Saturday, May 29, 2010

on the Hocking Hills...

As a hiking experience the Hocking Hills are a premier location in Ohio—most likely the premier location.

Both Ash Cave and Conkles Hollow are easy, level, handicapped accessible walks, both into absolutely enchanting experiences.

Ash Cave is part of the Hocking Hills State Park and Conkles Hollow is separately administered but that difference certainly is not obvious.

The four remaining geologic attractions; Cantwell Cliffs, The Rock House, Old Man’s Cave and Cedar Falls require varying degrees of exertion and all six venues demand repeat visits. They change with the weather, the lighting and the seasons.

Most, if not all, of these attractions have multiple trails for your viewing pleasure. The main trail generally goes to the heart of the attraction while optional and rim trails offer a wide variety of viewing opportunities.

All are free of entrance charges.

You’ll want good, comfortable hiking shoes and socks. Those are essential. A day pack for water and snacks would be helpful, and, I like a hiking stick.  Otherwise, just dress for the weather.

There is a state park campground adjacent to Old Man’s Cave with its own nearby restaurant and conference facility.

There are bazillions of rental cabins around the area. Our cabin in the promo piece to this series cost us $300 per night. With six adults that amounts to $50 each for the weekend. And for that you get a well equipped, furnished and supplied home of your own complete with a hot-tub, fire pit and firewood, and cook-out facilities.

This cabin had three bedrooms, two full baths and a loft which would sleep eight more adults in both single and bunk beds. It also featured a wide screen TV with satellite service, a dishwasher, and clothes washer and dryer. It was secluded but just off SR 56 and only about 2 miles from Ash Cave.

Cell phone service is not reliable.  I consider that a blessing.

Sue and I recently also visited nearby Nelsonville and enjoyed a ride on the Hocking Valley Excursion Railroad. On an earlier visit I enjoyed the bike trail that extends from Hocking Technical College in Nelsonville to Ohio University’s campus in Athens.

There is a rappelling attraction close by and a zip-line through the treetops somewhere up near Logan which itself is just 10 miles or so away with all the shopping outlets you are likely to need.

In addition to the venues mentioned, the Buckeye Trail traverses the state park. The most convenient and absolutely enthralling hike on that trail goes through the Old Man’s Cave area and another three miles to Cedar Falls.

That is a stunning hike. There is an additional three mile section that goes on to Ash Cave. That is comparatively bland. If you are up to doing six miles, hike down to Cedar Falls then hike back to Old Man’s Cave.

That is a terrific experience.

Can you tell I enjoy the place?
Pictured top are friends Mark Meinzer and Don Karger approaching the Devil's Bathtub in the Old Man's Cave area.  In the lower photo Mark is waiting for yours truly to catch up on a challenging section of trail.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Hocking Hills, May 2010

Don Karger (left) and Mark Meinzer (right) work on their photography while Nancy Meinzer, Sue Brooks and Roberta Karger enjoy the Rock House

Mark Meinzer photographing the author at the Cantwell Cliffs

Don and Mark ascending from the Cantwell Cliffs

Traversing the Rock House formation

Mark working in Conkle's Hollow

The falls in Conkle's Hollow

Young girls oblivious to the beauty of Cedar Falls

Don working at the Upper Falls of Old Man's Cave

Don on the Buckeye Trail between Old Man's Cave and Cedar Falls

Following the blue blazes on the Buckeye Trail between Cedar Falls and Ash Cave

Thanks again God    --Terry

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

In the Hocking Hills State Park

About 3 or 4 hundred million years ago this area of Ohio was under an ocean.

Sediments there were under enormous pressure and they compressed into what is today known as Black Hand Sandstone, the basic ingredient in the various rock formations in the Hocking Hills including the Cantwell Cliffs.

In more recent history the continents, then joined in what was known as Pangaea, drifted apart and ultimately formed the globe as we would recognize it today. The oceans drained. Ice ages and glaciations came and went.

Ultimately a little stream, we now know as Buck Run, went to work and eroded the softer of those ocean created sediments and left us with the formations we enjoy today.

The Cantwell Cliffs are 17 miles north of Old Man’s Cave. That distance from the popular cave venue plus their relatively remote location discourages visitation.

But, it certainly deserves to be on your hiking agenda when in that general area.

The erosion work of the little stream now accounts for the deep valley, steep cliffs and rock shelter under that cliff. Approaching that overhang today’s trail winds its way through narrow passageways caused by large slump blocks that have fallen away from the main cliff.

The narrowest passage has been named Fat Woman’s Squeeze.

The cliffs extend upward about 150 feet from the creek bed and offer a commanding view from their Lookout Point on the East Rim Trail.

