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Quoth The Brewer: Columbus Brew Adventures' Haunted History Tour

Our starting point for the Columbus Brew Adventures'
Haunted Brewery and Winery Tour was the Downtown
Columbus-located Wolf's Ridge Brewing Tap Room
We have had the great pleasure in the past few months of being invited to and attending a couple of craft beer oriented tours by Columbus Brew Adventures, founded by local culinary entrepeneurs and ambassadors Bethia Woolf and Jim Ellison. Our previous experiences with their Brewery District Walking Tour and Grandview Heights Tour have provided their own uniquely fun and quite informative experiences; the latter part of which was a nice surprise for us as relative veterans of the local craft beer scene.

This Wednesday, we had the pleasure grabbing two tickets to what promises to be a very unique event in Columbus Brew Adventures' catalog of tours. The inaugural "Beer, Wine, “Boos” & “Spirits”: A Haunted Brewery & Winery Tour" promised a nice chunk of this area's haunted history mixed in with a tasty sampling of the area's locally-produced craft beer and wine.

As it turned out, the feel of this particular tour, which was hosted by Jim himself, is fairly similar to their Brewery District excursion in that a tour-goer will get an equal if not more of a focus on local history as you do the craft beer side of the equation.

However, the unique subject, combined with the time of the year (just a couple days before Halloween), made this perhaps our favorite Columbus Brew Adventures tour so far for both my spouse and I. Once again the knowledge we picked up proved to be truly fascinating and lent a little more color to both places we had visited many times (i.e. Studio 35 and Barley's Brewing) and had not known about at all previously, such as The Central Ohio Fire Museum.

In addition, the unique combination of topic and season also made me decide that a uniquely-styled write up was appropriate in this case. In many ways, a typical blow-by-blow write up as is typical in my blog posts seemed like it would spoil the experience a bit for future tour-goers. However, I did want to give a taste of what we encountered this night, and it seemed a poetic touch from a master of the macabre (the obvious inspiration from the one and only Edgar Allen Poe) seemed a perfect way do this (helpful links to the places we visited and the historical info are embedded within the poem.)

May your haunting this Halloween weekend be good for you all...


Quoth The Brewer
(inspired by Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven)

Once upon a Hallows Eve dreary
My spouse and I wandered alert and leery
To Wolf's Ridge Brewing lauded culinary score—
When we entered, beer a tapping
Suddenly, a man came a rapping
'Twas Jim of Columbus Brew Adventures lore
He met us that night clapping, clapping at the fore. 
“’The haunted tour?,” he muttered
We nodded at the brewery door— 
Only this, but a whole lot more.


Ah, distinctly it was in a bleak October; 
We with eleven other rovers
A haunted brew tour we had gathered for
We prepared for our ghostly tales
In our hands Wolf's Ridge Imperial Pumpkin Ales
Amidst the costumed CYP Club troupe
Benefiting the Columbus Literacy Council group
We'd embark for beer and wine
And to find the Columbus' ghostly lore
Frightened here for evermore. 


Now to the firehouse stately and proud
Came the members of our crowd
A Museum now lay within its core
Anticipate, our hearts a beating 
Alongside Jim, who stood repeating 
It was a visitor entreating 
Entrance at the museum door
Captain D, was he revealing
His spirit on the museum floor?
Yes, he was, and much, much more.” 

From there our souls grew stronger
Hesitating then no longer, 
We moved on despite impending horror
No one was even close to napping
Walhalla Ravine we were a mapping
A foreboding hand we had in store
Rolling into Armbruster land
Tension felt and uploading
Trapping us at the fore?   
Darkness there and nothing more. 

Deep into that darkness peering 
Under the bridge of death we're fearing
A dream like no mortal dared dream before; 
Don't go or they'll think you're loony
The cursed grounds of the Mansion Mooney
Where blood from the lion's head doth pour?
A young girl's scream
From Glen Echo whispers
A stark murmur restored!
Merely this and nothing more. 


Farther to where crowds are churning 
The theatre where ghouls are yearning
Studio 35, a projector clapping louder than before. 
Sipping on a Land Grant Kolsch
Our host Andy did not squelch
Ghostly tales from lady Kelly for
There sitting across the bar
The dapper 30's twosome
A threat traveled from afar!
Or was it the wind and nothing more?”



Down to Barley's, our nerves a fluttered 
To the Underground, dark and shuttered
When a street named High lay in the days of yore; 
Our guide serving delicious Blood Thirst Wheat
When lo! the echo of pounding feet?
Was doom the fate for us in store?
Not a hint of menace made she
Lady Erin perched next to Jim
We drank deep as they declared
The cemetery which this space had shared
Whence only gravestones moved, but nothing more



Through an ebony night compiling
To a winery quite beguiling 
Via Vecchia and the Raw countenance it wore, 
Owner Paolo, shorn and shaven
Declared "Art thou so craven,
To hear the ghastly sights in store?"
We marveled at discourse that plainly 
Discussed ghosts that quite so ungainly 
Flung bottles and brooms 
Flung so hard, across the floor


Past spooky mirror to the back
Eyes alert for sudden attack
To see their winemaking at its core
Zulu Nation stood on the wall
Ready to heed the call
Should specters rise and come to the fore 
Grape skin splatter seeing
We found ourselves agreeing
Being scared is better
Much better when the wine does pour 


