Roadtirement’s 2019 revisited

My gosh has this year gone fast, or what?  We started the year traveling from Indiana to Harlingen, Texas in the Rio Grande Valley. Park Place RV Resort was our home for two months.  Some pure tourist type stuff was of course a requirement in the new to us area. The border with Mexico, those daunting US Border Patrol SUV’s and the fence/wall were eye openers for us. We enjoyed the sights of Port Isabel and the beaches of South Padre Island. That 55+ RV resort living helped us realize that we liked being “Winter Texans”!

Nice concrete patio at our site in Harlingen.

One day we went to the border wall in Brownsville.

The Port Isabel lighthouse

We spent some time in March with family in Austin, then back to Indiana. It took a bit to get back into being in the Midwest again, but there was lots we did over the summer. We try to go to as many musicals as we can at Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre in Indianapolis. An excellent buffet and even better show make for a great evening out. In May we also set up at the US Highway 40 Yard sale in Dunreith, a small town  between Greenfield and Richmond, Indiana. For four days folks travel the highway looking for treasures and bargains.

Musical “Hairspray” at Beef and Boards

Our set up for the Highway 40 Yard Sale

 

 

 

 

 

Camping with kids and grand kids became a fun past time this summer. We took our RV and our kids brought their tent(s) for themselves and any of the grand kids that could come along. An Ohio State Park, US Forest Service Recreation Area, and a Jellystone Park RV resort served us well. Never a dull moment when camping, especially in West Virginia’s Monongahela National Forest after a toad strangler of a rain which flooded a tent. Yes, we were able to sleep 6 fairly comfortably in our 24′ Class C Four Winds. We had to use an alternate route to leave the area as the main road was washed out.

Spacious campsite in the Monongahela National Forest

West Virginia’s Horseshoe Rec Area

Our campsite, tent is out of site on the left

Entrance to the Ohio State park, lake in the background

Gorgeous end to the day at Ohio’s Kaiser Lake State Park

Another summer highlight was our trip to Niagara Falls. The guided tour was definitely worth the cost. The small Gray Line tour bus picked us up at our RV campground. The tour was all inclusive, including of course the famous Maid of the Mist boat ride taking you into the soaking up close view of the falls. If you have not been to Niagara Falls, go!

Here we are after our Maid of the Mist adventure. That is the American Falls barely visible between us.

Restaurant view of the Horseshoe (Canadian) Falls. The food was good, too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sher and I were pretty busy during the summer, including some additional selling at several town festivals. By the time the end of October came around we were ready to head back out on the road and head south once again. We had talked before about visiting the Diamond Mine State Park in Arkansas. The weather had been rather wet, but we decided that it would be a great time to check this place out on our way back to Texas. We went and had a ball. No diamonds found, and the muddy ground was hard to traverse. But, we have a bucket of neat rocks for our rock garden.

Getting ready to head to the muddy field and begin our search for diamonds

Here I am shovel ready to find one of those huge diamonds shown in the picture next to me

 

 

 

 

 

 

On to Texas with a quick stop in Texarkana. There the courthouse is positioned literally on the Arkansas/Texas State line. Interesting to say the least. We stopped at our family’s place in Austin for a couple of days before we went to our spot at the La Hacienda RV Resort in Austin. The La Hacienda is a Sun Resort property, complete with all the expected facilities. We have been here since the first of November. The past two months have given us a chance to explore the Austin area. The Hill Country is filled with wineries, breweries and distilleries. Yep, we have enjoyed more than one of these establishments.

A beautiful Saturday at the Bull Creek Park in Austin

Los Pinos restaurant is only 1/4 mile from our RV Park!

 

 

 

 

 

 

2019 has been quite the adventure for Roadtirement! We can’t list everything, but know that we have had a great year. In figuring up where were have been, we discovered that in 2019 we actually lived 5 out of 12 months as Winter Texans. This could get to be habit forming! We are going to start 2020 by going to Seattle to visit our daughter and her family in January. Stay tuned, we’ll fill you in!

Wishing you and yours and all our friends a safe and prosperous New Years!