That's on the agenda for our next visit.
That's Mark Meinzer (above right) between sloping slump blocks while wife Nancy leads Sue Brooks, Don Karger (red shirt) and wife Roberta below.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


On its journey through
The Hocking Hills...

When you leave the parking lot at the upper end of Old Man’s Cave you are immediately immersed in geologic grandeur.

One moment there is the hum-drum of civilization. Just paces later humans are marginalized by an Earth that reveals rocky formations that rattle your senses while flowing water soothes your soul.

Trees tower everywhere while they tip-toe through colossal colonies of ferns. Over there another evergreen clings to its rocky rampart while yet another rots in the moist humidor on the floor of the gorge.

A tiny human mind tries but fails to wrap itself around the millions of years of geologic force that has laid bare this spectacle that even now undergoes silent, eroding evolution one grain at a time.

The forces that have left this creation count their hours in epochs. And, visitors trundle on trying to grasp the immensity of time that is now our pallet; our visual treat to enjoy and try to understand.

Nancy would stop and spread her hands and her jolly eyes would plead with us to pause and enjoy the sound of natural silence.

Oh my, do I really have to leave this place.

But, life goes on and so do we.

Down past the Devil’s Bathtub and the cave where the old man lived, past the Sphinx Head formation before we tumble into the rocky amphitheater around the Lower Falls.

All that in the first mile of our hike along the Buckeye Trail which traces its way through the gorge known as Old Man’s Cave; this segment but a chip-shot in that trail’s 1,400 mile circumnavigation of our state.

The cave venue ends but the trail continues another three miles to Cedar Falls, every step providing a kaleidoscope of rocky formations including the dizzying mystery of a stream that flows first one way, then another.

At Cedar Falls the trail does an ascent and promptly deposits hikers on a gravel path that disappears in the forest toward Ash Cave. It’s like being ejected from a visual symphony.

But, we trundle on and follow the blue blazes through woods that are a patch-work of evergreens here and deciduous growth over there. A surviving sister of the Mohican State Forest fire tower lives along this trail and points our way to Ash Cave which we encounter from the top.

The forest floor and the little creek on our left simply disappear over the precipice and we peer down upon the human ants squirming on the sandy surface of that venue, the southern most in the Hocking Hills State Park.

I shudder as I stand back from the edge knowing there is nothing beneath this slice of firmament but the hollow of that cave nearly 100 feet straight down.

Down below, Sue and I pause for a photo near the water that plunges those 100 feet and marks the spot of our “engagement” here just over three months ago.

I feel a pleasant shiver at this very human experience while being very much aware of how truly miniscule a lifetime really is.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


The delightfully secluded cabin above was our weekend home as Sue and I with four square dancing friends explored the natural wonders of the Hocking Hills State Park recently.

Joining us (right) were Mark and Nancy Meinzer to my immediate left and Don and Roberta Karger flanking Sue. Nancy is showing her OSU colors and Don is in the red shirt.

Highlights of the cabin experience included the hot tub which provided a bubbling dose of warm comfort after each day of robust hiking, S’mores by the campfire pictured below, and, Mark’s grill-skill with a monstrously tasty, strip steak dinner.

On Saturday we explored Cantwell Cliffs, the Rock House and Conkle’s Hollow. Sunday, we did seven miles of the Buckeye Trail which we launched at the Upper Falls of Old Man’s Cave.

We were immersed in a stunning gorge for nearly four miles to Cedar Falls, then, concluded with another three miles through the forest to Ash Cave.

There, the Buckeye Trail leaves the state park and continues its 1,400 mile circle of Ohio.

Hiking in this venue simply bombards the senses with geologic features which have developed over a span of time that defies human comprehension.

Please stop by Saturday when our coverage will begin with a story that takes a peek at the Buckeye Trail component of our weekend.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Went to town the other day.

Should have stayed home.

Naturally, there was the usual assortment of ding-a-ling, tailgating drivers.

Then I ran into a rude clerk at the license plate bureau. No surprise there, unfortunately. That must be part of their job qualifications.

Then after getting no “Thank you” when I paid my lunch tab, I cheerily proclaimed “You’re welcome!” You should have seen the blank stare that produced.

Then I stopped for a pedestrian in the crosswalk on Mansfield’s square who almost got run over by the three ignoramuses who whizzed past me in the adjacent lane.

Bought a new radio/alarm clock on the way home. A big sheet of directions inside, but, absolutely nothing in English.

Sí, debería haber quedado en casa.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

THE CIVIL WAR, 1861-1865--

A Confederate artillery squad returns cannon fire across Home Road against the Union Army in the 33rd annual Ohio Civil War Collector's Show and reenactment held recently at the Richland County Fairgrounds.

