Franklin Park Conservatory In Fall

Yesterday took me to Columbus for some antiquing and for a stroll around Franklin Park Conservatory.

It was surprisingly quiet at Franklin Park and I thoroughly enjoyed wandering around the facility and grounds in search of the colors and textures of this season.

This is one of my favorite trees in the world but it’s especially beautiful right now.

They do a great job with colorful outdoor exhibits that can be enjoyed by day and by night when they are lit for a family friendly Halloween event.

There are a couple of pumpkin houses – one made for the small fry and the other big enough for grown ups.

There’s an extensive model railroad with a variety of trains and village pieces tucked into the landscaping.

And lots of pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns.

Plus, there are some fun Halloween decorations here and there.

This is a safe space to explore with your kids, a lovely spot to meander with your own thoughts and a beautiful place to stroll and catch up with a friend.

I spent most of my time outside yesterday but there’s a lot to see inside too. Want to learn more? Click here to visit their website.

When Good Adventure Days Go Bad

Lest you think that my Adventure Days are always gloriously rewarding and fun, let me tell you about yesterday.

It was a bust.

We’ve had a dark cloud hanging over Ohio for a lot of this week and the weather continued to be gloomy and cool yesterday. I was tempted to stay home but had a commitment to keep in Columbus. I am part of a social impact study at Franklin Park Conservatory and needed to visit that place one more time before the end of May. Since my weekends are all booked this month, yesterday was really my only chance to go.

So I spent some time Friday night plotting indoor/outdoor activities in the Columbus area. I did not make concrete plans beyond that visit to Franklin Park but had a list of ideas. This is how I roll. I’m not the girl with the clipboard and stopwatch. I more or less wait till that day, see which way the wind is blowing and go with the flow.

Franklin Park was busy but great, as always. I spent most of my visit here with the butterflies. This is a transitional time as the spring flowers are almost spent and the gardeners are busy preparing for a new season. All the same, it was good and I had some lovely experiences with the butterflies.

From there, I wanted to hit up North Market for some good lunch and casual people watching.

This did not happen because there were masses of people everywhere. I didn’t get out of the car. Heck, I barely slowed down because my introverted self literally could not deal.

So I switched gears and headed for German Village to hit the bookstore and find something to eat. Unfortunately, it was even worse there. Haha. Isn’t that my luck?

If you haven’t been, German Village is a quaint community, a remnant of the city’s German heritage with some cute shops and restaurants mingled with homes and offices. The streets are narrow, parking is sparse and people lose their minds in search of literally anywhere to ditch their car on the way to brunch.

Friends, I watched a guy in an SUV attempt to shoehorn his car into a space not large enough for my Elantra. When that didn’t work, he used that parking space to turn in the street, holding up two lanes of traffic and nearly hitting someone’s truck.

I just shook my head.

The real draw here is an independent bookseller called the Book Loft which bills itself as having over 30 rooms of books. Mind you, they are very small rooms but it is a neat place and their website claimed they had a book in stock that I wanted to buy.

Nonetheless, I abandoned ship and headed for the nearest Half Price Books. They have abundant parking but tragically did not have my book. At this point I was determined to salvage something of this day so I headed to a nearby Barnes and Noble where I blessedly found the book. That book came with a bag full of other books that I wasn’t there to purchase but we won’t dwell on that small failure today.

I did find some peace here and even a laugh when I saw the title of this book.

Things Are Never So Bad That They Can’t Get Worse.

Mind you, it’s a serious topic but man, if this isn’t a great title for my autobiography I don’t know what is.

At this point the sky was foreboding so I started making my way southeast to Logan for a stroll through downtown. They were hosting Urban Air 2022, a camping event where Airstream campers take up residence for the weekend. It was chilly out and a little late so there weren’t many people out to chat with about their campers. I did make friends with the owner of a new vintage shop on Main Street so that was fun. Stay tuned and I’ll tell you about that store this week.

Honestly though, the highlight of my day (besides that sack of books) was a stroll through a graveyard at a country church near Lancaster. It was cool and the wind threatened to pull the hat right off my head but the sky was interesting. There are some very old graves to look at and it was peaceful.

