"Cows are my passion. What I have ever sighed for has been to retreat to a farm and live entirely surrounded by cows–and china." Charles Dickens

August 15, 2011

What I Learned On My Vacation

Old suitcases in a train depot at Green's Heritage Museum in Orient, Ohio.
We took two quick, but much needed, getaways this summer. We don't get away much altogether any more because of the farm. We live within six hours from so many Midwestern and Southern locations but time and again we are drawn back to the place of my birth: Akron, Ohio. I no longer have family there but there will always be a connection to a place that I love. Our daughter has also visited with me there a few times in the past few years. Last month we met great friends from New Hampshire in Akron and then went back another time, just the four of us. I am pleased that our boys now enjoy going there, too, and they even asked for a second visit this summer as our first was not enough.

Here's what we did in no particular order, or, perhaps more importantly, what I learned on my summer vacation:

  • Queen-sized hotel rooms do not have Queen-sized beds in them.
  • Using our Hilton Honors points for free hotel rooms is a great thing.
  • We are on our last days of one room for four of us.
  • Most of Ohio is very flat.
Local people were running up and down these steps for exercise at the McKinley Memorial in Canton.
  • The steps of the McKinley Memorial in Canton are an amazing place for a workout––apparently the locals think so, too. This was my first visit even though I grew up twenty or so miles to the north.
You can safely swim in Lake Erie again––you couldn't when I was a child.
  • Tickling our toes in Lake Erie is no substitute for the Atlantic but our sons were determined to see it.
My friend Linda noticed these steps and I never had before. The Glendale Steps
were a WPA project in Akron, meant to link the neighborhood above with a park near
the Glendale Cemetery (park was never completed). Now the steps are overgrown and appear unused.
 I found out after a quick Googling that it was a project spear-headed by my great-grandmother.

    Every time we visit Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens,
    in Akron, we see something we hadn't seen before.
  • It's amazing what you notice when you are a tourist in your own homeland.
  • Red Lobster® is no substitute for a shore dinner on the ocean.
  • Passing lane hogs on interstates need to be reminded that they are in the passing lane: move over or just move yourselves!

One of the bedrooms at the James A. Garfield National Historic Site in Mentor, Ohio.
  • The National Park Service had money in the 1990s when the James A. Garfield National Historic Site in Mentor, Ohio was carefully and well-preserved, but they still need an "OPEN" sign out front.
  • The library at the James A. Garfield Historic Site
    was my favorite room, but only because the
    kitchen had been torn out for a display area.
  • You know times are tough for historic preservation when an outdoor museum [that I will not mention] is closed several days a week during the summer––and there are weeds in their driveway.
Mr. Green has put together quite a collection of buildings and carriages.

This is the bike one of the American Pickers wanted.
  • Yet there are hidden gems like Green's Heritage Museum, featured on the first episode of American Pickers, in Orient, Ohio. It's open by appointment only: no grants, no budget, no top heavy staffing, just owner-operated and loved. And here you can ignore the weeds.
  • Deer live in the suburbs [we saw three large majestic bucks in the cemetery where my father, grandparents and great-grandparents are buried––it was a magical experience.]
My old grade school building at Old Trail School in Bath, Ohio gets a second story.
I was in the first kindergarten class on the new campus in 1967 (where the large bay window is).
  • I can no longer see my old school from the road in the golden light of morning. Trees grow, fields fill in, barns are taken down. Life goes on. [It's been 40 years, deal with it, Catherine!]
  • My intrinsic mapping abilities are more reliable than the TomTom, as much as I seem to have to prove this to my family again and again.
  • I had never noticed this at the school flagpole until years after.
  • My childhood home––and neighborhood––is smaller each time I visit (but the trees are much larger).
  • If I sit in the backseat with one of my children, I am twelve again, much to the annoyance of my husband up front.
  • In an overpriced antique shop, keep looking. There is often a corner of underpriced stuff (eg. in this case, many reasonably priced books––blog to follow).
  • Don't go shopping after having a gin and tonic at the hotel bar (OK, so the books were on sale at Borders).
Henry, Hunter and Eli share a laugh after dinner.
  • Swenson's double cheesecrackburgers (in the Akron area) are still delicious, every time.
  • Avoid absolutely any store that has "Shoppe," "Ye Olde" or "Amish" in its title: it is none of the above. But we knew this already. It's still annoying.
  • Mrs. Yoder's Kitchen, in Mt. Hope, Ohio, however, is really Amish. And they make the best fried chicken and cracker pudding. Ever.
  • Getting away from the strips (after our chain hotel with swimming pool, of course) and go "off roading" in the place where you visit: it's the best way to experience America.
Everyone is always in stitches by the stories of our friend Andy January, one of my father's 
best friends when he was alive, and who would have given Johnny Carson a run for his money. 
He also has a radio show in Akron, 'My Beautiful Home' on WAKR  (and a family paint store). 
[I was on the show a few years ago––on the phone and later live––to promote The Pantry].
  • Try as you might, you can't go 'home' again.
  • West Point Market in Akron still rocks at 75 years strong but Jungle Jim's in northwest Cincinnati is the Disney World of international food shopping––on steroids.
  • After all that, and three years here now, our return trip to Kentucky felt like coming home.
A collection of old typewriters at Green's Heritage Museum.

And now, let the school year begin! (with more writing time for Mama)

You come back when you're ready!



  1. No, you can't GO home again, but home is always within if you take the time to look for it.

  2. Such a lovely post! Destiny


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