Union and Confederate officers and soldiers preserved the memory of horrors like Chancellorsville and Harpers Ferry and Charleston Harbor and Gettysburg and Vicksburg and Antietam....
They reminded us more than 678,000 men and women died in this conflict where sometimes fathers fought sons and brothers fought brothers in an epic series of battles that would determine the future of our then young nation. 

Gettysburg was the bloodiest battle of them all with 51,116 deaths while Chancellorsville claimed 29,609 lives and another 22,726 died at Antietam. 

That's the young lawyer from Illinois named Lincoln in the top hat and beard above who guided the nation through that time just 140 some years ago when that free nation was in the process of tearing its dreams asunder. 
Fogeyisms salutes all the folks around our land who participate in the reenactment process and preserve the memory of just how fragile a nation like ours can be.
Live displays of infantry and artillery drills kept the crowd's attention throughout the weekend show while a little touch of humor below concludes our story with a couple of soldiers (left) taking a time out from battle--for a root beer float--and another of their fellow soldiers enjoys the diversion of a pretty young lady.

Speaking of a little humor; an assistant "surgeon" at the field hospital was displaying some period surgical instruments to the crowd of onlookers when a fellow was repulsed at the thought of someone using that instrument on him.  The "surgeon" added a little encouragement by explaining, "...but, today sir, we will accept your Blue Cross Card." 

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Saturday Fogeyisms visits a Civil War reenactment and the 17th Annual Artillery Show at the Richland County Fairgrounds. I could not hear the Confederate drill sergeant (above) but it seemed he was telling the marching recruit his left foot was on the same side of his body as the arm where he wore his watch.

An enactor (right) enjoys some canon fire while (below) a show visitor savors one of the 750 tables of memorabilia that were on display. The most expensive reproduction or artifact I noticed was a two-wheeled field cannon. It would have taken a good sized truck and a hefty checking account balance to have taken that home. Its price was a cool $20,000.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

And the twist tie color code

Yes, bread manufacturers use different twist-tie or plastic tie colors to tell the day individual loaves of bread were baked.

But, the color code used for each day of the week is not standardized in the baking industry.

Consequently this information is of little value to the consumer unless they know the color code being used by their preferred bakery.

Store and delivery employees are supposed to know these color codes and keep the shelves stocked with bread that is only one or two days old. Some employees are better at this task than others.

Likewise, some stores get daily bread deliveries while others may get deliveries on a less frequent basis.

So, if you are looking for the freshest possible bread product you are left with two reliable choices;

1) Carefully check the always-difficult-to-read date on the wrapper, or
2) Give your loaf the old reliable--a careful squeeze test.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Excellence in Quality and Design

Longaberger’s corporate office is located in a basket (above); a very big basket, actually seven stories tall and a replica of one of their products--only 160 times larger.

Quite visible along SR 16 on the East edge of Newark, OH, the basket/building can house 500 employees and features a floor-to-roof, 30,000 square foot atrium.

The handles of the office basket building alone weigh 150 tons each and are heated to prevent the formation of ice.

The company’s production and visitor’s complex is located about 17 miles East of Newark near Frazeysburg. They call that location the Homestead and it is a very classy operation, indeed.

When I inquired about the acreage of that complex the welcome center lady responded, “We have no idea, but, the manufacturing building is 21 acres under roof and could contain 17 football fields.”

Two hundred and fifty employees there can produce 3,500 baskets daily.

In the factory shop Sue saw a red, white and blue accented basket she thought would make a nice fund raiser for our Memorial Day square dance, but at a cost of $100 we were nearly guaranteed to lose money on that thought.

Attendance was sparse on the day of our recent visit—a mild but rainy Sunday. Yet, a favorite attraction was an area of the factory where guests could build their own basket—for about 60 bucks each.

There was another rustic building where visitors could make their own souvenir butterflies out of colorful, basket weaving materials for 5 bucks. That building was located beside a replica of the Longaberger family home.

Behind a very spacious welcome center is their Homestead Shop, an extremely tasteful, multi-story complex of shops featuring home and apparel selections in abundance.

Yet, in spite of its very classy operation and reputation for fine quality products their current employment level is down from a recent high of 2,000 employees. Some speculate that is the result of the current recession.

Others point out; however, their decline preceded the country’s current economic problems. Their sales reportedly peaked in the 1980s and 1990s, concurrent with “Country” decorating trends.

It also has been suggested they are in the process of changing their business model from predominantly home sales to being Internet based.

Regardless of their challenges, their products remain highly desirable and their facilities are a pleasure to visit.

