Ohio Events

Thanks To All Who Made Hocking Hills An Enjoyable Trip

30224383885_682bc4e316_zFor possibly a decade, I’ve been saying I want to go to Hocking Hills. Both my wife and daughter were okay with going — and my dog Versa could live in the forest — but, for countless reasons, I never planned the trip.

This weekend was different. I cleaned the van, threw in a mattress (in case we could not find lodging) — and Amy, Versa and I heading to Logan, Ohio, to see what Hocking Hills was like.

We were not disappointed. Saturday, we visited Old Man’s Cave and hiked about five or six miles. On Sunday we hiked near Cedar Falls. During our trip, we saw a deer, a handful of wild turkeys and, of course, stunning landscape — and we met some incredibly nice people.

Illegal Parking — Just Say No!

First there was the park ranger who pulled up behind me as I was unloading my gear to walk through Old Man’s Cave. I had parked behind two vehicles in the shoulder/ditch area of the state route near the park’s entrance.

“I’m going to do you a favor, the park ranger said, and just give you a warning. I am going to ticket the vehicles in front of you. This is a no parking zone. It’s a really dangerous place to park.”

When the friendly officer further explained by not ticketing us he was saving us $135, Amy gave him a high five– which he returned, grinning.

So, we moved the vehicle, thankful for the financial break, and decided to try the parking lot even though it was overflowing. We found a spot, parked legally and spent several hours hiking and photographing the beautiful scenery.

Conkle’s Hollow

29942994180_1b5d6df255_zAfter Old Man’s Cave we were uncertain where to go so we headed to Conkle’s Hollow, but noticed a sign that pets were not permitted on the trail so we left. We then stopped at the state-run campground, hoping against the odds, that they would have a cabin or campsite to rent (they did not), but it was here that a young lady really helped us out.

Since my only goal for the weekend was to get us there, I did not know which trails were the best/worst to hike with a dog. The woman at the campground did know though. She took the time to show me the best trail — explained the terrain (‘there’s one hard hill before the lake’) and marked a spot on the map so I knew where to park to easily access Cedar Falls park.

In For The Night

After hiking a couple of hours Saturday evening, we headed back to the local Walmart to pick up some odds and ends and to decide where to sleep. We knew we could sleep in the Walmart parking lot, but were concerned the dog would be restless (yes we have become those people) due to the street lights. So, we headed to a nearby motel while searching online for deals. The lady at the motel said they were full, but then picked up the phone to find us a room in a nearby town. Although unsuccessful in her attempt, her willingness to help was typical of the way we were treated all weekend.

We decided to try one more place — near Old Man’s Cave. By now it was dark and getting cooler. We pulled into Caveman’s Retreat and the woman reserved us a campsite quickly and easily — and her pleasant demeanor gained her a repeat customer. The site was exactly what we needed and by 9 p.m. we were tucked safely inside our makeshift camper.


Inside Hocking Hills forest and much of the surrounding area, we were cut off from the electronic world. It was a pleasant distraction. Temperatures dipped into the low 40s the night we stayed, but inside our van, beneath our heavy-duty blanket, we were warm and content.

After a good night’s sleep, we headed out Sunday morning for an enjoyable, scenic 10-mile hike at Cedar Falls.

When we left the region Sunday afternoon, we both knew one thing for certain.

We would be back.


Categories: Ohio, Ohio Events, Things To Do | Tags: , , ,

Hollywood Brings Just A Little Bit Of Fame To My Hometown

17156578214_534f58a81e_oNames like Timothy Hutton, Josh Hutcherson and James Franco are not names usually associated with southwest Ohio where I live, but for 24 hours over the weekend, those names attracted spectators hoping to get a glimpse of Hollywood fame.

All three actors were in town to film scenes from the upcoming Franco film — The Long Home.

Although meeting the stars would be cool, what I was most interested in was watching the film crew transform the town into a movie set. I watched as the building being used as the backdrop for the film– Dale’s Pool Hall as it is locally known — was transformed into a 1940s-era structure. Workers could be seen altering the building’s façade early Sunday morning — eventually adding signage above the diner labeling it F&J’s. While they worked, cars from the 1940s were brought onto the set and gravel was placed on the street to create the appearance of a unpaved road in Tennessee.

Filming started at 4 p.m. and was scheduled to last until 4 a.m.

Although I did not stick around to see the celebrities, I did take my daughter up to the set at 10:30 p.m. to see if she could catch a glimpse of the fame — we left at midnight without success. But despite our lack of success, the set did bring a feeling of excitement and intrigue to our small town.

