once inside we saw a large group of tiny children clustered around the a 3,000 lbs (although this number has been called into question because we can’t remember the exact weight but it was close to this, I believe) chocolate and peanut butter buckeye, and that’s when I knew… I was in heaven. Who knew that somewhere in the world someone was genius enough to make a 3,000 lbs buckeye? After gawking at that monstrosity of goodness we got in line for the tour and were on our way. Learning about the history of cocoa and how chocolate is made was actually pretty interesting, but that’s pretty much where the interesting stops. Fun Fact: Chocolate Factories only have a “rush” the two weeks before Christmas and Easter. So since there has not been a magical holiday invented that requires giving candy in the summer.. barely anyone works there. So it was pretty boring, but they make it up to you by giving you a little buckeye at the end of the tour so that you won’t feel like you totally wasted your time. Side Note: I have heard though that if you go during those two weeks you get to see a lot of neat things and people busily buzzing around making magical goodies.

I’m sorry to be the one to tell ya Anthony, your rival Willy still gets my vote… but you having that giant buckeye got you a thumbs up for effort.

The Wilds, Cumberland, Ohio

29 Jul

This one is a little mind-blowing and I’ve been there and experienced its wonderfulness. I have lived in Ohio all my life and before two months ago I had never even heard of a place called The Wilds. Let alone did I ever imagine I could go on an African Safari in basically my own back yard. It’s crazy to think about, but it’s very, very real.

I started asking around to see what other people suggested we go see next and several kept saying something called The Wilds. They described it as a place where you can see giraffe, rhinos, several different types of wild horses, cheetahs, panthers, and other such wonderfully out-of-place creatures. Upon further research I discovered there are several different types of tours that people can take to explore the reserve. From the poor man’s “air-conditioned bus” experience, to the rich man’s rented Range Rovers with vibrating seats and complimentary The Lion King sound track. Just kidding about the sound track… you have to bring your own. A person can experience this place in a multitude of ways.

So we set off on this adventure with Gerty, of course because we are warped into thinking we will get lost using an old fashion, large piece of fragile paper called a map. She took us through Zanesville through the back hills of Ohio and this was about the time that I thought everyone was playing some kind of joke on us. After a quite terrifying encounter with a small, non-paved, 3 ft wide road, we finally made it to an open savannah habitat that looked so out-of-place it was laughable. Upon arrival we parked outside the gates and were shuttled up a hill to the main building that looked like someone had plucked it from Zimbabwe and placed it in Ohio. We paid $20 for my admission (military id gets you in free) and bought two suckers and waited for our poor man’s transportation. Tours run every half hour from 10am- 4 pm.

Within minutes of the tour starting we were surrounded by rhinos, which I never thought in a million years would be something I would get to experience. They just came right near the bus and were chomping away at some delicious grass as if they knew they were pretty sweet. Next we saw some very aggressive and territorial wild horses that took the bus hostage, while the leader was determined to bite the door open. The 12-year-old looking tour guide didn’t seem worried so I just made sure to place myself between Caleb and the hungry pony at the door. Once we escaped the pony takeover we came upon a delusional camel that decided today was the day he was going to stand his ground and play chicken with the bus. That sucker didn’t move an ounce as the bus bumped into it and slide around him. I’m pretty sure I saw him give himself a pat on the hump due to his fairly obvious victory as we drove away.

After that we saw some more neat animals, but I would remiss if I failed to mention the cheetah that thought I was its next meal. The predators are a safe distance away from the herbivores, for obvious reasons, so it was a short ride to the place where the large kitties were lounging about. I, having a complete lapse in judgement decided to wear a zebra printed tank top that day. This resulted in one particular cheetah spotting, stalking, and getting ready to pounce on me once I turned my back to run. Luckily there was a very large fence between us and my quick-witted responses yet again told me to put Caleb between predator and prey… sorry dear.

The tour lasted about 3 and a half hours and it was absolutely worth the $20 dollars. Who else can say they went on an African Safari in the afternoon and made it home for Dominoes in the same day?

Old Man’s Cave in the Hocking Hills, Logan, Ohio

29 Jul

Now let me just start by saying this is probably one of my favorite places to visit. Old Man’s Cave is a place for families, friends, partners, or just the solitary observer of nature. If you are looking for a hiking experience that is tucked away from reality then this little slice of nature is a miracle to explore.

