Northern Ohio: Kirtland, Novelty, Chagrin Falls & Cuyahoga Valley NP

Sumoflam with his wife at the Kirtland Temple
Sumoflam with his wife at the Kirtland Temple

During a trip in May 2016 I visited my birthplace in the Little Italy neighborhood (See Little Italy Post) of Cleveland and then spent a day with family driving around Cleveland and catching a few sites (see post about Cleveland).  On my final day I picked up my wife in Kirtland, OH.  She had been there for a conference with her sister.  While there we visited a few places and I also had the opportunity to drive a few back roads while they were busy on the conference.  Actually, some of the locations I visited on one of the mornings prior to returning to Cleveland, but they are all compiled here.

Welcome to Kirtland, OH
Welcome to Kirtland, OH
Kirtland Temple, Kirtland, OH
Kirtland Temple, Kirtland, OH
Sumoflam at the Kirtland Temple
Sumoflam at the Kirtland Temple, Kirtland, OH

On the Sunday morning I was there we got the special opportunity to ring the Temple bells at 9 AM.  Photos inside the Kirtland Temple are not allowed, so we didn’t get any pictures, but it was fun to ring the bell.  I then left her and her sister there wile I did some driving around.

As many of my readers know, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormons).  I am a convert to the Church, after

Kirtland Temple was the site of many miraculous occurrences according to LDS Church history.
Kirtland Temple was the site of many miraculous occurrences according to LDS Church history.

joining when I was 18 (back in 1975 — if interested you can read that part of my life story in my Sumoflam Singlewide Blog Here.) The Kirtland Temple figures prominently in the history of the LDS Church.  (Read details HERE on the LDS History site).  My wife comes from church pioneer heritage, but most of her relatives came from England and went to Nauvoo, which was the next stopping point west for the Mormons.  But key pieces of the church’s early history took place here.  Initially, the Prophet Joseph Smith dedicated the temple on March 27, 1836. According to church history, beginning in January and continuing past the dedication, many Church members reported witnessing heavenly manifestations during this season. Soon thereafter, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery noted the appearance of the resurrected Jesus Christ to them to accept the temple. Later, the resurrected personages of Moses, Elias, and Elijah also appeared to Joseph and Oliver to restore priesthood keys for the salvation of all mankind.

LDS Church Kirtland Visitor's Center
LDS Church Kirtland Visitor’s Center
Newell K Whitney Store
Newell K Whitney Store

Just a few blocks from the Temple is the Historic Kirtland Visitor’s Center which has a number of historic buildings. One of these was the Newell K. Whitney Store where many of the revelations now included in the Doctrine and Covenants were received by the Prophet Joseph Smith. He also received the revelation now called the Word of Wisdom,  as well as the oath and covenant of the priesthood, and the command to build the temple. Joseph also completed much of his inspired translation of the Bible here.  Following are a few other photos I took while at the temple and the visitor’s center.

Historic Sign about the Mormons in Ohio
Historic Sign about the Mormons in Ohio
The Tannery
The Tannery
Historic Kirtland
Historic Kirtland
Kirtland Temple as seen from a distance
Kirtland Temple as seen from a distance
Novelty Post Office
Novelty Post Office

After my visit to Kirtland, I continued south on US Highway 6 towards Russell Township, which also used to be known as Novelty, OH.  There is still a Novelty Post Office.  Of course, one of my favorite road trip activities is visiting towns and places with unique names and this one was a true novelty!!

I am not certain how the Post Office got its name (closed on Sundays obviously), but it is fun.  Outside of the post office, attached to the building is a large wooden postage stamp for Novelty.  See below.

Novelty Post Office
Sign on Novelty Post Office
Welcome to Russell Township
Welcome to Russell Township
ASM International
ASM International

Not far from the Novelty Post Office, on Kinsman Road, is the headquarters for ASM International (formerly known as the American Society for Metals).

