Sam Davis House

Sam Davis House
One of the rooms inside of the Sam Davis House in Smyrna Tennessee.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Pearl Valley Cheese in Fresno Ohio

I want to give a quick but HUGE endorsement to Pearl Valley Cheese in Fresno Ohio.

We stumbled upon this place very accidentally as we were driving up towards the Sugarcreek area. 

This is a great area for cheese.  In fact, this entire area of Ohio is really a cheese mecca if you are a fan.  There are plenty of similar places nearby- including some that are bigger.

You REALLY need to make this place a must stop when going to "Amish Country".  Its not the biggest cheese shop, but I think it has a claim to the best.

Let me tell you why we think so highly of Pearl Valley Cheese after our visit.  We felt their prices were good for the area.  The cheese was GREAT!  AND the people here are all friendly.

LIKE, exceptionally friendly.  At the cheese counter, we asked about getting some cheese in bite size block form.  The lady helping us seemed excited about cutting it up for us.  AND, she gave us a napkin of some slices of the cheese for us to try before leaving the store!

We encounter a friendly person stocking shelves, and the lady who checked us out was great too!  This must be a fun place to work.



Monday, January 29, 2018

Monticlello III at Roscoe Village Ohio

One of the main attractions to Roscoe Village is the canal boat, the Monticello III.

The really cool thing about this ride is that the boat is drawn by horses!

We arrived around 1:40 to take a 2pm ride.  We bought our tickets at the Roscoe Village visitor center, but you could by them at the nice gift shop by the boat too.

Our tickets were actually not timed, but they had a 1, 2, and 3 tour, and you could just show up for whichever one you preferred.  I liked that system.  AND, it seemed that the crowds weren't too big, so there was no real concern about over crowding.


We had a nice crowd too- lots of pleasant families, couples, small groups.  It was a nice crowd to go with on a boat ride.

We had a great captain too.  I did not catch his name, but he did a very informative and entertaining presentation on the canals and boats on the canals from 1830 to the mid 1910s.  Horses pulling the boats were very common at one time.

The captain talked about who would lead the horses, and who would pilot the boat.  It was fun to hear about how boats might pass each other, and etiquette concerning who would have the right of way.  You know that fights broke out over this!

After a bit, the captain had to help with turning the boat around so his presentation ended.  He invited all of us to explore the boat, and get our photos.  He did continue to answer questions during this time.  You could tell that he loved his job.

At the beginning of our ride, the captain joked that we would be going north, all the way to Cleveland.  As a former resident of Cleveland, I asked that we not go there.  He assured me that he was kidding.

This was a really fun ride and a nice day spent at Roscoe Village.






Sunday, January 28, 2018

Medbery Marketplace Roscoe Village Ohio

Medbery Marketplace had ice cream, so we swung by there right before leaving the area.  There is a GREAT general store in one section, and an ice cream/deli in the back.

This is a place that you must go to if you are in the area, for several reasons.  They have some great, local food items in the grocery store section (including Rossi Pasta!).  Plus, the people here are very friendly.


We ordered two scoops of ice cream and a chocolate malt.  My wife asked about another flavor and the very sweet lady getting our treats together just threw in another scoop of that flavor for her to try!  How cool was that?

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Warehouse Steak and Stein in Roscoe Village Ohio

We had lunch at the cozy little pub looking place in Roscoe Village called the Warehouse Steak and Stein.

This restaurant was right in the middle of everything in Roscoe Village.  It was a perfect stop for us.

I had their special of the day which was a 3 topping pizza and fries.  It was a very filling meal.  My wife had a nice salad with chicken.


This was the perfect lunch stop for us while we explored Roscoe Village.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Roscoe Village Coshocton Ohio

South of Cleveland and northeast of Columbus is Roscoe Village in Coshocton Ohio.  It is a little out of the way if you are visiting the major cities in Ohio, but it is perfectly located if you are enjoying a casual drive through the rural parts of the state.

Roscoe Village bills itself as an 1830s canal town.  It is a few blocks of shops and businesses that you would have been able to visit in that era.


When we first arrived, we went to the main visitor center in town.  We talked to a very nice lady, in period costume, who told us about the village, and she showed us a film about the area.  The film was great, and I think it very clearly described canals and how they were utilized.

