Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘travel’

Heartland Travel Showcase 2018

Foggy Buffalo

This foggy view from our hotel room featured the new Metro Rail.

Last week I had the opportunity to participate in the 2018 Heartland Travel Showcase to let others know about attractions and events in the Cambridge, Ohio area, and especially tell them about Dickens Victorian Village.  It’s always a pleasure to tell others about your hometown.

Buffalo, New York hosted the 2018 Heartland Travel Showcase. Arriving by coach with several other travel associates, we were greeted by a fog covered Buffalo due to warm temperatures and a still frozen Lake Erie.

Hyatt entrance

The lobby of the luxurious Hyatt Regency Hotel welcomed us.

After getting settled into the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Buffalo, it was time to have dinner with fellow travelers. These travel showcases are the perfect place to make new connections for future tours.

Tourism Reception

Barb, January and Carol enjoyed meeting friends at one of the receptions.

Heartland is where booking group travel is a Heart-to-Heart business. Numerous occasions provide a chance to network with others. It’s also the place where you can create a more personal relationship with possible clients during receptions and meetings.

Chocolate

A couple chocolate samples still untouched. The Goo Goo Cluster was created and distributed by the Grand Ole Opry.

Treats were non-stop from the time we stepped on the charter coach, where a box of chocolates were passed around. The Chocolate Tasting continued day after day with many chocolate treats being given in the form of candy or desserts.

Heartland Aisles

Exhibitor booths were placed in nine long aisles for ease of locating.

Contacts, leads, ideas and bookings are what Heartland is all about. With over two hundred exhibitors and sixty tour operators at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center, it’s a great chance to learn more about the travel industry as you meet new people and learn about their wants and needs.

Teddy Roosevelt

President Theodore Roosevelt told us about some of his accomplishments. Buffalo served as his Inauguration site after the assassination of Pres. McKinley.

An exciting forum gave newcomers a chance to learn from more experienced faces in the tour industry. Technology has changed the face of the industry as more publicity is being done via social media. They stressed the importance of promoting posts as well as using keywords to help people connect.

Potential Client

Cambridge tourism partners, Bev and Dixie, explain local attractions to a tour company.

Much of the three day session was spent one-on-one with tour directors meeting exhibitors and learning more about their places to visit. What a difficult job they would have in deciding as each place sounded like the perfect place for a group tour.

Dinner guests

Exhibitors Mary, Mary and Chris sparkled during an evening reception at the Lafayette Brewery.

You could schedule up to forty meetings with various group leaders. The rest of the time was spent either visiting other people’s booths or talking to people who stopped by your booth. Communication about travel was the name of the game.

Return Bus

Three days later, the coach was loaded for the return trip home.

The event definitely spread the word about an event or destination. Most attending say it is their favorite travel show of the year. It is one of the friendliest places you can imagine.

Buffalo Skyline

This painting of the skyline of Buffalo hung in the walkway to the Convention Center.

Shuffle off to Buffalo or your favorite travel destination sometime soon. New places await your exploration.

The International Peace Garden May Peace Prevail on Earth

Opened on July 14, 1932 the International Peace Garden on the border of Canada and the USA near Dunseith, North Dakota is the world’s largest unfortified border, “Like No Other Place On Earth”. It encompasses 2,300 acres of botanical gardens and on a stone caim on the border are inscribed these words:

TO GOD IN HIS GLORY,
we two nations
dedicate this garden
and pledge ourselves
that as long as men
shall live, we will
not take up arms
against one another.

What a great thought all those years ago as a symbol of friendship between the two nations.

The sounds of bell chimes faintly echo every fifteen minutes from the Veterans Memorial Bell Tower.  The nearby 120′ concrete Peace Tower has four columns symbolizing the four corners of the world from which thousands of immigrants arrived in Canada and the United States to make better lives for themselves. Two of the columns are in Manitoba, Canada while the other two columns are in North Dakota.  The foundation symbolizes one solid base of democratic beliefs between the two countries.

