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Another great day…I got to spend some time with Kathy, Doug, and Micah.  Kathy has a barn with about 46 horses in walking distance from her house.  Micah, her daughter, has two ponies, Tangerine and Cummerbund (Cummerbund is black), a guinea pig named Sweetie, and two fish who seem to have several names.  We worked a horse jigsaw puzzle before we sat down for a delicious breakfast, banana nut pancakes and bacon, compliments of Kathy.  For work, Doug teaches courses on how to improve sales after having increased his sales at his own IT company.  For pleasure, Doug is a sailor and likes to race his trimaran.  Just like the horse show folks, he likes to get down south to Florida in the winter (out of the cold) to compete in regattas.  Kathy and Micah are Buddhists.  I learned the meaning of the Tumba, a Buddhist prayer…another new experience.

After breakfast, I took the highway to the beginning of the next drive, Lexington, OH.  My first stop was Malabar Farm State Park.  Malabar Farm was once the country estate of Pulitzer Prize-winning author, conservationist, and farmer, Louis Bromfield and was named for Malabar Coast in India.   It was at this farm house mansion where Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall spent their honeymoon.   Bromfield studied agriculture for a year at Cornell University, left to operate his family’s farm, enrolled at Columbia University to study journalism, and enlisted in the United States Army Ambulance Service during World War I.  He went on to become a reporter, publishing several articles, stories, screenplays, and novels.  His third novel Early Autumn won the Pulitzer Prize in 1927.

I happened to visit Malabar Farm on Heritage Days which is one of Ohio’s largest free outdoor living history and crafts festival.  I would describe it to be a combination between Grapefest and Pioneer Days in the Dallas area.  Several booths were set up inside the farm with crafts like soap, dried flowers, and confections for sale.  In addition, a banjo band played old music while horse drawn hayrides passed by civil war demonstrations and old farm machinery.  It was a big day at the park…I’m thankful I didn’t have to try to find a campground up this way last night, as it think I would have failed.  There was a line of cars being directed to overflow parking.  Before I left with some local Loudonville bologna and swiss cheese for lunch and some jam for my PB&J’s, I met three horseback riders, Pam, Tina, and Sandy.  Sandy moved to Ohio from Pilot Point, a town north of Dallas.  What a small world!

I weaved around a few more back roads to Mohican Memorial State Forest.  I walked over a covered bridge that spans the Clear Fork-Mohican River and along a trail toward Big and Little Lyon Falls.  I didn’t have a trail map with me and there wasn’t one at the trailhead, so I asked people along the way how far it was to the falls…”it’s pretty far back, ½ mile maybe”; “oh, it’s a ways back, 1/8 mile and rugged terrain”; and finally a better answer, “oh, it’s far, but if you want to get a good shot of a waterfall, you won’t get it there…no water…if you go a 100 yards up you can get to a nice spot on the river though”.  Thankfully I settled on her advice, as I later found out it was a 1.5 mile roundtrip which would have been hard on the dogs!  I met tons of people along the way, but it was mostly quick chit chat.

Scout, Petey, and I continued our journey through Amish country, between Millersburg, Berlin, and Sugarcreek (aka The Little Switzerland of Ohio).  As we shared the roads with horse drawn buggies, we passed by farmsteads, white houses, and huge dairy barns.  At the same time, I felt like I was at Disney World walking around the lake area where you could sample different cultures…Germans here, Swiss there.  One farm offered produce, pony rides, and buggy rides; while another offered quilt making demonstrations.  I was surprised the Amish country was such a tourist attraction.  I expected it to be simple, though to me it seemed commercialized…maybe it is because it is hard for me to grasp the likes of German and Swiss villages in the middle of Ohio.  North Central Ohio claims the largest settlement of Amish.  I did stop by the Mennonite Information Center to learn more about the culture.  The Amish are the most conservative group in the Anabaptist Family.  The Mennonites and the Hutterites are additional groups in the family.  The Anabaptists differed from popular reformers in that they rejected infant baptism, and they were the first to teach the separation between church and state which was unheard of in the 1500s, thus they were driven away from their homes in Switzerland and Germany by persecution.

My final stop before resting at a private campground just across the Ohio River in West Virginia was the Schoenbrunn Village State Memorial, Ohio’s earliest Christian Settlement.  According to Reader’s Digest, it was founded in 1772 as a Moravian mission to the Delaware Indians and lasted only five years.  Today the site is comprised of 17 reconstructed log buildings representing life on the Ohio frontier. ETB

Websites: www.dnr.state.oh.us/parks/parks/malabar/tabid/762/default.aspx, www.ohiodnr.com/forests/mohican/tabid/5160/default.aspx, www.ohsweb.ohiohistory.org/places/ne06/index.shtml,

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