Everywhere else I went yesterday was just way too peopley. This place was calm and quiet. It was intriguing and sad. It inspired my imagination as I wondered about the people buried there and what happened to those they left behind.

I eventually bought a frozen dinner and some new windshield wiper blades and headed home to my little cat. And yes, he was quite glad to see me.

So, yeah. That was my day.

In the last four years, nearly every adventure day has held something memorable. There’s been some spark of magic, some bit of delight that made it all worthwhile.

I was due for a flop.

This lengthy and somewhat bitter tirade isn’t meant as a simple vent for yours truly. I tell you all of this to tell you something useful.

Adventure days come in all shapes and sizes. In fact, I am a huge advocate of making your own adventure. For you, it could be a quiet stroll through the woods or finding a bargain at an antique store. It could be screaming through the woods in a zip line or trekking foreign lands most of us will only read about in books.

Adventure is what you make of it.

My best days are the ones where I come around a bend to find an aging barn, where I hear a new birdsong in the woods or the ones where I encounter someone willing to share their story with a stranger. My very best days are the ones where I become so preoccupied with discoveries that I forget all about my list.

Every day can’t be the very best day. However, we have the ability to make the best of every day. In fact, we have a responsibility to make the best of our circumstances and to enjoy the life we have today. After all, you never know when things will change and maybe even get worse.

In my case, I found peace in books and in a country churchyard. I found even greater peace ending the adventure and simply coming home to my little cat and to read in my chair.

It turned out to be a pretty good evening despite it all.

Notice this butterfly below and how it is perched on the flower in a sideways fashion.

Was that part of the plan? Wasn’t it? Who knows but it seems pretty happy anyway. Don’t let the rain or other people or things beyond your control steal your joy.

Be well and be happy, friends. We will adventure another day!

Happiness Is…

Happiness is seeing a grand old building hold its own among the new. You see it a lot in cities like Columbus, Ohio where progress has mostly paved over history but a few old structures refuse to budge.

For example, downtown Columbus has a number of old churches. Here you see the Broad Street United Methodist Church living in the shadow of Encova, a boring monstrosity like so many others in our modern cities.

The church dates to 1875 and is positively gorgeous. Want to see inside? They offer a virtual tour online. Click here for that.

Maybe it’s silly but I always root for the underdog, value the historic and enjoy their successes almost as much as I would my own.

Butterfly Magic

Franklin Park Conservatory is a special place at any time of year. However, it will be extra special for the next couple of months as they are hosting their annual Blooms and Butterflies event.

The butterflies inhabit the Pacific Island Water Garden. This is a lovely space any time of year with its water feature and Chihuly sculptures surrounded by towering palms, delicate ferns and other plants that add rich texture..

A sign helps visitors identify the approximate two dozen types of butterflies you might encounter. I was pleased to see about a dozen different varieties as they flitted about hither and fro. It’s always pleasing how energetic they are even though there seems to be no rhyme or reason to their activity.

I walked through the space three times and sought out places to stop for a while and wait for the butterflies to come to me. I saw people just walk through and I suspect they didn’t get to see many. You have to stop and study your surroundings and be patient. Do this and you won’t be disappointed.

I had a near magical experience involving the biggest butterfly I have ever seen. There was a Common Blue Morpho that soared high above us all, never landing and rarely slowing down. These butterflies measure between 4” and 4.8” so they are easy to spot and recognize.

I badly wanted a photo but it just wasn’t happening. Meanwhile, I directed my attention to this lovely gal pictures here.

When I lowered my dslr, that gorgeous blue butterfly was perched on the end of my lens. It seemed that time stood still for those two seconds before it took off again.

There was a guy standing nearby, camera in hand, but so stunned that he didn’t even think to snap a photo. So I have no evidence of the experience but I have a memory of the magical interaction and I will cherish it.

In addition to this butterfly room, they also have what they call a Metamorphosis Lab where you can see the various stages of a butterfly’s lifespan and, if you’re lucky, witness new butterflies emerge.

If you go, make time to enjoy the orchids as well.