According to its website, “ASM International was founded in 1913 as the American Society for Metals. Today, ASM is the world’s largest association of metals-centric materials scientists and engineers with over 30,000 members worldwide. ASM is dedicated to informing, educating and connecting the materials community to solve problems and stimulate innovation around the world. ”  But the reason I went there was for something grand…indeed, the largest geodesic dome in the world and, unique to all others, a non-covered one.

Geodesic Dome National Register of Historic Places sign
Geodesic Dome National Register of Historic Places sign
World's Largest Geodesic Dome at ASM in Novelty, OH
World’s Largest Geodesic Dome at ASM in Novelty, OH
Sumoflam at Geodesic Dome
Sumoflam at Geodesic Dome

The dome was initially constructed in 1959 and was conceived by prominent Cleveland architect, John Terence Kelly; ASM’s managing director for 50 years, William Hunt Eisenman, and futurist and inventor R. Buckminster Fuller.

The geodesic dome is actually two domes, one inside the other that are 30 inches apart, rising to a height of 103 feet and is 274 feet in diameter.  The dome is built using approximately 65,000 parts, including 13 miles of extruded aluminum tubing and tension rods welded into hexagons. There are no internal supports and the entire 80-ton weight rests on five concrete-filled pylons driven up to 77 feet into the earth.

Another view of Geodesic Dome
Another view of Geodesic Dome

The entire complex sits on a 400-foot diameter piazza with a 100-foot diameter mineral garden in the center that contains 66 labeled specimens of mineral ores with a fountain in the center. The 50,000-square foot headquarter building is a three-story semi-circular shaped concrete structure that occupies two-fifths of the piazza perimeter. The building resides on the western perimeter and is independent of the dome structure and has three distinct sections.

Inside the Dome at ASM
Inside the Dome at ASM

The building has floor-to-ceiling aluminum frame windows inside poured concrete walls and floors. The exterior of the western-facing second level glass wall is protected by a 13-foot high, 390-foot long satin-finish stainless steel “sun shield,” which protects against the afternoon sun without obstructing the view by providing 4,000 one-foot by five-inch louvers. Stainless steel, bronze, copper, aluminum, titanium and tungsten elements are incorporated into the interior design.  This was an amazing sight!

Holden Arboretum
Holden Arboretum

Not too far away from Novelty/Russell Township is the Holden Arboretum which encompasses 3,600 acres in Lake and Geauga counties.

I had hoped to visit, but time constrained me.   The arboretum offers plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities and an abundance of flora from what I could see driving by.  It is also home to a 120 foot tall “Emergent Tower” which can provide views of Lake Erie on a clear day.  The Murch Canopy walk is 500 feet long and is 65 feet above ground. I would love to visit these on a future visit. (See details here).

The Kalberer Emergent Tower at Holden Arboretum (photo from holdenarb.org)
The Kalberer Emergent Tower at Holden Arboretum (photo from holdenarb.org)
The Murch Canopy Wlk at the Holden Arboretum. (photo from kirtlandchronicle.com)
The Murch Canopy Wlk at the Holden Arboretum. (photo from kirtlandchronicle.com)
Chagrin Falls, OH
Chagrin Falls, OH

After driving past the arboretum I had to head back to meet my wife and her sister and we then headed south on OH 306 to Russell Center and then onto OH 87 to get to Chagrin Falls. This is a quaint touristy little town with two nice waterfalls smack in the middle of the village.

Chagrin Falls Historic Sign
Chagrin Falls Historic Sign
Stroll down Main Street Chagrin Falls, OH
Stroll down Main Street Chagrin Falls, OH
Sumoflam at Chagrin Falls Popcorn Shop
Sumoflam at Chagrin Falls Popcorn Shop

Chagrin Falls has a few claims to fame — it is the birthplace of famous comedian Tim Conway and was the home of Bill Watterson, the creator of the comic characters Calvin and Hobbes from age 6 on. It is also home to the Chagrin Falls Popcorn Shop, known for its massive variety of flavored popcorn.  The building now housing the Popcorn Shop was constructed in 1875 adjoining the hydro-powered flour mill to showcase “The Pride of the Falls” grocery items. It was complete with a water-wheel driven gristmill powered by the Chagrin River.  The shop opened as a Popcorn Shop in 1949 and takes pride in offering what they claim to be “the finest & freshest, locally made ice cream, Euclid Beach custard, locally roasted coffee and old fashioned candies.”  The foundation of their tradition is carefully crafted locally made popcorn, always made in small batches with only the finest ingredients.