Side Note: My personal opinion is that the best time to go is in the Fall. All those trees covered in the deep reds, oranges, and yellows are a fantastic back drop to the falls and sandstone cliffs. Best advice I can offer: BRING A CAMERA. You won’t be disappointed with a single picture.

If you head down Route 33 towards Athens you will see the big sign that should be unmistakable to the public eye. Unfortunately for us, Caleb thought the sign said “Next 3 miles” when in actuality it stated, “Next right.” This became a long running joke because we realized we could never really get to the place we wanted to go without going the wrong way first. Anyways, once off the main highway it is about a 20 minute jaunt through the rolling hills.

Some history: A man named Richard Rowe is said to have lived in the caves for at least a brief period of time during the 17oo’s. Several different tribes of Native Americans also called the Hocking Hills their home throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. For more information visit http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/entry.php?rec=2995.

Once you are there you can choose to start at the Upper Falls or Cedar Falls, which is about another 3 miles up the road. We decided to start at the Upper Falls and just wander through the gorge to the Lower falls. One of the best features about this place is that you are allowed to play in the water pools and waterfalls. People, these aren’t your back yard trickling streams, either. These are legit 30 feet or higher waterfalls that were created when the glaciers cut through Ohio thousands of years ago. Caleb decided it was time to ‘man up’ and jumped into the freezing cold falls for a picture opportunity. I, being the sensible and slightly wimpish of us two, decided it was to cold so just went in calf deep, but on a hot day in June it was definitely a welcome relief.

After awhile in the falls we continued down the path towards Cedar Falls. What’s great about Old Man’s Cave is that there are several different paths to get to any destination and you can wander off the paths (at your own risk) to go exploring. We decided it would be fun to wander off on a secluded path (in all honesty we did it to get away from a bunch of smokers < uh gross, and a little bit ironic in a FOREST, but whatever.) This little excursion is what really made me realize we were just a bunch of beginner hikers because we were just plain bad at picking the best/ least dangerous route to our destination. I literally saved Caleb from falling off a ledge, which will haunt him till he repays the favor 🙂. After we got back on the main path we wandered around a little more, but as always we got hungry and decided to turn back and head to someplace to get some grub.

This is the place where Caleb and I started to have a real connection because we were outdoors, doing physical activity, and laughing so much it hurt. With so much to see it provides a variety of different things to talk about, which can subsequently lead to great stories. I would recommend to anyone that taking a date to this place for a day could possibly spark a little romance in your life.

Old Man’s Cave is beautiful, calm, and a tourist friendly place to visit for FREE. There is a gift shop, clean public restrooms, and a vendor for food available at the entrance if you plan on making it a day trip. There is also local camping and cabins available on their website.

Mansfield, Ohio

27 Jul

Well two days later rolled around and we decided we couldn’t wait any longer to explore Mansfield Reformatory. It popped up right away when Googling interesting things to do in Ohio. Just in case you didn’t know Mansfield Reformatory is where ShawShank Redemption and scenes from Air Force One were filmed. So we met in Dublin, Ohio, parked his truck and headed North on I-71 towards Mansfield. Along the road Caleb entertained me with stories like how he almost got his eye poked out of his head with a pair of scissors and breaking his collar-bone by running into someone who had already run into a tree sledding… yea. Anyways, it took us about an hour to get to the city limits.

Side Note: I failed to mention previously that I have a un-trusty sidekick named Gerty the GPS. Now if you own a GPS also then hopefully you have had better life experiences with yours because mine is a bitter piece of equipment. Example being, on a previous trip to explore Plymouth, Mass. she completely bypassed the city and took us to this little, remote, half mile long, wooden bridge that just drove over the ocean to a tiny, little island with NOTHING ON IT. It was horrifying for someone scared of the ocean…

Anyways, we were blindly following bitter Gerty to Mansfield when I look and see a big sign that states “MANSFIELD TOURISTS CENTER.” Of course I instantly get excited at the thought of collecting more pamphlets, so I pull off the interstate and park in front of a tiny octagonal building with hundreds of pamphlets waiting just for me! After collecting a bazillion packets about anything and everything we were back in the car and Gerty was directing us in a different direction than before, but we weren’t worried. Being worried is not a good quality of someone seeking adventure because then just about everything will NOT turn out your way. Trust me. Just go with it. After a VERY round about route we made it into downtown Mansfield and discovered it was the proud home of the Carousel.