Maj and Sher

Ohio’s Kiser Lake State Park

Entrance to the RV park, lake in the background

Sher and I just had a really great weekend at a nice Ohio State Park. Kiser Lake State Park is near Urbana in the east central part of the state. The lake was formed during the ice age when a glacier scoured out the depression that is now Lake Kiser. The lake is a popular stop for fishing, boating and camping.

We met our son and grandson at our campsite. (Our son had made the reservation and invited us to join him for the weekend.) The RV park was clean and very well maintained. Our site was a pull through with an asphalt pad on a slight incline. We had a concrete pad for the picnic table, and a fire ring with a flip grill. Our son and grandson pitched a tent in the grass next to our RV. The shore power box was new with all three services.

Our campsite, tent is out of site on the left

Geese in flight over the lake

Our site overlooked a grassy area next to the lake. There were tent camping sites right on the lake. The view of the lake was beautiful. Anytime of the day you could see the fish breaking the surface of the water. Canadian geese made themselves know with their calls. In fact, the geese were really interesting as they flew in and out of the lake, squawking all the time. There were so many birds to watch at the park. Big birds, little birds and medium sized birds were everywhere.

Really nice ‘bubbling brook’ one of the trails crossed

Recent rains had made a lot of the trails very slick and muddy, but we did enjoy a short hike Saturday. Camping is fun, especially when you can share the time with family. Kiser Lake is a beautiful setting for a weekend of bird watching, cooking over a fire, and peaceful quiet nights. We also saw the Blue Flower Moon as an extra treat Saturday night.

Sher and I were both impressed with this park. Lots of wildlife to see. The lake does not allow motorized boats: oar or paddle driven only. Rentals are available. There are reservations available for some of the RV sites, and some sites are drive up. Note there are no showers and the rest rooms are your typical glorified outhouses. There is a dump station with handy sewer hose wash out hose. There is also a potable water spigot.

Gorgeous end to the day

 

Columbus Zoo Wildlights 2018 event

Reflection pond

With several family members in tow, Sher and I attended a very neat event at the Columbus, Ohio Zoo. The Wildlights event has transformed the zoo into a Christmas wonderland.

The crowd was already sizable when we arrived just as it was getting dark. We knew that we would not be seeing lots of animals, but were there for the light displays. The zoo covers a lot of acreage, so we were ready for a bit of walking!

Polar bear cub in lights

Beautiful trees

 

 

 

 

There was a pen with a couple of Santa’s reindeer you  could see. Our 4 year old grandson really liked the huge antlers on these beautiful creatures. There were a couple of polar bears who were outside in their enclosure so we could see them as well.

Reindeer (Caribou)

The centerpiece of the light show was around a pond just inside the zoo entrance gates. Thousands of lights “performed” by keeping beat with Christmas music. The show played every twenty minutes or so. Sher and I sat on a bench and enjoyed the spectacle while the kids hiked over to the gorilla enclosure, which, it turned out, was closed. We all enjoyed our trip to the zoo.

Hamburger Inn Diner in Delaware, Ohio

Our family group was headed to Delaware, Ohio to visit some of the Antique shops and malls in the downtown. Our son recommended the Hamburger Inn Diner for lunch after we visited the shops. What a great recommendation it was!

The Hamburger Inn Diner opened in 1932. It has remained virtually unchanged since it opened. It is a classic diner with primary seating at horseshoe shaped counters instead of tables. The vinyl covered stools rotated much to the delight of our grandson. There were ten in our party, and after a short wait while another couple finished their meal, all of us could sit at the same counter.

Grilled cheese and fries

Half pounder with bacon and eggs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The diner’s name gives a huge hint as to the menu. Yes, there are marvelous burgers on the menu. In addition to burgers and other sandwiches there is a full breakfast menu offered. Breakfast is served anytime. The food was outstanding: best biscuits and sausage gravy I have ever had. The service was terrific. Sher ordered a grilled cheese on rye. It came on white, and shortly thereafter here came another sandwich on rye, no charge.