Afterwards, we bought tickets to do the living history tour.  The ticket (actually a paper wrist band) allowed us to visit several historic buildings, hear about the people and places of the town from more costumed guides, and see demonstrations of how certain items from the 1830s worked.

As we walked into each "shop" one of the guides would say hello, and do a little presentation.  I had a few favorites here....  The broom maker's demonstration was great, and he mentioned that there was a sorghum plant that had been developed by broom makers to make a better broom.

I had two absolutely favorite stops, and one of them was at the print shop.  A very nice young lady demonstrated some of the printing methods used back then.  She then gave me a wonderful print she made commemorating the 100th anniversary of the US entering World War I.  She warned me that the ink takes three days to dry, and it cant' be removed from skin or clothing.  This may have been a joke, as I look very fidgety, but I did not take any chances.  I placed the print flat in the trunk of my car for three days.

ALSO, the print shop sold some VERY cool larger paper prints for a BUCK EACH!  I bought a nice vintage looking poster advertising Lincoln's need for troops to join the Union.  I also bought a gorgeous newsprint style poster noting the sinking of the Titanic.

Our other favorite stop involved the school house.  The teacher had us practicing writing the letter A on our slate, and she discussed the school books used at the time.  The teacher was informative, animated and funny.  I hope a local theater group utilizes this young lady as Laura Ingalls or Anne Shirley at some point.

We enjoyed all of the building and house tours, and each one was easily worth the price of admission on its own.








Wednesday, January 24, 2018

"A History of the Amish" by Steven M. Nolt

As you know, we have covered a lot of ground visiting places associated with the Amish.  We really love a lot of these areas- especially the ones in Ohio.  Mesopotamia and Sugar Creek are two of my all time favorite places to visit any chance I can!  AND, I have always thought highly of the Amish.  They take a lot of pride in what they do and who they are, while still having a certain humbleness to them.

So I wanted to find a good, easy to understand book about the Amish people, and how they came about.  I flipped through "A History of the Amish" by Steven M. Nolt and felt that this would be the one to pick up.  It is a well written 300 plus pages with a cover price of $9.95!  You get a lot for your money with this one too!

It IS a 300 page history on the Amish, so keep that in mind.  Its not exactly perfect casual reading for the weekend, but if you know a little about the Amish, and want to learn more of their history, this is the perfect book.  Also, for a book on a group's history, this is far from a dull, dry read.  Nolt's writing style has a very nice, easy to follow flow to it.

He covers the very start of the movement several centuries ago, explaining how it grew out of and away from the main religion of the time.  He covers the various splits that have occurred.  He talks about how some splinter groups have reconnected with other groups as time passes.  The author discusses how some groups have moved into certain areas and have become heavily associated with those geographic spots.

Nolt also gives interesting details about many of the concepts that I think most of us associate with the Amish.  He covers the age of baptism, shunning, clothes, being non-violent, use of machinery and modern technology, military drafts, etc.  If you have ever been curious about why certain groups of Amish are very serious about these things (while others may not be as concerned) Steven M. Nolt explains it.

He also gets into the perception of the Amish in popular culture.  Movies and news headlines have affected how the group is viewed by outsiders.  Books have romanticized their life style.  He does a great job of explained how the whole Amish tourism started and continues.

I really enjoyed reading Steven M. Nolt's complete, and easy to read book about the Amish, and I do give it my highest possible recommendation.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

"The New York Crimes- Volume 1 The Fifties and Sixties" by Stephanie Hughes

New York City is amazing, strange, and wild on so many different levels.  I was talking to a friend the other day about my recent trip there, and they told me that they like to go there every couple of years for shopping.  My friend and I went mostly to see historic and iconic places.  Others might go to see plays, live music, or to experience iconic restaurants.

There is so much art to see, so many things to experience.  There is also a lot of tragedy that has gone down in the Big Apple.

I think most of us have at least some interest in visiting places associated with crime and tragedy.  On my trips to NYC, I visited places associated with 9-11, and the assassination of John Lennon.  I know there is something compelling about going there, and seeing where it happened.

Well, after getting back from my last trip, I got a copy of Stephanie Hughes' "The New York Crimes Volume 1" which covers some of the more notable crimes that happened in New York City during the 50s and 60s.

