Monday, November 17, 2008

#21. Fun in Appalachia.

Southeast Ohio - name three cities - GO!

::chirp chirp::

Name one city? Exactly my thoughts, as I tried to explain to my friends where exactly I was headed last week with my husband, who managed to get a job interview in Jackson County. People seemed to understand when I said it was near Athens, where OU is located, but by 'near' we're talking 35 minutes southwestish, not quite to West Virigina.

Anyway, while he was away interviewing, I thought I'd busy myself by checking out some local landmarks.

What can I say? Bob Evans is an upscale dining experience in this neighborhood. I managed to find my way to a pretty state park, which the locals informed me was a heck of a lot prettier a few weeks earlier before the leaves all fell, but it was still nice and peaceful.

After my visit to Lake Alma State Park, I went in search of the Leo Petroglyph. This was heavily advertised in all the tourist brochures (ok the one tourist brochure) as one of the finest examples of Native American carving in sandstone.

Make no mistake, growing up, we were the family who took the educational vacations (castles, Washington D.C., Gettysburg, Colonial Williamsburg) instead of the lay-on-the-beach-eating-cheese-fries vacations, so I knew the excitment I was in for. But hey, time to kill and two hours from the nearest mall, so for the sake of my blogging duty and my three loyal readers, I bring you:

Yes, they are what I suppose are carvings in sandstone, but they've been traced in black paint, so other than the ones you can see printed on the sign, it's a little hard to distinguish the Fort Ancient Indians' work from that of more modern Graffiti Hoodlums.
It took, oh, two and a half minutes to view the whole site, which is protected from the elements by a roof and a wooden walkway around it. I know you all think I am just downplaying how spectacular the Leo Petroglyph really is, so if you feel the need to see it for yourself, just be warned that the site closes at dusk. Not that there is anyone within a five mile radius anyway, but the shelter is not lit, so you might have a hard time getting the full effect of the carvings.

Monday, November 10, 2008

#20. Cedar Point!

I wanted to do a post on Cedar Point ALL summer, but never managed to get around to it. Anyway, Cedar Point, America's Roller Coast, is one of my favorite places for a yearly pilgrimage for three reasons:
1. People Watching.

I do not know these people.

2. Happy Friar.

Best fries EVER.

3. Probably should mention the rides here somewhere.

Millennium Force - Pretty!

This year, the husband, my siblings and niece took a nice family trip, and stayed at one of the CP hotels. Sandcastle Suites, to be exact. It was just ok, but it was super nice to not have to drive home at the end of the day, exhausted, hungry and miles from a Taco Bell. It really wasn't bad to sleep six adults and a six year old, PLUS we got discounted admission to the park with our reservation.

We were actually lucky enough to go twice this year. It was hot and crowded the day of the family excursion, but later on in the season we went with friends, and pretty much walked right on to everything.

Anyway, I love the rollercoasters, I love the horribly caloric park food and I even enjoy watching probably the largest collection of crazy people in northern Ohio, outside of OLPH summer festival. At least in my experience. I am not looking forward to the day where I am old and get headaches and other aches and no longer enjoy the rides. I fear that day is quickly approaching, so I'm enjoying those spinny rides while I can, and you should too!

Everything else you need to know: .

Friday, October 24, 2008

#19. Get talked into participating in a potato pancake eating contest.

Every year, the third weekend of September, I look forward to either one of my best friend's weddings or Oktoberfest Zinzinnati. This year happened to be a year one of the bffs got married that weekend, so instead of spending Saturday night roaming the streets of downtown Cincinnati drunk and dressed like this:

I spent Saturday night standing up for one of my best friends as her maid of honor, drunk and dressed like this:

Pretty similar, no?

Anyway, missing my favorite Cincinnati event was made up for a few weeks later when we stumbled upon a fundraiser for the local Make-A-Wish Foundation chapter:
Oktoberfest TOLEDO!
Notice the appropriately placed haz-mat sign in the background.
It was a fun evening, despite the lack of Christian Moerlein OTR (beer of choice at Oktoberfest Zinzinnati). However, a couple of Warsteiners later (ok one) I found myself signing up for an all-you-can-eat potato pancake eating contest! I figured, hey, when will I ever have the chance to participate in a competitive eating competition? Sonya the Black Widow, I am not, but sometimes, you do things for the people you love:
And sometimes you do things because the people you love post embarrassing pictures of you on their blogs:


All in all, it was a fantastic evening. My mouth has finally recovered from being stuffed full of scalding hot potato pancake goodness, and I promise you, next year, that $50 gift card will be mine!

#18. How 'bout them apples?

