Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Malabar Farm State Park

As we drove around Mohican State Park, we noticed signs for Malabar Farm State Park.  We didn't know  about Malabar Farm so I did a little research.  I was glad I did, as our visit there was very enjoyable and topped a wonderful week in Amish Country.

Malabar Farm in Pleasant Valley was the dream of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Louis Bromfield. I had never heard of Louis Bromfield, so I did a little research on him also. One of Mansfield, Ohio's most famous natives, his home was Malabar Farm near Lucas, Ohio, from 1939 until his death in 1956.  Bromfield studied agriculture at Cornell University from 1914 to 1916, but transferred to Columbia University to study Journalism. His time at Columbia would be short lived and he left after less than a year to go to war. After serving with the American Field Service in World War I and being awarded the Croix de Guerre and the Legion of Honor, he returned to New York City and found work as a reporter. In 1924, his first novel, The Green Bay Tree, won instant acclaim. He won the 1927 Pulitzer Prize for best novel for Early Autumn, which I purchased and if I get these blogs caught up, I will let you know if it is any good or not. All of his 30 books were best-sellers, and many such as The Rains Came and Mrs. Parkington, were made into successful motion pictures.

After spending a decade in France, Bromfield returned to Central Ohio in 1938 and began to put into place the principles of grass-based, sustainable farming at "Malabar Farm."  Bromfied's writings turned from fiction to non-fiction and his reputation and influence as a conservationist and farmer continued to expand.  The innovative and visionary work of Louis Bromfield continues to influence agricultural methodologies around the world.  He was inducted into Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame in 1996.

This is a picture of Louis Bromfield and his favorite dog.
We toured the house and took a ride in a wagon pulled by a tractor to see the farm. 

This is his home.  He entertained constantly and ran with the Hollywood crowd.  Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart were married in his home.  His novel The Rain Came was turned into a successful 1939 film starring Tyrone Power and Myrna Loy and then remade in 1955 as The Rains of Ranchipur with Richard Burton, Lana Turner and Fred MacMurray. The 1939 film uses the original novel's ending, the 1955 film does not.  

Monday, August 30, 2010

Cheese Tasting in Amish Country

Monday morning we headed out to taste some Amish cheese.  Our first stop was in Millersburg, Ohio at Guggisberg Cheese Chalet.  Alfred Guggisberg, the founder of Guggisberg Cheese, took an interest in cheese making at a very young age.  He was only 16 when he began to study the art of cheese making in the high pastures of the Alps in the home land of Switzerland.  He went on to attend the famous Swiss Federal "Molkereishulle" (cheese maker's institute) to further improve upon his craft.  Upon completing his schooling, Alfred spent a number of years making cheese throughout Europe and parts of Africa before coming in the United States in 1947 in search of a new challenge.  It didn't take long, with his high standards of quality, for Alfred to earn a reputation as an exceptional cheese maker.  As a result of his abilities, local Amish farmers, in search of a cheese maker to provide a market for their milk, lured Alfred to the Doughty Valley in Charm, Ohio.  The operation that Alfred took over, known then as Doughty Valley Cheese, evolved and became Guggisberg Cheese in 1950.

In the 1960's, after having sufficient time to experiment with local milk, Alfred was able to develop a new style of Swiss. The main differences with this cheese were that it featured smaller "eyes" (holes) and a creamier taste.  Alfred's wife, Margaret Guggisberg, christened the new cheese "Baby Swiss" after she saw a wheel of it next to the much larger wheel of traditional Emmental Swiss.  In 1968 Guggisberg Baby Swiss Cheese was launched and Alfred's cheese house began producing larger quantities of Baby wheels for the local community.