Chagrin Falls Popcorn Shop
Chagrin Falls Popcorn Shop
Chagrin Falls Popcorn Shop T Shirt
Chagrin Falls Popcorn Shop T Shirt
Popcorn!
Popcorn!
Ice Cream Offerings at Chagrin Falls
Ice Cream Offerings at Chagrin Falls
Too bad -- No Pets allowed...I had to stay outside!
Too bad — No Good Doggies allowed…I had to stay outside!
Chagrin Falls in the middle of town
Chagrin Falls in the middle of town

The highlight of the town is the two sets of falls in the middle of town.  Its a real drawing card indeed.  The setting is wonderful with restaurants and cafes overlooking the falls. There are also a number of old buildings in the town giving it an old-fashioned and cozy feel.

Old Bank in downtown Chagrin Falls
Old Bank in downtown Chagrin Falls
Old Wall Advertisement on the side of a building in Chagrin Falls
Old Wall Advertisement on the side of a building in Chagrin Falls
David and Julianne at Chagrin Falls in Ohio
David and Julianne at Chagrin Falls in Ohio
Sumoflam at Cuyahoga Valley National Park and the Ohio and Erie Towpath Bike Trailhead
Sumoflam at Cuyahoga Valley National Park and the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Bike Trailhead

After a nice lunch in Chagrin Falls, we departed for our final destination – Cuyahoga Valley National Park. For me it was an opportunity to add another National Park to my collection, but for Julianne and her sister Laura it was an opportunity to ride the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath trail, the first of their long trail rides in a week (the second was the next weekend as they  took a portion of the Montour Trail near Canonsburg, PA).  Since that trip, Julianne has been on five major bike trails.  I will be writing about these in future blog posts including the the above two and also includes the Dawkins Line Rail Trail in SE Kentucky, the Little Miami Scenic Trail from Xenia, OH and then again with her sister on the North Bend Rail Trail east of Parkersburg, WV.  Great opportunities to see some unique places!!

Sumoflam with Julianne and Laura at the Boston Store Visitor's Center in Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Sumoflam with Julianne and Laura at the Boston Store Visitor’s Center in Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Part of a boat in the Boston Store Visitor's Center
Part of a boat in the Boston Store Visitor’s Center

While the girls rode the trail, I enjoyed reading up on the history of the Boston Store and grabbed a few shots of the surrounding buildings.  Then I just chillaxed in a rocking chair (I am a grandpa mind you) while I waited for Julianne and Laura to get back from biking.

Boats of the Erie Canal
Boats of the Erie Canal
Boston Store and Peninsula, OH history
Boston Store and Peninsula, OH history
Trail Mix Boston - Unique eatery, gift shop and snack stop in Peninsula, OH
Trail Mix Boston – Unique eatery, gift shop and snack stop in Peninsula, OH
History Diorama Plaque of the Boston Store
History Diorama Plaque of the Boston Store
Chillaxin' on the porch of Boston Store in a nice rocking chair
Chillaxin’ on the porch of Boston Store in a nice rocking chair

This was a nice final stop to a great four day trip to Ohio.  I sat on the porch, enjoyed the view, watched the bikers and reminisced on all of the fun places, great food (Little Italy!!), history and quirky sites we visited.  Then it was back home to Kentucky with a stop in Wilmington, OH, which I will cover in a subsequent post.

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A to Z Challenge: Reflections #atozchallenge

A-to-Z Reflection [2016]During the month of April 2016 I participated in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. The challenge had each blogger select a theme and then do a post thematically from A to Z during each day of April , except Sundays.