Driving down a street named Mound
To return to the place we had been before
Unflustered by the stillness broken
Disembarked, the night had spoken
Haunted lands we did indeed explore
And yet still, a voice did utter
"Do not leave, come have another"
One more ale with a ghostly brother"
Quoth the Brewer, evermore

Columbus Brew Adventures
Tour and ticket information can be found on their website at
www.columbusbrewadventures.com
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No Broken Hearts Here: Norah Jones & Ruby Amanfu (Palace Theatre, October 23, 2015)

Like to our trip to see the revival of Pippin earlier this year in Cleveland, our visit to see Norah Jones at her tour stop at Columbus' Palace Theatre was definitely more about my spouse's music tastes, as she was owner of Jones' first three albums. Not that I personally didn't like Jones' style of music: I myself own a copy and got a lot of enjoyment out of her debut album Come Away With Me, which has sold more than 26 million copies to this date and earned her numerous initial accolades. But as is the case with my ADD-riddled musical tastes, I figured I had pegged what I would get from Jones' future albums when her similarly-styled 2004 follow up Feels Like Home came on the scene.

Friday's concert showed both I had missed out on quite a bit of development by Ms. Jones on the musical front in the decade since I more or less stopped paying attention. Even my spouse, the more fervent fan but was slightly behind on Jones' album collection, found a surprise here and there that elevated the artist more in her mind

The night opened up with a beguiling artist in her own right in Ruby Amanfu, a Nashville-based singer with roots in the African nation of Ghana. Known more recently for her collaboration singing with country duo Sam and Ruby and guest duet appearances (most famously with the White Stripes' Jack White on "Love Interruption", a song off his first solo album Blunderbuss), she recently has returned solo artist status with her recently-released mostly-covers album "Standing Still". Her unique takes on lesser-known songs by a diverse cadre of artists (including Kanye West, Wilco and Brandi Carlisle) has received critical praise from media outlets like Rolling Stone magazine and NPR.

Even with all her performance history, Amanfu seemed a bit nervous and even giddy during her initial hello to the still gathering sold out crowd; perhaps she was realizing that she was performing as a solo artist for the first time in quite awhile. This feeling may have been amplified initially a bit by the setting, as her lone accompaniment on the stage (aside from the already set-up instrumentation for Norah Jones and her band) lay in the form of fellow Nashville-based musician, guitarist Johnny Duke.

However, Duke's subtle and supportive fretwork was perfect in combo with Amanfu's voice; her on-stage swaying and distinctive vocal phrasings on "Where You Going" (original by Jimmy Dale Gilmore) and "Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand)" (an Irma Thomas cover), slowly mesmerized the gathering crowd's full attention to the stage. As her set moved forward, Amanfu continually expressed her thanks to Jones, her musical colleagues and the gathered audience all the way to her performance's finale.

Her next song, the plaintive "Cathedrals" from Jump, Little Children, was a crowd-pleaser and highlight for both of us. We found ourselves were mouthing lyrics like "In the cathedrals of New York and Rome/There is a feeling that you should just go home/And spend a lifetime finding out just/Where that is" without ever hearing the song before. Amanfu closed out her set with a few more songs off her album, including the Bob Dylan cover "Not Dark Yet" (a song she has previously performed live and is also included on the new LP) and a lovely closing number featuring her lone original song off her latest album, the pleadingly romantic "I Tried"

Of course, the vast majority of people here were here to see Ms. Jones, and she and the members of her very capable backing band The Candles received a rousing ovation as they took the stage. The first quartet of songs ("What Am I To You?", "Out On The Road", "I've Got To See You Again" and "Turn Me On") started laying out my preconceptions about what I would be seeing or hearing on stage on their head. Jones was confident, relaxed and playful from the start, and she and her band produced a smooth and strong sound that easily carried through the Palace Theatre, despite her jokes with audience members that were so "way up high" and "being in the dark" beyond the first few rows.

For their part, Columbus audience members clearly let Jones know they were out there and enjoying every note, and she rode this energy quite well. Whatever remnants remained of my preconceptions were pretty much ground into a fine dust when Jones seamlessly moved to an acoustic guitar for "Black", her contribution to producer Danger Mouse's 2011 spaghetti-western inspired album Rome.

Unbeknownst to both of us, Jones had branched out quite a bit from her piano- and jazz-oriented beginnings, delving into country and rock through numerous collaborations and side projects. She moved over to the electric keyboard for "It's Gonna' Be" and "Chasing Pirates" from her fourth album The Fall, then donned the electric guitar for the rollicking rockabilly-ish  "Don't Know What It Means" off her country side project Puss N Boots (along with Sasha Dobson and Catherine Popper.) While Jones was the obvious focus, she allowed various band mates to show off their skills in the spotlight at various points of the concert.

After two more energetic renditions of "Lonestar" and "Stuck", Jones took the stage solo behind her piano for two from her debut album ("Painter Song" and the ubiquitous "Don't Know Why") mixed with two off her last 2012 Danger Mouse-produced album (the title track "Little Broken Hearts" and "Miriam".) "Painter Song" was something of a jaunty revelation compared to the more lazy and produced original, while "Miriam" was perhaps my spouse's favorite for the night, revealing a darker side of the singer we had no idea existed.