 We were disappointed there was not a tour and you had to ask for tastes of specific cheeses.  They had a video of cheesemaking, which you can see on it's website.  We bought some Baby Swiss on the advise of a clerk, but nothing else.
From there we moved on to Heini's Cheese Chalet in Millerburg, Ohio. Heini's Cheese Chalet is an actual cheese producing plant operating in the heart of Holmes County, Ohio.  Home of the world's largest Amish Community.  The facility was built in the late 1800's and was purchased by the Dauwalder family from Switzerland in 1935.  John (Hans) Dauwalder, trained as a master cheesemaker in Switzerland, and came to the United States in the 1920's.  In 1962, the grandson of John, Peter and his wife Nancy, purchased Bunker Hill Cheese Factory. Today it is one of the premier cheese retailers east of the Mississippi River, and one of the most successful wholesale manufacturers serving throughout North America.  This family business continues to be the primary outlet for the Amish farms in the region.  Amish farmers still provide their milk to the factory in traditional milk cans, the same manner as their forefathers did.  

We had a great tour here.  There was a 100 foot viewing corridor to view the cheese making process.  We were told that Heini's only use milk from hand milked cows.  Why I don't know, but it sounded good.  There also was free samples of over 50 varieties of natural cheese.   

  1. We bought lots of different types of cheese here from Fire Hot Pepper Cheese to Sharp Cheddar.  When you can taste a lot you buy a lot, because you know what you are buying.  We also got Hot & Sharp German Mustard, can you tell someone who travels with me, likes spicy food.  We ended another wonderful day with lunch in Millersburg, at a local favorite, Boyd's Restaurant downtown.s  We of course had pie.

On the way home we stopped at Walmart.  Yes, Millersburg has a Walmart doesn't every town.  I had just asked Bob if he thought the Amish shopped at Walmart.  He didn't need to answer, as we drove into the parking lot we saw buggy parking.

Mohican State Park and Pralines Gets a Hair Cut

 On Monday decided to spend the day at Mohican State Park.  Our first stop was to drop Pralines off at the groomers downtown Loudenville.  As usual, she wasn't thrilled to go, but being well versed in going to the groomer, every month since she was 9 weeks out, she submitted to the bath and cut.
She was to be done at 3:00 p.m., so that gave us plenty of time to explore the state park.

Mohican State Park comprised of 1,110 acres with 5 miles of the scenic Clear Fork Branch of the Mohican River running through it.  The Mohican Memorial State Forest surrounds the park with 4,795 acres.   We had a beautiful drive.

The forest was gorgeous!.  We stopped at a lookout and here are a couple of pictures.

There was a beautiful lake and many people enjoying boating.

In the middle of this beautiful forest we followed the signs to the Mohican State Park and Conference Center.
Mohican State Park & Conference Center has been a favorite getaway spot for more than 30 years.  Its history goes all the way back to the 1920's when Mohican State Forest was established in this dramatic forested gorge bordering he Clear Fork of the Mohican.  This conference center was built in the 1972.  Sorry I don't have a picture of the Lodge.  Take my word for it, it was a beautiful lodge, a little dated, but I would stay there in a minute.  There was a group of cars in the parking lot that caught Bob's eye:

This is a Hurst Olds Cutlass, notice the gearshift.  I don't know why, but Bob said that is why he took a picture of the inside.

This is a 1962 Chevy and it reminded Bob of a car a friend, (Dallas Moore) once had.


This is a 1957 Chevy.

We decided to have lunch at the lodge.  The service was terrible!!! No fault of the waitress.  There was one of her and a dozen or so tables with large groups.  She told us when she seated us it would be a long wait.  She was right.  The view was beautiful, over looking the lake and forest and the food was good.  I tried it again, if we are in the area.

After lunch we headed back to get Pralines.  She was none too happy.  Well, I guess she was happy to get out of there but....they put pink bows in her hair and she was cut way too short.  She hated her hair cut.  I told her about Heather's hair cut right before she had Asher.  She didn't seem to care!!! I told her it would grow back.  

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Hardware Even A Women Could Love. Our trip to Lehman's Hardware

We thought we would leave the sightseeing until after the weekend, we have learned as retirees not to fight the crowds on weekends.  However, Bob wanted to go to Lehman's Hardware.  He had heard this was an incredible hardware not to be missed so we headed out.  I almost didn't go, because it was a hardware but I am sure glad I did! 