The Peace Chapel provides the perfect place to sit down and relax, meditate, or read the positive thoughts written on the walls. The Peace Chapel has been a long time project of area members of the Order of the Eastern Star and is the only building which straddles the United States and Canadian border. While the chapel is a simple building, the addition of amber glass windows from France gives it a soft, golden, peaceful glow.

The three encircling walls into which quotations have been engraved were one of the special features that grabbed my attention. All quotations were either spoken or written by great men of peace throughout history. Some of the limestone walls still have embedded fossils of strange marine life, which had been molded into the bed of a tropical sea in the Manitoba region millions of years ago.

Flower beds are around every corner here, but two displays that have been constant from the beginning are beds forming the United States and Canadian flags.  A beautiful International Peace Garden Floral Clock actually works and was originally donated by Bulova in 1966. This original was designed as a replica of the famous Bulova Floral Clock in Berne, Switzerland, but inner workings were replaced in recent years by a clock from St Louis, Missouri.  The clock contains over 2,000 flowers with the design changing yearly, and reminds visitors to take time for the peaceful feeling surrounding the gardens.

Just down the road in the Turtle Mountains near Dunseith, North Dakota is the largest man-made turtle in the world. Constructed of nearly 2,000 wheel rims, this “W’eel Turtle made from Wheels” has a head that actually bobs up and down. While the turtle is nearly forty feet long, its head alone weighs almost a ton! Stop and visit this tire rim sculpture at Dale’s Thrifty Barn – a gas-station, cafe, and motel in Dunseith, North Dakota. Little extras like this always bring a smile.

Turtle Mountains seem to be a perfect location for the International Garden of Peace as the slow movement of the turtle gives a relaxed and peaceful feeling just like the gardens. May peace prevail in your world as well. We should all attempt to be more like the turtle… at ease in our own shell.

The International Peace Garden in North Dakota can be reached by taking I-29 North in North Dakota to Exit 203.  Take Route 81/281 West to Dunseith where 281 bends North to the Canadian border.  This is a beautiful back-road drive away from the crowds.

Colorful Hot Air Balloon Festival Up, Up and Away

“Up, up and away, my beautiful, my beautiful balloon” could be the theme song for any hot air balloon festival.  Even though there wasn’t a chance to hit the skies personally, it still was a pleasure to watch the colorful balloons take to the air at the 31st annual Coshocton Hot Air Balloon Festival. The scene in the middle of the Coshocton Fairgrounds doesn’t appear very exciting at first glance…just filled with trucks and trailers. But this would all change before the evening was over.  This scene could occur at two times of the day since just before sunset or near sunrise are the best two times for flying.

Seems that man has always wanted to fly! The first hot air balloon ascended way back in 1783 in France.  The Montgolfier brothers, paper manufacturers, created a special balloon using a combination of linen and paper. Capturing the magical smoke from the fire, they were able to  lift a basket, for about fifteen minutes, carrying animals: a sheep, duck and rooster. At Coshocton Fair Grounds, the Montgolfier name lives on through a business called Montgolfier Balloon Gift Shoppe, where you can find everything imaginable for the balloon enthusiast.

The father of modern day ballooning, Ed Yost, made the sport more practical by building the balloon from nylon, later taffeta, and heating the air inside with a propane burner. The Balloon Works developed a parachute valve so the amount of air inside could be controlled to vary altitude and even land. Rattan wicker baskets carry pilot, passengers, propane tanks, and equipment needed to control the balloon. A variometer shows vertical speed, a digital temperature gauge reflects balloon and air temperatures, and an altimeter tells how high the balloon is above sea level.

In the center of the track is a flag pole with a red flag hanging, which indicates the launch isn’t ready to proceed. Sometimes shows must be cancelled if weather analysis determines there is either not enough wind to fly or if the wind direction is constantly changing. But tonight the wind blows favorably and the crowd cheers as the flag is changed to green. It’s  time for the men to start blowing up the balloons with their handy propane tanks. Anticipation is the name of the game as each balloon is stretched out on the ground, slowly filled with gas, and finally launched into the sky.