Jones and her band mates finished out their main set in fine style, including the New Orleans-styled bluesy romp "Sinkin' Soon" from the 2007 album "Not Too Late" and a cover of Neil Young's "Don't Be Denied", in which opening act Ruby Amanfu added her fine vocals (Amanfu and Jones exchanged a loving hug with each other after the song's end.)  After Jones donned the guitar once more "Come Away With Me" for the closing number, the audience's enthusiastic applause brought back a stripped-down edition of the band out for an encore.

After two songs off of her second album Feels Like Home ("Sunrise" and "Creepin' In", Jones and her band launched into an unintended bit of irony, ending the night her tandem contribution (along with bluegrass/Americana artist Gillian Welch) to the 2011"The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams", the playfully wistful "How Many Times Have You Broken My Heart." In reality, perhaps the only "broken" heart on this particular night belonged not to any audience member but rather The Candles' own bass player Josh Lattanzi, whom Jones had forgotten to introduce on stage and good-naturedly admitted to doing through her social media feeds after the show.

Norah Jones
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Ruby Amanfu
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Appalachian Adventures (Pt. 3): The Mothman is Everywhere!

As noted in our last post, we got a good night's rest at the Historic Lowe Hotel the night before a probable meeting with the dreaded Mothman in the sleepy river town of Point Pleasant WV. This, coupled with the great weather on this early fall weekend, led to the feeling of being optimally prepared for any encounters, both fantastic and frightening (on both) as we trekked out for the day.


We started the day with a cup of coffee and a little snack from the Coffee Grinder, which resided catty-corner from the hotel. Like many small town coffee shops, the service was down-home friendly, the space cute and inviting, the baked goods decent, and the coffee a bit on the timid side in brew-strength. But even in these comfortable surroundings, the Mothman's presence permeated the surroundings in the form of their Mothman Brew coffee beans and the house special Mothman Cookie. These latter was too adorable to resist, and we bagged one for a Mothman-loving relative of ours before we left.


Before our main encounter, we thought a good warmup session before would do us a world of good, and the (proclaimed World's Only) U.S. Navy Poster Museum, residing in the Lowe Hotel building just a half-block or so north of the hotel's main entrance, gave us the perfect venue for this. Sporting a uniformed version of the Mothman, this museum's main focus resides in the slightly overgrown hobby of the owner Kelly McCorry Fields.

Fields, a Navy Veteran whose enthusiasm for both her collection and anyone who drops by and visits is unmistakable, has amassed a substantial collection over the years of both original and reprint U.S. Navy-related posters spanning from around World War I to present day conflicts like the Gulf War. Being a Navy brat growing up, my interest was even more acute than my spouse's (who also has family members with military ties) so the posters were a natural draw for me. However, with the modest $3 admission per person, almost anyone can get enjoyment out of this unique collection, from the historical aspects, the artwork within the posters themselves, and just letting Kelly herself give you the inside details behind the museum and the prints within.

Feeling ship-shape and ready for anything after our Naval encounter, we raised anchor and set sail to go to eye-to-eye with the Mothman.


The (proclaimed World's Only) Mothman Museum pretty much lies across the street from the Historic Lowe Hotel (if you haven't figured it out by now, downtown Point Pleasant isn't terribly large.) Aside a plethora of Mothman-related souvenirs in front-of-the-house gift shop (including another Mothman Blend coffee from Silver Bridge, a familiar presence at numerous Columbus-area farmers markets and locally-oriented grocery stores), the museum, curated by Jeff Wamsley, holds a wide collection of media-tidbits, topic-specific exhibits, and other memorabilia that cover the whole history of the Mothman saga to date.


While the museum section of the building would not be considered large-sized by anybody, there is a lot more to see, hear and riffle through than one might think. The mental smorgasbord this provides for Mothman aficionados goes without saying, but the plethora of materials available also helps those unfamiliar or barely familiar with the folklore to soak up the story to their heart's content. Similar to the video presentation given at the Serpent Mound, we found the video presentation in the museum section of the building quite helpful to us Mothman amateurs.

And while there is a certain seriousness to the overall presentation (the true believers in the Mothman wouldn't have it any other way), the right dose of kitsch and fun is added to the mix as exampled by carnival cutouts, comic book style graphics, and a little touch of Hollywood (I mean, who wouldn't want to see the blanket that brushed both Richard Gere and Debra Messing in the 2002 Hollywood-produced movie up close and personal?) Another quite modest admission fee ($3 bucks again) makes the museum in our minds a well worthwhile visit for most.


The Mothman Museum also acts as a centerpiece of the annual Mothman Festival, which had its 14th annual shindig in this town on its traditional third Saturday of September.  Perhaps the other big centerpiece for the festival, located again not too far away (in this case, on a street island lying halfway between the museum and the previously mentioned Coffee Grinder), lies in the rather formidable-looking Mothman statue.

This metallic menace, designed by artist Bob Roach, was dedicated in the second year of the festival and attracts many casual passers-by to this town. The statue is apparently quite sturdy, based on the antics of what looked to be high-school aged teens we saw out the window during our previous night's hotel stay. The construct seemed quite capable of holding some fairly hefty individuals in its arms for some unique photo opportunities.  We're both surmising even the Mothman itself would never have prophesied that it would be so photogenic fifty years after its first sighting.