Founded by Jay Lehman in 1955 to serve the Amish community and others without electricity, Lehman's ship old-fashion, high quality merchandise all over the world.  When we first walked in, we were a little disappointed, as it seem to have everything other Amish stores had; quilts, canned goods, and wooden furniture and crafts.  This rocking horse was cute, but Heather said that Asher already had a horse that had been Craig's when he was little, so I didn't buy it.
As we continued on in the store, we discovered not only did Lehman's have regular stuff but almost everything you could think of to buy.  Here are a few examples.  Below are a couple of wringer washing machines.  Where else would you find these?
There was a large selection of barbeques but this little baby was my favorite.  I sent Carl Henard a picture of this barbeque, knowing he would order one immediately because of the color if for no other reason. 
Another enjoyable day in Amish country.  We had lunch at Mrs. Yoder's kitchen.  Excellent food and super pie.  Bob had coconut cream and I had raspberry cream.  Believe me you can't get better cooking anywhere.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Introduction to the Amish

The very first reservation we made, way before we purchased the motorhome, was for over Labor Day at West Branch State Park in Ohio, so that we could camp with my sister.  It seemed so far away when we made it and now it is only a week away.  We decided we would spend a week in Holmes County, Ohio before our visit.  Holmes County has the largest Amish population in the US and we knew there would be plenty of places to visit and lots of good food to sample.

Our first day we decided to start our tour with a visit to the Amish & Mennonite Heritage Museum. The center was established in 1981 as the Mennonite Information Center.  In 1989 the current facility was built to present the Behalt Cyclorana.  Behalt means "to keep" or "to remember," is a 10 ft. high cyclorama, or mural-in-the-round.  Behalt illustrates the heritage of the Amish and Mennonite people from their Anabaptist beginnings in Zurich, Switzerland in 1525 to the present day.

Today the Anabaptist family of beievers numbers more than 1.6 million living in 80 countries.  At least 60% are African, Asian, or Latin American.

One of only 4 cycloramas in North America, Behalt is distinguished as the work of solely one artist-from original research and conception to charcoal sketches and final oils-on-canvas production of this historical masterpiece.  The artist was Heinz Gaugel, born in 1927 in the village of Eybach in the Swabian Alps region of southern Germany.  A self-taught artist, Heinz moved to Canada in 1951 where he began his artistic career.  Heinz became fascinated with the Amish because they spoke a German dialect similar to his own and lived a unique lifestyle.  Heinz moved onto a farm in Holmes County in 1972 to work on various art projects in the Holmes County area.

If you are interested in more information you can go to the link above.  No pictures were allow in the museum.  It gave Bob and I a good introduction to the beliefs of the Amish and Mennonite people.

We left the cultural center and went to the Yoder House.  The Yoder House was purchased in 1972 by Eli and Gloria Yoder. The house and farm was badly run down.  It had been rented to Amish families for 10 years, Eli and Gloria decided to do what they had in the back of their minds for some time.  After extensive repairs (the little house was being used as a chicken coop!), Yoder's Amish House was opened for visiting in 1983.  Eli had been part of the Old Order Amish faith until the age of 21.  Gloria was raised "English" in an Amish community, having gone to a mostly Amish school until 5th grade.  With both of their heritages rooted in this culture and community, they thought it would be a great idea to share this unique culture.

This is the sitting room in the main house.  Notice the battery under the table.  Amish don't use electricity but I guess battery powered light were ok.
 We also saw a spinning weasel.  A spinning weasel or clock reel is a mechanical yarn measuring device consisting of a spoked wheel with an internal ratcheting mechanism that clicks every two revolutions and makes a "pop" sound after the desired length of year is measured.  This is possibly the source for the word "weasel" in the nursery rhyme Pop Goes the Weasel.  Did you know that?  I didn't.  The Amish have been living the "green" life, long before it was in vogue to go green.  When their clothes wore out they would cut them up into strips roll them into balls, and use the strips of cloth to make rag rugs.  The picture above is of balls of rag strips.

