We Get A Guided Tour

 Posted by at 12:17 am  Nick's Blog
Oct 072011

Usually when we’re playing tourist in a new area, either Greg or I do the driving, but yesterday we got to just sit back and enjoy the ride! Amy Smith, owner of  Smith’s Campground & Cabins, packed the four of us into her van about 11 a.m. and took us on a day long tour of the beautiful countryside of Holmes County, Ohio, introducing us to places that most visitors never know about. 

The leaves are turning, and the rolling hillsides and valleys were spectacular as we cruised along the back roads, past neat farm fields, tidy Amish farms, and beautiful old homes in the small towns we passed through.

Autumn scene

Our first stop was at Country Furniture, an Amish furniture shop, where the ladies talked Greg and I into crawling up in a huge rocking chair for a picture. I don’t know, I’m beginning to think that Greg and I may be spending too much time together. How about you?

Nick Greg big chair 2

Our next stop was a neat covered bridge that spans the Mohican River along the Mohican Valley Trail, a 4.5 mile long hiking and biking trail that is popular with locals and visitors alike. The 370 foot long bridge is the longest covered bridge in Ohio that is not open to motor vehicles.

Dream bridge

But it is used all of the time by the local Amish in their buggies, and one came through while we were there, the horse’s shod hooves echoing through the bridge as it clip clopped rapidly past.  You can just see it in the distance at the far end of the bridge as it approached.

Dream bridge 3

And then it was past us and rolling away.

Buggy on trail

A few minutes later, the buggy passed on the road below us as it made its way down the hill.

Buggy from top

There was even a bathroom shaped like a covered bridge at the parking area near the bridge!

Privy of Dreams

We were treated to a new view around every curve in the road. Sometimes it was a tree in all of its autumn glory.

Color tree

Other times it was a field of corn shucks, or an old barn with a Mail Pouch Tobacco sign painted on the side. When I was a kid, these were a common sight, but we don’t see them very often anymore.

Ciorn shucks

Mail Pouch barn 2

Holmes County, Ohio and the surrounding area, is home to the world’s largest Amish community, even larger than Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and as we passed, farmers were working their fields with horse drawn plows and equipment.

Five horse team


We stopped at several neat shops, including Hershberger’s, which included a farm store, farm market, and petting zoo.

Hershberger farm store

They even had goats standing on the roof of the open air barn!

Goats on roof

This big fellow was in no mood to be petted. His name is Big Ben, and he is a Belgian horse. At 3,000 pounds, and over 19 hands high, he is the biggest horse in Holmes County. He’s certainly the biggest horse I’ve ever seen! While he would eat ice cream cones filled with feed pellets from your hand (okay, he didn’t exactly eat them, he inhaled them!), he did not want to be touched. Every time somebody reached up a hand that didn’t have food in it, he jerked his head away, and kicked at his pipe corral. I fed him a couple of cones, and then went off to find something friendlier, and smaller, to play with!

Big Ben horse

Who can pass up chocolate? After all, it is the fifth major food group, right? So when Amy asked if we wanted to stop at the Coblentz Chocolate Company in Walnut Creek, there was a chorus of approval from the back of the van! I think I gained two pounds just walking in the door! We watched the Amish girls packing chocolate in the factory, and then bought a few goodies to take home.

Chocolate factory

Guess what’s almost as delicious as chocolate? Cheese! So our next stop was at Heini’s Cheese, in Berlin, where they had dozens of different cheeses available to sample, and to purchase. You can bet that our credit card took another hit there! 🙂

Our last stop of the day was Spearman’s Restaurant in Millwood, a local favorite housed in a Marathon gas station. Yes, you can eat at Spearman’s, and get gas too! Actually, our meal was delicious, and though I didn’t have any room left for dessert after my dinner (and all of those chocolate and cheese samples), I wish I would have, because the strawberry pie servings were huge and looked delicious!

We got back to the campground around 8 p.m., worn out from our long day of playing tourist in north central Ohio. This is one of the prettiest regions we have ever visited, and I’m sorry it took us so long to discover it. Now that we have, you can bet that we’ll be back! Thanks again, Amy, for being such an excellent tour guide!

Thought For The Day – Did you ever notice that people who spend money on beer, cigarettes and lottery tickets, are always complaining about being broke and not feeling well?

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Nick Russell

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  11 Responses to “We Get A Guided Tour”

  1. Would you believe the Amish rides in motor vehicle vans. Uses gasoline generators. and uses electrical saws and drills?

  2. Nick, Lynn and I visited that area a couple of years ago. Here are a few recommendations I have for you. They have wonderful broasted chicken at Der Dutchman Restaurant in Walnut Creek and at Mrs. Yoder’s Kitchen in Mt. Hope. All of the Amish restaurants were great, but Der Dutchman was by far the best.

    In Berlin, we visited the Amish & Mennonite Heritage Center where we watched a film; took a guided tour of ‘Behalt’, a 10-foot x 265-foot Cyclorama (circular mural) that depicts the entire history of the Anabaptist movement, beginning in the 500’s in Europe and up to the present days; took a guided tour of the one-room schoolhouse and barn. By taking this tour you get a better understanding of the community, the differences between the different Amish communities and the difference between the Amish and Mennonite religions including their histories. It was very informative and extremely interesting.

    In Dover, Ohio we took a guided tour of Warthers Carvings. ‘This amazing state-of-the-art facility showcases the 64 ebony, ivory and walnut train carvings created by Ernest ‘Mooney’ Warther. You have to see these train carvings to believe it. They were amazing and wonderful!! Some of these trains have as many as 40,000 parts and took a year to carve. They are very precise and all move (wheels turn and drive mechanisms work) His wife, Freida, collected buttons and they are in the ‘button house’, a collection of 73,000 buttons that are arranged in beautiful designs on the walls and ceiling. There is also a carving of a steel mill that he worked in early in his life and it is powered by an electric motor. Everything works, including tiny people, eating a sandwich. Quite impressive! If you can find the time, these can be visited in less than 90 miles round trip.

  3. Sure hope you take time get the yaks out for a little while and cruise that beautiful river a bit before you head back for Elkhart to finish up the journal. Plus it would give Greg a short break from having to be your keeper or safety valve.

  4. Great pictures on this post!

  5. Beautiful pictures!!! And what a grand day!!!

  6. Okay Nick, you’ve had a couple days of rest and you are parked near some beautiful water. If you do not take those kayaks out now you had better sell them because you have no use for them. I have been following your blog for some time now and you have talked about going kayaking way more than actually doing it.

  7. You make me want to head out for Ohio; sounds great. I am kind of wondering how you two managed to get into that chair. At least it was big enough for you both!

  8. Beautiful photos! So much of Ohio and Michigan are lovely, especially when the trees turn color this time of year. (Of course, chocolate is great ANY time of year!) 🙂

  9. On the news today here in FL, was a report that In Holmes County OH, an Amish “gang” was cutting off the beards of other Amish men while they were sleeping. They also stop a buggy and did the deed. Were was “Bad Nick”? I hope you cover this story in your next blog update. Keep us posted.

  10. Loved the story & pictures today Nick. We have friends who live in Middlebury, IN so when we are in the Elkhart area we love the day like you had because they know all the local favorites, all the back roads, etc. It’s always a special treat and we, too, gain 5 lbs. on that particular day. One of the cutest things we saw last year was a two boys driving a buggy pulling a little boat presumably going fishing on a local lake nearby. Enjoy your time there…..

  11. Welcome to our part of the country! Ohio is absolutely beautiful! Enjoyed your blog very much and the pictures make me glad we live around here!

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