This was my first opportunity to really participate in this annual event, which just completed its 6th year.  It was not easy!!  I had to not only post something daily, but also create a theme and stick with it.  And, in my perfectionist way, I wanted to make sure there were plenty of photos and commentary.  I wrote in such a way to draw people to the more detailed posts, where ever possible. 

It was a load of fun and I completed the challenge.  Not sure how many actually did, but it was certainly tough, yet fulfilling. 

What I really loved about the event was being able to communicate and link up with others doing the same thing.  I have made some new friends on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.  I have found some interesting blogs to follow and also have a few new followers.

I most certainly look forward to participating again next year.  Now to start thinking of a good theme for next year.  May actually take a long time!!!

A BIG Thanks to Arlee Bird and her wonderful team!!

My blog was number 1337 out of 1670 participating blogs. This year my A to Z posts took readers across the back roads of America to many unique towns.  See what other bloggers posted about, check out the link: A to Z Theme Reveal List for 2016

Following is a complete listing of each with the banners associated with each post’s link. Click on the Lettered Banner to go to the specific post.

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The A Towns: Amarillo, TX – Adair, IA – Alzada, MT – Alamogordo, NM – Alligator, MS – Alliance, NE – Ada, MI – Akela Flats, NM

 

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The B Towns: Bemidji, MN – Boring, OR – Blackfoot, ID – Burk’s Falls, ON – Booger Holler, AR – Brownsville, TN – Babb, MT – Blackwater, MO – Bena, MN – Bucksnort, TN – Bugtussle, KY – Bugtussle, TX

 

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The C Towns: Cactus Flat, SD – Centralia, MO – Cape Elizabeth, ME – Climax, NC – Climax, KY – Choteau, MT – Cave City, KY – Charm, OH – Chelsea, MI – Champaign, IL – Cut Bank, MT – Caledonia, ON – Cut and Shoot, TX – China Grove, TX – Cool, TX – Coolville, OH

 

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The D Towns: Douglas, WY – DeForest, WI – Discovery Bay, WA – Dublin, OH – Dublin, TX – Dragoon, AZ – Denton, TX – Durant, OK – Danville, IL – Dallas, SD – Denver, NC – Damon, TX

 

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The E Towns: Earth, TX – Eureka Springs, AR – Elbe, WA – Easton, PA – Eldon, IA – Egg Harbor, WI – East Peoria, IL – Embro, ON – Eagle, CO – Endeavor, WI

 

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The F Towns: Flagstaff, AZ – Friendly, WV – Friendship, AR – Flippin, AR – Fair Play, SC – Fergus Falls, MN – Feely, MT – Flippin, KY – Fly, OH – Four Way, TX – Future City, IL

 

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The G Towns: Gainesville, TX – Gothenburg, NE – Guthrie, KY – Gregory, SD – Galata, MT – Glasgow, MT – Glasgow, KY – Gardiner, MT – Gillette, WY – Granbury, TX – Grand Forks, ND – Gravel Switch, KY – Gilboa, OH – Georgetown, TX

 

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The H Towns: Hell, MI – Hamtramck, MI – Hamilton, ON – Hatch, NM – Hico, TX – Hopland, CA – Hoboken, NJ – Hugo, OK – Hershey, PA – Home on the Range, ND – Hamburg, IA

 

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The I Towns: Indian Head, SK – Intercourse, PA – Ironwood, MI – Independence, MO – Idaho Falls, ID – Iona, ID – Inverness, MT – Iron River, WI

 

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The J Towns: Jamestown, ND – Joseph, OR – Jeffersonville, IN – Juneau, AK – Jackson Hole, WY – Janesville, WI – Jackson Center, OH – Jamaica Beach, TX – Jamestown, NY

 

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The K Towns: Kemmerer, WY – Keystone, SD – Ketchikan, AK – Kensington District, ON – Kadoka, SD – Kremlin, MT – Kirkwood, MO