I am almost ashamed to admit this, particularly since now that I think about it, I do remember learning in the seventh grade that not only was Johnny Appleseed the namesake of one of my favorite graces in Girl Scouts, he was also an actual person who roamed Ohio planting apple trees, but I just recently (ok, last year) learned that real, eating apples (not just crab apples) grow in Ohio.
And you can pick them!
Or rather, go somewhere, pay someone $14, and go out in their orchard and pick apples.
My friends and I were hoping to make this a fall tradition, but this year, despite it being 80 degrees the second week in October, was a little late for the self-pick. We did not leave disappointed though - the best part of 'apple picking' is the apple cider slushie and freshly made apple fritter you can enjoy afterward anyway! (These pics are from last year's expedition).

C is for CRUNK!

INFO: Macqueen Orchards - Holland, Ohio,, open year-round except major holidays. Pick your own apples the last week of September - second week of October.

Friday, October 10, 2008

#17. Spread good karma

Times are tough, my friends. This isn't unique to Ohio - everyone can use some good karma in their lives. For the next 29 days, I will be giving gifts to people. Check out the challenge here:

Thursday, October 9, 2008

#16. VOTE!

No matter where you live, voting is important. It's more fun in a swing state, like Ohio though!
My niece is too young to vote, but wants to encorage everyone to do their research, and make an informed decision!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I can explain everything!

Lately, I've been doing lots of fun things, in Ohio and otherwise, and admittedly have slacked off completely from this blog! Anyway, I was asked to guest post on a friend's blog (that isn't open to the public) so I've copied that post here. I bring you:

Childhood dreams fulfilled, aka something fun I did in Chicago because I bought the tickets before the Cleveland date was added:

I’ll admit, I’ve had a pretty exciting life up to now. I’ve lived abroad, and traveled pretty extensively, graduated college, worked about every type of job imaginable, gotten married… but something has always been missing. Until Saturday, that is.

In 1991, a certain, special band was embarking on their European tour. Alas, my mother decided a loud, crazy concert, two hours away was not the place for a couple of seven and nine-year-olds. Seventeen, yes, SEVENTEEN years later, my sister and I were finally able to realize our childhood dreams, and attend….


























I know what you are thinking.

And trust me, as someone who readily admits to having attended concerts by Nick Lachey, Jessica Simpson and Hanson, I don’t care. It was an AMAZING show. My hearing will never be the same; my vocal cords are still strained; and I still can’t believe I spent $8 for a beer. It was all worth it though, especially when Jordan ripped his shirt off to serenade me with “Baby I Believe in You”.

Sister: AMY! He has his shirt off!! Why aren't you taking pictures??
Amy: ::drool:: er... OHH!! OK!!!

I am also happy to report, that while the “Kids” are rapidly approaching 40 (except Joey, who is 36 – totally within an acceptable age range) they are still hot, and can still sing. Their new songs are catchy, and they played all the classics (albeit, in some cases, at a lower octave). Their comeback felt like old friends coming together, not a bunch of washed up old men who need to do one last tour to pay for their blood pressure medication (which was how it felt when I saw Vanilla Ice perform a free show at the Great Inland Seafood Festival in Newport, KY in 2005. I wish I were kidding.)

Joey even broke out the original smiley face jacket.

Hangin' Tough - no knee replacements here!

The concert was everything I hoped it would be, and it was the best feeling to forget about being an adult and all the fun grown-up problems of the world for a few hours. Plus, admit it. You were a fan too!

Economy-schmonomy... we're going to see New Kids on the Block!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

#15. Beer and Baseball.

If there was ever any doubt in anyone's mind that I was a true American, the fact that my idea of a perfect day is a cold beer at the ballpark should put that idea to rest. I am even so patriotic that I leave my pseudo-vegetarianism at home to partake in the deliciousness of stadium hotdogs. (I know, I know...)
So far this season, I've attended a Toledo Mudhens game, and three Indians games. I hope to make it to a Reds game as well this summer, to complete the trifecta. And to see if those macho chauvanists Mr. Red and Mr. Red Legs will let Miss Red win the freakin' race, EVER!! (Here is Mr. Ketchup kicking Onion and Mustard's asses in the hotdog race at Cleveland. I refuse to call it Progressive Field. Seriously? Gahh!)
GO TRIBE!!! Hopefully your offense shows up tonight, and the umps learn how to properly call a home run!!!!

Friday, April 25, 2008

#14. Shopping in Hyde Park Square

There are lots of cute boutiques and restaurants in Hyde Park Square. Two of my favorite shops are Knickers of Hyde Park and Originalities. Knickers is well, a lingerie shop. The owner is the sweetest person in the whole world, and super helpful. In addition to the undies, bras and nighties, Knickers sells cards, books, and fun gifts for pampering, brides and moms to be. They wrap gifts SO beautifully, you'll feel bad opening them!

