Tag: Ohio

X Marks the Spot Along the Ohio River

The story of the Ohio River has never been straight and clear. Like the waterway itself, the history of the river meanders and rolls, falls and loops about again. This is a river alive with the spirit of Native Americans; moving with the enterprise of frontier families, yet still learning to balance the demands of commerce with the fragility of nature.

R Rising Sun West

Be forewarned – there is a robbers’ lair tucked into the banks of the Ohio River. Named Cave-In-Rock by notorious pirate and murderer Samuel Mason, this once violent site is now a peaceful addition to the Illinois State Park system. Visitors often stay in  comfortable cabins while exploring the nearby iron furnace, or the Garden of the Gods.

Located in Clarksville, Indiana, the once impressive 26 foot drop in elevation along two and one half miles of the Ohio River is now an educational site where fossils more than 390 million years old are preserved. Due to the fluctuating water levels of the Ohio River, the Falls of the Ohio State Park is best visited in late summer and through early winter.

The public is invited to learn more about the Ohio River where it flows through Southeastern Indiana when independent filmmaker Dennis Neary presents his film, Take the River, at the Lawrenceburg Public Library on Tuesday, May 10, 2016 at 6:00PM.

W is for Whitewater Canal Tunnel

Just a short stroll from South Miami Avenue in the Southwest Ohio town of Cleves is tucked an often overlooked piece of history: the Cincinnati – Whitewater Canal Tunnel.

Now a mere mere hint of what it once was and what it once promised for the region, this silt-filled tunnel had been used by canal boats for just thirteen years. Sold to the Indianapolis and Cincinnati Railroad in 1863, soon locomotives thundered through the often flooded tunnel until being abandoned in the late 1880s.

Built during the years of 1839 – 1843, the Whitewater Canal Tunnel linked Hagerstown and Connersville, Indiana to Harrison, Ohio before entering Lawrenceburg, Indiana, until reaching the mighty Ohio River.


One of twelve canal tunnels in the country at the time, today only four such tunnels remain. This nearly forgotten structure was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001.

For more information, please visit:







A is for Athens

Well, the flavors of Athens -as in Athens, Greece. And what flavors they are!

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When planning your next visit to Harrison, Ohio, be sure to include a ravenous stop at The Big Greek Cafe. It’s a perfect choice for families, couples and even business meetings.

Dimitri Evangelou is that personable guy behind the counter. He also happens to be the owner, who describes his menu as ‘Greek comfort food’. Certainly there can be no doubt about that! Fragrant, delicious, and satisfying – it’s like hanging out in your mother’s kitchen just in time for dinner.

Athens GREEK DE Slicing Gyro

As soon as you walk in the door, it’s obvious that you’ve come to a neighborhood place. Dimitri enjoys feeding people and has a knack for making them feel welcome. Whether picking up a carry-out lunch, or bringing family in for dinner, he knows many of his customers by name.


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For those folks new to the Big Greek Cafe, the menu is descriptive, but if that’s not enough information, the friendly people behind the counter are happy to answer questions about any entree, side dish or dessert.


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There’s always room for friends and family at The Big Greek Cafe – just come hungry!


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Good food made with love, heritage, and pride.

Sometimes it’s best just to admit it – no willpower can overpower the allure of that cake.



DH Athens GREEK Retail2And why not take a little bit of Athens home with you?



So come on in, have a seat, grab a fork, and close your eyes – your excursion to Athens is underway!


Y is for Yellow Springs

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Yellow Springs is located in Greene County, Ohio. It’s a small town bursting with events, history, activities and something new around every turn.

Grab some maps, a lot of information and a couple of post cards when you stop by the former Yellow Springs Depot, then spend at least a weekend exploring the area.

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The Glen Helen Raptor Center offers unusual opportunities to see birds of prey up close; to hear a variety of birds’ voices, and to feel the air move as an owl uses his powerful wings to fly.

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It’s a good idea to lace up some comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots when you visit the Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve. Everywhere you look, there is something beautiful – something special. Photographs simply cannot capture the peace of the place. There is an unexpected joy and a tranquil wisdom that permeates the rock walls and rushing streams.

When the day winds down, the town of Yellow Springs offers an abundance of restaurants so varied as to meet the gastronomical needs of everyone from vegans to beef aficionados.. As far as lodging, there are historic inns, chain hotels, and bed and breakfasts each waiting for your tuckered feet and sleepy head.

U is for Unexpected

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Some of the prettiest treasures are tucked right under our noses, or near major highways, anyway. When traveling between Kentucky and Indiana, close to the Ohio state line, an unexpected refuge for man and beast, bird and fish waits for us.

The Oxbow is home to countless land and waterfowl, amphibians, mammals and more. Wildlife is protected here, making this haven just off US 50 near Greendale, Indiana, a perfect setting for plein air painters, binocular clad birders, and contemplative walkers.

This special place is open to the public free of charge and offers an unexpected, little-known escape from the usual routine.

As with any lovely spot, when you visit, please be respectful of the earth by removing any evidence of your visit, and please consider joining the Friends of the Oxbow as a way to ensure future visitors an undisturbed sanctuary of their very own, too.