So the first thing we do is park the car along the road in downtown and walk up the hill to an active carousel ride that seems to be providing the entertainment for a few kid’s birthday parties. Not wanting to back down from the full experience of Mansfield we spent 50 cents on tokens to ride the ride and chose our means of transportation. As I am mildly obsessed with cats I chose a lion, while Caleb went with the more traditional horse. To make us stand out just a little bit more we decided to take pictures to document us enjoying the ride. Unfortunately they turned out too blurry for anyone’s viewing pleasure. Lesson learned. After riding the Carousel we walked further up the hill to a little chocolate shop and this is where I discovered my little, old person for the day.

I wish I could remember her name but never the less she was adorable. When I asked her what the local favorite was the chocolatier recommended a treat called a squirrels paw, which came in white, dark, and milk chocolate. I, of course, got a dark chocolate one as they are my favorite and Caleb got one of each flavor because he couldn’t make up his mind with a total bill coming to around $5 (but totally worth it). She also informed us of something called the “Block House” that was a replica of a fort built by settlers to protect them from Native American attacks.  Although it is quite neat, it is not all that impressive in size considering she described it to be this grand fort. Still worth seeing though if you are in the immediate area.

Next on our list of downtown Mansfield was the KingWood Garden Estate. This is a beautiful estate with several intricate gardens with winding pathways and exotic plants. It was breathtaking seeing the abundance of different flowers everywhere and ponds with colorful fish. You will also hear and notice several Peacocks roaming the grounds. We spent a good hour seeing everything on the estate so it was absolutely worth the $5 admission (with military discount) $10 for everyone else.

After this beautiful adventure we were off to Mansfield Reformatory to become ghost hunters for a day. We built each other up and talked about what we would do if we saw a ghost and such, but upon arrival we found out that the Reformatory is closed on Saturdays and Tuesdays. This day was in fact a Saturday so we were very much out of luck. When I asked the man, who was oddly enough just standing in the parking lot, why it was closed on Saturdays his response was, “Don’t we deserved Saturdays off, too?” Touche.

Side Note: We later returned to the Reformatory on a Sunday and took the 2 pm tour, which was spooky and very cool. Admission is $8 per person. You can take as many pictures as you want and they take you EVERYWHERE in the place with lots of great stories. Definitely recommend taking this tour at some point because its historical, educational, and kinda creepy.

After our disappointing rejection from the Reformatory we decided to head East. Along the way, I discovered in one of my many pamphlets that there was a working historical farm called Malabar Farms not far away so we stopped to check it out. Since it was after 5 pm by this point everything was closed up, but it is still neat to see.

Tired and hungry, we decided it was time for some dinner and we thought we would stop along one of the many exits heading South on I-71 because there had to be someplace to sit down and relax. Wrong. We stopped at every single exit trying to find a restaurant and no such luck, other than an Amish Diner that closed  minutes before we got there. This became an amusing observation to us both and I’m pretty sure I had a laughing attack caused by hunger, lack of sleep, and Caleb being quite witty. So after doing a chinese fire drill to get me out of the drivers seat in the middle of the interstate we were off in desperate search of a Subway, which we eventually found one exit away from his truck. Needless to say it was a wonderful ending to a very eventful day.

After two successful adventures to cities we decided to it was time to take on the outdoors. Our next destination was Old Man’s Cave in Hocking Hills, Logan, Ohio.

The Beginning: Springfield, Ohio and Yellow Springs, Ohio

23 Jul

So Caleb is from the Dayton area and I’m obviously from Lancaster so we decided we needed to find someplace to explore in the middle. Ergo MapQuest.com  suggested Springfield, Ohio, but more specifically Buck Creek National Park. I have always been one for outdoor/ hiking and such so this was right up my alley.

