Impromptu Picnic and Anniversary Celebration – Adventure to the Lake

What a beautiful, busy week!

Wednesday I got up early to fit in my workout and then we visited with family for the afternoon and evening, enjoying the gorgeous weather! It was a fun day! We were able to get outside, the kids played soccer and volleyball, and we enjoyed a frozen treat!

I woke up Thursday not feeling so great – I had sharp pain in my neck, down my shoulder, and into the middle back. It was not too fun and definitely put a damper on the morning. Some coffee, a movie, ibuprofen, and icy hot eventually took the edge off. While making lunch, my husband mentioned that a picnic would be perfect on a day like today. (It was sunny and warm with a high of 85 degrees.) Of course, I love the Lake, so despite my minor setback, I wanted to get out and enjoy the day. We gathered our supplies and headed north to East Harbor State Park.

Crossing the Thomas Edison bridge, the water was brown and choppy. It was very windy Wednesday and still quite breezy Thursday. Once we got to East Harbor, it was calm and the Lake was absolutely beautiful. The blue-green water set against the cerulean sky was breathtaking!

 

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We had a little friend that kept chirping at us…

 

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Our picnic was fantastic! We grilled hot dogs and enjoyed potato salad and Cole slaw.

 

A small storm was quickly approaching, so we had to eat quickly. Surprisingly, the rain only lasted a few minutes, so we were able to get back out of the car and enjoy the Lake.

 

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Up by the camp store, we spotted a little nest full of hungry baby birds.

 

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The drive home was absolutely beautiful. The sun and the clouds offered stunning views that I attempted to capture.

 

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This morning I woke up feeling slightly better. I think I may have simply slept wrong and my muscles cramped up… old age, I suppose. HaHaHa! We enjoyed a relaxing day and kept an eye on all of the thunderstorms that passed through. Thankfully, there wasn’t anything too severe. We also had some delicious cheesecake!

 

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The past few days have been wonderful and relaxing – an amazing celebration of life, love, and happiness.

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Adventure to the Lake

Wednesday was beautiful. Sunny, warm, cerulean skies… An absolutely gorgeous April day.

We decided to take advantage and took a trip up north to Lake Erie.

 

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First stop, of course, was my favorite – East Harbor State Park.

Look how gorgeous the beach is!

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It was definitely windy and although the water wasn’t nearly warm enough, plenty of folks were swimming. The sand was soft and warm and the sound of the waves was relaxing. This is one of my favorite spots in all of the world.

 

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Love from Ohio.
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Then we headed over to Maumee Bay State Park. It’s only about a half hour away.  It was more windy there, but still plenty of people out fishing, enjoying the sunshine and the cool, refreshing water. – It was still too cold for me. 🙂

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Thousands of shells.

It was a fun trip. If you are ever near northwest Ohio, I highly recommend stopping in to either of these parks.

Check out my article for more information about East Harbor State Park here:
A Visitor’s Guide to East Harbor State Park

 

 

Day Trip to Lake Erie in Northwest Ohio

Last month we climbed up in a truck and headed north. Warmer temps got us out of the house and up to some of our favorite hang outs.

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Our first destination was East Harbor State Park. This is one of my favorite state parks in all of Ohio. It’s also my favorite place to swim in the summer.

My husband showed me a quicker, more direct route. It just goes to show – you can live in a place for a majority of your life and still learn new things. 🙂

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A welcome sight
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Getting closer

East Harbor State Park

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Driving in

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Geese sunbathing

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A view of the Lake

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Don’t be fooled. As beautiful as it looks, it was breezy and cool. I think the temperature read out in the truck said 40ish degrees – and it was around noon at the time. Pretty normal for the end of March.

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And more geese enjoying the sunshine

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Peaceful. Quiet.

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And then we headed west. About half an hour later we arrived at the

Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge

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This is such a great place to visit. You can walk the trails, catching glimpses of the wildlife, bird watch, take a guided tour, or hang out in the visitor center.

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This was our second time visiting. We love hanging out in the visitor center. There’s so much to do and so much to learn! We were fortunate to be able to meet two U.S. Fish and Wildlife Officers while we were there. It was cool 🙂 While my husband chatted with them, my son and I explored.

Some interesting things in the Hunting Lodge room

Enjoying the sunshine and trying to spot some interesting birds.

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An owl

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And my son’s favorite spot – The Muskrat House

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Read more about our trip to Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge here: Day Trip to Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge

Then we headed toward Toledo.

First up

Maumee Bay State Park

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The nature center was open so we stopped in. We were able to see frogs, snakes, fish, and turtles. It was pretty neat!

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This guy wanted to say hello.

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This guy wasn’t having my photo shoot antics.
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Eastern Box Turtles enjoying the sunshine.
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This guy was friendly.
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A spiny soft-shell turtle.
And then we drove back around to the beach.

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It was around 5, so it had warmed up enough to actually get out and walk on the beach.

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Maumee Bay is a hot spot in the summer! There’s plenty of room on the beach to lay out or go for a dip. Across the parking lot, they have an inland beach which is also popular during the summer months. It’s a great park to visit.

