Eagle-Watching on Mentor Marsh

April 11, 2010

Mama's taking a rest before embarking on a hunt for food

An eagle’s nest is still a rare thing to see in this day and age, so when we heard that there was a mated pair of eagles nesting in the Mentor Marsh, Sally and I decided to see if we could get a few photos.  We found the location of the nest easily – it’s quite visible from Rt. 44 near Headlands Beach State Park.  The Mentor Marsh is home to numerous wildlife species, but this pair of eagles are recent residents.  They first nested here last year, according to a local photographer that I met today at the site.   Approaching an eagle’s nest is highly illegal, as they are still endangered, so I want to stress that these photos were taken from FAR away.  As a result, the digital shots are pretty low quality – I had to use a digital zoom factor of 48x to get them.

I also took a few film photos with my old Nikon and a 300mm zoom with a 2x telextender, providing an effective focal length of 600mm.  I haven’t got these photos scanned yet, but I’ll add them to this post when I get them.

It’s really quite moving to see our national symbol in the wild.  Let’s hope that bald eagles are around for a long time!

Out and about

Dad is doing much of the babysitting

Here's a closer shot of the female eagle

Preparing for takeoff!


Cleveland is a More Beautiful City than You Remember

October 1, 2009

As I was reading Sally’s blog about the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame candidates for induction, I got a twinge of regret.  Not for myself, but for the people out there who wonder why the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is located in a dirty, dingy, sooty, pollution-ridden, poverty-stricken town like Cleveland.  The answer is simple: it isn’t.  It’s located in a beautiful downtown venue on a truly gorgeous (and clean) lake, surrounded by historically significant, breathtaking architecture.

Not the Cleveland you remember?  OK, I’ll give you the fact that Cleveland had some truly bad years before the cleanup began.  When I was younger, the Cuyahoga River caught fire, the downtown buildings were stained with soot, and Lake Erie fish contained so much mercury that only the truly brave would dare eat them.

But that was then.  When I moved to the Cleveland area, the Rock Hall, Jacobs Field, Gund Arena, the Great Lakes Science Center, and the Flats renovation had just been completed.  Browns Stadium was under construction.  Now Jacobs Field is Progressive Field, the Gund Arena is the “Q” (for Quicken Loans), and the Flats area is undergoing its second resurrection, this time with upscale apartments to bring a sense of community to the area.  Those who bemoaned the failure of the downtown renaissance simply missed the point – it’s a work in progress that will take years to complete, but the city will be better for having made the effort.

The new construction in the downtown area should bring more attention to the beautiful and historic Burnham Mall, planned in 1903 to bring neoclassical (“Beaux-Arts”) architecture to Cleveland.  Its brainchild, Daniel Burnham, was the architect responsible for Chicago’s “White City”, the buildings constructed for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, otherwise known as the Columbian Exposition.  In any case, Cleveland’s Burnham Mall still stands as a landmark that you shouldn’t miss when you visit the city.

A sightseeing tour of downtown Cleveland can be done in two ways: by trolley or by boat.  The trolley tour cruises the downtown and provides close views of the Mall, numerous public buildings including Burnham’s Federal Reserve, the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument on Public Square, and the War Memorial Fountain (also called the Fountain of Eternal Life).   You can obtain information on trolley tours at http://www.lollytrolley.com/ .  I’ve taken the tour and I highly recommend it.

But the trolley can only show the view from the street, and much of Cleveland’s beauty is best seen from the water.  The Goodtime III, Cleveland’s largest excursion ship, operates from the North Coast Inner Harbor at the East 9th Street Pier.   A trip on the Goodtime III includes a winding trip up the Cuyahoga River through the Flats to the industrial area of the old city.  Practically every iron bridge design known to mankind is visible on the cruise: lift gates, knife gates, swing bridges, etc.  The Cuyahoga twists and turns through the old neighborhoods, providing a historic look not otherwise possible.

If you get the chance to spend a few days sightseeing in Cleveland, give it a try – you’ll be amazed at what the city has to offer.  Furthermore, if this has piqued your interest, check out Cleveland on Foot, an excerpt from the book by Patience Hoskins.  The book is an excellent guide to hiking in the Greater Cleveland area.  The excerpt describes the architectural marvels of the downtown area – check it out.


Bounding through Brown & Adams County in Search of History

September 23, 2009

A couple of weekends ago, Sally, Andy and I visited my mother in Brown County.  We decided to take a jaunt around the area to visit a few of our favorite places, and hopefully, to find a few new points of interest. 