Originalities features works by local artists. Definately check out the drawings of local Cincinnati churches, parks and hang outs.

INFO: Hyde Park Square, Erie Ave. and Edwards Rd., Cincinnati.

#13. Busken Bakery

Show me a person who doesn't like Busken cookies, and I'll show you a communist. Seriously. Who can resist smiley faces, or hearts/jack o'lanterns/christmas trees depending on the season?

INFO: Madison Rd. & Edwards Rd. Cincinnati, OH and other area locations. Open 24 Hours! (513) 871-2114.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

#12. Zip's Cafe

Zip's Cafe in the Mt. Lookout neighborhood of Cincinnati is one of my all-time favorite restaurants. Sure, it's just a hole in the wall burger joint, but these burgers have been known to be the downfall of many a vegetarian. In operation since 1926, Zip's consistently wins awards for the best burgers in the city. I once lived three doors up from Zip's, and it's amazing I didn't gain 87 million pounds. I have many happy memories of walking outside at night, and being greeted by the delicious aroma of onion rings. MMmmm!!

The menu is simple, but that's all part of the charm. On a recent visit to Zip's, I enjoyed a Zip Burger with cheese and pickles, and chili cheese fries. They also have black bean burgers, if you insist on remaining a vegetarian, awesome fish sandwiches, chili and macaroni and cheese. There is always a soup and dessert of the day.

There are several booths lining the walls, and long tables where you can dine in close quarters with Cincinnati's finest. The back room (and by room, I mean closet) has bar seating. Sitting back there guarantees you close access to all the beers on tap, but you won't get to see the train that runs around the ceiling ledge in the main part of the restaurant.

Zip's is packed every night for dinner, usually with a line out the door. It's worth the short wait to get a seat, and the staff is always friendly. Just make sure you watch out for your kids. According to a sign inside, "Unattended children will be given an espresso and a free puppy".

INFO: 1036 Delta Ave. Cincinnati, OH 45208. 513-871-9876.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

#11. Bridge Walking

When I started this blog, the orginal goal was to go out and experience all the fun things, new to me or otherwise, so I could write fresh blogs. Great idea I had to start this in the winter, right? Anyway, just for fun, today I bring you a fun thing from last summer, that was unfortunately a one-time event - walking the new 280 bridge in downtown Toledo.

I have this friend, J, who is amazing for several reasons, including her love of doing semi-nerdy things such as going to bridge dedication events. I had been excited about the bridge opening for a couple of weeks. The City powers that be were planning a fun run across the bridge, a dedication ceremony, and then the rest of the day, they would allow pedestrians to walk across it, before opening it to the first vehicles that evening. It sounded fun to me, but I feared my not so nerdy friends would think I had really lost it this time. Luckily, I received a phone call early in the morning, the day of the bridge spectacular. Normally, such a phone call on a Saturday morning would not be a welcome occurance, HOWEVER, it turned out to be J, asking me to not make fun of her, and would I be at all interested in attending said bridge festivities. Well OF COURSE I would!!!

We headed downtown, and found the special shuttle buses that would take us up on the bridge, let us off to walk across it, and then collect us at the other end to return us to the parking area. It was a beautiful day, and J and I (and some of her family who came as well) took tons of pictures, and relished in The Most Exciting Day in Toledo, 2007.

Monday, April 14, 2008

#10. The Jewel of Toledo

I have had good and bad experiences with Indian food, but I am pleased to tell you the Jewel was one of the good ones. There are only two Indian places in Toledo, which makes me miss Cincinnati, where there are decent Indian places all over the city. I could not wait for my appetizer, Aloo Tiki:

Now, if you're not familiar with Indian food, you'll find that a lot of it looks like green mush (usually saag (spinach)), orange mush (could be anything from masala to curry) or hot pink (tandoori chicken). I usually frequent the Indian buffets, which are sometimes labeled, sometimes not, and it usually doesn't matter anyway, since I am really bad at remembering the names of things.

Back to my appetizer - it was basically a samosa (potatoes and veggies), only less fried, covered in a spicy green sauce, and served over crispy wonton-ish strips, covered in yogurt and strawberry (maybe?) sauce. It sounds odd, but it was DELICIOUS!! Two of my dining partners ordered the aloo tiki, and one had the samosa appetizer.

On to the main course!! I usually get chicken tikka masala, which is kind of pathetic, since it's not really that authentic (it was invented in London, apparently), but I don't care, because it is damn tasty!!!! Also, half the time, I could say screw the chicken, and I'd just eat the sauce and rice for hours and hours (another reason I'm a fan of the buffet!) The Jewel serves the entrees in individual metal bowls, resting on candle holders, so the deliciousness is kept warm while you eat your first helping.

