Thursday, August 30, 2012

Wolf Run State Park -- Ohio

We recently spent several days at Wolf Run State Park just south of the intersection of I-70 and I-77 in Noble County in eastern Ohio.  Located near the town of Caldwell, the park features numerous views of the 220 acre Wolf Run Lake.  

While we enjoyed our visit there, we wondered about the design and layout of the campground.  In the area with electric sites many of the 50 amp sites are too small for anything but a small van or a car and tent.   However, in the non-electric area are quite a number of sites well suited to fairly large rigs, except there is no electricity.  We had to wonder if the campground had been designed by someone with limited or no camping experience.   We did have a nice site with electricity and a lake view.

During our walk on our last morning there, we saw about three dozen wild turkey enjoying a leisurely breakfast.  The park received its name from the Wolf family, the first to settle in the area.  As always, we far prefer state park campground instead of commercial campgrounds.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Where My Great-Great-Grandparents Once Lived

It started as an invitation to visit a cemetery where my grandfather's uncle was buried.   But when we got there I discovered that I was walking where my great-great-grandfather had lived and had operated a sawmill in the mid-1800s.

Last Saturday Mary Sue and I met my second cousin Don Neiderhiser who had offered to take us to the Neiderhiser Cemetery in Somerset County.  Don lives in Mt. Pleasant, PA, not far from where my mother, Ida Rae Neiderhiser grew up.  The Neiderhiser cemetery is ten to fifteen miles from my mother's home place--just barely across the county line into Somerset County, Pennsylvania.
Don Neiderhiser and Mary Sue Rosenberger
The road to the cemetery is not open to personal vehicles, but beyond the iron gate it is well-maintained as a fire road through the state forest. 

As we walked the gravel road toward the cemetery Don started pointing out landmarks:  "Those mounds of dirt on our right are the remnants of the earthen dam."  All of a sudden I realized where we were.  This land was once owned by my great-great-grandfather Jacob Neiderhiser who operated a saw mill at this very location.

We walked a bit further and Don pointed to a flat spot to our left:  "That is where Jacob and Eliza's house was located."  Jacob Neiderhiser had married Anna Elizabeth (Eliza) Pletcher on January 6, 1842.

As we started up the hill, Don pointed to an overgrown lane to the left:  "Jacob's barn and shop were back there."
We continued on up the hill to a fork in the road where we turned left to get to the cemetery.
Across the cemetery opposite of the entrance is the monument to Samuel Neiderhiser.  Samuel, born on October 22, 1842, was the eldest of my great-great-grandparent's nine children. He died on July 8, 1898.   Also engraved on Samuel's stone are the names of three of his children who died in childhood.  
Of the two dozen stones in the cemetery Samuel's is the only one that is clearly legible and is the largest.   Don explained that the monument had been provided by the State since Samuel was a volunteer in the Civil War.  Samuel had served in the Civil War with Company B, 142nd Pennsylvania Volunteers.

There is only one other stone that is partially legible, but all that I can read is the deceased's first name, David.
As we were leaving, Don explained that the time came when the saw mill was no longer productive for Jacob and he and his wife moved to the nearby town of Donegal where he worked as a carpenter.

After Samuel returned from the Civil War, he continued to live on that property -- apparently until his death.   Like so many other families of that time, the Neiderhisers established a small family cemetery on their own land.

None of my direct ancestors are buried here, but many are at the Porch Cemetery near Donegal, PA. Still, it was interesting to visit a cemetery bearing the Neiderhiser name and to discover the site of my great-great-grandparents residence.

Now I have new memories of the place where my great-great-grandparents lived and worked.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A 90th Birthday

Yesterday we joined with several other family members to celebrate the 90th birthday of my cousin Lois in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.
Lois and I are among a family of 28 cousins -- of whom 23 are still living.  In recent years the cousins have continued a family tradition of reunions as we gather every two years to enjoy family time.