Out in the countryside, two targets have been placed to make the evening a little more challenging. Whoever comes the closest to these targets will receive the highest score. Just being part of this spectacular balloon launch would be reward enough. Approximately twenty balloons headed for the hills to see where they would land, which basically depends on where the wind takes them. The only real control the pilot has is to either make the balloon ascend or descend by controlling the heat in the balloon.

At dusk,  a special Night Glow lit up the evening sky while the balloons were anchored instead of being launched. This spectacular sight is created as the  hot air balloon burners illuminate the colorful fabrics of the balloons against the twilight sky. Only six groups participated in the finale here, but displayed some beautiful synchronized lighting patterns.

The only way this day could have been more spectacular is to have been riding in one of the baskets below the hot air balloons. Perhaps someday you can experience the thrill of soaring through the air as there are places in Ohio. such as Hot Air Balloon Rides, that have some pretty exciting trip packages. Look for a hot air balloon launching wherever you happen to live or visit.

The Irish, in typical tradition, added this toast to hot air ballooning, which describes the journey very accurately:

The winds have welcomed us with softness.                                                                           The sun has blessed us with it’s warm hands.                                                                         We have flown so high and so well                                                                                             that God has set us gently back                                                                                                           into the loving arms of mother earth.        

Come fly with me!. As you soar into the air like a bird on the wing and feel the touch of the air on your skin, relax and enjoy the serenity of this beautiful adventure.

Every June, The Coshocton Hot Air Balloon Festival is held at the Fairgrounds in Coshocton, Ohio. Coming into Coshocton on Route 36 , exit at Roscoe Village then proceed over the bridge on Chestnut Street past the courthouse. Make a left turn on 7th Street and after several blocks you will arrive at the Coshocton Fair Grounds on the left side of the street. 

Cambridge Glass Company: Quality Heritage Preserved


Elegance of a bygone era is evident at The National Museum of Cambridge Glass, which is near downtown Cambridge, Ohio. Here you will find over 6000 pieces of handcrafted quality glassware – some of the finest in the world.

Cambridge Glass Company was founded back in 1902 with Arthur James Bennett, a glassmaker from Boston, as its president.  Cambridge was chosen as the site of this new venture because of its easy access to natural gas wells and coal mines, as well as railroads to bring in supplies and deliver the finished products. To get those furnaces blasting hot, they even had their own coal mine at Near Cut. Due to the intense heat of those furnaces, it was quite common to work early in the morning during the summer months so temperatures were a little cooler.

How many people do you think handled an elegant piece of glass from start to finish? That number could run as high as seventy five individuals! All of them were extremely proud to be part of this high quality product.

Back in 1973, a group was formed to establish this museum to display, study, and preserve the history of Cambridge Glass Co. At that time they created a revised logo based on the original one used by Cambridge Glass, but added the beginning and ending dates of operation.

Upon entering the museum, the beautiful colors and designs sparkle in rows and rows of showcases. Guides are on hand to explain the history of the glass making process at Cambridge Glass Company from 1902-1958. Back in 1902, the first dazzling piece produced was a crystal water pitcher, the Big X, which is on display at the museum.

One great place to begin your tour is in the Auditorium where they have a short video showing the glass making process. Here you will view actual films of work at Cambridge Glass back in the 1940s. These color enhanced films show workers of that time gathering, shaping, etching and engraving their beautiful glass pieces. There are also on display several original pieces of equipment, which were used at Cambridge Glass Company.

Etched glass attracts the eye of almost everyone who appreciates the beauty of fine hand workmanship. Some of the etched patterns have real gold fused on the glass for trim. as well as gold in the intricate pattern of the etchings. Rose Point is the most popular etching with elaborate wild roses midst vines and leaves. Rose Point is the most collected pattern and while it is usually in crystal, it can be found rarely in other colors.  The guides will often let you experience the method of etching using templates from Cambridge Glass.