Mmmm……Chili

Huge order of biscuits & gravy topped with a fried egg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the great meal, I was fortunate to meet one of the owners, Bill Michailidis. He told me about the restaurant’s history, and shared some of the things that it does to support and help the community. One remarkable event put on by the diner is their annual Thanksgiving feast. The diner first has a meal for employees and their families and a neighboring gas station. Then the diner opens for the entire community. That’s right, free meals are offered to anyone and everyone. This year over 900 were served. Some of the other happenings at the diner are described in our post here.

That’s me, seated, and Bill Michailidis, right

Given the quality of the cuisine, the excellence of the service, and the citizenship of the establishment, it is no wonder that The Hamburger Inn Diner is one of the most popular places to visit in central Ohio. If your travels take you to central Ohio, it will be worth your time to eat at the Hamburger Inn Diner.

Benny’s Pizza and Pub is one of central Ohio’s best

It is no secret that local non chain restaurants can often be the best places to dine. Benny’s Pizza and Pub in Marysville, Ohio is one such place. It was a classic car hop service Drive In during the 50’s, complete with one of those huge Frostop Root Beer mugs on the roof. The old mug still graces the roof, but Benny’s is now a large facility with a menu featuring pizza, ribs, subs, salads and award winning in-house smoked brisket. There are specialty drinks and 31 taps offering craft beers, some of which are from a local brewery.

You start you culinary adventure at Benny’s with a large basket of freshly popped popcorn to munch while you read the menu. Three of us were dining and it took us a while to decide on our ordering strategy. Pizzas? What toppings? Half and Half’s? Dinners? Subs? Whew! Everything looked so inviting!

Enjoy some popcorn while you read the menu

Delicious Southwest 7 layer salad

 

 

 

 

 

 

I finally decided to order the smoked brisket with the house BBQ sauce and beer battered fries for my side. Sher and our son went with the family sized pizza, half veggie and half “All the way”,  a cute name for lots of variety of toppings. We all ordered a Southwest 7 layer salad as well.

The pizza as delivered!

In a very reasonable time our food arrived. The pizza was huge (18″ according to the menu) and was literally overflowing with toppings! I was amazed at the portion size of my smoked brisket and the fries. Wow! There was enough brisket there to serve two people at least.

Brisket, fries and Texas toast. Look at how much food!

Well, Sher and our son loved the pizza. My fries were very good, hot upon arrival. The brisket was fabulous. Fork tender, you could really taste and enjoy the smoked flavor that came through even with the BBQ sauce, which was also excellent. We ended up with some take home boxes, as we didn’t finish the pizza or the brisket. Including our drinks, our tab ended up being just shy of $20 each. While not inexpensive, the pricing is worth it for the quality and quantity of food.

Benny’s Pizza and Pub is a great place to dine, and we would highly recommend it. The decor is not fancy, and there are some TV’s scattered around. Of interest is the nice collection of old photos on the walls, including some of past visits from celebrities. There is often live entertainment on the weekends, and seasonally there is outdoor dining and large crowds for the bands. Benny’s is closed on Sundays. Go to their website here for full menus and hours.

And if you like brisket, you’ll be making a mistake if you do not order it when at Benny’s!

This photo of Pete Rose and Roy Rogers together caught my eye. There were lots of old photos on the walls

The Merry-Go-Round Museum in Sandusky

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The Museum building

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The working carousel

Early "Armored Horse"

Early “Armored Horse”

Sandusky, Ohio is home to a fascinating museum devoted to the history of the carousel and merry-go-round. You will be amazed at the history of the different styles of animals used throughout the years. There are so many subtle variations within the different styles.

Another feature is a full sized and working carousel within the building. Go ahead, enjoy a ride on this marvelous piece of history. It was purchased in the 1990’s. No animals came with the ride, and museum staff lovingly added animals from the onsite collection as well as loaned animals from private collections.

The museum is in the old Post Office building and there have even been some paranormal activity reported within the museum! Here is the museum website with all information including open hours, etc.