Next time I am going to be smart like my dining buddies, and order a glass of fresh mango juice. It was fabulous!! The Jewel's naan bread was also the best naan I've ever had. It was warm, buttery and soft - the perfect addition to my dinner.

I promise you, Indian food is fabulous!! At least try it once, for me. And take me with you, if you're around here!!

INFO: 6711 Airport Hwy Holland, OH 43528. 419-865-9500.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

#7b. Sunset Update 1

Tonight on my way home from dinner, I was distracted by the gorgeous sunset!! Right here in OHIO! The only problem was trying to find a spot where I could get a good picture of it. Here is attempt #1 anyway, at finding beautiful sunsets in the OH.

#9. Tony Packo's

This is the original Tony Packo's Cafe in Toledo. My boss prefers this one to the one downtown by the ballpark, because that one is, "filled with too many yuppy lawyer types" at lunchtime. I have to agree that there is some charm missing from the new ballpark Packo's, but the food is still the same.

Speaking of the food, Tony Packo's features Hungarian specialties, such as their signature hotdog with chili and pickles & peppers. I personally, am a fan of their stuffed cabbage. Their mac and cheese is tasty as well.

I think Packo's is great and all, but when I'm craving meat on meat, what I really want is Skyline Chili, which is still on my list of places to review. Trust me, an upcoming special is planned, but I need to drive myself 2ish hours away to get to a Skyline these days.

Tony Packo's is Toledo tradition at its finest. It was mentioned several times in the show M*A*S*H, and famous people from Jamie Farr to former presidents have eaten there, and signed their names on a hotdog bun to be memorialized on the wall forever.

Paired with a day at the zoo or a Mud Hens game, Tony Packo's definately gives you a taste you won't find anywhere else! You might have to be a true Toledoan to fall in love, but it's definately an experience to try.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

#8. The Ugly Duckling

One of the great things about this part of the world is all the fun local dives. The Ugly Duckling is one such place. The Duck (since we're all friends here, and are comfortable with nicknames) features typical bar food, chicken chunks with a billion toppings, and a pretty extensive beer list, considering that it's in the middle of nowhere, and to most people around here, Budweiser is a "fancy" beer.

You can even become FAMOUS at the Duck! For the small task of consuming ten chicken chunks coated with "Annihilation" flavor hot sauce, you can have your picture taken and posted on the wall! Just make sure to drown the flames with a nice Blue Moon, my Duck drink of choice.

The Duck also features daily specials, and as you can see from the picture, the special on Fridays is all you can eat perch. What more could you ask for?

Friday, April 4, 2008

#7. Watch beautiful sunsets?

A lot has been going on lately, so I apologize for the lack of blogging. I know you have all been on the edge of your seats, awaiting my latest update, and have been at a loss lately for fun things to. WELL, to start off with, I almost moved to Kentucky. How devastating that would have been for this blog, although I assure you, there are many fun things to do in Kentucky... such as tractor pulls... and the Kentucky Derby.... and well, I guess I don't have to worry about that now anyway, since it's not happening.

I have also been on vacation! The photo above was NOT taken in Ohio, rather, in Key West, Florida. One of the big draws down there is to go watch the sunset every night. While it is indeed lovely, I felt a bit silly clapping for something that happens EVERYWHERE, on a daily basis, but when you haven't eaten anything substantial, and you're on your second bucket o'rum, you tend to go along with things and not ask any questions.

The vacation was fun, but my snowbird days are over, and it's back to the OH. My mission though, is to find beautiful, northern sunsets. I know they exist. Sometimes, they are covered in gray gloom and doom and clouds, but they're out there. Stay tuned!!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

#6. Lenten Fish Frys

One of my favorite things to do during Lent is attend a local fish fry. For those of you who may not know, Lent is the time leading up to Easter, where one of the things Catholics to do prepare for Easter is give up meat on Fridays. As a sometimes-vegetarian, this isn't too hard for me, especially when the alternative is spending around $8 for a lovely plate of fish, a baked potato, coleslaw and macaroni and cheese!

Fish frys are also great, because you can attend them and just about any Catholic church, and it's fun to go around to the different ones nearby, and see how they all compare. There are always a wide range of friendly people to chat with while enjoying your fish, and going to different places every Friday ensures a fun new group of fish enthusiasts to converse with.

When I lived in (heavily Catholic) Cincinnati, the newspaper would publish a list of all the 'best' fish frys, and how they compared in categories such as price, all you can eat vs. one serving, and the variety of sides offered. In this town, it's all on me to decide where I should go each week, and who has the best value for money. Trust me, I don't mind a bit!