The interpretive area sheds light on the history through an interesting display of tools and molds used during their productive years. Here you see an office worker overlooking the time sheets, an engraving table with a high tech bucket cooling system, and the popular glass blower. The addition of color to the glass made Cambridge Glass even more sought after as a collector’s item. As early as 1903, colors of Opal, Turquoise, Blue, Green and Amber were being produced, but not very extensively. Gradually more colors were added and in the early 30s a glass chemist created some of the most popular colors for collectors today.  Everyone has their favorite, but one of the most popular colors  is Crown Tuscan, a flesh colored pink milkglass, while other favorites are Carmen, Royal Blue or Amethyst.

Department stores in that era used Cambridge Glass in their displays for various reasons. These stores used glass holders to display their perfumes and millinery, as well as sparkling glassware displays. Some of the items that are in the museum today were actually purchased from Chicago and New York department stores.

The gift shop has actual pieces of Cambridge Glass for sale as well as books. A recent addition has been jewelry and Christmas ornaments made from broken pieces of Cambridge Glass that have been refinished, making each piece unique.   One of my favorites is a necklace purchased there a couple years ago made from the milkglass wing of a Cambridge Glass swan.  Special memories are included since my father worked at Cambridge Glass from the age of twelve as a carrying-in boy, and later as a presser, finisher and glassblower until the plant closed.

Add some sparkle to your life and stop by The National Cambridge Glass Museum to view fascinating local history. Join visitors from all over the world while you learn more about the rich heritage of glassmaking in the Cambridge area.

The National Museum of Cambridge Glass is located in Cambridge, Ohio on 136 South  Ninth Street, just half a block off Wheeling Avenue. Head to downtown Cambridge off any Cambridge exit near the crossroads of I-77 and I-70. The easily recognizable Cambridge Glass logo is on the front of the museum. The museum is open from April 1st through October 31st, Wednesday through Saturday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Sunday Noon – 4 p.m.  Admission is very reasonable at $5 per adult and $4 for senior.  Children under twelve are free when accompanied by an adult.  If you have any questions regarding the museum, call 740-432-4245. Visit their website at www.cambridgeglass.org .

Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island

Nearly 100 years in bloom ! Fifty acres of beautifully landscaped floral beds capture your attention as you wander along the meandering paths through Butchart Gardens near Victoria, British Columbia.  The Canadians certainly created a masterpiece here on Vancouver Island.

Robert and Jennie Butchart, pioneers in the manufacture of Portland Cement, came to Vancouver Island in 1904 because of rich limestone deposits needed for cement production. A few years later, the limestone quarry was exhausted so Mrs. Butchart pictured it replaced with a beautiful garden.  Being transported by horse and cart, tons of top soil were placed on the floor of the quarry.  Little by little the floor blossomed into the spectacular Sunken Garden, which is one of the exquisite spots at Butchart Gardens.

While Mrs. Butchard enjoyed planning her garden, Mr. Butchard collected ornamental birds from all over the world. A parrot lived in their house, peacocks strutted across the front lawn, and birdhouses were placed strategically throughout the garden.

Totem poles carved by artists of the Tsartlip and Tsawout First Nations are a recent addition to the gardens. Totems are very symbolic and designed to tell a story, quite often starting at the bottom. This particular totem tells a story about Butchart Gardens. The bottom figure represents all the people who come to the gardens. In the center is carved a whale, symbolizing the fact that people traveled from afar to arrive here. On top is the mystical, yet powerful, thunderbird, which watches over the gardens and protects it with his outstretched wings.

In 1939, the Butcharts gave the gardens to their grandson, Ian Ross  for quite the spectacular 21st birthday present. Ross Fountain was installed on the 60th Anniversary of the gardens. The Ross Pond with fountain looks great at any season, or any time of the day or night. Today the gardens are still family owned with great-granddaughter, Robin-Lee Clarke, being the present owner/manager.