This event runs through May 30 and this experience is included in the general admission price. Find more information here. It is worth every penny too. Go, if you can!

Magnificent Saturday

Saturday was a magnificent day for adventure and I cannot wait to tell you about the things I did.

It was unseasonably warm and sunny in central Ohio with temperatures topping out in the mid seventies. This made for perfect road trip weather as it was warm enough to roll down the car windows and even to eat outside.

My first destination was Franklin Park Conservatory where I admired orchids, sought out the Chihuly art on permanent display and befriended some butterflies. One of them even landed on my camera lens in a moment so special and fleeting I hardly had time to absorb it until it was over.

I finished my visit there with an Impossible Burger from their cafe. I have found that places like museums, conservatories and other cultural sites are more open minded or at least more inclusive and more likely to offer vegetarian and gluten-free options than many regular restaurants. This is certainly the case at their small cafe.

I moved past the crowds huddled inside and took advantage of the completely empty outdoor seating area. Here I had a great time people watching while I enjoyed a tasty lunch and planned my next step.

That next step was to visit the Ohio Statehouse for a tour. My family has been in Ohio for hundreds of years and I’m guessing I am the first to tour this historic building. Afterward, I strolled the grounds and the vicinity nearby.

My final stop was the Peanut Shoppe, an old school candy and peanut shoppe that made my day.

Per usual Brandi fashion, I avoided the highways and opted to travel St. Rt. 104 which is lined with an unsettling amount of new housing developments and commercial buildings encroaching on historic farms.

I came home relaxed and a little tired from my day of exploration and learning. All these topics deserve a conversation so just consider this a sneak peak of what’s to come! Come back tomorrow for more.

York Steak House

Sometimes you find adventure and fun around every corner and without even trying. Sometimes the thing you looked forward to doing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. That was the case yesterday.

I belong to a Facebook group called Ohio Road Trips where I occasionally get adventure inspiration. I try to not get too excited about the recommendations because people often pan things that I like and hype things that I think are terrible. But when a gentleman shared his pictures from York Steak House in Columbus, I thought it sounded fun.

York was a popular chain in the sixties and seventies, using a cafeteria format to serve mostly steak, chicken and seafood. It was a contemporary of chains like Bonanza and Ponderosa which were enjoying their heyday when I was a kid. While York peaked at about 200 locations that were located largely in shopping malls, most locations closed in 1989.

The Columbus restaurant opened in 1966 and is said to be the only one left. It remains family owned and operated and has the feel of an early eighties time capsule.

Everything is made to order in an open kitchen. Most meals come with one trip past the salad bar. And take note, it’s an actual salad bar where you make a salad. There’s not a lot of extra stuff like cottage cheese and fruit and the like.

It’s feels like a sort of odd process if you’ve never been there. When you get in line, you grab a tray, cutlery and napkins before placing your order with someone behind the counter. That person will provide you a salad plate and cup. Next, you can pick up your dessert if you see fit before fixing your salad. Keep going to fill your glass with the Coke product of your choice. Past that you’ll find complimentary butter and little cups of sour cream for a quarter apiece. This is a step up from years ago when they also charged you for the butter.

Finally, you’ll make your way to the cash register to pay for your meal.

After that, it becomes like a regular restaurant. You seat yourself with your salad and drink. A waitress will refill your drinks and bring your meal when it’s ready.

You’ll exit the dining room via a different door than where you entered.

The regulars who came through before us seemed as happy as clams but we were a little perplexed as to how everything worked.

My food was great – fish, a delicious baked potato and a tasty yeast roll. I forget sometimes how much better a baked potato is when it comes from the oven rather than the microwave!

I actually went with my parents to celebrate my mother’s recent 70th birthday. In retrospect, this wasn’t the best choice for a celebratory meal but it certainly was a unique experience.

My favorite part was actually this sign.

Don’t ask why. I couldn’t begin to answer you other than to say it reminds me of the menu boards of the old Ponderosa steakhouses of my childhood

York Steak House is located along the National Road and is certainly unique to the National Road experience. All you roadies out there looking for a blast from the past might consider a stop here. Learn more at their website.