 

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The L Towns: LeClaire, IA – Lake Nebagamon, WI – Lesage, WV – LeRoy, NY – Lizard Lick, NC – Lake Jackson, TX – Lost Springs, WY – Langdon, ND

 

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The M Towns: Mt. Horeb, WI – Meadville, PA – Metropolis, IL – Marshfield, WI – Moenave, AZ – Mystic, CT – Montrose, SD – Minot, ND – Mitchell, SD – Mapleton, ON – Medina, NY – Moose Jaw, SK – Mars, PA

 

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The N Towns: Nicholson, PA – Nekoma, ND – Natchez, MS – Neah Bay, WA – Nauvoo, IL – Newport, OR – Newark, OH – Normal, IL – Nice, CA – New Salem, ND

 

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The O Towns: Only, TN – Old Orchard Beach, ME – Okay, OK – Oil Springs, ON – Oak Creek, CO – Oacoma, SD – Odd, WV – Onawa, IA – Oddville, KY

 

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The P Towns: Pella, IA – Peculiar, MO – Pierre Part, LA – Point Pleasant, WV – Paris, KY – Paris, TX – Paris, TN – Paris, ON – Port Orchard, WA – Powder River, WY – Paducah, KY – Port Gibson, MS – Palmyra, NY – Perryville, KY – Paxton, NE – Pembroke, NY – Penn Yan, NY – Ponder, TX

 

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The Q Towns: Quincy, IL – Quartzsite, AZ – Queen City, OH (Cincinnati) – Quicksand, KY

 

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The R Towns: Roswell, NM – Regent, ND – Rhinelander, WI – Rabbit Hash, KY – Raton, NM – Red Lodge, MT – Riverside, IA – Rugby, ND – Rudyard, MT

 

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The S Towns: Steubenville, OH – Stanley, ID – Sedona, AZ – Santa Rosa, CA – Staunton, IL – Sisters, OR – Seymour, WI – Santa Claus, IN – Sandwich, NH – Sweet Grass, MT – Shakespeare, ON – Stratford, ON – Sikeston, MO – Success, MO – Soda Springs, ID

 

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The T Towns: Tightwad, MO – Talent, OR – Toad Suck, AR – Thermopolis, WY – Teton Valley, ID – Tetonia, ID – Tuba City, AZ – Tornado, WV – Tavistock, ON – Tomahawk, WI – Tripp, SD – Tunica, MS – Tioga, TX – Ten Sleep, WY – Torch, OH

 

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The U Towns: Uncertain, TX – Uncasville, CT – Upper Lake, CA – Ukiah, CA – Upton, KY

 

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The V Towns: Vulcan, AB – Valier, MT – Vernal, UT – Vandalia, IL – Vicksburg, MS – Versailles, KY – Vincennes, IN

 

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The W Towns: Wharton, TX – Welland, ON – Wapiti, WY – Wall, SD – Winterset, IA – Winner, SD – Walla Wall, WA – Worland, WY – Walcott, IA – Waldo, AR – West Montrose, ON

 

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The X Towns: Xenia, OH – Lexington, KY – Cotopaxi, CO – Oxford County, ON – Texarkana, AR – Texline, TX – Rexburg, ID – Exie, KY

 

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The Y Towns: Yampa, CO – West Yellowstone, MT –  Yellville, AR – York, NE

 

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The Z Towns: Zanesville, OH – Zelienople, PA – Zurich, MT

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A to Z Challenge: The H Towns #atozchallenge

During the month of April I am participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. The challenge has each blogger select a theme and then do a post thematically from A to Z during each day of April , except Sundays. My blog is number 1337 out of 1670 participating blogs. This year my A to Z posts will take you across the back roads of America to many unique what other bloggers will be posting about, check out the link: A to Z Theme Reveal List for 2016

