Perhaps some detours aren’t detours at all. Perhaps they are actually the path.

Katherine Wolf

This photo was the product of a detour. I was captivated by this mostly obscured house on the trip home from Springfield last weekend. So I turned around when the opportunity presented itself and went back for a snapshot.

Today I’m taking another detour. This time from work to have a little fun with a friend. He doesn’t seem convinced that my brand of nerd activities will be fun but I have assured him he will have fun whether he wants to or not.

We’ll see what kinds of detours we can find along the way. After all, that’s usually when the best stuff happens!

Hartman Rock Garden

Saturday’s adventures took me to a place that has been on my to do list for most of my adult life. Seems like I read an article about it in Victoria Magazine when I was a teenager but somehow never found my way there. It’s called Hartman Rock Garden and, while small, it’s one of the most extraordinary folk art sites you’ll find in Ohio.

It all began when Springfield resident Harry George “Ben” Hartman was laid off from his job in 1932. He was a molder at the Springfield Machine Tool Company foundry. The Great Depression was tightening its grip on the country, work was hard to find, and he was not impressed with all his newfound free time. So what’s a guy to do? He set to work building a cement fishing pond in his back yard. He enjoyed that so much he began building all sorts of miniature buildings and characters throughout his back yard.

There’s a fourteen foot tall cathedral and a large castle as well. I liked the miniature Mount Vernon, the tiny sheep and the village of homes.

He left words of encouragement in the stone including the phrases “let us smile” and “seek the good life” for visitors to enjoy these many years later.

Hartman created a truly unique stone garden using hundreds of thousands of stones before his death in 1944. His wife Mary took on the role of maintaining his work, planting flowers and keeping it open to visitors until her death in 1997. While we call it a rock garden, Mary referred to it as a “garden of love.”

After her passing, the garden fell into a state of disrepair and was facing a bulldozer. That’s when the Kohler Foundation stepped in to buy the property and restore the garden. The Kohler company is know for faucets but the foundation is known for preserving bits of Americana across the country. Today, the garden is run by a local nonprofit organization and a small army of volunteers who are keeping it going.

The garden is free to explore but they happily accept donations. It’s open dawn to dusk and, as Mary used to say “Visitors are welcome if they know how to behave. This is my home.” So they do have a few rules including no smoking, don’t touch the rock structures, and children must be accompanied by an adult.

This is a great little side trip if you’re in the Springfield area. Just remember that this is folk art and it is quite old so don’t go looking for perfection. While there were a few of us oohing and aahing over things, there was some guy complaining that he expected to to be nicer. Don’t be that guy, please.

Get the address and other details over at their website.

Want to see more pictures? Hop over to Make the Journey Fun on Facebook to see more photos from Hartman Rock Garden.

Barnstorming Carnival

Yesterday was the best adventure day I’ve had in ages. To be clear, it didn’t go as planned. It just worked out well.

I had planned to spend the day at the Barnstorming Carnival organized by my good friend Dewey Davenport. Dewey is the guy I wrote about a couple of years ago when he gave me my first biplane ride.

He organizes this weekend celebration of barnstorming every July. The event features a fly-in, kiddie activities, food trucks, a car show and plane rides. The highlight, of course, is a ride in a biplane with Dewey.

I headed westward yesterday morning but the weather was disappointing as I kept running into grey skies and rain. So I opted to do some other things and wait to visit the carnival. I ended up squeaking into his last flight of the day.

It made my day. Year.

I especially enjoy being in a place where planes are coming and going. I am unabashedly jaded most of the time but badly hope that I never lose my sense of wonder where airplanes are concerned.

One big part of this event is instilling that sense of wonder and excitement in children. Dewey remembers what it was like to be an aviation obsessed kid so he and his volunteers prioritize interactions and activities for kids. It’s really great to see.

This is the 1930 D-25 New Standard that I flew in. It’s part airplane and part time machine.

It was a good day. I really enjoy seeing the world from high above- a strange quirk of mine given how terrified I am of heights.