Other Famous People Visit Preble County

It’s not the first time famous actors have been in Preble County — although it may be the first time a major picture has been filmed here. When Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise starred in Rain Man, some of the movie was filmed in the southwest Ohio area as well as in nearby Metamora, Indiana. My wife — who was a teen when the movie was filmed — was able to secure some movie memorabilia and an image of Tom Cruise watching a go-kart race at G & J Kartway — in Camden on the south end of Preble County.

But there have been others as well.

Garth Brooks was signed to perform at the Preble County Fair about a year before he became famous — and he honored his commitment. Years ago, George Wendt (of Cheers) was spotted at the Preble County Fair and members of the TV Show Dallas were also spotted inside the county.

2843_127627661440But possibly the most intriguing connection to Hollywood and Preble County was from the early 1970s. A character actor — largely unknown today — Billy De Wolfe befriended the region after getting pulled over for speeding on Interstate 70 in Preble County. According to the March 4, 1974 edition of The Register-Herald, which announced his death, De Wolfe’s “comments on national television program put Eaton on the map.” The paper further reported De Wolfe had,

“… adopted the Eaton community and was interested in its activities. It was not unusual for him to make a telephone call to a friend here on the spur of the moment.”

Later that same year he is mentioned in a publication about the annual Preble County Pork Festival. When De Wolfe appeared at the 1973 Pork Festival, the paper said,

“The late Billy De Wolfe of Hollywood, Calif., arrived in the community Thursday and spend many hours visiting with local residents and visitors.

He willingly signed hundreds of autographs, watched the various events and activities, appeared with Bob Braun on the 50-50 Club and was the ‘Candy Man’ in the final numbers of two of the Preble Festival Swingers’ three shows which played to a packed house.”

Although the roles played by Franco and the cast of The Long Home are considerably different than the ones played by De Wolfe, Sunday afternoon in Eaton had the same feeling described more than 40 years ago. Just like De Wolfe, the actors signed autographs and — in the modern era–  took ‘selfies’ with spectators.

And the actors seemed genuinely thrilled by their fans’ adoration.

So, who knows, maybe we’ll get lucky again — with a new generation of actors putting Eaton back on the map.

Categories: 8th congressional district, Ohio Events, Preble County

2014 In Review: Your Favorites and Mine

One thing I learned while blogging in 2014 is there is no shame in admitting an idea is not your own. In fact, Solomon of old had it right when he said, ‘there is nothing new under the sun.’

A blogger I follow, created a list similar to mine — listing reader’s favorite entries compared to her favorites. Well, here is mine. Your favorite entries — based on page views — versus entries I felt were my best.


Your Favorites

An amphicar cruises in St. Mary's Lake during the 2014 Lake Festival in Celina, Ohio.

An amphicar cruises in St. Mary’s Lake during the 2014 Lake Festival in Celina, Ohio.

Amphicars Make A Splash At Annual Ohio Show

I fell back on my community newspaper reporting days for this entry. Ever since I was a child and saw my neighbor’s Amphicar, I ‘always wanted to see one in action. This year, I drove an hour north to Celina, Ohio and watch 15-20 cars drive into St. Mary’s Lake. (Click on image to see more Amphicar photos)


Phrases I Heard At Work — That Still Make Me Smile

I have heard — and said — my share of one liners at work. This entry was about a few of the most memorable conversations and events I have witnessed while earning a living.


Significant Revolutionary War Battle Did Not Involve British Soldiers

This story comes from my mother’s family line — the Beatys. My grandfather of the Revolutionary War era was on hand for one of the most important battle of the conflict — but he was sidelined by a rattlesnake bite.

My Favorites

Little League with the Giants.

Little League with the Giants.

Little League and the Big Red Machine

In my early 20s I took a temporary job at a local factory and when I introduced myself to my new co-worker, he said, “I know who you are. I was always trying to beat your batting average in Little League.” It was at least the second time someone at work had referenced my Little League career so this entry is a look at the news coverage about my ‘career’ from a small village newspaper.


Confederate Families Exit The U.S. To Colonize Brazil

I am always fascinated by all the American history I do not know. This entry is about a group of Confederate families that left the United States after the War Between the States — and the heritage they created in present-day Brazil.

See Jim, It Doesn’t Hurt — History of Product Testing on Humans

This was my first attempt at satire. The entry centers around a newspaper photo of one of my teachers who volunteered to be tested with an unknown substance, in an effort to raise funds for the local high school band.

Categories: American History, Civil War History, Family History, Ohio Events