In the small photo top right lady friend Sue Brooks looks over a corner of the 21 acre sized factory building while immediately above she is enjoying a walkway that spans the entire factory floor and features many informative panels of company history. The very elegant entrance to the Homestead Shop complex is pictured below.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Saturday, Fogeyisms takes a peek at the Longaberger Basket Company beginning with their unique corporate office on the East edge of Newark, OH—which looks exactly like, well, a basket; a very large basket.

Then, we trundle on East to their factory and sales complex just off SR 16 near Frazeysburg. Pictured above is the inside of their classy Welcome Center. We hope you enjoy our story as much as we enjoyed our visit.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Every few years I am moved to do a photographic exploration of the flowering dogwood trees between my house and pond.

They are especially dramatic as the sun peeks over the East woods and backlights the blossoms.

This photo was done with a Canon Rebel Xti, 10 megapixel, digital single lens reflex camera and Canon’s EF 70-200mm, f/2.8 L Image Stabilized lens. Exposure was 1/500th of a second at f/5.6 with an ISO of 250.

The lens was set manually at full telephoto and minimum focusing distance, then, the hand-held camera was moved gently toward and away from the blossom until sharp focus was achieved.

This combination of shutter speed and aperture struck a nice balance in depth of field; delivering a range of sharp focus sufficient to mostly cover the blossom but leave the shimmering background of the pond’s surface out of focus.

The relatively fast shutter speed helped to minimize both subject and camera motion during the exposure.

It was difficult to find a blossom—of the hundreds and hundreds available—which was pointed away from the sunlight and offered an uncluttered background.

The composition was further complicated by gusty wind which required patience until the blossom was occasionally still.

The temperature was in the upper 30s so numerous treks outside were done until the right combination of wind and light were achieved on this particular blossom. Humans tend to regard the sun as being fairly still in the sky, but, it “moves” at 15 degrees per hour so fairly dramatic changes in lighting can occur over brief periods of time.

The mass of blossoms on flowering trees this time of year is attractive to the human eye but being careful to isolate a single blossom against an uncluttered background can produce very pleasing results.

I hope you enjoy this year’s effort.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The grand stairway of Pickerington’s AMA Museum and Hall of Fame welcomes my companions Rosa and Rich Hatfield and lady friend Sue Brooks on a recent visit (above). A salute to Mansfield’s own Ronnie Rall in the Hall of Fame is pictured (left).


As I wandered the Motorcycle Hall of Fame that day thoughts of my Dad and Ronnie Rall ricocheted through my consciousness.

My Dad always dreamed of, one day, owning a Harley Davidson Sportster; a “K” model I believe they were known as back then. That was in the 40s and 50s when I was just becoming aware of such things. His dream died with him in 1958.

Rall was a few years ahead of me at Madison High School but his reputation as a motorcycle racer of national importance lingered nicely in our memories even then. The year of my graduation also was 1958.

Our memories were correct. He went on with his racing and was inducted into the AMA Hall of Fame in 2001. His plaque there announces he was a “Top 1960s and ‘70s Midwest dirt-track racer. Ranked third in AMA Grand national points in 1964” and was “Winner of five AMA Nationals.”

Not bad for a farm boy who grew up out there on a country Road in Mifflin Township.

By a stroke of luck for us the AMA Museum and Hall of Fame is located on a beautiful campus in Pickerington, OH, just a bit east of Columbus.

Their entrance roadway makes you think of a premier state park being fussed over by an energetic staff of landscapers.

The facility was undergoing a major change of exhibits on the day of our recent visit but that did not matter. In fact, the receptionist treated us to a personalized tour of a large collection of celebrity bikes that were being staged for return to their owners.

The Hall of Legends featured a display of Awesome-Ness; a tribute to the amazing creations of Arlen Ness; acknowledged by aficionados as the King of Choppers.

One of his bikes called Nesstalgia was a two-wheeled salute to the classic 1957 Chevrolet. It drew lots of attention from one of my companions, Rich Hatfield; himself the proud owner and creator of a beautifully restored ’57 Chevy.

One of my favorite displays was a life-sized, wooden replica of an 1885 Daimler Einspur; one of the first known gas powered two wheelers.

Another was a sculpture of a “Nac Nac”; a beautifully executed display commemorating the first trick ever done in a Supercross event—usually described as the Grand Prix of Motocross cycle racing. (Small photo right)

It doesn’t matter whether your interest is in turbine powered, two-wheeled warp-speed screamers, a venerable Harley, or simply enthused about exciting, two-wheeled machines and their stories, stop by the AMA Museum for a peek.

You’ll be doing yourself a favor--as Sue and Rosa did (below).