The Year in Travel: 2016 from A to Z

The year 2016 was not a banner year for travel for me as there were no super long  cross country trips taken like I had done form 2012-2015. However, over the course of the year we did take a number of smaller trips and a couple of fairly long trips. I visited 11 states during the year and made it to some places where I hadn’t been for nearly 30 years. Even made it into towns from A (Abingdon, VA) to Z (Zanesville, OH) and one with an X too (Xenia, OH)!!

Here is a map that includes many of the places:

Abingdon, VA – Eastern terminus of the Virginia Creeper Trail
Zanesville, Ohio home of the Y Bridge
Julianne and David at Xenia Station on the Little Miami Scenic Trail

During the course of the year we visited a few major cities including Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Washington DC, Houston and the Dallas-Fort Worth area. We also visited Nashville and Memphis in Tennessee.

Panoramic View of Pittsburgh from atop Mt. Washington
Julianne and Laura at the North Bend Rail Trail HQ in Cairo, WV

A good portion of my travel in 2016 was related to rails to trails bike trails that my wife Julianne had desired to ride. We visited some lovely bike trails in Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia. While Julianne rode, I would take the back roads and meet her along the trails. This was until I got my own bicycle on my birthday in October.

All of us at Whitetop Station at the beginning of the 10 mile downhill Virginia Creeper Bike Trail near Damascus, VA
Flying to Houston from Cincinnati

We took one flight during the year which was to Houston to celebrate a calling for my son in church and to visit our grandsons. In late October, we also drove to Fort Worth, Texas for the funeral of my father. Not as joyous a trip, but we did visit a few locations along the way for fun.

Visiting my youngest grandchild Sam in Houston
Sumoflam and the FREE Stamp in Cleveland

Our trips to Cleveland and Pittsburgh were predominantly because Julian sister Laura had moved from Idaho to the Pittsburgh area. So she met Julianne on a couple of the bike ride trips. She and Julianne also attended a conference at the Kirtland Temple and while they were there, I visited my family in Little Italy in Cleveland and also took some tours around the city with my sister Tina and her husband Jim.

Riding with Tina and Jim around Cleveland
Sumoflam at the Kirtland Temple
Monongahela Incline in Pittsburgh

Then we visited Laura in Pittsburgh, we got to see a number of wonderful things in Pittsburgh including the Monongahela Incline, hey unique rail type system that pulled us up to the top of Mt. Washington where we had spectacular views of the city of Pittsburgh and the three rivers down below.

Bridges across Pittsburgh
Classic Neon of famed Dumser’s Drive-In in Ocean City, MD

The year ended on a high note as we took a long trip to Ocean City, MD where we stayed with Julianne’s sister and her husband Richard and their daughter for about a week on the beach. It was a wonderful trip! It was during this trip that we also visited Washington DC and the large LDS Washington DC Temple with all of its amazing Christmas lights. I also made my way up to Bethany Beach and Rehoboth Beach in Delaware, both of which I had not visited since the 1980s.

Welcome to Delaware…first time since 1986
Washington DC Temple at Christmas
The Washington Monument and the US Capitol in Washington DC
Old Paradise Cafe sign in Ocean City. What is a beach resort town without a flamingo or two?
I think I counted about 12 themed mini golf places on the main drag in Ocean City, including dragons, pirates and dinosaurs.
Township of Moon, PA (I have also been to Earth, TX, Mars, PA, Jupiter, FL and even Vulcan, AB

Of course, whenever we take road trips I always try to find the unique and the unusual whenever possible. And most of our trips were not immune from my searching to do so. On our trips visited such wonderful places as Friendly, WV, Prosperity, PA, Novelty, OH, Happy, KY, Eighty Four, PA and a few other unique named towns as indicated in photos below.  I even located a Yellow Brick Road in Ohio and a Bliss Happens Lane in Maryland!

Made it to Hope, AR, just before the 2016 elections. Hope is the home of former President Bill Clinton.
Meeting a Friendly guy outside the Friendly, WV Post Office
Happy Happy Happy…yes, there is a Happy, KY
I found Novelty in Ohio…
…and found Prosperity in PA
There is a Yellow Brick Road in Ohio
A Sugar and Water corner is in Chillicothe, OH
No Name Street in Millersburg, OH
Lost? Try going the Udder Way, This is in Yellow Springs, OH at Young’s Dairy
And I found where Bliss Happens in Maryland
Reuben Sandwich and Sweet Potato Fries at In the Country in Damascus, VA

During the year we often ate at places that were focused on bicyclists and motorbike enthusiasts. One such location was in Oregonia, OH. It was way out of the way to get to. Then there was the place on the Virginia Creeper Trail which was almost impossible to get to my car but was built specifically for the bicyclists coming down the Virginia Creeper Trail.