H The H Towns

Hell, Michigan

Hell, Michigan
Hell, Michigan
Hell Bench in Hell, MI
Hell Bench in Hell, MI
Hell Post Office
Hell Post Office
Direction to Hell from Pickney, MI
Direction to Hell from Pinckney, MI
Hell Weather Bureau
Hell Weather Bureau

I can’t in good conscience include a post about towns that begin with H without starting with Hell, Michigan. Located near Pinckney on a beautiful forest drive, Hell is a great tourist spot.  There are only a few buildings there including an unofficial Post Office (it is actually part of Pinckney, but they have this one there and will do a Hell post mark).  There is an ice cream/gift shop called I Scream, then there is the Dam Fine Food and Spirits place and you can even get official Dam U T-shirts (Damnation University).  No public restrooms, just Porta Potties.  You can see my complete post about Michigan and Hell that I wrote back in 2008 HERE.

Hamtramck, Michigan

The creation of Ukranian born Dmytro Szylak, Hamtramck Disneyland still brings in vistors to Detroit
The creation of Ukranian born Dmytro Szylak, Hamtramck Disneyland still brings in vistors to Detroit
A menagerie of oddball and offbeat things all over the roof, side of the house and the yard - Hamtramck Disneyland
A menagerie of oddball and offbeat things all over the roof, side of the house and the yard – Hamtramck Disneyland
Hamtramck Disneyland in 2008 - Detroit
Hamtramck Disneyland in 2008 – Detroit
Polish Deli Hamtramck
Polish Deli Hamtramck
Old Ice Cream Shop in Hamtramck
Burks Igloo Ice Cream Shop in Hamtramck
A Shop converted to a Mosque in Hamtramck, MI
A Shop converted to a Mosque in Hamtramck, MI

Sticking in Michigan, swing over to the Hamtramck suburb of Detroit.  This is a very interesting place to say the least.  Hamtramck was originally settled by German farmers, but Polish immigrants flooded into the area when the Dodge Brothers plant opened in 1914. Poles used to make up a large proportion of the population. It is sometimes confused with Poletown, a traditional Polish neighborhood, which used to lie mostly in the city of Detroit and includes a small part of Hamtramck. But more recently (November 2015) the blue-collar city that has been home to Polish Catholic immigrants and their descendants for more than a century has now become what demographers think is the first jurisdiction in the nation to elect a
majority-Muslim council.  In fact, in 2013 the town earned the distinction of becoming what appears to be the first majority-Muslim city in the United States following the arrival of thousands of immigrants from Yemen, Bangladesh and Bosnia over a decade.

Despite all of this, tucked away on a side street is probably one of the most interesting accumulations of weird whirly gigs, mannequins, and a plethora of oddball knick knacks.  Known as Hamtramck Disneyland, it is a yard art folk art located owned by a man named Dmytro Szylak. Hamtramck Disneyland was started in 1992 and came to be finished in 1999. Szylak died at age 92 in May 2015 and now the future of the place, located at 12087 Klinger St in Hamtramck, is in question. But the menagerie of fun will always be etched in my mind.

Hamilton, Ontario

Canadian Warplane Museum in Hamilton, Ontario
Canadian Warplane Museum in Hamilton, Ontario
Jet on display at Warplane Museum
Jet on display at Warplane Museum
Hutch's Burgers and French Fries in Hamilton, Ontario
Hutch’s Burgers and French Fries in Hamilton, Ontario
Tews Falls in Ontario
Tews Falls in Ontario
Tews Falls, Hamilton, Ontario
Tews Falls, Hamilton, Ontario
Webster Falls, Hamilton, Ontario
Webster Falls, Hamilton, Ontario

While living in Ontario in 2008, I visited a number of places and always seemed to pass through Hamilton, a wonderful place to visit.  In the town itself is the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, which contains over 40 different aircraft. Then there are the waterfalls!!  The township has over 100 waterfalls within a short drive from downtown, and many of them are spectacular.  The area is part of the Niagara Escarpment which provides perfect geological conditions for waterfalls to occur, from Tobermory to Niagara Falls. The most scenic waterfall in Hamilton is Webster’s Falls. With its 98 ft crest, it is the largest waterfall within the city. Tew’s Falls is a 135 ft ribbon waterfall, and is the tallest waterfall found in Hamilton. Both are in photos above. There is a website dedicated to the waterfalls of Hamilton HERE.  And then, after all of the waterfalls, head over to Lake Ontario and to the shoreside burger joint known as Hutch’s on the Beach for a great burger in a 1960s style diner.

