Sunday, July 5, 2015


If you look closely you will see a street name sign on the south side of SR 39 as it heads east out of Millersburg toward Berlin.  It advertises "Port Washington Rd".  I've been curious about that road name since my days of delivering corrugated products in what is now very well known as Amish territory.

Port Washington,  then and now, after all, is a mere village 26 miles from Millersburg as the crow flys.  If you are inclined to follow the roads you will travel 41 miles.  Yup, roads tend to snake up and down and all around in that neck of the woods.

The second curiosity is how in the heck did it come to be considered "Ohio's First State Road" as announced in the sign above and dozens of others like it along it's route.

Turns out there is a fairly good reason for the name.

The road began as a buffalo trail which the Indians followed when traveling basically north-south in this area.  After Ohio became a state in 1803 Millersburg was first platted as a town in 1815.  Ultimately lots of local farmers began clearing the land and raising both subsistence and marketable crops.

About the same time a canal system was growing across OH and the most convenient one for those local farmers to use passed through Port Washington on its way to the Ohio River.

So, the old buffalo/Indian trail slowly morphed into a road capable of supporting horse-drawn wagons loaded with products headed to far-away markets.

That road continued to be an important link in the local economy and passed through present day Baltic, OH.  When a railroad arrived in Millersburg and Baltic in 1852 the days of canal importance were doomed.

The canals continued to decline in the second half of the 19th Century and were pronounced dead when huge storms in 1913 destroyed most of their infrastructure.

Ironically, all three of those towns, Millersburg, Baltic and Port Washington, failed to ever achieve "city" status and remain villages to this day.

Meanwhile, back to our sign.  History reveals Port Washington Road was the first official state road in Ohio.  It was designated as Road Number 20 by the state on February 6, 1832.

How can it be Road Number 20 and, at the same time, be Ohio's first official road?

My head began to hurt as I ricocheted through web sites in pursuit of that answer.

Good night. 

*            *            *

Still curious?  Here's a detailed description of the current route  Click! in the event you would like to take a ride through incredibly bucolic Amish Country in Holmes and Tuscarawas counties in Ohio.  We did a series of 10 geocaches which largely, but not exactly, followed the route of this road.  Therefore, my field notes do not reveal the actual location of the above picture.    

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


The sign at the Bellville Dairy Belle said:
"Definition of a balanced diet--having ice cream in both hands."

Good one!

*            *            *

Then my oldest son shared this one:

"It hasn't been too bad a summer.  Only rained twice so far; once for 32 days and the second for 28 days."

Another Good One!

Sunday, June 7, 2015


A Whitetail Deer doe browses for breakfast in the weeds along the North side of my acre and a half pond.  The dark shapes in the foreground are (left) a leafy tree branch and (right) a cylindrical bird feeder topped with a transparent squirrel guard.  The photo was done through a glass window with a 200mm lens whose shallow depth of focus renders the foreground objects fuzzy.

A Wild Turkey of undetermined gender has been a frequent dining guest in recent weeks.  I was relating that tale to a couple of delivery fellows who were admiring my game-reserve like setting when, almost on queue, this critter or one of his/her pals wandered on stage thus authenticating what I suspected was some skepticism from my human visitors.

While they were ooohing and ahhhing I just smiled.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

A delightful benefit of Geocaching

While the huge majority of folks our age likely are dawdling in more pedestrian activities, Geocaching keeps us sailing about where discoveries like this covered bridge are a routine but delightful experience.

This dandy is hidden in plain sight on a rural road in Wyandot County about 8 miles southeast of Upper Sandusky, OH.

It spans the Sandusky River on County Road 130 just south of County Road 62.  More specifically, use the "coordinate" function of your car GPS and insert the following:  N 40 46.227 and W 083 10.142.

Or, take a peek at the Ohio Atlas and Gazetteer, page 47.  You will see a little covered bridge symbol over there to the right in Antrim Township.  You have that publication, don't you!  The Gazetteers of each of our states are the back roads "Bible" for this marvelous country of ours.

The numbers given above are the decimal equivalent latitude and longitude coordinates.  With these numbers we can find (usually) a thimble-sized container deep in the woods somewhere.  As you can then imagine, finding a covered bridge is, comparatively, a piece of cake.

Those numbers represent a very precisely defined point on Earth, in this case 40 degrees and 46.227 minutes North of the Equator and 83 degrees, 10.142 minutes West of the Prime Meridian.

In the era of their popularity, covered bridges were built mostly of wood; then, the principal material of construction.  Since wood tends to rot over time the bridges had to be protected hence the side
walls and roofs.

Often the span was large.  In this case 94 feet.  Since wood is not as strong as steel, the main support design involved trusses, the crisscross shape visible along the sides.  They made up for the relative lack of strength with thickness.  Note the width of the sidewall ends in the top photo. 

The bridge was built in 1878 and rehabilitated in 1994.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


Nearly 10 years ago I hatched the ambitious notion to ride my bicycle 65 miles one day to celebrate my approaching 65th birthday that October.

My son Brian joined me for part of that ride and I still chuckle when he describes his huffin' and puffin' attempt to keep up with the "ole man".

We did that ride on segments of the Richland County B&O Bike Trail which runs 18 miles from Mansfield's North Lake Park to Butler in the bottom, southeast corner of our county.

Just a few months later, it seems, my bicycling friend Ken Johnson, whose birthday is nearly identical to mine in date and age, joined me in a 70 mile ride, also on the local bike trail, to celebrate our mutual 70th birthdays. 