A famous author, artist, human rights activist, TV star, and various others fill the pages of this book.  Hughes gives a short description of what exactly happened, and then she discusses the various players (some of whom are almost lost to history and very little is known).  After that, she includes a list of places involved in the crime, including specific addresses.  The book is very similar to the series by author Ron Franscell who is also not afraid to tell you ALL about various crime scenes.

The New York Crimes is a very short 80 page read (it is to the point) and you can read this one in one setting.  It is the kind of book worth taking notes in though, so you might want to read it slowly, with a pad and paper handy.  This is a very interesting book for fans of New York, and I will be very excited to pick up the next volume of this series when it comes out!



Monday, January 22, 2018

Last meal in New York City at Grand Central Station

It was getting late on Sunday.  We had been in New York since Thursday.  We had been having a blast, and we felt like we had really conquered the town this time.  Between this visit and our previous one, we had done it all.

In fact, most of the things to do on our checklist for this trip had been checked off by midday Friday.  We had covered a lot of ground.

AND, I had been having a lot of trouble sleeping on this trip.  I was happy with my bed at the Grand Hyatt, but New York is simply electric.  It is hard to rest in this rockin' town.

We decided to spend most of our last day before flying back just walking around with no real plan.  We would stop for coffee (more than once) and cheesecake.

But the day was winding down.  We would need to get our bags and make our way to the airport soon.  And, we needed to get a meal before leaving.

The Grand Central Terminal Food Concourse has really impressed us on both trips.  Guys in business suits and the obviously homeless spend time here.  We were asked for money while hanging out on this level, but no one was aggressive... and cops are everywhere. 


In fact, the cops in New York are rock stars.  We saw tourists ask to get their photos with them.  Here in the Food Concourse, we saw cops come around and ask people, particularly the ones sleeping, and looking like they might be having a hard time, how they were doing.  It was very sincere and sweet.

For our last meal in town, I had a VERY hot and tasty bowl of tomato and rice soup from Hale and Hearty soups.  With bread and crackers, this was a very filling and great dinner.  Mark had a kosher meal that looked good too, and he liked it a lot.  I forget the name of the place where he got his.

So, we sat and slowly ate soup in Grand Central Station, relaxing before catching our plane back to Kentucky.


Saturday, January 20, 2018

New York Public Library

We ended up spending some time at the New York Public Library while we were walking around New York.

Its a very iconic place, and you kind of know the place as soon as you see it.  Everyone knows about it's appearance in Ghostbusters.

There is a weird balancing act going on at the library constantly.  It is a working library...  and people are going in and out, reading, studying and looking for books.  There are also tourists and visitors walking in, taking pictures, and moving around.

The tourists seem respectful, and the people reading seem indifferent.  It works.

There is also a nice gift shop and souvenir kiosk selling library related items.  I did pick up some very nice postcards and stickers with the library lion logo on it.  The kind people working there thanked my for supporting the library.

The library has some amazing paintings on the walls too, and we saw several tours coming through for the artwork.








Friday, January 19, 2018

Random Thoughts on Friday

I have always enjoyed painting toy soldiers.  Civil War, WWII, and the Alamo are my favorites.  I have been painting figures for decades.  I love a good hobby shop with a nice selection of figures for hobbyists.  I like 30th scale and smaller.

Back in.....  maybe the late 80s, early 90s, I remember going to Willy's Hobby Shop in Evansville Indiana.  Actually, I think the shop had a different name, but everyone called it Willy's.  It was a short drive from Owensboro, and I went there frequently.  I had also joined a plastic modelers club that involved groups from Evansville and Owensboro (it was named EH Miller) and the club would meet weekly in Evansville.  Stopping by Willy's before the meeting was a must.

Did you ever go to Willy's?  Trust me, you would remember if you ever did.

Willys was simply the perfect little hobby shop.  It was jam packed with model kits, and behind the counter, he had a great selection of resin and metal soldiers...  Many priced WAY out of my price range.....but many that were fun to look at.  He had plenty of the more affordable plastic kits too.  That's mostly what I would buy from Willy.

Willy, the shop's owner and operator, was a character himself.  Physically, Willy WAS Santa Claus.  His personality was....  well, that of an old drunken sailor.  He used four letter words in every sentence.  Sometimes, he could get multiple four letter words in each sentence.  He drank on the job.  He was generally very grumpy.  I could go on.