Speaking of family,  Mary Sue and I were counting yesterday:  Over the course of this summer we have visited -- between us -- thirty-six family members!  We see more of our family on an annual basis now than when we used to live in a house!  Life is good.  Family love is joyful!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Hocking Valley Scenic Railway

Bruce enjoys trains!
From the model trail that ran circles around the Christmas tree at his childhood home
to train rides to Grandma's house.

Bruce has enjoyed trains for a long time.
This time he took me along for a train ride

as we took a rail trip back into the history
of the Hocking River Valley in southeastern Ohio.

Nelsonville, Ohio, has the home depot for the scenic and historical train ride.

Here we bought our tickets and waited for the train to arrive.
Then we heard it coming: saw the headlight, heard the whistle
and felt the ground shake under the weight of its

shiny blue engine,

four passenger cars, both open air and enclosed seating,

and, of course, the little red caboose.
"All Aboard!" called out the conductor,
and about 100 men, women and children
-- including us --
climbed up the high steps and into the train.

We chose to sit in one of the enclosed cars
since the seats there were padded!
Our car was just in front of the caboose.

And we were off,

across the Hocking River,

past wildflowers, forests, and cultivated fields.
We arrived in Haydenville a few miles outside of Nelsonville.
This tiny, sleepy village, we learned, had been the site of a flourishing ceramic brick-making industry in the latter half of the 1800s.  It was a company-town built by by the owner of the factory.

Each employee was provided a home, all built exactly alike, of the product manufactured by the factory, ceramic blocks.

Of the homes that have been preserved, one has a unique shape.

The United Methodist Church of the village, also built by the factory owner, displays every type of brick the factory ever produced.

That ceramic block-making industry was sold out in the early 1900s, and has been replaced by a factory manufacturing wooden pallets

presumably from local logs.

Then, back under Highway 33 we went,

past a large sand and gravel dredging operation,

and we too quickly sped by Lock 19 of the Hocking Channel of the Ohio and Erie Canal.

The ruins of a large, old brick making plant welcomed us back to Nelsonville.

A short trip through the Hocking College campus brought us to Robin's Crossing,
a reconstructed pioneer-era village,

which includes a barn, houses,

and a blacksmith shop.

Then it was back to the station to disembark.  Our train trip was over.

At many places, the train tracks had run alongside the bike trail

which we had enjoyed just a few days before.

We haven't yet decided which way we prefer to travel!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Indian Lake State Park

We have enjoyed a couple of restful days at Indian Lake State Park Campground -- located between Wapakoneta and Bellefontaine, Ohio. 
The campgrounds has a total of 479 sites -- 404 with electricity including twelve with full hookups.
A series of channels runs from the lake through the campground making it possible for campers to moor their boats close to their campsites.
There are also three camper cabins of which one has a beautiful lakefront setting.   We enjoyed a full hookup site along one of the channels.   This is a campground with a "plan to return" rating.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Ouabache State Park

Although we have been here once a year for several years, this week we discovered something new:  there is a herd of 9 bison at the wildlife exhibit at Ouabache State Park near Bluffton, IN. "Ouabache" is the French Jesuit prounounciation for Wabash -- the river that runs through the park.
This is a great place for bicycling and for walking.  Wednesday evening during our walk we paused near Kunkel Lake for a photo opportunity.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

New Phone Phobia

My old phone wasn't really all that old;
Only two years -- just TWO, I repeat.
I was really just learning to use it
When it was declared obsolete.

So, off to the phone store with dragging feet,
Protesting all the way to town.
The clerk showed us first a rectangular thing:
"It's the newest phone around."

My resident "techie" had done his research
And thought this the one to buy.
He asked me politely "What do you think?"
I didn't even know enough to try!

It was bigger and heavier than my old phone;
More weight for its bigger brain!
It did more stuff, and cost more, of course,
A major pocketbook drain.

