Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Archive for April, 2012

Relax at Salt Fork State Park

Warm weather in Ohio sends people outdoors, even on an overcast day.  One of their favorite spots near Cambridge in southeastern Ohio is Salt Fork State Park, Ohio’s largest state park. This lake is a rather recent creation and those past fifty can still remember when farm land covered this area with  Salt Fork Creek running through it. Back in 1967, the earthen dam was completed here and the filling of the lake began.

Vacationing at the lake has many possible accommodations: camping, renting a cottage or staying at the lodge. The campground sites all supply electrical hook-ups and nearby is a heated shower house.  Only a few sites provide sewer and water hook-ups as well. If you prefer a cottage, several are available with hillside and lakeside locations.  All of the cottages are completely furnished with a screened-in porch, and even include kitchen utensils.

Others prefer the comfort and convenience of Salt Fork Lodge. This beautiful stone lodge with its pine beams sets high above the lake in the rolling hills of Southeastern Ohio. Frequently used for meetings as well as vacations, the lodge contains a wonderful dining area as well as beautiful stone fireplaces that give you a warm feeling no matter what the season. Indoor and outdoor swimming pools provide entertainment all year long. Outside you will find a fantastic playground for the youngsters as well as tennis, volleyball, basketball and shuffleboard courts, so there is little excuse for anyone to be bored.

Just a half mile down the road is the entrance to the 18-hole championship golf course, which is a challenge in these rolling hills so a golf cart is highly recommended.  Deer are frequent visitors on the golf course and don’t seem the least bit afraid of golfers. Here you will also find a pro shop, putting green, and driving range.

Of course, no lake would be complete without a beach and Salt Fork’s 2500 foot beach is one of the longest inland beaches in Ohio.  Everyone has plenty of room to enjoy swimming or building castles in the sand. When you want a break from the beach, stop by the concession stand, grab some clubs to play miniature golf, or tour the nice Nature Center in the main bathhouse building.

Two marinas provide storage for boats year round and some years you must get your reservations in early to claim a spot. Otherwise, ten easy access ramps   accommodate boat trailers.  No boat of your own? Be assured a variety of rental boats are available. There is even a pontoon tour boat to take you and your guests around the lake for an enjoyable time on the water.

Fourteen hiking trails range from easy to moderate in difficulty, so just about everyone can enjoy the hike. One popular trail leads to Hosak’s Cave formed by interesting rock layer erosion, which has also created small waterfalls. Along the path you will find beautiful wildflowers, hear the songs of many birds and relax to the calming sound of the bubbling brook. If you are lucky, a wild turkey might cross your path or even a deer.

A longer trail leads to Kennedy Stone House where they have restored the only house left standing when Salt Fork Park was created.  This historic stone structure was built in 1837 through the plans of Benjamin Kennedy of Ireland. Stones used were quarried from the hills nearby and shaped with detail so they fit tightly together to make a sturdy structure that still stands after 175 years. Original cost was only $600, which was quite a bargain even long ago. Recently a road has been cut down to the house so you can now drive there also, but most find it more exciting to approach from the trail or even from a boat.  Call ahead and see if you can schedule a tour.

Sunsets are always beautiful over the water and Salt Fork Lake is no exception. What a great way to end the day or begin the evening.  Salt Fork State Park is a fun filled place for a family vacation as it has varied activities for all age groups. If you are lucky enough to live in the area, enjoy a day at the beach or a ride on the lake anytime. The lake is also a great place to do nothing – just sit by the water and watch the waves from the boats passing by, or the motion of tree branches blowing in the wind.  Relax and enjoy!

Salt Fork State Park is located just six miles north of Cambridge, Ohio on Route 22. Once you turn left into the main entrance of the park, watch for wooden signs along the way that lead you to the various places of interest.