Through a floral covered archway, visitors find themselves in the relaxing Italian Garden, which includes a dining area where you can sit outside or enjoy the view of the beautifully landscaped pond from inside. Afternoon tea outside under the beautiful hanging baskets, and plants cascading from window boxes, is a scrumptious experience.

Butchart Gardens is delightful every season of the year, which seems quite surprising for Canada. But the gardens are located on the coast so their weather is a little milder than what we might imagine Canada to experience. Beautiful Night Illumination occurs each evening, when the garden looks magical with the flickering lights. Saturday Fireworks draws such large crowds, people sometimes wait in line for hours to get inside the gates.

Every year millions visit these gardens at all seasons of the year in one of the loveliest corners of the world.  Maybe you will get a chance sometime soon to visit there too. During my last visit in the summer when glorious blossoms were at their peak, they even offered me a job in their greenhouse or gift shop.  See you there?

Butchart Gardens can easily be reached from every direction on Vancouver Island. Start out on Route 17, then turn west on Keating X Road, which becomes Benvenuto Avenue and leads directly to the gardens. Cruise ships frequently stop at Vancouver Island and offer transportation to the gardens as well.

Mysterious Bigfoot Legend – Skeptic or Believer?

“Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” This quote from distinguished astronomer, Dr Carl Sagan, is popular with Bigfoot investigators. They are still searching for more clues that will prove their Bigfoot theory.

Guernsey County, Ohio is one of those “hot spots” for Bigfoot investigators.  Annually, the Ohio Bigfoot Conference gathers informative speakers to share their adventures with the gathering crowd.  The 2012 conference was held at Pritchard Laughlin Civic Center near Cambridge, Ohio after previously being held at Newcomerstown and then Salt Fork Lodge. The move was partially made to accommodate the growing attendance as last year at Salt Fork they overflowed the conference room and many were  forced to watch the program on big screen TVs in the lobby.  The Bigfoot enthusiasts have increased from less than a hundred in 1989 to over seven hundred at present.

The goal of the Ohio Bigfoot Organization is to find, recognize, and protect what many believe to be an unclassified primate, commonly known as Bigfoot, and residing in North America.

A highlight of the meeting this year was the appearance of legendary Bigfoot seeker, Peter Byrne, who fascinated visitors in the lobby with his Bigfoot stories. Peter, the star of the show, has led professional expeditions in search of Yeti and Bigfoot.  His book, The Search for Bigfoot, tells of his fascinating life exploring since 1946 in the Himalayas for Yeti, the Himalayan version of Bigfoot.  Even though he is 86 years old, Peter still has a curious mind and continues his search for Bigfoot on the Oregon Coast.

Before the scheduled speakers, curious visitors checked out tables in the lobby with lots of unusual items. Of course, there were videos of possible sightings as well as plaster casts of large footprints left behind by something or someone. Lengths of these footprints average about 16″ long, but some range up to 22″, and are much wider than a human footprint.

Soaps and lotions carried the name Sasquatch, the Canadian Bigfoot rendition. One popular soap made in Canada bore the title Sasquatch Sweat Soap – Guaranteed not to grow hair. Sasquatch Sweat Cream was also available. Not certain if their purpose was to repel or attract Bigfoot.   There were even cookies for sale shaped like…yes, you guessed it, Bigfoot.

The first speaker of the day was past president, Don Keating, who led this conference for 23 years. He first heard of Bigfoot in 1984 from a story in the Newcomerstown News that told of strange sightings of a large, hairy creature in and around the Newcomerstown area. Later Don began investigating some of the unusual sightings he heard from neighboring Guernsey County as well – glowing red eyes, large footprints, and very tall creatures.

Salt Fork Lake area became one of those places where frequent strange events seemed to occur. Often something eerie seemed to be happening at Hosak’s Cave in the late evening hours, especially when there was a full moon.  For their safety, people were even strongly advised to leave the area by park rangers.