"Touch here to turn on; touch here to text;
Touch here to search Internet.
Touch here for the phone; here for contacts..."
And some things I'd not heard of yet!

So here I sit with that "phone" in my hand.
I can turn it on -- but then what?
I'll start punching buttons and see what comes.
With some luck, I may find the right spot!

Texting is something that's new to me;
There's lots I don't know, you'll see.
To send a text message, I must learn
To spell words quite differently!

For sixty-five years I've always been proud
To spell each word "by the book."
Now, all of a sudden, I must write
How words sound and not how they look!

This "smart phone" technology's changing
Our speech patterns, too, day by day.
No longer the phrase, "I can do that."
"I've got an app for that" we now say.

I thought that the plan for technology
Was to simplify our work and life.
But it seems to me it's just speeded us up
And added to our stress and strife.

Whatever happened to telephones
That just sent or received a call?
No bells, no whistles, and no fancy apps;
A phone was a phone, that's all!

I don't trust machines that know more than I
And can thus change society.
This phone is a perfect example, because
It's even changing me!

Sunday, August 5, 2012


Here it is, Sunday evening and we're packing up the rig to hit the road tomorrow morning.   We've had a delightful week with our son Joel at his place, just outside of Athens, Ohio.
A few years ago, he and Bruce built a delightful RV site in the meadow nearer the road than his house.  There are no utilities, of course, but the price is right and it makes a lovely place for us to park our rig while we visit.
Again this year, as usual, we weeded, burned brush piles, painted a little, mowed yards and meadows, and tried to help him keep his 10 acres tidy.

However, this year we also took time for some fun.  Joel's work partner was on vacation for the week so Joel gave himself permission to take a week of vacation also.  So we tried out the wonderful bike trail that runs around the city of Athens and up to Nelsonville.

The trail is beautiful, hard-surfaced and level since it runs along an old railroad bed.  Part of the route goes thru the Wayne National Forest with thick forests and unique rock formations on both sides.  Joel had not been on a bike for some time but he did quite well keeping up with us as we rode 11 miles.

That evening we tried out another adventure with his encouragement.
Photo by Tim McMillan

He and his friend Tim took us kayaking on Lake Dow in Stroud's Run State Park not far from his home.  We were apprenhensive about whether our old joints would be up to the challenge of squeezing into those little, low-slung boats, but, with help, we were able to get in.  What fun we had paddling around the lake for about an hour!  It took a little more help to get us out of the kayaks after our excursion but it was worth every ache and pain that made it hard for us to get out of bed the next morning!


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Bruce's Black Eye

No, I didn't hit him!  Yes, it is his left eye that is blackened and I am right handed, but if I had hit him, I would have aimed closer to his chin!

No, he did not fall, nor did we have a traffic accident.

We were setting up our "home on wheels" in the meadow on our son's little farm.  We were commenting on the destruction still evident around his neighborhood from their latest storm.  That storm included wind gusts of 90 miles per hour and a loss of electricity "for 8 days, 3 hours and 52 minutes" he reported. Up and down his road, it looks like a battlefield in a war on trees.  The house at the corner was totally destroyed when a huge limb from a nearby old tree fell directly on it.  Our son lost parts of 4 trees but had no property damage. Everywhere you look there are trees down, limbs broken off and hanging precariously. 

But that storm went thru nearly 2 weeks ago, and had nothing to do with Bruce's black eye!  His injury was much less dramatic, but really a freak occurance.

He was unloading this harmless-looking step stool from its storage compartment.  It got caught inside the doorway and, as he pulled on it, it broke loose and ricoched into his left eyebrow!  The wound wasn't large but was just an inch or two above his eye!  It didn't bleed much at all, but the next day he had swelling and discoloration around his left eye and the left side of his nose.  Each day the colors seem to get brighter but fortunately he doesn't have any pain in it at all!

That's my story and I'm stickin' to it (until I can come up with a better one!).