Note: As you read this log, you'll see this symbol scattered throughout: (w). Those symbols are links to Wikipedia articles giving more in depth information about places we went and things we saw, for those who are interested.
How It Happened
In the days leading up to this vacation, whenever anyone asked me where we were going, and I said "Ohio," they would invariably answer "Oh, do you have family there?" As if they couldn't imagine any other possible reason why we would want to go to Ohio!
Well, as it happens, we do have family there. Terry's Dad (Bob) and his wife (Jean) live half of the year in California (where he's from) and half in Ohio (where she's from). And they invited us to visit them in Ohio, for Jean's 86th birthday party.
But that's a long way to go for a birthday party, so we decided to extend the trip and spend some time visiting Ohio's Amish country. Terry has always been fascinated by the Amish (w), and has read several books about them. Recently, we both read a book called House Calls and Hitching Posts, a book about Dr. Elton Lehman, a doctor in Mt. Eaton, Ohio, whose practice included a large number of Amish patients. This was a very interesting book, and a good introduction to the Amish and their way of life.
Please note: I'm not going to take any time in this log to explain who and what the Amish are. The Wikipedia article referenced above has a good description of them, and if you Google "Amish," you'll find more information than you could read in your lifetime.
Let me mention one thing up front, though. There have been a lot of inaccurate portrayals of the Amish in the media, so if all you know about them is what you've seen in the movies and on TV, you probably don't have a very good picture of them. In particular, if you've seen or heard of a "reality" show called Amish Mafia - FORGET IT! I haven't seen the show myself, but from what I've heard and read about it, it's a travesty. More on that later.
We found a resort in our timeshare network in a place called Apple Valley, a resort area just outside of the (very) small town of Howard, Ohio, about halfway between Columbus and Cleveland:
The green pin shows the location of Apple Valley, and the area to the east of the green pin, extending as far as Interstate 77, and bisected by US Highway 62 (and which looks empty on the map at this scale, but which is far from empty in real life), is roughly the extent of Amish country.
General Impressions of Ohio
The first thing I noticed about Ohio, at least after we got out of the city and into the countryside, was how green it was. I commented to several people that the green seemed to be a richer, more vibrant green than we see here in California. But everyone I said that to pointed out that they had recently had some unusually rainy weather, and if it hadn't have been for the rain, I would have seen a lot less green and a lot more brown.
Well, maybe. But to this city boy's eye, everything was enchanting. Here are some pictures to give you a general idea of the kind of place where we were, and the kinds of things we were seeing:
Farms, Barns and Silos
Mile and Miles and MILES of Corn Fields
Hundreds of Bales of Hay
Tractors and Other Farm Machinery
Sometimes we'd see a tractor or other farm machine driving down the road! Unfortunately, I never got a picture of that.
I noticed that even small houses had large yards:
How'd you like to have to mow one of those lawns?
Although Ohio isn't part of the "Bible Belt," I did notice many churches. Not only large, traditional churches, like these two I saw across the street from each other in the town of Granville:
...but also many smaller churches, such as the ones advertised by these roadside signs:
As I've mentioned in other trip logs, every time I travel East, I'm struck by the prevalence of brick and clapboard construction. You don't see much of either material here in SoCal, but they're both all over the place in the East - sometimes in the same building:
And finally, just before we get to the trip log itself, here are some miscellaneous pictures, that I took just because I saw something that looked interesting:
Country Store in Homer... with some interesting products for sale
And finally (I know, I said that in the last paragraph), here's something I never expected to see in Ohio:
An oil well! We saw several, actually, although most of them weren't operational.
And that's it for the introductory material. Click here to start reading the trip log.