Hanging out with our best buds in Warren, OH

We used to hang out a lot with a wonderful couple, Don and Lisa, our friends in our old hometown of Tracy, CA.  In 2008 they decided to move to Warren, OH to be near family, and we promised to stop by to see them one day.  Well, that day arrived five years later when we spent a few days at their farm/home recently.  They warmly welcomed us by allowing us to park Betsy next to their house where we could enjoy the view of soy bean fields and the happy alpacas they are raising.  Our time with them was jam-packed with activities, and they showed us a great time despite their busy work schedules.

As Steve tried to maneuver Betsy into a fairly tight parking area, he created some bad ruts in their field.  Not a good way to start our visit!  Steve and Don spent the next half hour with shovels and a golf cart trying to get the area back into decent shape again. The good news is that everything after that was much more fun!

Varner's Manor
Here is Steve saying, “the dirt didn’t look that soft when I drove out onto it”.

Lisa gave us a tour around their alpaca farm:

Where did Don and Lisa take us?  Many places, involving lots of driving, as they showed us around their town and several others in the region.  One of the first stops was at the Trumbull County Courthouse in downtown Warren, which was completed in 1895 and is just gorgeous.

Trumbull County Courthouse
Trumbull Courthouse built in 1895, at Warren’s historic public square
Dave Grohl Alley
Dave Grohl Alley, celebrating the famous musician

We visited the Mill Creek Park in Youngstown, OH, which happens to be the second-largest metropolitan park in the United States.  Within the park is one of the most historic landmarks in Mahoning County, the Lanterman’s Mill.  This mill, built in 1845-46 and renovated in 1982, is by far the biggest grist mill we have ever visited.  It is currently used as a historical museum and also continues to produce flour products.  Unfortunately, repair work was underway while we were there so we didn’t get to see the water from Lanterman’s Fall turn the waterwheel and the massive gears and shafts on that day.  Bummer!

Lanterman's Mill
Lanterman’s Mill and Lanterman’s Falls

We did get to visit the cool covered bridge there, though.

Covered Bridge
Covered Bridge near Lanterman’s Mill

We crossed and posed at the steel suspension bridge in the park, which was constructed in 1895 and measures 86 feet long and 32 feet wide.  It is very unusual with its lacy arches and soaring spires.

Suspension Bridge
Suspension bridge
Suspension Bridge
With our best buds, Don and Lisa

Since Don knew I like gardens and flowers, he took us to Fellows Riverside Gardens which is also within the Mill Creek Park.

We also visited the historic community known as Mesopotamia, meaning “between two rivers”,  where nearly 2000 Amish people live.  On our drive we caught a glimpse of several amish farms and also some buggies cruising down the road.

Amish Farm
Amish farm
Amish Buggy Driveway
Buggies in the driveway

We stopped in at the “End of the Commons” general store where the primary customers are amish.  It was built in 1840 and has been in continuous use as a general store ever since.  Of course, outsiders like Steve and I had to buy something “amish made”, and we gawked at the buggies parked outside the store.  Typical tourists!

Amish Buggies
Amish buggies – I wonder who has to scoop the poop?

Both Steve and Don came from technical fields, so it was no surprise that Don took us to the McDonough Museum of Art in Youngstown where an exhibition called “ingenuity in 3D technology” was being held.  3D printing is a leading edge technology that enables printing actual objects – one layer at a time.  Youngstown, OH was designated as the 3D center for excellence by president Obama, establishing NAMII (National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute) as the first manufacturing innovation hub.

Finally, our friends gave us a bike tour of the Kent University, Trumbull campus as we followed the very nice Champion Bike Trail near their home.

It also happened that during our visit a summer art festival was happening at Youngston State University.

We even had time to take a hike and wander through Nelson-Kennedy Ledges, where rock formations became a trademark of the park.  These boulders reminded us of what we saw during our recent hike at Bilgers Rocks in PA.

We made a quick stop at the “world’s largest automatically chlorinated, freshwater, concrete bottom swimming pool” (unverified claim) at Willow Lake.  We also checked out some huge monuments at a local cemetery, had lunch at the locally famous Hot Dog Shoppe, visited a cheese factory and ate lunch at a Greek Festival in Youngstown.  Wow, were we busy or what!

When we got home after all the running around we were entertained by the alpacas.

Betsy fit right in between the house and the barn – well OK, so she blocked one of the driveways and a good part of the parking lot…

Varner's Manor
Betsy nestled behind the house and barn.

We celebrated our last night with our friends by placing the state of Ohio sticker onto our Adventure Map.  We had so much fun in just four days, but we will return for a longer stay in the future.  Don and Lisa really know how to show friends a good time!

Lowes RV Advemtures
The buds pointing at Ohio, the 20th state we have visited since starting our full-timing saga.




  1. Steve & Mona Liza,
    How ironic the two of you pass through our home town! Jodi and I left Youngstwon, Ohio on April 1, 2013 to begin our full time adventures. I grew up in Youngstown and know everything you visited and discribe very well. Have even visited the Trumbull County Court House on an occassion or two!?
    The water fall in Mill Creek Park was the cover photo on our blog until we arrived here in the Teton’s and Lanterman’s Mill is still one of the photos I use for my screen saver!
    Jodi is originally from just a bit north and west of Mespo in Chardon, Ohio.
    Like they say, timing is everything; I wish we would have been following your blog sooner and known that Don and Lisa (and their vast knowledge of full timing) were so close prior to our departure. It would have been nice to bend their ears and possible some positive encouragement too.
    We are both glad that you were able to visit and see some of the positive aspects of the area, and I am sure you were able to witness the others as well. Being from Youngstown is one thing we will always carry with us forever with no regrets!
    Anticipating your next adventure entry…………….Cheers


  2. Great to see you both with Don and Lisa. They are my friends too. You sure did get to see a lot during your visit. I hope I can visit them some day. Great photos again! I’m off to a wedding in Murphys. Keep on truckin!

  3. You certainly were busy! Everything looks so cool and green. We’re wilting in the desert but will be heading soon to the wet (hopefully not right now) Pacific Northwest. Shame the mill wasn’t working but picture is lovely. And a new state for your map! Yippee! Got to love maps.

  4. Wow! What a busy visit you had in Ohio! I am sure there was nonstop conversation catching up after five years. Looks like a wonderful tour of the area. I love that suspension bridge. Colleges are one of our places to check out in a new town. Great hike with rocks:)

  5. Awesome visit…you are right, the Trumball County Courthouse is beautiful and oh my so is the mill. The picture of you girls on the tree roots is way cool!

    Happy trails!

  6. I just wrote on another blog that they were making me almost feel guilty for chilling here at Lake Greenwood with all their wanderings and explorings. You almost doubled that guilt … Almost. Nah … we’re resting up for what’s ahead so we’re just armchair explorers taking notes of places to visit … Youngstown just got added to the list. We love visiting mills … the one at Mill Creek Park looks like it is set in an especially picturesque area.

  7. Looks like another wonderful visit you both had. The ruts in the yard brought back some memories of us trying to fit into the parents’ driveway. 😉

  8. Always nice to have friends in different cities and states. Taht’s what I usually do. Ask friends for me to visit so I can crash at their place. Hehe. Instant coachsurfing! The big roots are the ones that caught my eyes instantly, and the summer art festival. Dave Grohl Alley, how tacky! 😀

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