While we were grinding through the final miles of that challenge I wondered how much longer I could possibly continue such bicycling adventures.

The only advantage we granted ourselves on these rides was to select an ideal weather day (dry, mild wind, etc.,) sometime in October before the approaching birthday.  The totals of 65 and 70 miles were done on those single, ideal days.

These rides are just a wee bit short of hopping on your bike and pedaling from Mansfield to Cleveland.

Now, I am very grateful and amazed, actually, to report the 75 mile version is already under consideration for this year.

This notion began to take on life during a casual conversation with my birding/kayaking/hiking/ geocaching/bicycling friend Greg of Sunbury, OH.  Greg and his bride Leslie also winter near us in Vero Beach, FL so we can enjoy our respective pleasures year-round.

"You want to do what," he squawked mildly when the topic came up then promptly suggested we could do it quite nicely by utilizing the Little Miami Scenic Trail which wanders in a continuously paved course from Springfield to Newton, OH (adjacent to Cincinnati).

I was thrilled.  At this age it is difficult to find a riding companion for a spin on local roads.

It also helps a bunch that our support crew, Leslie and Sue, who will drop us off and have promised to pick us up, share Greg's and my mutual interests--and are likely to keep their promise of taxi service.

Sounds like they will be planning a shopping, eating, touristy-like outing somewhere around southwest Ohio as we enjoy the 9 to 12 hours it is expected to take for our ride.

Choosing that venue was a marvelous idea.  It's downhill the whole way; an advantage I find quite appropriate as my 74th trip around the sun is about to conclude.  Stay tuned!



Friday, May 15, 2015


The temperature overnight May 13th was in the mid-30s in OH.  Good grief!

*            *            *

I was shopping at the local Walmart the other day and a woman came zooming around the corner in front of me.  Barely missed colliding with my cart.

"Lady driver" she excused herself as she sailed down the aisle behind me.

Brought a smile to my face!
*            *            *
I came home from snowbirding over the winter and found a flat tire on my riding tractor/mower.

Called Mid-Ohio Gravely, the implement shop where I bought the then new tractor, and ordered two new tires.  They will be here either Wednesday or Thursday the owner chirped helpfully.

Didn't hear anything Thursday so I called there Friday.

"I vaguely remember your call Mr. Wolf, but I can't find where I placed the order," he explained lamely.  "I usually ask for a credit card number on these orders," he mumbled.

"You didn't ask for my number," I pointed out.

"Hmmmm," he mumbled again.  Then silence.

"Now what," I inquired.

"I can send a new order," he offered.  I gave him the tire specs again and he said,"...they should be in the following week."

After we concluded this phone conversation it occurred to me he still didn't ask for my credit card number.

Avoiding the risk of another phone call I drove out there and presented my card.  Rather than being miffed at his absence of an apology, I restrained myself and left with my fingers crossed the tires would eventually show up.

With springtime's rigorous grass growth I was imagining the guy who was bleeding from his injury and couldn't manage to acquire a bandage.

About two weeks after I noticed the flat tire, my new ones finally arrived, got mounted at Fred's garage and the aging tractor muscled heroically through tall grass almost ready for the combine.

My hypothesis; "Today's standard of excellence is mediocrity" marches on. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Two samples; one with and one without a throttle

We combined bicycles and geocaching on our first outing shortly after returning to OH from FL snowbirding with this perfect, sunny day ride on the Kokosing Gap Trail out of Mt. Vernon.  Seven new hides were there along the way to Gambier and we got all seven in our tune-up outing.

We even added one that had previously eluded us at the Brown Environmental Center down near Kenyon College.  That one had two stages.  First we parked the bikes and hiked a very steep hill to a pine woods up behind the office building.  That little cache container simply had a piece of paper which told us the latitude and longitude of where the final stage was located--also high on the hill.

Sue (above) is enjoying the tranquility of the Kokosing River as it ripples and gurgles beneath the railroad bridge a few miles downriver from the trail head as we rode back toward town.  That's her blue, Sun recumbent tricycle in the foreground and my orange Sun, two-wheel ride in the rear.

Just a few days earlier we trundled leisurely home from our four-month stay in Vero Beach by avoiding the interstate highways as much as possible.  What a marvelous experience which left me wondering why we hadn't done that earlier.

We probably added about a half-day, maybe less, to our travel time in exchange for tranquility similar to our bike ride above on the vast majority of highway miles we traveled.

Gone was the insanity of 75 MPH traffic hanging on our bumper while that driver yacked unconcernedly on it's cell phone.

We traded that roaring scrum of inhumanity for nostalgic sights of the deep south that are blurred into invisibility at super highway speeds.  We traveled mile after mile on sparsely populated, often four-lane highways that once were the mainstays of north-south auto travel.

We hopped on US 23 in the Asheville, NC area, for example, and hopped off in Chilocothe.  We did that to avoid the insanity of Columbus traffic by sliding quietly through Lancaster, Granville and Mt. Vernon.

And, of course, we stopped often to geocache along the way.  That's Sue below on a rainy afternoon in Kingsport, TN where we booked our motel room in mid-afternoon and decided to enjoy the local sights.  She's bending under her white umbrella and pushing into the weedy undergrowth for this cache she found about 50 feet further on. 

How did I manage to avoid this mild downpour while she soldiered on?  Don't know, now that I think about it.  But, such things happen when the fun of the journey exceeds the urge to rocket home on the super highways.