This crypt occupies the summit of the hill, shaded by a large tree

This crypt occupies the summit of the hill, shaded by a large tree

Brown & Adams Cty Sept 3, 2009 009

Georgetown:  A Beautiful Tomb

Our first stop was the Georgetown Cemetery, where we encountered this very interesting and elaborate crypt in a prominent location.  The marble statue at the apex of the roof is still beautiful in spite of (or perhaps because of ) the patina she has acquired over the last 90 years. 

Two women are interred here; their relationship to one another is not evident.  Clearly, the older of the two women purchased the tomb, as it is her name that adorns the lintel over the door.   The names of the occupants and their dates of birth and death are inscribed on tablets beside the steps up to the door.  Who were they?  If you know about Mary Shelton or Mary Cochran, please post a comment and enlighten us.

Mary Shelton

Mary Shelton

 

Mary Cochran

Mary Cochran

Incidentally,  if you visit Georgetown, you should visit U.S. Grant’s boyhood home and the school he attended as a young man, both of which are open to the public. 

 

Ripley, Ohio - destination of many fugitive slaves before and during the Civil War

Ripley, Ohio - destination of many fugitive slaves before and during the Civil War

Ripley: Home of Abolitionism in Ohio

 

After a hearty lunch at the Fireside Restaurant in Georgetown (highly recommended!) we headed down the road to Ripley, Ohio.  Ripley was a very important town in the days prior to and during the Civil War; it was a hotbed of  abolitionist activity, a major stop on the Underground Railroad, and the home of  Rev. John Rankin.  Rev. Rankin and his sons were conductors on the Underground Railroad, providing safe conduct to numerous fugitive slaves on their way to Canada and freedom.   Harriet Beecher Stowe was highly influenced by Rankin’s anti-slavery activities.  Sights not to be missed in Ripley include the Rankin House (check it out at http://ohsweb.ohiohistory.org/places/sw14/index.shtml),  the monument to the first abolitionists in Ohio, and Freedom Landing (right below the monument). 

Witness Tree seen from the riverbank

Witness Tree seen from the riverbankWitness Tree tablet

Freedom Landing

Freedom Landing

 

Commemorative tablet at Freedom Landing

Commemorative tablet at Freedom Landing

The trip to Ripley is well worth the drive – while you’re there, stop at Rockin’ Robin’s for ice cream – it’s a 50’s style soda fountain with great atmosphere.  Word of warning:  the “single dip” ice cream cone is a LOT larger than you’d think!

Adams County Heritage Center and a Brush with My Ancestors

 I have long known that my maternal grandfather’s ancestors were the first settlers of Adams County, Ohio.  Two  Ellison brothers made the journey down the Ohio River in 1790 along with seventeen other men and their families, all of whom had been offered property in return for settling at Massie’s Station, later called Manchester, Ohio.  Manchester was the first white settlement in the Virginia Military District.     Col. Daniel Collier, listed among the field officers of the 2nd Brigade, Ohio Militia in the War of 1812, was an early settler and leader of the community.  His son-in-law, Andrew Ellison was my great-great-great-great-grandfather (assuming that I’ve correctly calculated the number of greats, that is).   Andrew’s family owned a two-story log house on the ridge road (later called Vaughn’s Chapel Road) in Adam’s County built around 1803.  Why did I tell that story?  Well, for two reasons: first off, as a child, I played in that house, which was still standing on the original site right up until the late 1980’s, when it was sold, disassembled, moved to Loveland, Ohio and reassembled (or so I’m told – please contact me if you have info on this matter).   My Aunt Hattie Osman lived there with a flock of turkeys, ducks, geese, and a few score of cats until her death.  On the hill behind the house was the Ellison family cemetery where Andrew and many others are buried.

Plaque on the Heritage Center Building

Plaque on the Heritage Center Building

The second reason for this rambling account is that I recently paid a visit to the Adams County Heritage Center in West Union, Ohio to get a close look at great(x4)-grandpa Andrew’s rifle.  It’s in a glass case, incorrectly labeled as a cap & ball “musket”.  What it is, in fact, is an Ohio made half-stock hunting rifle (muskets are military firearms) of about .45 caliber with a beautiful curly maple stock and handmade iron furniture.  It is a cap and ball firearm, and that fact is troublesome.  You see, for Daniel Collier to have owned the rifle originally, it would have to have been built before percussion caps existed.  It would have to have been constructed as a flintlock rifle, then converted to percussion at a later date.  I’m not an expert, but such things did happen, so I’m assuming the rifle is authentic as represented.   I hope anyone who has information on these items will contact me – it would be nice get the facts straight and save the information for posterity.  

