Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Caesar Creek State Park


Parents beware. This park may become a favorite one for your young children, forever!

We were on our way home from Cincinnati, driving the most direct way to get home: Hwy 71 North. But we had a stop in mind: Caesar Creek State Park. The kids' first grade teacher told them about this place months ago, and how it is a place where one could collect fossils, real million-year-old fossils, to take home.


Dubious, but hopeful, we found our way to the park as the rain stopped, the sky parted and the sun came out. It was perfect fossil-hunting weather.


To hunt for these fossils legally, one must go first to the visitor's center of the park to obtain a free permit. I am pretty impressed that they still let visitors collect as many (smaller) fossils to one's heart's content! But if you go yourself, you will see why.  This place is COVERED with fossils!! From trilopods, to brachiopods, to corals and shells of all kinds... we were basically standing in the bottom of the 125 million year old ocean bottom and collecting the fossilized shells!

Intrigued? You can do it, too! It's about 1.5 hour drive southwest of Columbus on I-71. Follow signs to Caesar Creek State Park Visitor's center, and you won't be disappointed.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Cincinnati, Part II, Findlay Market


Of course I couldn't go to Cincinnati without visiting the Findlay Market, right? My understanding family was nice enough to be dragged there despite the rain that was pouring down on us on Sunday morning (that was NOT in the forecast, but oh well). I had read a little about this public market in Edible Columbus' sister publication, Edible Ohio Valley. It was time to see it for myself.


Findlay market is tugged away in a small block in a sleepy neighborhood north of downtown Cincinnati. Like I said, it was raining, and it was early on Sunday morning, so it was not the most happening place in the city. But in some ways, it was a wonderful introduction to the market - we literally had it all to ourselves.


The inside of the market reminded me of a smaller version of the one in Cleveland we went to last winter. There were lots of meat vendors, bakeries, and even seafood stalls (a bit of a puzzle to me!). The German food culture influence is big here as well with lots of options for sausages, and German baked goods. Outside a very small farmers market braved the rain. We got some fresh staples to bring home as edible souvenirs.


Just outside of the covered market, more restaurants and shops lined the small streets. I have not felt this way about other places in Ohio (besides German Village), but the quaintness, the local food vendors, plus the colorful hanging baskets reminded me of small European villages I had visited in the past.


I can only imagine how lively and well attended the market would be on a warm sunny summer morning. I don't even need to see it to know, but I do hope to get back there again sometime to experience this place at its best.


Findlay Public Market
1801 Race Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202

Hours of Operation

9am to 6pm - Tuesday through Friday
8am to 6pm on Saturday
10am to 4pm on Sunday
Closed Monday

Findlay Market is open year-round.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Cincinnati, Part I


We took the slow way to Cincinnati.


I hardly ever make a hotel reservation the day of our arrival, but this time I did. The head cold that turned into something a bit more made it uncertain whether we should attempt a little road trip. But the weather was fine, and the travel bug in me had been very bothersome of to Cincinnati we went.


It was a brand new territory for all of us. Sadly, our daughter knew more about Cincinnati from reading and watching Kit Kittredge than anything else! We were determined to make it a pleasant drive (knowing that we could make it a short 2-hour trip the quick way), going first down to the first capital of Ohio, then southwest toward the Queen City.

The landscape changed about an hour into our journey. Rolling hills, corn fields, and big old barns peppered our views. We stopped for a picnic lunch at the Seip Mound, which also happened to be a rest area with picnic tables and well kept grounds. We had visited another of these interesting Hopewell sites before, so it was fun to see another.


Then we crossed the mighty Ohio river into Kentucky, only to cross it again a few minutes later when we entered the city from the south side. Our hotel was smack in the middle of downtown, right across from the fountain square. We gave up our car and did not need it again until we checked out 24 hours later.


Downtown Cincinnati had a quaintness to it. The streets are smaller (than Columbus), and there seemed to be a lot of restaurants and shops within walking distance of the fountain square. We wanted to visit the National Underground Railroad museum before they closed for the weekend which was also a quick block and a half walk from our hotel.