Hatch, New Mexico

A & W Family in Hatch, NM
A & W Family in Hatch, NM
Muffler Man in Hatch, NM
Muffler Man in Hatch, NM
Mural in Hatch, NM
Mural in Hatch, NM
Hatch Chiles
Hatch Chiles

We’ll move from Hutch’s on the Beach clear south to Hatch, New Mexico. Hatch is known as the Chile Capital of the World. Located off Interstate 25, between Las Cruces and Truth or Consequences, the Village of Hatch has a population registered at little over 1,600 people.  Chiles can be seen everywhere, both dried and fresh.  The Hatch Green Chiles are my most favorite in the world!! Stop into one of the shops and get some and you too will be hooked.  Every year in September they have their Hatch Valley Chile Festival which looks amazing.  While in Hatch, check out Sparky’s burger joint which has a vintage A&W Family on the roof and nearby is giant Muffler Man.  Ronald McDonald, Colonel Sanders and other fun stuff decorates the place known for BBQ and their World Famous Green Chile Cheeseburger.  I went through there a few years ago, but never got around to writing a blog post.  But many of my photos can be seen HERE.

Hico, Texas

Portion of a mural in Hico, TX by artist Stylle Read
Portion of a mural in Hico, TX by artist Stylle Read
Giant Spurs at a business in Hico, Texas
Giant Spurs at a business in Hico, Texas
Billy the Kid Museum in Hico, Texas
Billy the Kid Museum in Hico, Texas
Old Dr Pepper Wall Mural in Hico, Texas
Old Dr Pepper Wall Mural in Hico, Texas

Hico is Texas all the way.  Only about 1400 people live there, but everything is BIG there.  From the giant 12 foot tall spurs in front of a business to the many murals splashed on walls throughout the town, it is a fun place.  And of course, you can’t miss the Billy the Kid Museum in downtown.  The town where “Everybody is Somebody” is covered in my 2012 Blog Post HERE.

Hopland, California

Hopland, CA
Hopland, CA
Welcome to Real Goods
Welcome to Real Goods
Needing to Pee? sign in Hopland, CA
Needing to Pee?  sign in Hopland, CA
"Horn Dragon" by Diego Harris. Currently on display at Real Goods Store in Hopland, CA
“Horn Dragon” by Diego Harris. Currently on display at Real Goods Store in Hopland, CA

In May 2015 I was in the San Francisco area to participate in Antsy McClain’s Woodflock gathering in Red Bluff, CA.  Along the way we passed a sign that said “Needing to Pee?”  What a kick! It was one of many signs in Hopland advertising the naturalist’s department store known as Real Goods. Hopland It is located on the west bank of the Russian River 13 miles south-southeast of Ukiah, at an elevation of 502 feet and has a population of about 750 environmentally conscious folks.  I got to meet one of America’s Solar Pioneers while there and saw a plethora of interesting items inn the shop, which is an extension of their massive website catalog.  The place has a see through working beehive, the strangest restrooms in the world and some interesting, unique and even quirky items for sale.  See my full post about Real Goods HERE.