Andrew Ellison's rifle is the lower one in the photograph

Andrew Ellison's rifle is the lower one in the photograph

 

The label is inscribed "Cap & Ball Musket, Powder Horns, Circa 1840, Originally owned by Andrew Ellison (1811-1894), Son-in-law of Col. Daniel Collier, Presented by Stanley and Louise Rowe

The label is inscribed "Cap & Ball Musket, Powder Horns, Circa 1840, Originally owned by Andrew Ellison (1811-1894), Son-in-law of Col. Daniel Collier, Presented by Stanley and Louise Rowe

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since I’m also a bit of a fanatic about old bikes, I couldn’t help but notice a “Ben Hur” bicycle, circa 1890, stashed away in the back corner of the museum.  It has pneumatic tires, long since collapsed and hardened, wooden rims, wooden fenders laced onto the frame with cotton cordage, wooden handlebars, and an amazingly intact leather saddle with a relief opening in the center.  The relief opening looks exactly like those on modern “men-specific” saddles of today.  If you like bikes, you should check out this unique example of late 19th century technology.

Headbadge shows the name Ben Hur

Headbadge shows the name Ben Hur

 

How about those wooden handlebars?

How about those wooden handlebars?

 

The wooden fenders are laced to the frame with cotton cord, still intact.  Also note the flat tire - pneumatic tires were rare in 1890.

The wooden fenders are laced to the frame with cotton cord, still intact. Also note the flat tire - pneumatic tires were rare in 1890.

 

 

Outside the Heritage Center is a public area paved with bricks, some of which are dedicated to people who lived in the area, or have donated on their own behalf.  One of these bricks is inscribed in memory of my grandmother and grandfather on my mother’s side. 

Grandma & Grandpa Ellison's brick

Grandma & Grandpa Ellison's brick

 It ‘s nice to see that so many former residents of Adams County are remembered here.  Adams County Ohio is one of the most impoverished areas in the United States, with a per capita income of around $16,000.  Those of us whose parents were born there would do well to go back once in a while and think about how hard they worked to help us get to where we are today.


I’m Still Alive, Just Too Lazy to Write!

July 7, 2009

I’ve been very lax about catching up here since we returned from vacation.  The Wednesday after I started back to work, I had to fly to North Carolina, where I spent three days making sales calls with one of our distributors.  Normally this would be an opportunity to catch up on my indulgence in southern barbecue, but not this time!  The day before I left, I broke a back molar, which had to be extracted, leaving me on a liquid and jello diet for the entirety of the trip!   So, the hospitality was great, but the food was nonexistent..

 I suggest you look at Sally’s blog for the account of our day in Ashtabula for the Beach Glass Festival.  It was great fun, and the remainder of the day was equally nice.  We rode about ten miles on the bike trail in Austinburg, then had a picnic in the township park nearby.  All in all, just about a perfect day.

No trip to Ashtabula is complete without a trip to the overlook!

No trip to Ashtabula is complete without a trip to the overlook!

This weekend we took in the Mesopotamia Ox Roast, and annual benefit for the volunteer fire department.  It’s an annual affair, and the food and the flea market make the trip worthwhile.  Mesopotamia is in Amish country, so the horses and buggies are everywhere. 

The Hitchin' Post

The Hitchin' Post

It takes a lot of beef to serve up 15,000 sandwiches in three days!

The smell is amazing!!

The smell is amazing!!

The line for the food is very long, but it moves fast, and the conversation can be very amusing.

Great roast beef, but the sauce could use a little more spice!

Great roast beef, but the sauce could use a little more spice!

Hey, this guy's been to Paint Creek Lake

Hey, this guy's been to Paint Creek Lake!

I particularly enjoyed listening to an obvious city-dweller asking an Amish lady how they keep their horses from breaking loose when they’re tied to the hitching post.  She patiently explained that the reins are attached to a neck rope, and they can’t pull back without choking!  

Hey, cutie, whattaya say we bust outta this place and go sow a few wild oats?

Hey, cutie, whattaya say we bust outta this place and go sow a few wild oats?

The flea market had some cool items, including a few vintage bikes (my particular weakness), but nothing really that interesting.

Once again, check out Sally’s blog for more info and photos.  

 We headed out to Middlefield in search of dessert, and unfortunately found ourselves at a very tempting and well-known locale, Mary Yoder’s Amish Kitchen.  We ordered “Homemade pie” and were asked if we wanted ice cream on it.  We both said yes, and neither of us asked either the kind of ice cream or the price.  What we eventually got was a shot of soft-serve vanilla on top of the most obviously commercially-prepared pie I’ve ever eaten.   Then to make matters worse, the price of that ice cream was almost equal to the price of the pie!  I won’t rant any further about this place except to say this:  Don’t waste your time or your money coming here.  Most people coming to an Amish restaurant are expecting a little place where everything is made from scratch, or at least using minimal prepared ingredients.  This place is one step above the school cafeteria! 