The Mothman Museum
400 Main St
Point Pleasant, WV 25550
(304) 812-5211
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The U.S. Navy Poster Museum
411 Main St
Point Pleasant, WV 25550
(304) 675-4989

Coffee Grinder
330 Main St
Point Pleasant, WV 25550
(304) 593-9922
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Appalachian Adventures (Pt. 2): Searching for the Mothman

Were we foolish to seek out the terror that emerged nearly fifty years ago?
Our next stage of our trip had us wary with anticipation, as we crossed over the Ohio River from Gallipolis to the West Virginia side to stay the night in the sleepy river town of Point Pleasant. What happened almost fifty years ago just north of this hamlet has led to a unique folklore (or folk-fact, depending on your point of view) that intertwines a famed bridge collapse, numerous media headlines, a book and a subsequent Hollywood movie, and, in an odd twist, provided a dose of lifeblood that keeps Point Pleasant from fading into the proverbial dustbin of history.

This piece of American folklore is none other than The Mothman, a winged humanoid creature first encountered by two young couples on a dusty road in the old West Virginia Ordnance Works (referred to locals as the "TNT Area") in November of 1966.  For the next year, reports in the local and mainstream media of various sightings, encounters, and other paranormal activity, along with claimed threats by mysterious "men in black" to prevent people from revealing their experiences, were commonplace.

The culmination of these events was the tragic collapse of the Silver Bridge, roughly one year after the initial sighting of the creature. Those who give credence in the existence of the Mothman believe the Mothman was either responsible for or was sent to try to warn the residents of the area of the bridge disaster, since no sightings of the creature were reported in the aftermath.

In many ways, the anticipation for us was not so much a belief or non-belief in the Mothman legend, but rather learning about the legend itself, as much an unexplored entity as the lands we were traveling through this weekend. We had heard about the book by John Keel titled The Mothman Prophecies and the subsequent movie starring Richard Gere based on the book, but otherwise we had little knowledge of the backstory.

Silver Bridge Memorials lie on both West Virginia and Ohio sides of the river
We did want to pay homage of sorts to the disaster which had much a far more wide-ranging effect than its role in the Mothman mythos. The original Silver Bridge, built in 1928 roughly one mile north of where its existing replacement lies, was a unique construct in its silver aluminum-based paint and its highly efficient but low-redundancy single high-strength eye-bar suspension construction. The state-built memorials, also located where the original bridge set down in each state, give simple summaries of the disaster, reference the 46 lives lost in the incident, and are both in need of a little upkeep, especially on the West Virginia side. The effect of the December 1967 bridge collapse had a profound effect; as noted on the West Virginia historical marker, the disaster led to the passage of Federal Government bridge inspection standards the following year.


Our stay that night would be at a hotel that has its own encounters with the supernatural. The 114-year-old Historic Lowe Hotel, seated in downtown Point Pleasant, started off as the Spencer Hotel and was a popular stopover port in the days when Ohio riverboat traffic was far more prevalent. According to the blog site Theresa's Haunted History of the Tri-State, the Lowe may be the home to at least five different ghosts.

On one of the few nods to modern convenience, the hotel's website states that the current owners Ruth and Rush Finley, owners of the hotel since 1990, are "upgrading the building and adding
their personal touch to the business." We suspect upgrading will be mostly about maintenance, and there were places in our room that could've used it, from a vent panel propped against the wall, a toilet that didn't quite flush right, and a stray screw in a window sill that either needed tightening or removal. Even the walls were thin, a perfect environment for ghostly moans and laughter to seep throughout the building.

But similar to the Queen Anne Hotel, an old Victorian (supposedly haunted as well) smack dab in the middle of San Francisco that my spouse and I had the pleasure of staying in a few years back, the little quirks and flaws we found were far outweighed by the bygone era touches, such as the period furniture and equipment (the hotel's old telephone switchboard was a neat find in the lobby,) the skeleton keys used to open and lock your room door, or what appeared to be vintage wall sconces.


The personal touch of the owners was in full effect that night.  After checking us in, the owners invited us to their dimly lit hotel bar next door to join the few guests staying for the night for a little impromptu at-the-bar shindig by a local country and bluegrass guitarist, who sported a well-honed, soft Appalachia twang and strummed a mean guitar while knocking out tunes from artists like Garth Brooks and Jimmy Martin. Between songs, Ruth let us know what was in and around Point Pleasant: the Mothman was first and foremost, but there were more things to see and do that actually sounded quite interesting that we tucked into our memory banks

Amazingly, another couple who had checked in after we had that night came by the bar and had never heard of the Mothman or any of the lore behind it, or the fact that hotel itself is said to be haunted by ghosts. After we headed back up to our room, I remarked to my spouse, "I think we're safe now; if there's going to be any haunting, it's going to happen to that poor couple who came in late."

Yes indeed, we slept well that night. We would be well rested for our confrontation with the Mothman.

