Overlook The Wrinkles

The owner of this 1960 Thunderbird has a sense of humor. Can you read the sign?

The car is sharp and I didn’t notice any wrinkles. It was one of many beautiful and sometimes unusual vehicles entered in the Feast of the Flowering Moon car show last month. I’ll show you more pictures from that Chillicothe, Ohio event soon.

Adventure Day Close To Home

Yesterday was epic. I didn’t travel far or do anything expensive. Instead, I spent the day being a tourist in my own backyard in nearby Chillicothe, Ohio.

The truth is, I didn’t actually do anything I had planned. The original plan was to go for a walk, hit a car show and eat Donato’s plant based pizza at the park.

None of this actually happened.

The lovely thing about solo adventures is there’s no one to complain when you go off script. What’s even better is that off script is often where the magic happens.

I started my day at Adena Mansion and Gardens, the historic home of Thomas Worthington. He was Ohio’s sixth governor, a founding father of Ohio who did so many things in his lifetime that he and his home will require their own story this week.

Ten dollars buys you a guided tour of the home, admission to a museum and access to explore the grounds. Here you’ll learn about life in Ohio when the state was young, about the life and career of this important figure in our history, and about others like Tecumseh and Henry Clay who visited here.

After that I hit up downtown Chillicothe which has experienced a rebirth in recent years. There are several nice specialty shops and restaurants here and the business community has done a great job of advocating for themselves. They have made improvements in the historic downtown and worked hard to draw in visitors who have money.

Downtown was busy as there were a couple of events in town and some stores were taking advantage of the extra foot traffic with sales. I don’t enjoy crowds so I didn’t dwell here but having live music was pretty cool

I had lunch at Carl’s Townhouse which is a 1939 era dinner that began life at the New York World’s Fair. A quick grilled cheese and fries were just the ticket to provide sustenance for the rest of my day.

Then it was a stroll down the street to Apollo Records where I chatted with the owner about the Flying Burrito Brothers and an amazing up and coming artist named Charlie Crockett. I found a great vintage Aretha Franklin album and a Roseanne Cash that I didn’t know but literally purchased for the cool cover art.

Then it was up the street to Grandpa Joe’s Candy Store for a cold drink and dessert before heading to Wheatberry Books for a new title and a chat with the clerk. She was excited about the Wendell Berry book I had chosen. Wheatberry is a small independent bookstore but their shelves are lined with all the books I either own or want to own. They even have a robust section for kids. Here’s something I once wrote on Wheatberry.

After that, it was a stroll through Yoctangee Park to see the swans, geese and ducks. I followed the sound of music to the ice cream truck because it was hot and humid and everyone’s a kid when the ice cream truck is nearby!

Afterward, it was a quick browse through Chillicothe Antique Emporium where I located a bargain and chatted with the owner about the old time soda fountain he assembled and added to his store. He collected the various pieces over time and from places as far away as Georgia. It is well done and you can sit for a cold drink, some ice cream or fresh popcorn! Click here for something I once wrote about that place.

Chillicothe has a lot of history and there’s much more than you can accomplish in a day. Hopewell Culture National Historical Park is an interesting stop to learn about the mound builders of this region. It has become internationally renowned and we are lucky to have it. In the summer, the outdoor drama Tecumseh tells the story of the Shawnee Chief who promoted intertribal unity to push back against the US Expansion into tribal lands.

Chillicothe has carved out a place for itself for specialty interests. The bookstore and record shop are practically unicorns in this day and age but there are other specialties. There’s an old school bike shop, a music store, a stained glass shop, a dojo and a place that specializes in aromatherapy. Plus antiques, clothing boutiques and a place where you can buy specialty toy soldiers designed for the serious collector. There is literally something for everyone in a tidy space along downtown streets lined with some very cool architecture. There’s even a great bike path and tons more to see and do than you can fit into a day.

Along the way yesterday, I had meaningful conversations with people who I never imagined I needed to meet. My Adena docent was fantastic and I met two retirees on my tour who I could have chatted with for hours. They didn’t bat an eyelash when I struck up a conversation and, as it turns out, they were open to talk about topics that I’ve never quite been comfortable discussing with my own friends.

It was an enriching and rewarding day, not necessarily for what I did so much as who I met along the way. More on that soon. For now, know this: the price of admission will get you into a place. The act of learning comes from talking to people about things that are new to you, talking to people about things that are important to them, talking to people about things that enlighten you.

Always, always, always be open to hearing someone else’s perspective.

Check back this week for stories about yesterday including more on Thomas Worthington and his Adena.

Here’s one more picture from the park.

Isn’t it peaceful?

Freedom Of The Open Road

There’s nothing more freeing than the open road. It’s especially nice if you get up early to watch the sun rise and make time to brake along the way for roadside attractions.

I especially like neon signs, great downtowns, old churches, rustic barns and covered bridges.

As I begin planning this year’s adventures, I have been looking back on the road trip by which I measure them all. It was in the days following Christmas 2018 and I set out on the National Road through Indiana all the way to Terre Haute and back to Springfield, Ohio. There is nothing like rambling down the National Road if you want a slice of Americana.

I had no hotel reservations but a list of places to see – the Model T Museum and an old firehouse turned restaurant in Richmond, Lynn’s Soda Fountain in Brazil, the magnificent Oasis Diner in Plainfield and a host of antique stores along the way. I talked to people, saw murals and learned so much that trip.

The last day, I left Richmond in the pitch black with a breakfast sandwich in hand and a camera on the seat next to me. It took hours to make it to Springfield because I rambled down side roads and around the block in small towns just to see what was out there.

The journey was the destination and the plan was to have no plan.

It was the epitome of freedom and adventure and the absolute best vacation from reality. Everyone should experience such joy and independence as I found on the National Road for those cold late December days.

Will I get to experience this type of joy again? I honestly don’t know but have my sights set on some new places to visit and some familiar spots in Indiana. Perhaps a few days rambling through small towns in the Hoosier State will be just the ticket.

So, roadies- where will your rambling take you this year?

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.

Inn Towner

If you ever find yourself in the Hocking Hills and have a thing for vintage signage, be sure to look up the Inn Towner Motel in Logan, Ohio. I was driving by last night and circled back to grab this photo because it looked so pretty all lit up in its midcentury glory.

Remember friends, never be afraid to circle back for a closer look at something when you have a chance. That’s what exploring this world is all about!

Jimmie’s Ladder 11

My adventure pal Saturday left it up to me to find a good restaurant. So I googled unique restaurants in Dayton and located a place called Jimmie’s Ladder 11.

It’s a neighborhood joint located in an old firehouse that dates to 1892. It is believed to be the last of Dayton’s firehouses to use a horse drawn apparatus. The firehouse continued in use until 1987 when a new facility opened down the street.

The decor is pretty spectacular with lots of gorgeous repurposed wood, tin ceiling, a beautiful bar and some historic firefighter memorabilia. We had a great waitress who saw to our needs without hovering and the food was magnificent.

While they have a ton of options for all you meataterians out there, they have several vegetarian options too. It wasn’t an easy decision but, after going back and forth a good bit, I opted for the grilled veggie sub with cheese and a house dressing on a yummy toasted roll.

I would absolutely go back and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it. There’s a lot to do in the Dayton area but I’ve really just scratched the surface on my quick trips through. Perhaps this is something I can rectify this year.

Meanwhile, I would encourage you to head that way and do some exploring. If you’re near Jimmie’s, you’re just a couple of blocks from a neat series of murals. We didn’t have time to stop and explore but they certainly caught my eye so you should look for that too.

Find Jimmie’s Ladder 11 on Facebook for current hours, menu and address.