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Some pretty shells.

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Sensible beach footwear
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Boots in the sand
 

 

After stopping in to visit some friends, it was time for dinner. Toledo has many amazing restaurants. But let me reveal its best kept secret… a little family owned restaurant on the Ohio-Michigan border..

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If you are visiting Toledo or the surrounding area, make the trip to N. Summit street and stop in for a delicious, inexpensive meal. Everything is tasty and their loaded chili dogs are the best! Every time we are up that way, we stop.

 

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Then it was time to head home.

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The sunset was gorgeous.

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A Vacation in Amish Country, Ohio

Two weeks ago, my family went on vacation. It was much-needed, and despite the extreme cold weather, we all had a lot of fun!

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A yummy donut from Kroger – Vacation Breakfast
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Ready to go.

We went to Amish Country, in eastern Ohio – peaceful, quiet, and a chance to slow down. The drive was beautiful. Rolling hills, snowy fields, and old barns dotted the landscape. Of course, anytime I spotted cows I had to alert my husband and son. They got in on the game.. and we expanded it to horses, sheep, goats, basically any animal we saw. Ha!

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We stayed at the Carlisle Inn at Sugarcreek, in Sugarcreek, Ohio. I cannot say enough good things about this hotel. It was gorgeous and when we walked in, we were greeted with a smile and friendly hello. Our room was on the fourth floor. It was incredibly spacious, complete with a separate dressing area, a desk, a sitting area, and a balcony.

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The hotel itself had plenty of room. The front lobby had many seating areas; there was a library with a fireplace and a table set up for playing checkers. The second floor hosted the fitness room, pool and spa, as well as a spacious seating area. There was another fireplace, plenty of magazines and books, and a wide selection of board games. A gorgeous baby grand piano sat in the corner. Light refreshments were served each evening from 6p-8p. We chose the hot breakfast upgrade our first morning and it was delicious! Bacon, sausage, eggs, pancakes, waffles, hot coffee, and a variety of other breakfast foods were served at the Dutch Valley Restaurant, which was just across the parking lot from the hotel. Our waitress, Pearl, was very sweet. The second morning, we went with the complimentary continental breakfast, which was also very good! There were a variety of options to choose from, including donuts, yogurt, bagels, cereal, hot sausage, waffles, coffee, and juices.

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A baby grande piano – my favorite part of the hotel.

After we arrived and settled in, we drove 15 minutes to Walnut Creek to dine at the Der Dutchman. This is a restaurant we all love. There is one in Plain City, Ohio that we visit a few times a year. So of course, we had to go to this one. The food was amazing, as expected. I had the country ham, my husband had the roast beef, and my son… had a hot dog. (Kids. Ha!) But my favorite part about the Der Dutchman is the salad bar. It is always fresh and has a variety of options that will suit any taste. This is a restaurant that I highly recommend!

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The view from the parking lot of the Der Dutchman in Walnut Creek, OH.

Right near the Der Dutchman is Coblentz Chocolate Company. After dinner, we had to stop in. This was one of three places on my list of must-see/must-visit. Immediately upon walking in, you are transported back in time to your childhood. A selection of classic candies lies to the left. There is an entire wall of Jelly Belly Jelly Beans that you can mix and match and a giant candy dispenser filled with the classic jaw breakers; there are giant lollipops, rock candy, candy sticks, pretty much any and every sugary treat you loved as a child. There is taffy and fudge, a display case full of handmade delectable chocolates, as well as interesting and unique gifts and trinkets. Because Easter is just around the corner, they also have a variety of homemade Easter chocolates and candies.

Everything looked delicious! After about 15 minutes, I finally chose some chocolate covered espresso beans (one of my favorite treats) two pieces of salted caramel chocolate, and two pieces of English toffee. I also got some espresso fudge (YUM!) and peanut butter fudge. We had to get a few candy sticks and a chocolate bunny too. And I’m pretty proud to say that it took an entire week and a half to finish the fudge, I still  have some chocolate espresso beans in the fridge and candy sticks in our candy dish, and my son and I just finished the chocolate bunny.

If you are in the area, stop in and check it out!

You can also check out their website coblentzchocolates.com  and order treats online.

Tuesday we woke up to snow. This was the view at 7 am.

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Peaceful. Quiet. Still. Just gorgeous.

..but also quite cold. The hot breakfast was perfect.

After breakfast, we decided to get out and explore. We drove around, taking in the landscape, while it continued to snow.

We decided to stop in at an Amish Country staple – Heini’s Cheese Chalet. This is one of the places you have to visit when you are in the area. Everyone loves Heini’s. My husband and I hadn’t been there in at least 15 years. The outside was not like we remembered, but once we climbed the stairs and stepped in, we knew we were in the right place. We grabbed a basket and got in line. The good thing about visiting in March, and having a cold, snowy day – no crowds. There were only a few other people in the store.

Heini’s is one of my favorite places because they offer a variety of samples – cheese, sausage, fudge.. I tried a few different cheeses, including ghost pepper. I love spicy food, but neglected to see the warning above the cheese until it was too late. Ghost pepper is delicious, but very spicy. I’m more of a fiesta jack and jalapeño pepper gal. 😉

After Heini’s, we drove around the countryside, taking in the sites.