We then took a tour of the school house.  Most Amish children go to Amish schools, through the 8th grade.  A young Amish school teacher was in the school house to give us information of their educational system.

As we traveled through the Amish countryside, we saw many of these school houses.  I talked to the teacher and asked about the training she received in order to become a teacher.  She told me the only preparation that teachers have to teach in an Amish school was to graduated from 8th grade.  They believe that, the education they had received was enough to teach.  She said, "We teach what we have learned."  I am not sure she liked my question.  She asked me coldly if I was a teacher and I said yes, that I taught teacher.  She left and went outside to greet the next visitors. Their school rooms looked similar to ours, except they taught religion.  The Bible was on the table of books used.

Our next event was a buggy ride.  I expected that it would be bumpy but found it very comfortable.  Amish farmers buy former trotter horses, after their racing days are over, to pull their buggies.  They are already trained and very fast.

We had a wonderful day and couldn't get over the beauty of the Ohio's countryside.  I commented about it to my sister, who lives in Ohio and she reminded me that this beauty also comes along with
much rain all year and snow starting in January.  I am glad Bob and I are full timers who follow the sun.  We can enjoy each part of the U.S. in the best times of each area.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Westcott House Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in Springfield, Ohio

We traveled into Ohio to our second Springfield, Springfield, Ohio.  Heather asked me if we were going to try to visit all the Springfield's in the US.  During college, she lived in Springfield, MO.  We hadn't put that in our plans but we are trying to see as many of Frank Lloyd Wright's homes as we could.  Which is what took us into Springfield, while staying at Tomorrow's Star RV.

The Westcott House was designed in 1906 and built in 1908. It is probably more noted for what it has not been than for what it is. The original owners were Burton and Orpha Westcott. The interior was converted into a multi-unit apartment building in the early 1940's.  Through the cooperative efforts of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy and The Westcott House Foundation the restoration of The Westcott House took over five years.  The five-million-dollar process of restoring the Burton J. Westcott House was preserved on a film for all to see. The Westcott House is only one of about 350 Wright houses remaining in the world, so Bob and I have our travels cut out for us.  Only 348 to go.  Eleven of Wright's homes are located in Ohio.  The Westcott House opened to the public in 2005.
Burton J. Westcott was the founder of the The Westcott Motor Car Company.  His car was advertised as "The Car with the Longer Life".  Westcott was elected as president of the Town Council in 1921, a position equivalent to mayor.  He was a powerful member of the community, even trying to use his influence to get a cemetery across the street from his home turned into a park.  After moving about 2/3 of the bodies to a new cemetery across town, a hard rain stopped the project and today this cemetery is part park and part cemetery.
After leaving the house, we headed into town for lunch and a visit to the Clark County Historical Museum.  This museum is housed in a century-old City Hall and Marketplace.  The Heritage Center of Clark County occupies a 50 feet by 462 feet, 56,000 square foot, three story, brick and stone building in the center of downtown Springfield, originally constructed in 1890 for city offices and a farmer's market.  It is listed on the National Register of Historic Sites. One of Burton's cars were on display at this museum.

We went back to our motorhome.  The next day we had housekeeping things to do, like laundry.  This park, Tomorrow's Star RV was probably the friendliest park we have stayed at on our journey.  We were only here 3 days, but the facility was lovely and the people were the best.  Heading to Amish country next.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sugar Creek Campground and the Indianapolis Raceway

We headed to Crawfordsville, IL. which is about 30 miles outside of Indianapolis.  We loved this campground, it was quiet, on a river and few bugs.  On Friday, we headed into Indianapolis.  We had called ahead and knew that there was a motorcycle race that weekend and we would not be able to take a tour of the track.  We decided we would visit the museum now and try to make a stop to tour the raceway later in September.

Bob was in heaven.  He was able to sit in this race car and have his picture taken. Getting in wasn't too bad, but the fit was tight and he had none of the required safety equipment on that is now required.  Getting out was tough.  Tough enough I decided to pass on getting my picture taken.  We were there for several hours, but Bob was good he limited his time knowing this wasn't my favorite stop.  I was good because I didn't complain (nag) about leaving.  Compromise! that's what I have learned in retirement.