Silver Bridge Disaster/Memorials
West Virginia Division of Culture & History article
Open University youtube.com video on the Silver Bridge Disaster
Roadside America - Ohio Silver Bridge Eye-bar Memorial

The Historic Lowe Hotel
401 Main St
Point Pleasant, WV 25550
(304) 675-2260
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Appalachian Adventures (Pt. 1): All About The Serpentine Fire

This year's house purchase put a bit of a damper over our usual typically epic summer travels; cash that would've went for that journey was instead put toward some needed house maintenance. We even shelved our traditional wedding anniversary excursion, though we did make up for that with an excellent dining experience at Delaware's Veritas Tavern.  So by the time this month rolled around, the itch to get out and explore had hit us fully and we decided to take on relatively short-distance (our last trip saw us road tripping all the way to Colorado) but still eagerly anticipated sojourn through the mostly unexplored (for us) Appalachian region of Ohio and West Virginia.

We seemingly can't travel to lands to the south without stopping by
a favorite of ours: German Village's Kolache Republic
We started with what has become our traditional jumping off point for journeys southward: the tasty pastries at one of our longtime favorites (German Village's Kolache Republic). Of course, the kolaches proved to be as appetizing as ever; they even gave us a chocolate kolache on the house as we packed our Cafe Brioso coffees for the road trip ahead.

Since making time was not really an issue on this excursion, we traveled with the intent of taking as many back roads as possible. Thus, after a few miles on I-71, we hopped onto US 62 for a slow leisurely journey toward southern portions of the state. As it turned out, the lunch hour more or less coincided with our arrival into the quaint town of Hillsboro, the county seat of Highland County. We figured this would be a perfect time to grab some eats as well as discover what this town of roughly 6,600 people had to offer its visitors.


Birthplace of famed cartoonist Milton Caniff (Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon), Hillsboro offered up a relatively simple but fairly elegant Federal-styled county courthouse, an assortment of various monuments, and a small collection of antique shops (including one housed in what is touted as "Ohio's Oldest Pharmacy") to keep us entertained. A first of two tips by a local shopkeeper led us on an unexpected side trip to the old Times Gazette building in the south of downtown, where a gentleman specializing in estate sales had his collection of recent finds for viewing and purchasing had his building open for visitors. Numerous intriguing items (many from the state of Kentucky) caught our eyes, including a beautiful oak box containing both family and media-printed recipes. Alas, the oak box and its trove of possible culinary treasures was a bit too much for our pocketbooks, but we wouldn't mind dropping by this store again (they are open to the public the first non-holiday weekend of each month) if we pass through the area again.


Hillsboro will probably never be known for haute cuisine, but the shopkeeper's second tip satisfied our lunch cravings quite nicely with a more down to earth option. 24 Exchange Deli, Pizza and Sweet Shoppe, part of a unique combo of consignment shop and eatery, offers the visitor a plethora of movie and TV related wall posters (a general sci-fi theme was evident, as well as the works of the peerless Don Knotts), Amish pastries (including some monstrously-sized donuts and long johns) and a deli and pizza menu of the usual suspects. Our sandwiches were perfectly tasty, with plenty of kraut and thick-sliced corned beef on my Reuben and a satisfying Chicken Salad for my spouse.


Our featured destination this afternoon was The Serpent Mound, lying in the northern reaches of Ohio's Adams County and touted to be the world's largest serpent-shaped effigy in the world. We started at the museum, where we got a taste of the mound's purpose, the conflicting debate about the mound's origins (attributed at varying times to the Adena, Hopewell and Fort Ancient Native American cultures), as well as other historical artifacts and information about the indigenous cultures who resided in these parts of Ohio. The short video documentary in the main display area proved to be quite helpful in spelling this out and is worth a view if you ever visit.


Another feature touched on at the museum became quite evident as we walked out and surveyed the ancient structure itself: its head, tail and even the peak of its curves are lined up perfectly with numerous astronomical events such as the summer solstice. At ground level, wooden signs scattered around the pathway which circumnavigates the perimeter of the mound allowed us to match up sections of the structure with specific events.

An elevated metal viewing platform (not recommended for acrophobic individuals) gave us a much better perspective of the mound's elegant curves and overall structure from above. There were few visitors at the site on this off-season day of early autumn, leaving us by our lonesome at this heightened vista, with only the sounds of nature to serenade us as we peered down at this serpentine construct and pondered hows and whys that went into its being.


We encountered other scattered Adena-attributed effigy mounds on site; while they were nowhere near as picturesque as their serpentine cousin, it reinforced in our minds how important this area of Ohio's was to past indigenous cultures. Also, a Buckeye Trail sign reminded us that one need not travel out-of-state to a mountain range to take on a hiking challenge through picturesque countrysides.

Kolache Republic
730 S. High Street (German Village/Brewery District)
Columbus, OH 43206
(614) 928-3151
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24 Exchange Deli, Pizza and Sweet Shoppe
142 West Main Street
Hillsboro, OH 45133

(937) 402-4282
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Serpent Mound State Memorial
Park Hours: Open Daily Year Round, 9 AM - dusk
Museum Hours: Variable (please consult the Ohio History Connection website for more details)
3850 State Route 73
Peebles, OH 45660
(800) 752-2757
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Party Like Its 1851: Carillon Brewing Company (Dayton, OH)

The Deeds Carillon is the namesake landmark of the Carillon Historical
Park in Dayton, home to the history-oriented Carillon Brewing Co.
Much like Columbus and many other parts of the state of Ohio, the city of Dayton has undergone a craft beer revival in the past couple of years, represented by companies such as Warped Wing, Toxic Brew, and Hairless Hare, among others. While most of the recent arrivals on the scene are interested in craft beer's present and future, Carillon Brewing would like to take you back to beer brewing's past, both in styles and the Dayton area itself.