In the Country Bakery and Eatery on the outskirts of Damascus
At Damascus Old Mill Inn in Damascus
The Little River Cafe in Oregonia, OH is most easily reached by bike. It is literally on the side of the trail. The road to Oregonia is way out of the way.
Elliston Place Diner in Nashville

In August, we got to visit Nashville and hang with my good friend and musician Antsy McClain. He took us around with a few other “field trippers” and showed us some of the sites of Nashville including music Row, some music dives and some good places to eat including the oldest diner in Nashville. We also have the unique chance to sit in a recording studio with Antsy and sing back up vocals on one of his songs!

Hanging with Antsy McClain at a dive in Nashville
Had lunch at Flatrock Coffee in Nashville. Great food and a large collection of one of a kind Antsy McClain art on coffee cups
Antsy McClain art on Coffee Cups — one of dozens of original pieces on display at Flatrock Coffee in Nashville
The Antsy Backup gang at the recording studio in Nashville
Sanders Cafe in Corbin, KY. Birthplace of the KFC Special Recipe

During the course of the year, I also took a few “staycation” trips within Kentucky. This included one on the bike trail with Julianne, but also to Ravenna,  where I visited hey famed café called the Wigwam. I also took a fun trip with my grandchildren and my daughter Marissa down to Cumberland Falls and then on into Corbin to visit the Harlan Sanders museum and restaurant which is where the recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken got it start. During the fall I took a solo trip up into Red River Gorge to get pictures of the fall colors. I was about a week too late to get most of them, but that was because we were in south eastern Virginia on the Creeper Trail to see the beautiful colors down there.

Birthplace of KFC
Visiting Cumberland Falls with my daughter and her kids.
The Colonel and Me at Sanders Cafe
The fall colors as seen from the Virginia Creeper Trail near Damascus, VA
Visiting Kentucky’s Red River Gorge in November
Colorful trees and leaves line a small road in Red River Gorge
Story of Superman at Joe Shuster’s former home

Some of the other more unique places that I got to see over the past year would include the “Birthplace of Superman,” which was in Cleveland, as well as the house where the movie “A Christmas Story”  was filmed. Also while in Ohio, I visited the world’s largest geodesic dome in Novelty, OH. That was fascinating.

Of course, I can’t neglect to mention the visit to Little Italy to see my birthplace and family.  I ate fine Italian cuisine at Mama Santa’s and had a great time seeing other sites there. Its the best Little Italy in the US!

Cleveland Water Tower
Murray Hill Rd….where I was born. Little Italy
Sumoflam with Mama Santa’s owner Papa Tio
The Wendy’s Original $150,000 Crystal Cheeseburger created by Waterford Crystal

During the year I also visited two fast food restaurants that had included museums in them. The Wendy’s restaurant in Dublin, OH had a whole section built in there with the history of Wendy’s and a large statue of Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas. In Canonsburg, PA, there is a McDonald’s restaurant that includes dedications and memorabilia of Perry Como and Bobby Vinton, both of whom grew up in Canonsburg.

Home of Wendy’s
“Where’s the Beef?” memorabilia from the famed advertising campaign in the Wendy’s Museum in Dublin, OH
Sumoflam with Dave Thomas statue in Dublin, OH
Bobby Vinton Statue in the Canonsburg, PA McDonald’s
Bobby Vinton Stage items on display in Canonsburg McDonald’s

It was fun for me to visit Xenia, OH and see the murals and the architecture and then also travel around some of the other areas nearby with Julianne and her sister and/or our grandchildren who rode  their bikes along some of the bike trails including the Little Miami Scenic Trail.

We visited the Little Miami Scenic Trail twice and each time had a great time.

Julianne, Marissa and the kids on the Little Miami Scenic Trail near Beatty Station, OH
We stopped at Young’s Dairy for some fresh ice cream on this hot day
One of Peter Toth’s 50+ Whispering Giants…this one in Ocean City, MD

Overall, I have to say it was a wonderful year. I saw dolphins swimming at sunrise on Christmas morning in the Atlantic Ocean in Maryland. We got to visit some of our great national historical sites in Washington DC. On many of the trips, it was fun to travel with the grandchildren and see the delight in their eyes they saw big waterfalls, giant statues and other interesting places.