However, the snow kept coming down, and in some spots, the squalls reduced visibility so much that we could barely see in front of us.

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We ended up driving back to the hotel and relaxing for a while. I enjoyed a nap, while my son and husband watched TV and played games.

The nap was quite wonderful and I woke up rested. My son wanted to go swimming, and we all headed down to the pool.

The pool and spa is enclosed, and windows surround the entire room. It was pretty cool to swim in what felt like a tropical environment, while watching the snow fall outside.

Sitting on a white wicker table in one corner was a Mimosa Plant. A sign in front explained that the plant was sensitive to touch, and that if you lightly touched the leaves, they would close up. It was pretty neat. I would definitely like to get one for my house.

Luckily by late afternoon, the falling snow had taken a break. We decided to visit Berlin Farmstead Restaurant for dinner. We were not disappointed. The food was delicious! My husband and I both had the meatloaf and my son had… a hot dog. (ha!) We also had the salad bar. Everything was fresh and there were many different options to choose from.

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My delicious salad.
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My son standing outside the Berlin Farmstead Restaurant.

While driving around the area, we spotted this cool, retro fire truck….

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The gorgeous sunset.

That ended our time in Amish country. The next morning, we woke up and enjoyed a quick breakfast. After checking out, we braved the 13 degree weather and made the long drive to Toledo. It was a pretty drive, the sun was shining and the sky was a gorgeous powder blue. We saw many cows, to which we made mention.

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We stopped in at the new Dave and Buster’s.. which was something I was excited to do! About 8 years ago, I was a recreational coordinator and I would take my residents all over the state. One of our favorite places was Dave and Buster’s. My favorite was the one in Cleveland. It was bigger and there seemed to be more games than the one in Columbus. My husband and son had never been, so I was looking forward to this part of our trip.

Dave and Buster’s in Toledo is right near the Franklin Park Mall (Now called Westfield Shopping Center.) It’s the perfect location. As soon as you walk in, you’re greeted by the friendly staff. You can choose to be seated and eat, or you can visit the front desk to purchase/load up your power card.  The game room is completely separate from the dining and bar area, which is nice, especially if you are just looking to play (like we were.) It was quite different from what I remembered.. the game prices were higher, even though we went on half-priced Wednesday. My favorite claw game was a disappointment. (The one with all the big animals, basketballs, etc.) The claw was extremely loose. The guy ahead of us had a pig in the claw. Once it started moving to the door where you retrieve your prize, just a few inches of movement, it dropped the pig back into the pile. He walked away unhappy.. and I thought, well, maybe I’ll give it a try. This was my game back in the day. The same thing happened to me. I tried the smaller claw game and experienced the same result. I was pretty disappointed.

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The disappointing claw game.

But, despite those changes, we had a good time. There was a nice selection of games to play, it was quite spacious, and while we were there, we noticed that they were doing upgrades on some of the games, which is cool. Another change – the tickets you win all go on your card now, instead of having to carry around the big cup with your paper tickets in it. I thought that was good. We all had a lot of fun.

Of course we stopped in at the mall afterward. We dined on pizza and did a little shopping. We visited a few friends and had fun going through the automated car wash, before making the long drive home. It was a nice day.

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At the car wash.

The next day we enjoyed spending time with family and I got to see my favorite feline.

It was a wonderful, relaxing week.  ❤

 

A Trip to Salt Fork State Park – Ohio

Back in September of 2016, my son had a school picnic at Salt Fork State Park, in Southeastern Ohio. It was a gorgeous drive and a memorable trip. Southern Ohio is stunning! Rolling hills, vast meadows, and misty valleys are pictures straight out of a calendar. I was pretty excited when we drove by a bobcat. The sun had just started to rise, and I caught a glimpse of him just standing on the side of the road. It was pretty cool, especially since I had never seen one in the wild. (I wasn’t quick enough to snap a picture of it, though.)

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Beautiful countryside.
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A little fog on a chilly morning.

Salt Fork State Park is one of the largest state parks in Ohio, spanning over 20,000 acres of land and water. They have a golf course, miles of hiking and bridle trails, a beautiful beach, the Stone House Museum, and so much more! To read my Visitor’s Guide, click here.

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A gorgeous view of Salt Fork Lake driving into the park.
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The beautiful landscape at Salt Fork State Park.
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Another stunning view of Salt Fork Lake.

My favorite part of Salt Fork was the Stone House Museum. Stone House is the ancestral home of the original owner of the land that now encompasses Salt Fork State Park. For more information about it and to see more pictures, click here.

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Stone House museum

This sign was hanging up in the museum and I thought it was interesting.

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The Woman’s World  1800-1900.

After leaving the park, we drove into Cambridge and ate at Cracker Barrel. It was one of the best Cracker Barrel’s I’ve ever visited! The staff was friendly, our waitress was top notch, and the food was amazing! 🙂

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Pretty much the best game ever.

It was a really great day! 🙂