So I drove the hour and fifteen minutes to meet up at Buck Creek National Park. Upon arrival we reacquainted ourselves with each other, since our one brief introduction and shared glass of Bubble Vodka with Sprite was a little fuzzy. Then I promptly snatched up as many pamphlets about Ohio Parks, Things to do in Springfield, and other such wonderful informational packets as I could possibly get my little hands on. I have a mild obsession with collecting pamphlets, which will become a reoccurring theme throughout my stories. Also, I decided to ask the two little, old ladies doing some gardening where would be the best place to go in the area for a day trip of adventuring. They suggested young folks like us would enjoy a town about 20 minutes away called Yellow Springs. We set that as our end destination (because I spotted a gloriously large Antique Center right off I-70) and we were on our way.

Our first stop of the day was to the gloriously large Antique Center as previously mentioned located in Springfield, Oh. It was HUGE! For those of you that have a passion for antiques, as my father does, this is heaven for you. It had something like 5 different wings (and I mean WINGS) with branching off aisles full of antiques. It seemed like ordered chaos and I loved every second of it. There is something about touching old stuff that makes me feel more connected to the past. Luckily, Caleb seemed like a kid in the candy store, as well. So it was very enjoyable playing with the old fashion toys, playing dress up with old war uniforms, and brilliant old-fashion hats. My personal favorite was trying to figure out the old measuring stick that folded up in a very awkward manner and being called an “obvious blonde” by a little, old man. He was adorable, rude or not.

From there we made our way to Yellow Springs where, fun fact, Dave Chappelle is from, I guess. Needless to say Yellow Springs is a very interesting place to visit. It can be described perfectly in three ways: small, quaint, and full of hippies. I loved it! People are playing guitars on the sidewalk, everything is made with bright colors, and there were some funky things in the little shops along the main drag. Just walking around and listening to the music made me feel very mellow. Caleb informed me that there is a StreetFair and upon further research it’s called Music Festival and Beer Garden that takes place on October 9th, 2010. I will hopefully be attending!

After exploring Yellow Springs we decided to visit John Bryan State Park to walk along the the beautiful limestone gorge. Side Note: when preparing for a day of adventuring you should bring several types of footwear because you really never know where you will end up. Case and point this little adventure along a gorge in flip flops. Not good. There was so much breathtaking scenery that it was very hard to take it all in in just one visit, but its FREE to visit as many times as you would like!

Funny story: We were walking along and a tiny 3 inch long snake slithered along the path next to us and Caleb jumped and screamed like a little girl. Classic.

Anyways, next on our list for the day was Young’s Jersey Dairy in Yellow Spring where I died and went to ice cream lovers heaven. They offered so many flavors it gave me a mild headache just trying to choose. Once I finally settled on my favorite fall back, Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl and Caleb decided on Cookies n Cream, we sat out on the front porch in very comfortable rocking chairs and enjoyed the late afternoon sunshine. The Dairy also offers pony rides for children considerably smaller than Caleb and I, but still looked fun. Another attraction is everyone can feed the Dairy’s goat population and these little suckers have some sort of goat high rise walking track that was very entertaining to observe. Last on the list for the Dairy was a putt putt course that was fairly challenging and very fun. P.S. I won 🙂 Overall the ice cream and putt putt cost around $20 for both of us.

Even though ice cream is a gift from the gods it did not fill the place in my stomach like cheap, good pizza does. So we headed back to Springfield to try the self proclaimed “Best Pizza in Ohio” at some little hole in the wall joint. I won’t mention the name of it for various reasons. Anyways, by this time we were both dead tired, we weren’t experts in adventuring quite yet, so we both stared at the table and mumbled our order to the overly energetic waiter. The pizza was good, but I’m not going to lie.. not the best in ohio. Someone should probably let them know…

Side Note: One place we went to visit in Springfield on a later date was Schuler’s Bakery and that place is PHENOMENAL!! The donuts are probably the best I have ever tried and I do love donuts. They were reasonably priced as well considering we bought a dozen and it only cost around $5. I also observed delicious cakes (hopefully made out of donut, but probably not) and other baked goods that made my mouth water hardcore. Only warning: I was really in the mood for a delicious coffee beverage as well and there was not much of a selection, but good news Tim Horton’s is a few blocks away!

We had so much fun adventuring together we set a date for two days later to explore Mansfield, Ohio.