When Don Keating said he was leaving his president’s position to devote more time to his weather research, someone in the audience asked an interesting question: “Do you find predicting the weather a lot like investigating Bigfoot?” To which Don answered, “With both, you put your neck on the line.”

Grabbed a Bigfoot cookie to munch while listening to additional speakers which included: Dr John Bindernagel, wildlife biologist; Bill Draginis, surveillance and security expert; and Mike Esordi, crypto zoologist with artistic abilities. All are active in Bigfoot research and frequently share their knowledge through lectures around the world.

Whether you believe in the existence of Bigfoot or not, you could hear some interesting adventures at the conference. Maybe some evening you will want to spend the night at Salt Fork State Park. If you listen carefully, you might hear strange calls, branches breaking in the woods, or rocks being thrown into the lake. Could these sounds be made by Bigfoot?  Keep your eyes and ears open!

Salt Fork State Park is located just five miles north of Cambridge, Ohio just off Route 22. I-70 and I-77 intersect close by so you will have easy access to the area.  While in town, stop at Mr. Lee’s or Theo’s Restaurant as both have delicious home cooked meals at reasonable prices.

Will Mount St Helens Erupt Again?

Earthquakes! Steam explosions! Molten lava!  All of these were present during the 1980 awakening and subsequent eruption of Mount St Helens in Washington. Today this area, home of the largest volcanic landslide in recorded history, is designated as Mount St Helens National Volcanic Monument as a place for research, recreation and education.

Johnston Ridge Observatory, just one of the visitors’ centers, was a great place to start exploring. Their theater showed great footage of the 1980 eruption. Here you also found first hand accounts of individuals who were actually in the vicinity that day. Of particular interest were the machines that recorded the seismic activity presently occurring.

There were several trails leading up the side of Mount St Helens, which appeared mostly barren being covered with ashes. You could walk among the fallen trees that were flattened by the blast. If you felt braver and went a little farther, you could even see vehicles and heavy logging equipment that was damaged when Mount St Helens blew her top. Took the path as far as was permitted at that time. The hiking trails stay open according to the mood of the volcano.  When she is steaming or spewing forth lava, they obviously need to be closed. But what a thrill to get as close as possible to the top of Mount St Helens.

The 1980 eruption left behind a trail that is still visible today. Due to the force of rocks and ice, trees in the lava path were struck down like bowling pins.  Today they still lay there on the ground but the forestry department has gradually handplanted new seedlings amongst the fallen trees.

From 1986 – 2004, the mountain slumbered until in 2004 earthquakes rippled through the earth. Later that year a smaller eruption began and about a dump truck load of lava oozed out of Mount St Helens every second thus slowly rebuilding the mountain.  By 2011 the amount of lava oozing from the mountain was reduced to a dump truck load every fifteen seconds.  If the eruptions would continue at their present rate, the mountain would be back to its original height in about 180 years.

During the 1980 blast, everything within miles was covered with ash from the volcano.  So suppose it was easy for the ash to be gathered and sold as souvenirs.  Still have a pen said to contain ash from that volcanic eruption.The entire landscape has changed from that 1980 blast. New river routes have been formed and even new lakes. Here you see a real change of scenery due to the awesome power of nature.  Will a major eruption happen again? Probably not in our life time, as most volcanoes erupt every 100-300 years.  The future holds hope for reforestation and rebuilding…unless another eruption occurs sooner than expected.

Hope your life will erupt with much happiness, and may you spread that happiness for miles around.

Mount St Helens National Volcanic Monument is located in Washington approximately 96 miles south of Seattle, Washington and 50 miles northeast of Portland, Oregon. One easy access route is from I-5, Exit 68 onto the Spirit Lake Memorial Highway/ WA 504. This route passes through the various visitors’ centers and into the center of the original blast zone.  

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.

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

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