Things To Do

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: , , ,

WWII Museum In New Orleans Worth 2-Day Ticket

28090156122_434df13030_zI recently spent several days in New Orleans and one of the sites I visited was the WWII Museum. It was actually the first museum I have ever been in when a second-day pass would have been a good choice. It can be purchased for an additional $6 — when you buy a regular ticket. If you have the time, it’s worth the few extra dollars.

The reason I recommend it is the museum is divided into two floors: the European campaign and the Pacific Theatre. There is enough to read and see on each floor to easily take several hours.

One of the Best Museums

Two things make this museum one of the best. First, you are issued an interactive ‘dog tag’ with your ticket. Once you register your dog tag in a kiosk or by boarding a fake train (which is neat), you then follow the person — a real soldier — along their path through the war. They will most likely fight in one or the other campaigns — I do not know if any of the soldiers in the interactive piece fought in parts of both campaigns.

This brings the war to life in a more personal way since you get to hear their story as you make your way through the museum.

Since the museum is associated with some of Tom Hanks’ work it includes soldiers from Band of Brothers (the author was one of the museum  founders) and The Pacific (Eugene Sledge, for example), so if you have seen those series, you will recognize some names.

The other aspect of the museum that adds to its appeal is the 4D special effects movie — Beyond all Boundaries which highlights the war’s beginning. It’s worth the extra $5. The film is about 20 minutes long. We chose to watch it before walking through the museum. (you have to choose a film time when you buy your ticket).

My only criticism of the museum is there are not enough stations for listening to the soldiers’ stories and, even on a mildly crowded day like the day my daughter, her boyfriend and I went, you often have to wait too long to use a listening station. Since there are several stations to visit this can slow down your walk through the museum. They have offset this somewhat by making the content available at home by logging in with your email address.

The museum is open seven days a week, except for a handful of holidays.

27913063470_10d5245318_mCivil War Museum

Just across the street from the WWII Museum is Louisiana’s oldest Civil War museum. The museum is a repository of Confederate items and includes artifacts owned and used by Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and other Confederate leaders. Although the museum is small, everything is housed on one floor, what they have is authentic and interesting. You can probably view everything in an hour or so.

Categories: Civil War History, Things To Do, WWII | Tags: , , ,

‘Best Christmas Pageant Ever’ Promotes Real Meaning Of Jesus’ Life

23355096039_92ff22c3b9_zIt may a generational thing, but I never heard of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever before watching the play in Richmond on Saturday, Dec. 12. The play, based on the book, is a simple story designed for children, but as is often the case in simple stories, the message applies to the young and old alike.

The Story

The story centers around the Herdman children. They are the “worst kids in the history of the world. They lie, steal, smoke cigars, swear, and hit little kids.” After these children are accidently invited to church, they decide they want to be part of the Christmas play — and all the church children are too afraid of the Herdmans to compete for the starring roles. So the Herdman children become the mother of Jesus, Joseph, the wise men and the angel announcing the birth of Jesus.

What the Herdmans do though, is ask the hard, albeit comical, questions surrounding Jesus’ birth. Through their innocent, yet harsh questioning, the true meaning of Christmas begins to appear. By the time the play is finished, it is the roughhewn Herdmans that teach the Christians the true message of Jesus.

Local Performers Excel

In the play performed at the Richmond Civic Theatre, all of the actors — which is a largely a young cast — performed their lines and scenes flawlessly. It always amazes me the quality of shows produced at the Richmond theater. It is truly an asset to the region.

Although each of the characters brought the story to life, four of the actors really stood out in Saturday’s play. Moving the narration forward nicely — with a considerable amount of lines — was 6th grader, Mallory Bolser. Mallory shared the stage with her mother, Leslie Bolser. Leslie brings to life the pure exasperation her character, Grace Bradley, feels when given the last-minute task of organizing the annual Christmas play — with the added burden of having the Herdman children steal the lead roles.

In her first Richmond Civic Theater performance Ava Ansorg portrays Imogene Herdman — mother Mary in the church play. Because of Ansorg’s strong performance, including how she handles the doll representing the baby Jesus, one can feel the shift in Imogene’s understanding of the story of Jesus.

While Imogene bring the thoughtfulness to the play, it is the young Gladys Herdman, played by Addison Gulley, that delivers the humor. Gladys, who plays the Angel of the Lord appearing to the shepherds, just doesn’t understand why the Angel is so coy when telling the shepherds where Jesus is. Gladys prefers a more direct, flamboyant and less cryptic method and wants to use her favorite word — pulled from comic books — Shazaam!

When Gulley delivers her big line to the shepherds near the end of the play, the crowd erupted into laughter. The third grader definitely understands comedic timing and is not the least bit burdened with stage fright.

Final Shows

If you have never watched a performance at the Richmond Civic Theater, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, is definitely a great one to start with. The performance will have you thinking, laughing and you may even shed a tear or two.

The final three performances of the play are Friday, Dec. 18, Saturday, Dec. 19 and Sunday, Dec. 20.


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