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Simon and Garfunkel Had It All Figured Out

OK – did I just date myself?

I have to admit that I was one of those kids who knew all of the lyrics to “Richard Corey”, “Scarborough Fair”, and “Mrs. Robinson”. Saturday afternoons were filled with records being played on the Zenith while everyone sang and pitched-in to clean the house.

Hmmm, come to think of it, my siblings and I had some pretty impressive dance moves up there on the couch and footstool – brooms and dust cloths in hand.

Anyway, singing “It’s All Happening at the Zoo” at top of my lungs may or may not have had an impact upon my penchant for zoos, since I’ve always felt a deep connection to animals, the beautiful, and the vulnerable.

While some kids wanted to live in castles or on islands, or with their favorite grandmother, I just wanted to live in the Philadelphia Museum of Art or at the Philadelphia Zoo. Both, preferably.

That hasn’t happened – not yet, anyway –  so I console myself by re-reading “The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler”; by lingering in galleries and museums until the doors are being locked; by adopting an oh-so-needy and way-too-adorable homeless cat … or two … or more (four being the limit set by my more pragmatic half), and by visiting aquariums and zoos.

My most recent trip was to the Cincinnati Zoo. While its urban setting might restrict  expansion beyond the original 65 acres (off-site locations notwithstanding), this is a zoo that is vibrant and dynamic and always evolving, as you can see on my photo-blog, Creatzart.com .

This level of excitement is due in no small part to Thane Maynard. Yes, that Thane Maynard of the 90-Second Naturalist. This guy is passionate, driven and brilliant. As the director of this historic zoo, Maynard has brought it into the 21st century with the installation of solar panels over the parking area; continually updated animal environments to allow a more natural feel and room for the animals to move, and under his watch, the launch of a very Green restaurant.

The conservation efforts of the Cincinnati Zoo have been tremendous and have resulted in substantial savings of water, gas, and electricity. The monies saved by these often simple measures have been reinvested into the husbandry of the animals, as well as into educational programs, special events and behind-the-scenes tutorials for enthusiastic visitors.

Certainly this ethical and responsible zoo is all about balance. Since opening the doors in 1875, the Zoo has protected wildlife and worked to secure their futures, while providing we non-safari folks with a peek into the breath-taking worlds of majestic animals and delicate flowers, normally found far beyond our own front doors.

An engaging conversation with a Hyacinth Macaw, or a restorative walk past the waterfall inside the lovely conservatory, or a study of the wildly diverse botanical garden, blend beautifully with the hard-core science taking place at C.R.E.W. (The Carl H. Lindner Jr. Family Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife)  as experts in many fields pull their respective experiences, knowledge and genius together to stay the very real threat of extinction of many endangered animals and plants.

This is important work that impacts the long-term future not only of polar bears, African Violets and Sumatran rhinos, but also of humans, and ultimately the earth. As scientists and the general public learn more about the animals in captivity, that information can be utilized to save more and more animals in the wild.

Although my preference is for every animal to be free – to swim gracefully through ice-capped water, or to lounge beneath 110 degree sunshine – that isn’t reality. Human expansion and human exploitation have decimated vital resources including water, food,and available real estate.

Certainly horrendous “zoos” filled with miserable, forever-pacing, dull-eyed captives are still in existence, and that is repulsive. People who have no business owning an ant farm –  much less a big cat or a bear – charge five bucks for tourists to pet a tiger cub or have their picture taken with a black bear.  These animals are wild and were never meant to be severely confined and often ill-treated, existing only as props in a photo shoot.

Zoos like the Cincinnati Zoo are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Before visiting or supporting any zoo, look for this accreditation that demands each of its 218 member organizations retain professional staff, operate only under a strict code of ethics, and actively demonstrate a deep knowledge of and respect for animals.

Fortunately it’s possible to have an entertaining day at the zoo watching the otters glide underwater, or hearing the unexpectedly thunderous roar of a lion, or experiencing the breathtaking speed of a cheetah – all while supporting education, preservation and research.

As the summer cools into autumn, a trip to an AZA zoo or aquarium is a great choice for singles, families and couples. There is a lot going on for a reasonable price.

Since 1967, Mr. Simon and Mr. Garfunkel have known that everything happens at the zoo.

And I do believe it … I do believe it’s true.





A Weekend Escape …

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On a wintry afternoon in November, I discovered a portal through time – or at least it felt like that as I walked through the Pioneer Village at the Governor Bebb Park in Butler County, Ohio.

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The sky was slate gray; the kind of sky that promised snow and hot cider and crackling fireplaces …

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… and the air was filled with the earthy fragrance of a blacksmith’s forge.

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I savored this escape into the 1800s. The wonderfully cold day was cheered by bright red ribbons and dark green garland. The fresh colors were in stark contrast to the rough wood that had been sawed and hewn, cut and planed hundreds of years earlier.

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As I walked through the village, I heard music playing on a dulcimer and couldn’t stop smiling.

What a lovely way to welcome the holidays.

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