Christmas morning sunrise in Ocean City , MD and greeted by a dolphin in the foreground.
Delaware Seashore Bridge
Another Peter Toth Whispering Giant in Bethany Beach, DE
Sumoflam at the Wigwam Drive-In in Ravenna, KY

On a final note, I have to say that we did visit a few interesting places to eat. A great taco place in Houston, and, as I mentioned before, the Wigwam in Ravenna, KY.  Also of note were the Crabcake Factory in Ocean City, MD and a Japanese place with a unique name Saketumi, in Rehoboth Beach, DE.

Japanese food at the Saketumi Asian Bistro in Rehoboth Beach, DE
Enjoyed a nice Amish Buffet in Ronks, PA on the way back from Maryland

As I start a new position in new venture 2017, I look forward to traveling. The new company (PrecisionHawk) is in Raleigh, NC and so I will be taking a trip there in early January. Who knows what other delights I will find in 2017.

Following are a few other random shots from my trips in 2016:

Sumoflam with Nancy Starvaggi Schaffer, showing off the AMAZING homemade sausage and pasta from Mama Santa’s Restaurant in Cleveland, OH
We visited Texas in October. This was in Texarkana, TX
A shot with Elvis in Memphis
A large mural of a train welcomes visitors to Ravenna, KY
The Washington Court House in Washington Court House, OH was one of many unique buildings I got to visit in 2016
Cleveland Fire Memorial
Assawoman Dr. in Ocean City, MD
Visited Moon, PA in 2016. Visited Earth, TX in 2011. Earth vs Moon Police!
World’s largest Geodesic Dome in Novelty, OH
Many Unique Restaurants could be found in Ocean City and up in Delaware…
Fun with my wife at Chagrin Falls in Ohio
Bristol, Tennessee and Virginia – taken when we visited the Virginia Creeper Bike Trail
An old Mail Pouch barn in Brinkhaven, OH
Of course, you can always come across unique shop names, like this one in Houston
Killbuck Depot on the Holmes County Trail in Ohio
A Pal’s Sudden Service building. Lots of fun and it looks like the food is great too.
The Got Muchies Truck in Royalton, KY. Too funny for words
Had to add this sign…this place was one of our true 2016 highlights!
The 370 foot long Bridge of Dreams over the Mohican River near Brinkhaven.
Damascus calls itself Trail Town USA for a reason. The Appalachian Trail, the Virginia Creeper Trail and others come to a crossroads here.
Korean War Memorial in Zanesville, OH… hundreds of real helmets
Welcome to 84 Country – Eighty Four , PA
Sumoflam at Chagrin Falls Popcorn Shop in Ohio
Holmes County Trail is in the middle of Amish Country. The Bike Trail is shared with Amish Buggies
Hiker painting on a restroom wall in Damascus

 

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Roadside America Celebrates 20 Years on the Web today

My friends at Roadside America (www.roadsideamerica.com) are celebrating 20 years on the World Wide Web today (September 1, 2016.)

Home page from 1996 kickoff of Roadside America website
Home page from 1996 kickoff of Roadside America website

I have actually been using their site since the beginning and over the years have submitted stories, updates and photographs from my travels to the 50 United States and parts of Canada.

Sumoflam and Big Fish in Bena, MN, one of the 1000s of sites covered
Sumoflam and Big Fish in Bena, MN, one of the 1000s of sites covered

There are many travel sites on the web, but this, in my opinion, tops them all!! If there is a quirky, offbeat, unique roadside attraction on the back roads of America, chances are you can read about it and see photos on its site.

roadside_2tierttl2

I am honored to know one of the founders and to work with these guys!

check out the whole story at http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/54539

 

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Ohio’s Amish Country – Holmes County, OH

Holmes County Trail, Ohio
Holmes County Trail, Ohio

We took a road trip to Holmes County, OH in late July 2016 for Julianne to ride the Holmes County Bike Trail and the Mohican Valley Bike Trail.  (I will have Bike Trail posts about both of these coming soon)

While she rode, I visited a few of the places in the area.  I had visited the area in 2008, including the town of Charm.  (See my post HERE) In another trip in the early 2000s, we had also visited the unique town of Berlin.  I never did a post about the town and hope to make it there again sometime in the future.  On this particular visit, we didn’t make it to that part of Holmes County.  Rather, we focused on the towns surrounding the bike trails, beginning with Fredericksburg, OH and ending in Danville, OH.