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Amazing Scenery Along the Pacific Coast Highway

The surprises kept coming on the beautiful Pacific Coast Highway, which began in Washington and continued along the edge of the Pacific Ocean through Oregon and California, stopping at San Diego. Meandering roads kept driving speeds at 15-20 mph, or perhaps it was partly due to the spectacular views. When driving and watching the scenery at the same time, slower speeds were definitely required especially with many steep cliffs at the ocean’s edge.

With beaches galore and piers aplenty, Pacific Coast Highway, also known as America’s Most Beautiful Drive, renewed your spirit and your senses, as you encountered many unusual scenes along the way. This curving highway passed right  through the awesome giant redwoods on a stretch called Avenue of the Giants.This was the place where trees were large enough for a car to drive through or even have a gift shop inside. Words can not describe the wonder of these giants as you attempted  to look skyward  to see their highest branches. These towering trees, rock formations and ocean waves made you realize the power of Mother Nature and the role she plays in our beautiful world.

Even on a foggy morning, the picturesque combination of mountainous cliffs  on one side, and the waves crashing against the rocks on the other, made your heart beat just a little faster. After spotting a sign that said Pebble Beach Golf Links, thought the golfers in my family would be happy to know I stopped for a visit, as this is home to some of the world’s most prestigious golf tournaments.  Evidently it was a day without a tournament scheduled, as admission was granted to drive up to the luxurious lodge and even to walk on the course. My camera definitely wanted to snap a picture of the famous 18th green to prove my story wasn’t fiction.

Near Big Sur the mountains seemed to plunge into the Pacific. Unusual black rock formations rose out of the water to create amazing and different views around each bend of the road.  . These towering black rocks made a sharp contrast against the constant waves of the Pacific and the blue sky. Surfers in their wetsuits rode the waves and kayaks bounced across the ocean. A couple young men enjoyed hang gliding and the winds must have been perfect that day as they were airborne  for a very long time.  Might have to try that on another trip to experience the sensation of flying! Everywhere you felt the happiness of people relaxing from the cares of the day.

There was no resisting the temptation to find a place to pull off the road and walk on the beaches. Leave your shoes behind so you can feel the power of the waves wash over your feet. Two golden labs approached with a frisbee in their mouth so ended up the day playing catch with the labs.  Memories of the ocean will live on, long after the footprints in the sand are gone.

The Pacific Coast Highway, Highway 1, begins in Oxnard, Washington and continues along the coast through Oregon into California all the way to San Diego. Sometimes Highway 101 bends inland so watch carefully if you want to enjoy the scenic journey along the coastal region.

Dickens Universal Begins Refurbishing

The sounds of power tools, sewing machines and vacuums fill the air as volunteers have their first work session at Dickens Universal, the new storage home for Dickens Victorian Village  in Cambridge, Ohio. This was former home to Universal Potteries founded in 1934 where beautiful pieces of dinnerware, tiles and even bricks were created and are collectors items today.  Plans for tours of the facility are underway for both bus groups and area residents. Even a trolley tour is planned for the next Dickens season.

Quite often the question is asked: How do you create this amazing display? No doubt it all begins with the amazing volunteers who help all year long. Many of the mannequins need restored so damage can be repaired from the winds and precipitation of winter months on the street. The figures are torn apart, repaired and reassembled anytime problems are noted. One may have a broken leg needing repaired, while another needs new buttons on their coat. All of this takes time and patience from many volunteers, who take pride in the finished products and the enjoyment it brings many visitors.

Quite an accumulation of clothing is available for use on the mannequins through kind donations from area residents and even from those who have visited during the Dickens season. Thrift shops are frequently visited by the volunteer crew to seek treasures that might be used on the figure displays.  This first night someone brought in a great pair of work boots, which may be used in a blacksmith scene. Another item was a beautiful shawl to wrap around one of the ladies,  plus a blanket, which will be cut into several pieces and hemmed, for use as a throw where the figures are sitting.

 Another area is filled with Dickens figures sitting on table tops awaiting repair to faces that had too much winter weather. This particular face has cracks caused by the wind, rain and snow of last winter and will be repaired and repainted by local artists before the new season begins.