AND I miss the man.  He had character.  He was anti-PC (I can't even remember if PC was a thing back then).  He didn't care what you thought of him.  He didn't care if you bought anything at his shop or not.

I remember one time, he had acquired a collection of metal soldiers.  Some half painted, some unassembled.  They were in a box on his counter.  I asked Willy what he wanted for them.  He said he wasn't sure what he was going to do with them yet, but if I stuffed a few in my pockets while he wasn't looking he wouldn't care.

Sadly, Willy passed away, jeez, maybe around 1992.  I remember there was a huge 50% off sale at his shop as his family closed things down.  I HATED the whole situation, but I did buy some of my first resin figures at that time.  I could finally afford them.

I still have friends to this day that bring up Willy.  I would love to hear from anyone else that also remembers Willy, or that knows of a similar hobby shop still around.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Chester Arthur House

Chester Arthur is one of those Presidents that many people seem confused by when you bring him up.  Indeed, I am certain that many young people will likely have no idea who he is.

He is kind of an obscure President.  He isn't brought up much, and there just aren't many references to him.  Luckily, after my visit to New York, I have been to the two main (only?) buildings with strong connections to POTUS #21.  If you are curious, here is the other place.

Vice President Arthur was at this home when President Garfield died, following several months of suffering after being shot by Charles Guiteau.  Arthur took the oath of office here, one of the very few times the oath was not taken in the US Capitol.

President Arthur would also pass away here.

There is a historic plaque on the building.  The first floor is now Kalustyan's grocery store, which sells food items from around the world.

I did go in and it looked like a nice, clean little place with a very constant stream of shoppers stopping by.







Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site- New York City

Completing out a Very Presidential trip through New York City was a visit to the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace.

We wanted to go here on our last trip, but this site was going through some upgrades, and was closed at that time.

So, we stopped by here one morning and had a great time.  We thought we might be here a half an hour to an hour, but we ended up staying for over 2 hours.

There is a small but very attractive museum in the front area.  An absolutely Holy Grail level display case houses the shirt, notes, and glasses case penetrated by the bullet of John Shrank during an assassination attempt on former President Roosevelt.

The unsuccessful assassination attempt happened in 1912 in Milwaukee.  See my photos from that site here.  The bullet was slowed by Roosevelt's glasses case, notes, and shirt, but it did go into Teddy's body.  It would be with him for the rest of his life.  And, as a side note to Teddy's toughness, he refused to go to the hospital at that time...  and he went on to deliver a 90 minute speech as scheduled.

Anyway, it was a true thrill getting to see these amazing relics.

We watched a very well done movie on Teddy's childhood at the home, and then we took a great tour of the home. 

The Birthplace is actually a reproduction but it is on the same site as the original home.   Our tour went through several rooms, and we had a guide that knew her history, and was a very funny lady.




Sunday, January 14, 2018

Samuel J.Tilden House in Gramercy Park in New York City

Here are just a few photos I took of the Samuel J. Tilden House in New York.

It is literally a very short walk away from the Theodore Roosevelt Birth Site.

Tilden is one of those political trivia notes that seems odd.  In 1876, he won the popular vote for president, but still lost the electoral college to Hayes.

Anyway, he lived in this very attractive house that is now occupied by the National Arts Club.


Saturday, January 13, 2018

Bravo Pizza in New York

I did want to put up a couple of quick photos of Bravo Pizza in New York.  We stopped by this pizza place which was small and loved it.  These little skinny restaurants in New York have a lot of character.  AND, I remember stopping at a similar place in the same area on my first trip to NYC over 2 decades earlier.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Astro Gallery of Gems- New York City

We walked by the Astro Gallery of Gems one evening and I took a few photos from the outside.

We did come back on another day to check out the inside and this place blew us away.  It was almost as much of a museum as a shop.

They had all sorts of odd rocks, skeletal pieces and coral.  They had a lot to look at, but more impressively, they had some really amazing pieces.  Not only did they have some cool, rare items, they had those items in amazing condition.

I am not sure how they got their hands on all of their extremely rare and perfect inventory, but they have it.  I enjoyed looking at the coral, and at some meteorite pieces.