If you are a foreigner like me, you would learn a lot in a short period of time about the whole anti-slavery movement, the history of slave trades in the US, and beyond. It's an intense experience - probably a bit too much for our 7 year-olds. But my husband and I agree that it's never too early to teach children the importance of equality.


Just outside the museum entrance, several quotations are imprinted into the stone walk way. Our son asked for a piece of paper and a pencil. I want to write these down, he said. I want to remember them.

One of the quotations he chose was this:

"Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth."
~ George Washington.

Never too early, like I said.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Schacht Farm Market


To some, Canal Winchester might feel like a long way away. In reality, it's closer than you think. For those of us in Bexley, it's a quick ride down Hwy 33.


Farmlands appear as soon as you leave the city proper, and you feel like you have entered a simpler, unhurried world. Red barns, horses, and those struggling-to-grow corn fields due to a very wet spring, open up the landscape. My heart rate immediately slows down.


I had been to Schacht farm before several times. Today I had a vision of picking the last of their strawberries, to accompany their homegrown rhubarb stalks. "It's like a treasure-hunt now," said Lisa Schacht, co-owner of the farm. "They are there, but this is probably the last week of strawberries."


There were plenty of already-picked berries once we got to the farm stand, off of Gender Rd. heading north of town. We decided to bring those home instead of treasure-hunting in the mid-day sun. A healthy bunch of rhubarb also made it in our new basket ($2 a piece by the register!), among other goodies grown on the farm.


Those two peaches came from South Carolina, however. They were sweet and juicy, and were, naturally, devoured way before reaching home.

Schacht Farm Market
5950 Shannon Rd.
Canal Winchester, Oh 43110
Phone: 614-833-1932
Recording: 614-837-GOOD (4663)

April 17 through October 30, 2010
(Call about Holidays)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Columbus Rose Garden


Did you know that tucked away in the middle of Clintonville is one of the nation's best rose gardens?!


The air was cool this morning and the sun was bright. I knew that roses prefer this kind of weather over the scorching humid days that we had had the previous weeks. We had to get to the Rose Garden before the roses are done for the season!


Of course many other people had the same idea, but because the garden is rather sizable, it did not feel crowded. Rather, it was wonderful to see families, the young and the old, locals and visitors, meander about the garden. We all literally took a pause in our lives to smell the roses!


The heat and drenching stormy showers we had last week did harm a lot of the roses. But some strong ones powered through, and new buds are still bursting out with the sun. Each type of rose has a well-labeled sign, some of the names will make you smile even.  Our kids enjoyed deciding which ones they preferred. From the bright colors to the undeniably edible fragrances, the rose garden brought joy out of all of us.



Admission: Free
Park Hours: Daily, dawn to dusk.
Best Viewing Time: Peak Bloom mid-June and mid September.
Features: 13 acres of manicured gardens, 11,000 rose bushes, 350 varieties. Herb & Perennial gardens, Daffodil garden featuring over 1,000 varieties.
Directions: From I-71, exit on North Broadway, proceed West to High St., turn North on High Street, proceed approximately 1.5 miles north to the Whetstone Park entrance located at 3901 N. High St. Enter at this location, follow the park entry road to the lower parking lot. The Park of Roses is easily located and well signed from the lower parking lot. Wheelchair accessible.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Granville, revisited


It's been long overdue, a revisit to Granville, Ohio.


Last time I was here (my first visit to this quaint town reminiscent of New England), I promised my husband that I would introduce it to him soon. But alas, winter came, and so did spring. Here we are on the verge of summer, and we finally got to go as a whole family!


Granville has several positive reputations. The farmers market, Whit's custard, the Granville Inn, and Denison University campus all made it on our itinerary today.


What was brilliant was that we didn't even have to set foot on the ground when a genuine comment came from my life's partner.


"I get it now," he said. "I get what you mean." His eyes admired the beautiful tree-lined streets, the flower-filled porches and beautiful New England style homes. "It's peaceful here."


Granville had him before it even needed to say hello. How brilliant is that?