One might guess from the focus that Carillon Brewing is not the usual startup venture, and that presumption would be correct. Carillon Brewing is part of the Carillon Historical Park, which is run by Dayton History, the official historical organization dedicated to preserving the history of Dayton and Montgomery County as a whole.  The brewery is one of 25 historical buildings on the 65-acre site, which provides visitors an overview of the area's history throughout via numerous exhibits.

Launched at the end of 2013, the brewery was meant to give visitors a total sensory experience on the brewing process in the 19th century. Indeed, on our visit here with friends from the area, we got that feel very early on, from the labeled barrels of fermenting beer surrounding the grain roasting area, the combo tavern/barn-like interior, and the tavern staff, who were all decked out in period clothing. Like the other historical buildings at the park, visitors can learn a fair amount of the beer brewing process and Dayton's brewing history via numerous informational exhibits scattered throughout the interior.

Carillon Brewing, operated by the Dayton History historical organization
tries to bring visitors the complete 19th century brewing experience
Our waitstaff member gave our group the summary of Carillon's purpose, mentioning that typical brewery and food production activities take place everyday of the week. He also mentioned that the brewery offered a "Brewer For A Day." which offers people a chance to spend the whole day immersed in the process as it existed over 150 years ago. As far as the beer, he explained Carillon took typical beer recipes from the era to brew its four basic beer styles (Porter, Irish Red Ale, Coriander Ale and Berliner Weisse; a cask ale is occasionally available as well.)

He added that the current brews were on older generations of yeast, which gave them more of a sour tinge than the modern beer drinker might be used to; however, this info didn't dissuade us beer drinkers to order full flights. True to expectation, that slight sour tinge was noticeable (esepcially in the Porter and Irish Red Ale) in these typically non-sour styles. We all found that quality uniquely enjoyable, though I imagine there would be a few who may not agree with that variation. I also suspect Carillon's renditions of those two styles fall closer to description when brewed with newer batches of yeast. Those who prefer a solid, pleasant brew to take them through their meal might be best served by the biscuity Coriander Ale, while their version Berliner Weisse is sufficiently tart and true to style.

For those who are interested in adult beverages but aren't interested in the in-house brews, a selection of draft and bottled beers are at the ready, as well as wine and liquor drinks. Also available for diners are the "Temperance Drinks", which include a house-made ginger ale and root beer.

Carillon's beer 19th century-era brews were uniquely enjoyable and
match up well with its menu of generally heartier fare
Carillon's restaurant fare leans toward the heartier, drawing from traditional English, German, and Irish dishes with some modern tweaks such as a few salads and a kid's menu. For us, the heartier fare was just fine and generally was quite tasty, from their quite eggy German Potato Salad to their Reuben to their very tasty Wurst. The in-house baked items, from their spent grain crackers to bread to pretzel braid make for nice munching should a full meal not be in order.

Carillon Brewing offers a uniquely interactive and historical brewing-related experience combined with some tasty eats, and is definitely worth a visit when you're in the Dayton area.

Carillon Brewing Co.
1000 Carillon Blvd
(Carillon Historical Park)
Dayton, OH 45409
(937) 910-0722
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Carillon Brewing Co. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Just Plain Fun: Wholly Craft!

Clintonville's Wholly Craft is perhaps the most fun of Columbus'
selection of locally-oriented arts and craft gift stores
Growing up, arts and crafts stores and gift stores were two different entities. Most of what I knew as gift stores were mall-based: Spencer's Gifts and those more formal gift stores where you could get engraved pen sets and other fancier tchotchkes served their purposes, but rarely got my business. Arts and crafts stores were where I could grab supplies for my various creative endeavors, but it wasn't generally a place I thought about for grabbing a gift, unless the gift itself was art supplies.

Maybe it was because I wasn't specifically looking for the combination of arts and crafts and gift stores during my time in California, but coming to Columbus has really opened up my eyes to this mashup. Perhaps its because I find many people who find pride in this state as well in addition to their city or neighborhood, and aren't afraid to show it. This mashup is evident in all forms here and has lots of purveyors, which you can find from local farmers markets, numerous local festival and event vendors, and even brick-and-mortar operations. But regardless of the venue, it almost seems like a mandatory-stop-and-take-a-look when the spouse and I have a few spare minutes to see what the folks of Wholly Craft! are currently offering.

From local festivals and events to their Clintonville brick-and-mortar
shop, Wholly Craft always seems to draw a crowd
Started in 2005 by Olivera Bratich, the success of this craft-oriented store mirrors the general upswing in the homemade crafts marketplace (the online king of homemade crafts, Etsy, was also established during the same year.) From its modest beginnings, this Clintonville-based business has now become a community staple, featuring the works of over 300 plus craftspeople, of which almost a third are locally-based as noted in this recent article in The Metropreneur.