Tom’s Ice Cream Bowl

Tom's Ice Cream Bowl

Tom’s Ice Cream Bowl

Tom’s Ice Cream Bowl is a real off the beaten path gem in Zanesville, Ohio. Sher and I were told to be sure to take in this local treat shop by Alan Cottrill, a local artist. (read about our time with him here.)

This favorite shop has been in business since 1948. The history of the establishment is interesting but the real story is that the ice cream dishes are worthy of high praise! Sher enjoyed the banana split while I ordered the hot fudge sundae. Huge portions, delicious homemade ice cream and scrumptious toppings were quickly prepared and served to us

Also offered are home made chocolate candies and a wide variety of nuts. The nuts are fresh roasted daily. In addition Tom’s has a good selection of sandwiches on their menu.

Yummy!

Yummy!

Candy/Roasted nuts counter

Candy/Roasted nuts counter

Long story short: when in Zanesville, Ohio, patronize Tom’s Ice Cream Bowl. Anyone you talk to in Zanesville will tell you the same. Here is their websiteUse it for directions and hours open. This is a terrific place for an ice cream break.

Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Columbus Ohio

One of the beautiful butterflies

One of the beautiful butterflies

The Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Columbus, Ohio is a most remarkable facility. Nestled in the beauty of the Franklin Park, the Conservatory houses a wide varitey of fauna from all over the world. Different ecosystems are represented in different “rooms” within the massive structure.

Himalayan Mountain fauna is found in one of the rooms. You can move from the Himalayan Mountains through a door and enjoy desert plants in yet another room, Man made stone outcroppings set the foundation for all of the plants on display. Waterfalls and other water features add to the ambience of the displays.

 

Of special interest is the tropical rain forest room that also serves as a home to hundreds of butterflies. Bred on site, the different species of butterflies are released several times during the week by staff members. During these informative release shows the staff discusses the life cycles and traits of each butterfly.

Strange cacti in the desert hall

Strange cacti in the desert hall

Brilliant color and striking bloom

Brilliant color and striking bloom

Parts of the facility was under renovation when we visitied with our granddaughter, however the construction did not interfere with our enjoyment of the many plants and ecosystems represented.

Make sure to plan a visit to the Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Columbus. All pertainent information is on their website here.

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1916 era monument to National Road “modern imporvements” in Ohio

Photo on the Eagles Nest historic marker showing travel on the National Highway

Photo on the Eagles Nest historic marker showing travel on the National Highway

The Eagles Nest monument on the National Road (US 40) was erected around 1916 after a 29 mile stretch of the then umimproved and often nearly impassable road was replaced with concrete. The stretch of highway ran from Zanesville to Hebron.

The monument is a large granite rock with some interesting inscriptions carved into the surface. The photos show some of the details of the inscriptions, including a Conestoga wagon and mileage to Cumberland, Maryland, the starting point of the road.

The day we stopped here the conditions were very muddy and wet. What a reminder of some of the early muddy conditions that the early travelors faced as they traveled across country.

 

The Eagles Nest monument

The Eagles Nest monument

Conestoga wagon etched into the granite

Conestoga wagon etched into the granite

You are 220 miles from the start of the National Road in Cumberland, MD.

You are 220 miles from the start of the National Road in Cumberland, MD.

Arnold puts on a huge Sports Fitness Festival

We were visiting family near Columbus Ohio this weekend. We all piled into their van and headed out for the day. We ended up in downtown Columbus and were amazed by the huge crowd at the conention center for the Arnold Schwarzenegger Sports Fitness Festival. According to local media over 180,000 people attended the weekend event. This is a yearly event for Columbus,and is one of a series of events from around the world that carries Schwarzenegger’s name.

One company's banner with a vintage picture of Arnold

One company’s banner with a vintage picture of Arnold

The crowds were huge. We walked through the convention center to see all of the events in the outer hall ways. The actual event required an admission charge which we passed on.

The streets and sidewalks were packed!

The streets and sidewalks were packed!

The Navy Seals gave folks a chance to prove their strength

The Navy Seals gave folks a chance to prove their strength