One group removed platform attachments for dresses and  the snow-like covers,  so platforms could be repaired and perhaps mannequins moved from setting to setting.  Some volunteers were vacuuming figures and settings so that people could work on them more easily while another group of ladies were busy cutting and sewing dresses, blankets, and coats. Dickens Universal is without question a busy place!

In the center of Dickens Universal is a long, long room which they call Main Street. Here you see the figures as they will appear on Wheeling Avenue in downtown Cambridge next Dickens season, and in their proper order. This makes it easy when scenes are being switched around so they can see exactly how they are going to appear in the actual downtown setting. With nearly 200 mannequins, this is no easy task.

The Spirit of Cambridge rivals the Spirit of Christmas as many volunteers prepare for another Dickens season.  One lady remarked, “The average person has no idea how much work goes on behind the scenes to make this come to life during the winter months.”

Maybe someday soon you will get a chance to take a peek inside Dickens Universal as they create Christmas from long ago.  Once you see the friendly atmosphere and experience the wonder of the project, maybe you too will want to help make this another successful year for Dickens Victorian Village.  See you soon?

Open by appointment only.  If you have any questions or suggestions please email: info@dickensvictorianvillage.com

Hell’s Half Acre Doorway to Nuclear Testing Facility

Nothing here but rocks! Hell’s Half Acre is a lava field several thousand years old where lava just oozed out of the ground over two hundred plus acres.  Early in the 1800’s on the Snake River Plain in southeastern Idaho, fur traders looking for passage through the Rocky Mountains stumbled upon this rugged land and named it Hell’s Half Acre.  That term was commonly used at that time to describe rough land.

There was some plant growth in this desolate region, and it was pretty amazing to walk over an old lava field. Caution had to be used as there were deep fissures to avoid, as well as frequent rattlesnakes. This uninhabited plain looks barren except for a few wild horses, and is the perfect place for the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory. Since 1949, more nuclear reactors, over fifty of them, have been built on this plain than anywhere else in the world. The first nuclear power plant was located here just south of Arco, Idaho.

Arco was the first city in the world to be lit by atomic energy way back in 1955. The power was generated by the Experimental Breeder Reactor No. 1 to a reactor close by, known as the Borax III, located on the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory. This was only a temporary solution to their power situation, however, as the reactor suffered a partial meltdown – another world’s first!

Be sure to visit the Experimental Breeder Reactor No. 1 – Atomic Museum on US 20/26. Here in this block building, EBR-1 became the first power plant to generate electricity from atomic energy. They actually made plutonium-239 in the block building where the museum is now located. Inside you could see four nuclear reactors, remote handling devices for radioactive material, and lots more.

Outside you could view the Heat Transfer Reactor Equipment, which was the engine used to transfer nuclear power to a conventional program. Plans were being considered in 1947 for nuclear power to be used as fuel for planes. Since the runway for take-off needed to be about 15,000 feet, the empty plains nearby seemed the perfect place to locate this facility.  But due to advances in conventional aircraft engine design plus public concerns about nuclear reactors flying over their homeland, this project was shelved in 1960.

If interested in the history of nuclear energy, this is an educational stop. The museum is open each Summer and you can either take a self-guided tour or have one of the tour guides fill you in on the importance of EBR-1.   Experiments here paved the path for nuclear energy for the entire world and consequently, it is now a National Historic Landmark. See how it all began!

To reach Hell’s Half Acre in Idaho take I-15 to the Blackfoot Rest Area exit 93, which is southwest of Idaho Falls and just five miles east of Blackfoot.  Here there is a parking area on both sides of the interstate where you have easy access to two walking trails. You can choose a 1 1/2 mile loop or a longer 4 1/2 mile loop. Both are a little on the rough side though partially paved. The Atomic Museum is located west of here on the south side of U S Highway 26. Arco is just a few miles northwest on U S 20/26. Have an explosive experience!

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