 I didn't know if you can see it or not but this race care is from the Gilmore Racing Team.  I didn't know we had a team:)  It really is from the Gilmore Oil Company, that sponsored racing teams in the '30's and 40's.  For my California friends, the Old Farmers Market, now known as The Grove has a mock up of an old Gilmore Oil Station.  Bob wants you all to know that he is not related so forget about asking for a loan.
In one of the cases was a toy race car.  Bob said it was like one he had as a kid.  It was his favorite!!  
We of course had to buy Asher his own car in the gift shop!!
After the visit to the museum, we stopped at another restaurant that Heather's book had recommended.  It was called Mugs and Buns.  It was pretty shabby looking but when we headed their at lunch time it was full.  Picture is earlier in the day. You could eat in your car and have a car hop serve you or you could eat in the patio and order on a radio on your table.  We ate on the patio.  Bob had pulled pork and a frosty root beer and I had a hamburger, fries and a frosty root beer.  Root beer and pulled pork  were their specialty and it another great place to eat.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Lincoln's New Salem State Historical Site

Bob and I felt we had learned about all we wanted to know about Abraham Lincoln, but one of the campers we met told us we had to go to Lincoln's New Salem Historical Site.  So off we went again.  This time we headed out of Springfield, IL to south of Petersburg about 20 miles NW.  New Salem is a reconstruction of the village where Abraham Lincoln spent his early adulthood.  The six years Lincoln spent in New Salem formed a turning point in his career.  Although he never owned a home here.  Lincoln was engaged in a variety of activities while he was at New Salem.  He clerked in a store, split rails, enlisted in the Black Hawk War, served as postmaster and deputy surveyor, failed in business, and was elected to the Illinois General Assembly in 1834 and 1836 after an unsuccessful try in 1832.

This was a lovely park like setting and one of the first days we enjoyed walking through a park, as the weather had finally cooled.

We walked through the park and down many stairs and crossed the main highway via a covered bridge to get down to this mill.  One of the guest who lived in the area told us they used to have boats that you could take a ride on the river, but the river was way to low for that when we were there.

More pictures tomorrow, as I can't send any pictures from my Iphone as AT&T doesn't have service here.  After visiting her we stopped at a roadside Farmer's Market and came home with delicious sweet corn, summer squash and tomatoes.

Pictures as promised:

I thought this was a wishing well, but Bob told me that's how they got their water.  I know about wells but I thought they had pumps by then.  Pretty though!

This was a lumber mill that was run by oxen.  They were put on what we would call a treadmill, like in the gym, and they walk, and walk, and walk.
This lady was weaving cloth on an old loom.  She was a talker, but very interesting.  We heard from her and the docent at the Dana-Lawrence House, how many cuts the state parks have had to take.  Sounds like home.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Lincoln Home National Historic Site

Today, we visited Lincoln Home National Historic Site.  This was also in downtown Springfield, Il. and is the only home Lincoln even owned.  Here he and his family resided for seventeen years before he became the 16th president of the United States. A four block zone has been set aside and neighborhood homes that were there during Lincoln's time have been restored to the era of the 1860's.  This site is run by the National Parks System and we had a ranger who gave us a narrative tour of the house.

Above is Lincoln's parlor, and below is Lincoln's bedroom.  Mary Todd had her own room.  The kitchen is also pictured below, without microwave or dishwasher.
In the afternoon, we went to see the Dana-Thomas house that was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and build between 1902 and 1904.  This is perhaps is the best-preserved example of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright's "Prairie period" dwellings.  It was built for feminist socialite and heiress Susan Lawrence Dana.  It covers 12,600 square feet, with 35 rooms and 16 major spaces.  The house contains more than 100 pieces of original Wright furniture, 250 examples of art glass doors and windows, and more than 100 art glass light fixtures.
The front door.

My book club read Loving Frank, and it was very interesting to see one of Wright's design.  Bob and I decided we would try to see more on our travels.
It was a long day, but we went home well satisfied with our visits.