For me and the spouse, visiting the brick-and-mortar shop or their booths at local events like Comfest, Moonlight Market and Oktoberfest is a visual and mental treat. The combination of solid craftsmanship, creative flair, and a good mix of local Columbus and Ohio references in the store's product selection personally makes me wish I had more time to dabble on my inventive side, or possessed a little more cash to actually buy more of the artistic and often playful items available in the store.

For knitters like my spouse, Wholly Craft! also features a space dubbed The Supply Closet, which offers (and accepts) recycled craft supplies and hosts workshops and private events. In addition, Bratich launched Homemade Ohio, a catalog company that will target Ohio-oriented goods that are actually produced within the Buckeye State. As Bratich herself noted in this Columbus Alive article,
“Nothing drives me crazier than seeing something with an ‘Ohio’ on it, and then the tag says ‘Made in China,’”

Featuring the works of over 300 artisans, Wholly Craft! offers a wide
swath of creative items with a highly evident local flair
I suspect that Bratich herself and the folks at Wholly Craft! would never have suspected that they would be in this for a decade, nor reach their cornerstone status in the Clintonville community as they have (and deservedly so.) Perhaps that's why their planned 10th Anniversary Party, scheduled for roughly one week from the writing of this post, feels just a little more special than that of most other businesses, even in the eye of this relative newcomer to the area. I suspect the celebration will be much like any visit my spouse and I have made to Wholly Craft! in the past: visually appealing, full of creativity, and just plain fun.

The Tenth Anniversary party for Wholly Craft! is scheduled for Saturday, October 17th, from 7 PM - 10 PM. Further details on the celebration can be found on the event page of their Facebook account.

Wholly Craft!
3515 N. High St. (Clintonville)
Columbus, OH 43214
(614) 447-3445
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Ice Cream Chronicles (Vol. 19): In A South End Town and Dead End Road - Lombardi's Dairy Diner

Lombardi's Dairy Diner lies on the southern reaches of the Columbus metro
With all due respect to the Pet Shop Boys and, for that matter, the owners of Lombardi's, this roadside restaurant does not lie on a dead end road.

However, it's quite easy enough to drive right by this extreme southern Columbus metro area eatery on your way south on US 23 towards Circleville if you're not aware it's there. You may see it coming northbound on the same highway, but traffic at the closest intersection may discourage you to make that turn to get there (along with State Route 665 from the Grove City area, State Route 317 circles down from Southeast Columbus past the Rickenbacker Airport area to feed into this intersection.) Scioto Downs, just a half-mile north of Lombardi's, can add to the multitudes of automobiles that travel through this area.

Lombardi's offers a low-frills roadside diner experience, with the
usual menu items and a variety of ice cream options
But if you do veer off these main roads into Lombardi's parking lot, you will find a low-key, low-frills eatery that serving its roadside diner fare for over 40 years (according to the restaurant's website, the restaurant is open all year, but the hours vary with the season.) All the familiars are on the menu, from coneys to burgers, a variety of sub sandwiches to fried bologna, and pasta and pizza dishes. On this day, their restaurant sign touted their seafood options such as their lake perch, oysters and shrimp.

On this day, however, I was here for the ice cream. And to borrow from the Pet Shop Boys again, Lombardi's offers visitors a hard or soft option: roughly 20 flavors of traditional ice cream, and vanilla and chocolate soft serve (a swirl of both is also available.) This soft serve option presented a mild dilemma on this day in that a combination of kid-like nostalgia, a nice price (a large will set you back only $2), and the fact that I just simply had not had a soft-serve cone in awhile was pulling me away from my usual sampling modus operandi. An added factor was my status on this day as a solo traveler.

But then I figured out something pretty quickly: why choose when you don't have to?

Which do you choose, a hard or soft option...how about both?
The butter pecan, my standard flavor choice, was quite good. But on this day, the soft serve won out as the favorite, though I downed both cones with equal pleasure.

I ended up quite full (yes, this was quite a bit of ice cream) after downing these frozen treats, and I semi-regretted it for just a slight while afterward. But since I don't go past Lombardi's and this south end town all too often, I figured this was, in the end, just a big down payment for the next time we pass this way again.

Lombardi's Dairy Diner
6251 S High St (US Route 23)
Lockbourne, OH 43137
(614) 491-7570
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Lombardi's Pizza and Ice Cream Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The #ArtMakesCbus Campaign

The Big Room Bar at WWCD 102.5 FM radio station hosted
a special GCAC-sponsored event for the newly created
Art Makes Columbus/Columbus Makes Art campaign
 
One sign of a thriving metro area is similarly thriving arts community and public interest in the arts. My old stomping grounds of the Bay Area was not lacking in this aspect, with numerous avenues for creative exploration of all art types available for both artists, locals and visitors to the area.

I've come to find that, similar to many previously unknown aspects about this metro area in general, that Columbus and its surroundings sport a pleasantly vibrant arts scene bubbling within its reaches as well. Much of this is event-driven: it seems you cannot find a weekend during the warmer months without some sort of festival or happening. Even during the winter months, monthly gatherings like the Short North neighborhood's Gallery Hop or the Gay Street District's Moonlight Market, and institutions like the Columbus Idea Foundry and the Glass Axis allow locals to explore the creative side of life throughout the year.