Holmes County Trail map - Fredericksburg to Holmesville, OH
Holmes County Trail map – Fredericksburg to Holmesville, OH

DSC_7150We took the five hour drive to Fredericksburg, OH, a small community of a little over 400 people.  This is where the Holmes County trail begins at the northern end. I dropped Julianne off at the trailhead, which is located right near the town park.

Fredericksburg Town Limit
Fredericksburg Town Limit

DSC_7162Fredericksburg is home to two factories, Mrs. Miller’s Homemade Noodles and Robin Industries. Mrs. Miller’s Homemade Noodles specializes in various kinds of pasta as well as jams and jellies distributed throughout the United States.  I saw three different facilities while driving around the town.

An Amish buggy takes on a Mustang on a road in Fredericksburg
An Amish buggy takes on a Mustang on a road in Fredericksburg
An Amish buggy "speeds" along a road near Fredericksburg, OH
An Amish buggy “speeds” along a road near Fredericksburg, OH

It is also a town frequented by the Amish and one can see their buggies around the town.

The town and surrounding area features Amish furniture shops, Amish cheese shops, and even a working blacksmith shop.  (See shop list HERE) There is apparently a car wash that can also be used for the buggies.

The Fredericksburg Library is located in an old building
The Fredericksburg Library is located in an old building
Main Street Fredericksburg, OH
Main Street Fredericksburg, OH
Welcome to Holmesville, OH
Welcome to Holmesville, OH

From Fredericksburg, I drove south on OH County Road 192 to Holmesville which was the next town along the trail.

The drive to Holmesville went along some lovely cornfields and other farmland. The roadside was dotted with sunflower fields and wildflowers as well.

Parrot Farms surrounding by large corn fields
Parrot Farms surrounding by large corn fields
Sunflower Fields on the side of OH 192 between Fredericksburg and Holmesville
Sunflower Fields on the side of OH  CR 192 between Fredericksburg and Holmesville
Sharing the Trail...buggies to the left and bikes to the right.
Sharing the Trail…buggies to the left and bikes to the right.

The Holmes County Trail is a unique bike trail in that bikers share the trail with Amish Buggies.  The trails have signage for both and there were instances during the day where I saw both bikes and buggies.

The trail runs along some beautiful farmland (as did my drive). It made for a nice scenic ride for Julianne.

A bridge scene of the Holmes County Trail near Homlmesville
A bridge scene of the Holmes County Trail near Holmesville
Map of trail from Holmesville to Millersburg
Map of trail from Holmesville to Millersburg
Welcome to Millersburg
Welcome to Millersburg

The next section of drive is along Ohio Highway 83 which goes to the larger town of Millersburg, OH, which is in the heart of Ohio’s Amish Country.  There are many shops here and the town is just a few minutes west of Berlin. When I visited Berlin a few years ago, we visited the large Heini’s Cheese Chalet, but I had never written a post about it.  Though I didn’t visit it on this trip (its address is in Millersburg, but it is actually closer to Berlin), here are a few photos from my visit in 2011.

Welcome to Heini's - taken on a trip to Holmes County in 2011
Welcome to Heini’s – taken on a trip to Holmes County in 2011
Old milk cans used to bring the milk in to make the cheese
Old milk cans used to bring the milk in to make the cheese
An old Amish man relaxes in Hein's - taken in July 2011
An old Amish man relaxes in Heini’s – taken in July 2011
Large mural on Heini's
Large mural on Heini’s
One of a number of Stained Glass pieces in Heini's - taken in July 2011
One of a number of Stained Glass pieces in Heini’s – taken in July 2011
A large cheese mural located in Heini's Cheese Chalet - taken in July 2011
A large cheese mural located in Heini’s Cheese Chalet – taken in July 2011
All kinds of cheeses can be found in Heini's and they'll gladly cut the cheese for you.
All kinds of cheeses can be found in Heini’s and they’ll gladly cut the cheese for you.
Welcome to Hipp Station in Millersburg
Welcome to Hipp Station in Millersburg

Millersburg is also home to Hipp Station, the main information center for the Holmes County Trail.   It houses the Millersburg Depot which contains a shop, information, refreshments, etc.

There are nice benches to relax and, as it is right on the bike trail, it is a good place to look at the  bikers and buggies ride by.