Hoboken, New Jersey

Welcome to Hoboken , NJ
Welcome to Hoboken , NJ
The grandkidz get a view of Manhattan from Frank Sinata Park in Hoboken. (Photo by Marissa Noe)
The grandkidz get a view of Manhattan from Frank Sinatra Park in Hoboken. (Photo by Marissa Noe)
At Carlos Bake Shop in Hoboken, NJ in 2015
At Carlos Bake Shop in Hoboken, NJ in 2015
Famed Cannoli at Carlo's Bake Shop in Hoboken
Famed Cannoli at Carlo’s Bake Shop in Hoboken

On another family trip in 2015, my wife, daughter and grandchildren all headed east to Connecticut for a baby blessing.  On the way we made a stop in Hoboken, NJ, which offers amazing views of New York City and is also the home of world famous Carlos Bake Shop, from the TV show Cake Boss.  The town is packed, the roads are narrow, but the atmosphere, even at 11 PM, is amazing.  See my complete roadtrip report, including Hoboken photos (and Hershey, PA photos) HERE.

Hugo, Oklahoma

Welcome to Historic Hugo, OK
Welcome to Historic Hugo, OK
Elephant Statue in front of the Hugo Chamber of Commerce
Elephant Statue in front of the Hugo Chamber of Commerce
Old wall mural in Hugo depicts some of the history of the town.
Old wall mural in Hugo depicts some of the history of the town.
Showmen's Rest, a cemetery for circus workers in Hugo, Oklahoma
Showmen’s Rest, a cemetery for circus workers in Hugo, Oklahoma
Dedicated to Circus Performers
Dedicated to Circus Performers
Circus Lives Celebrated
Circus Lives Celebrated

On a return trip from Texas in 2014, I made my way into southeast Oklahoma for a visit to Hugo, which has the nickname of Circus City USA as it is perhaps best known as a resting place for Circus Performers and, has become the eternal resting place for many of these performers. Hugo has been a circus wintering ground since 1942 and is still such for three circuses and their staff and performers, The Carson and Barnes Circus, The Kelly-Miller Circus, and the Culpepper-Merriweather Circus.  It is a common site to drive past their grounds in the winter and see them taking care of an elephant or working on their equipment. The town cemetery, Mt. Olivet Cemetery, has a special area called Showmen’s Rest which features unique headstones and grave sites for circus performers and owners. there is also a section called Bull Rider’s Reprieve set aside as a resting place for rodeo riders that have passed on.  I thoroughly enjoyed the brief visit to this hallowed ground to remember circus performers.  Here are a few photos from this fascinating corner of a cemetery.  Read more about it in my 2015 post HERE.

Hershey, Pennsylvania

Hershey's Chocolate World
Hershey’s Chocolate World
Amaree, Seth and Marissa at Hershey Chocolate World in 1990s
Some of my children  at Hershey Chocolate World in 1990s
Joselyn gives Grampz a Hershey Kiss
Joselyn gives Grampz a Hershey Kiss

In the southwest region of Pennsylvania, near Harrisburg, the chocolate scented town of Hershey rests. Home of the Hershey Chocolate company, the town is decorated everywhere with chocolaty things, right down to the town’s Hershey’s Kiss shaped streetlights. I visited there in 1998 and then again in 2015. Hershey’s Chocolate World has some great stuff, lots of chocolate for sale and even a factory tour.  We visited Hershey on the same trip as Hoboken, so check out my blog link above.

Home on the Range, North Dakota (Honorable Mention)

Home on the Range sign in North Dakota
Home on the Range sign in North Dakota

Oh give me a home where the buffalo roam…well, Home on the Range is somewhere in Western North Dakota off of Interstate 94. It turns out that Home on the Range is a working Catholic-run ranch for boys and girls ages 12-19, especially those that were abused or come from broken families. It helps them readjust and cope.  Appears to be a great program.

Hamburg, Iowa (Honorable Mention)

Welcome to Hamburg, IA
Welcome to Hamburg, IA
Stoner Drug - Hamburg, Iowa - what a name for a drug store
Stoner Drug – Hamburg, Iowa – what a name for a drug store

Finally, I wanted to mention the small town of Hamburg, Iowa only because of the unique shop there known as Stoner Drug Store.  They even sell T-Shirts!! The Drug store still has a working Malt/Soda Bar like they had in the 1960s. You can see more HERE.

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