My spouse and I have done our fair share of exploring this aspect of Columbus-area living, but as a relative newcomer myself, I've felt like we've barely scratched the surface of what is out there. Thus, it was with interest when I received an invite from the Greater Columbus Arts Council (GCAC) for a special event detailing their " Art Makes Columbus/Columbus Makes Art" (#ArtMakesCbus) campaign, launched this summer with this year's edition of the popular Columbus Arts Festival.  I had read some media stories and scrolled through the associated website briefly before I had received the invite, but I was definitely eager to learn a lot more about the thinking and motivation behind this effort.

Held at the CD102.5 FM's recently opened Big Room Bar radio station, this special gathering, consisting of local bloggers and others involved with numerous aspects of Columbus' art community, featured five local artists whose talents are as diverse as you can assemble in a panel discussion/question and answer style format. This question and answer session was supposed to enhance what anyone can discover about these artists at the campaign's website.

The panel featured a diverse array of locally-based artists, whose talents
covered writing (Katharine Matthews), corsetmaking (Larissa Boiwka),
painting (David Butler), woodturning (Devon Palmer)
and music (Angela Perley).
As mentioned by both GCAC President and CEO Tom Katzenmeyer in the introduction, and elaborated in more detail to me by Jami Goldstein, GCAC Vice President of Marketing, Communications & Events, a prime motivator behind the new campaign was to lend a more personal aspect to promoting local artists. She elaborated that the event-driven marketing approach of the past, hadn't necessarily translated into a better economic bottom line for local artists and related organizations. Goldstein stated they had figured out that the human interest factor was not factored enough into the equation, and that the Art Makes Columbus campaign would focus on adding that factor in local arts promotion via its website, various media/social media efforts, and partnerships with the community.

I had noted to Jami my observation that while the website's features and the in-depth biographies were focused on individuals and groups who most people would consider artists, the campaign's Events section included happenings that extended beyond what most people traditionally think of as the arts such as food and athletics. Goldstein said this was done on purpose, as GCAC wanted this campaign to be a truly collaborative effort across multiple groups and art media and, in a way, was something of an approach that had been untried in other locales.

Indeed, as the artists answered questions and spoke to their personal experiences, this human interest aspect really came through in a big way. The Columbus Arts Festival is indeed one of me and my spouse's favorite events to finish, but in the desire to the whole experience in, there are times in my mind when the plethora of booths and cornucopia of media available for viewing become almost too much to choose from. 

However, the experience becomes special when we have chosen to interact with the artists themselves. One of my spouse's such moments came from the Columbus Arts Festival during the 2011 edition, when a surprise storm damaged or destroyed a number of pieces from a group of participating artists. She dropped by the next day and made an offer on one particular storm-damaged piece she ended up liking from an artist who was a victim of the storm with the cash she had on hand. The artist gratefully agreed to the offer, but my spouse liked the piece so much that she contacted the artist later and sent her the rest of the money to make up the original pre-damaged asking price. 

Better yet, when I entered our relationship on a more permanent basis, I myself ended up enjoying the piece quite a bit, and so much so that I had a companion work commissioned as a surprise gift to my spouse.

Human interest, a focus of the #ArtMakesCbus campaign, drove
the sales of these two locally-produced art pieces
Perhaps that's what struck me during the post-panel mingling as well. Initially, some of the featured artists seemed a little uncomfortable with the panel discussion format (to be truthful, most people would be uncomfortable in that setting), but when it came to the mingling portion, the featured artists were just as approachable as the next person, talking as easily about the small things such as their favorite restaurants or love of cats as much as bigger questions about their fields of talent, where they came from, and what drove them in their artistic pursuits.

Examples of the featured artists' talent were on display this
night, from Palmer's finely crafted woodwork,
Boiwka's intricate corsets, Butler's passionate
paintings and Perley's wistful singing
I asked Goldstein about how the success of GCAC's three-to-five year campaign would be measured; she replied that while there were metrics in regard to things like website visits and similar, an overall sense of their efforts ultimate success would be a bit more difficult to put into hard figures. I pondered that question in the back of my head as the event went on, but discovered the possible ultimate measurement in a response painter David Butler gave to an audience-member question about how to best encourage their young child to explore their creative side. He spoke about spending time with his niece this summer, who one day made the observation that he wasn't making a lot of money via his painting pursuits.

Butler acknowledged this to be true, but responded that he was doing something that was making him very happy. He followed that by asking her what her favorite things in life were, to which she responded chocolate and hula hoops.

"Well, if you could have chocolate and hula hoops everyday, wouldn't you want to do that? 

His niece thought about it and said "Yeah, that would be awesome."

Butler responded to her, "That's how I feel. I'm living the chocolate and hula hoops life."

I think for most artists, living this "chocolate and hula hoops life" i.e. pursuing their particular talents on a lifelong basis to their heart's content is really the true measure of success. Hopefully, a successful #ArtMakesCbus campaign will allow local artists to feel a little more comfortable with that pursuit on both the public awareness and the economic side of things.

Art Makes Columbus/Columbus Makes Art (#ArtMakesCbus)
Campaign to promote local arts by the
100 E. Broad St. #2250
Columbus OH 43215
(614) 224-2606 

Campaign Information

Featured Artists
Angela Perley (Musician)

Update: The original post neglected to credit the artist, Kelly Zalenski of those fine cityscape paintings featured in this post. You can check out her portfolio at her website klzart.com