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