This is the last day of the 2021 Barnstorming Carnival. If you’re in the Springfield, Ohio area, this event is held at the Springfield Beckley Airport. General admission is free. Click here for more about this event and here to learn about Dewey’s business.

Check back in the coming days to read about other things I did yesterday.

Santa, a Biplane, and Something To Be Excited About

Little kids like planes so I was pretty excited to hear that my barnstorming friend Dewey was helping with something special for kids in his community this Christmas. You see, he picked up Santa and gave him a lift to the airport in Springfield, Ohio on Sunday.

Santa and his elf spent that afternoon visiting with youngsters and learning their fondest Christmas wishes.

While Santa was tucked away with a line of kids in a warm airport terminal, Dewey was outside visiting with the kiddos and their parents. He fitted them all with aviator caps and goggles before lifting them up into the plane for photos.

Despite the cold, biting wind you only experience in western Ohio’s flat farmland (I’m from the hills where the wind can’t get up that much speed), groups of kids and adults came trooping outside for their turn with his 90 year old open air cockpit biplane.

I swear that many of them were just as excited to see the biplane as they were to meet Santa. The pilot seemed equally thrilled to give people the opportunity and to talk about the lost art of barnstorming.

He’s good with people and you can tell that there’s little he loves more than sharing his passion with others. It was fun to watch and I was happy to play a very small part that day.

A piece of me wishes I had something to be so excited about. I’m enthusiastic about lots of things and interested in almost any topic but there’s never been one thing that captured my enthusiasm so dramatically. Although, if I did something so cool as barnstorming in a fabulous old biplane, I might be singing a different tune.

Here’s a thought for today. If you have kiddos and you see a spark in them, you see that they’re excited about something, try nurturing that spark. Encourage them to learn and grow with that thing they love so much. It could turn into a career or maybe just a lifelong hobby. Either way, I’m guessing they’ll be happier than the rest of us who just bounce around from interest to interest.

And if Santa is coming to an airport near you, friends, go see him. There’s nothing cooler than seeing Santa climb out of an airplane.

Springfield Antique and Vintage Extravaganza

On the first day of my fifth grade year, I sat on the school bus next to the new girl in my class.

When you live in a rural community, having someone new move in is kind of a big deal. I was expecting her because our grandparents were friends and my grandma had asked me to be nice to her. I would have been nice to Meria anyway but I’m so glad we met. We’ve been friends ever since.

It’s been a lot of years since that first day of fifth grade (ahem…. no need to count them…) and we’ve been through a lot together. While we don’t talk every day, she’s always there when I need her and we try to do something together periodically.

Yesterday, we went on a little adventure to the Springfield Antique and Vintage Extravaganza. It’s like an outdoor flea market that’s devoted almost entirely to antique and vintage items.

I’ve heard about it for years but never had a chance to experience the extravaganza for myself. I thought the use of the word extravaganza was a little much – that is, till I arrived. This event is massive. It’s held at the county fairgrounds and it’s so large we never found the actual end, running out of steam in the hot sun before we ran out of booths to peruse.

We shopped for a few hours but eventually surrendered to the sun, leaving for lunch and a trip though the Heart of Ohio Antique Mall which is also huge and which I adore.

She’s gluten free and I’m pescatarian so we’re a real fun pair to feed in a place where all the vendors sell meat and deep fried stuff. Next time I’ll pack a picnic!

Anywhoo… we saw a ton of neat stuff with prices ranging from dirt cheap to completely overpriced. But you’ll have that anytime you shop for vintage and antique items. What you don’t have most places is the sheer volume of stuff to look at.

Meria found some glass pieces for her collection and I scored some mid century children’s story books- all in excellent condition for $2 each.

Admission is $10 per person but parking is free. If you plan to shop a lot, bring a wagon, shopping cart or a large tote bag to haul your stuff around in. And, of course, remember that cash is king in this setting.

Next time I’ll probably take a backpack and will absolutely remember to pack sunscreen. I forgot mine and have a nice sunburn today.

Want to learn more about the Extravaganza? Click here!