Millersburg Depot
Millersburg Depot/Hipp Station on Holmes County Trail
Trail Sign in Millersburg, OH
Trail Sign in Millersburg, OH
Holmes County Trail in Millersburg, OH
Holmes County Trail in Millersburg, OH
Downtown Millersburg, OH in the heart of Amish Country
Downtown Millersburg, OH in the heart of Amish Country

A drive through Millersburg also provides a look at some old fashioned signs from the past.  Its a quaint little town and there are even a few fun surprises!

I had fun seeing the old 70’s style Laundromat sign and the old 7 UP sign.

Old Laundromat Sign, Millersburg, OH
Old Laundromat Sign, Millersburg, OH
7 Up sign at Elks building in Millersburg, OH
7 Up sign at Elks building in Millersburg, OH

And then there is the fun surprise….Millersburg is a place where the streets (at least one of them) have No Name!

No Name St. in Millersburg, OH. Now THAT is a unique road name
No Name St. in Millersburg, OH. Now THAT is a unique road name
Holmes Country Trail Map 3
Map of trail from Millersburg to Killbuck
Killbuck Depot on the Holmes County Trail
Killbuck Depot on the Holmes County Trail

The final rideable section of the Holmes County Trail takes riders from Millersburg to the village of Killbuck, ending at the old Killbuck Depot on Main Street (OH County Road 622).  Basically, I drove down US Route 62 (the Amish Country Byway) from Millersburg to the CR 622 turnoff. Its a nice drive and Killbuck is in a nice region of the county.

Welcome to Killbuck
Welcome to Killbuck

Julianne was fortunate to get into Killbuck just as a heavy duty thunderstorm emerged.  We got her into the car dry as the deluge hit.

Here comes the deluge. We saw this on our way to Brinkhaven.
Here comes the deluge. We saw this on our way to Brinkhaven.
Welcome to Glenmont, OH
Welcome to Glenmont, OH

The Holmes County Trail from Killbuck to Glenmont is closed, so Julianne’s bike was loaded and we headed to Brinkhaven (via Glenmont), which is the beginning of the Mohican Valley Bike Trail and also home to the “Bridge of Dreams,” the second longest covered bridge in Ohio.  I dropped Julianne off at the paved beginning of the trail near a tunnel that goes under US 62.

Mohican Valley Trail tunnel at the Brinkhaven trailhead
Mohican Valley Trail tunnel at the Brinkhaven trailhead
Welcome to Brinkhaven
Welcome to Brinkhaven

As Julianne rode down the trail, I returned to US 62 to head to the “Bridge of Dreams.”  Just near the tunnel is one of the iconic Mail Pouch Barns.  Many of these barns emblazoned with a Mail Pouch ad dot the southeast.

Mail Pouch Barn in Brinkhaven, OH
Mail Pouch Barn in Brinkhaven, OH
Mohican Valley Trail
Mohican Valley Trail

The Mohican Valley Trail is only a 4.5 mile stretch of bike trail that links the Kokosing Gap Trail (a 14.5 mile trail from Danville, OH to Mt. Vernon, OH) and the Holmes County Trail (currently connects to the primitive portion of the trail at the tunnel above).

The Mohican Valley Trail basically runs from Brinkhave, OH to Danville, OH.  Its major feature, as noted above, is the 370 foot long “Bridge of Dreams.” This classic covered bridge is of interest to all and is easily accessible by car visitors as well.

The 370 foot long Bridge of Dreams over the Mohican River near Brinkhaven.
The 370 foot long Bridge of Dreams over the Mohican River near Brinkhaven

DSC_7212The Bridge of Dreams was originally built in the 1920s as a railroad bridge, and covered in 1998. It is the second longest covered bridge in Ohio after the Smolen–Gulf Bridge over the Ashtabula River in NE Ohio (which I visited a couple of months before it opened in 2008 – see my photo HERE), and third longest covered bridge in the United States. The bridge is closed to motorized traffic but is often used by Amish buggies.

Mohican Valley Trail Map
Mohican Valley Trail Map
The Bridge of Dreams as seen from the Mohican River
The Bridge of Dreams as seen from the Mohican River
An Amish Buggy parked by the Mohican River while the Amish youth who brought it in were out swimming
An Amish Buggy parked by the Mohican River while the Amish youth who brought it in were out swimming
Amish Buggy on Mohican Valley Trail near Danville, OH
Amish Buggy on Mohican Valley Trail near Danville, OH
A Giant Adirondack Chair at an Amish Furniture place inear Danville, OH
A Giant Adirondack Chair at an Amish Furniture place inear Danville, OH

 

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