On the 4th of July, I finally got back on the bike for another 10-mile jaunt.  This ride was at Headlands Beach, close to home.  The ride was a little more strenuous than the Austinburg trip, and I’m hoping to get back in shape before the summer is over.  More on that subject to come…..


Saguaro National Park – A Forest of Cacti

June 14, 2009

As we entered Tucson on Friday afternoon, we drove through the Saguaro National Park, a unique preserve full of saguaro and 21 other species of cactus. There are numerous types of wildlife, including javelinas, gila monsters, mountain lions (didn’t see any, fortunately), and many others.

The gallery I’m posting shows some of the best photos I got – the overall trip is so overwhelming that it’s difficult to document in a few shots. At the Visitors’ Center, we had a rare chance to see some javelinas that had simply crawled up next to the observation window and fallen asleep! Sighting a baby javelina is a fairly unusual thing, so we were pretty excited.

We couldn’t spend too much time in the park because of our schedule, and besides, the heat was unbelievable. However, we really enjoyed the short trip through the forest. Next time, we hope to come here in May, when the cacti are in bloom!


From Pinos Altos to Tucson, via the Rex Allen Museum

June 14, 2009
Last look at our little home away from home

Last look at our little home away from home

We left Pinos Altos around 11:00 a.m. on Friday to head back to Tucson. Along the way, we stopped for lunch at a randomly selected town that turned out to be Willcox, AZ. Willcox has two claims to fame. On July 6, 1900, Warren Earp, the brother of Wyatt, Morgan, James and Virgil Earp, was shot and killed in the Headquarters Saloon right here.

Warren met his fate right here (er, inside the gift shop)

Warren met his fate right here (er, inside the gift shop)

The saloon burned down in 1940, but there’s a plaque on the street corner to commemorate the occasion. Of course, the plaque now hangs on the outside wall of a craft shop which bears no resemblance whatsoever to the Headquarters Saloon, but you can still “come in and stand where Warren Earp was shot on July 6, 1900”. Yes, there’s a sign in the window of the shop inviting visitors to do exactly that. We didn’t go in.

Sally and Andy on the site of the Headquarters Saloon

Sally and Andy on the site of the Headquarters Saloon

Oh yes, Willcox has another claim to fame, thank goodness. It’s the hometown of Rex Allen, the “last of the silver screen cowboys”, star of many Republic Pictures productions in the 1950’s, and contemporary of Roy Rogers (who was my personal favorite). He was also the star of “Frontier Doctor,” a TV series that ran 39 episodes in 1955 and 1956. There’s a large bronze statue of Rex Allen in a park located in the historic section of Wilcox, directly across the street from the Rex Allen Theater and the Rex Allen Museum.

Rex Allen statue

Rex Allen statue

Rex Allen Theater

Rex Allen Theater

Rex Allen Museum

Rex Allen Museum

The Museum also houses the Arizona Cowboy Hall of Fame, which I got to see for free along with the admission to the Rex Allen Museum (a $5.00 donation per family). The Rex Allen Museum was well worth the 5 bucks, and the AZ Cowboy Hall of Fame was worth what I paid to see it, too.

I was surprised to find that Rex actually grew up on a homestead in the 1920’s and early 30’s , so he was clearly more qualified to be a movie cowboy than my old hero Roy, who came from Ohio. Anyway, the museum contains a lot of memorabilia, including early artifacts from the homestead, costumes, props, recordings, hats, boots, saddles, etc., etc., etc.

Rex's boots & saddle

Rex's boots & saddle

A TV in the back was playing “Colorado Sundown” starring Rex Allen and Slim Pickens.

The movie posters are worth the price of admission

The movie posters are worth the price of admission

Coincidentally, this is the only Rex Allen movie I can ever recall having seen before. Figures.

On the way out, I decided to purchase a numbered bronze commemorative medal struck in Rex’s honor back in the 70’s and still available to visitors. Unfortunately, the guy in charge had no idea “which key fit the lock on the case,” so I had to forgo the pleasure. Apparently those medals aren’t too popular, as he told me no one had ever asked to buy one that he knew of.

In retrospect, the thing I liked best about Willcox was Big Tex’s Barbecue, an actual railroad dining car which now offers some of the best brisket I’ve had outside of Texas. If by some miniscule chance you ever find yourself in Willcox, don’t miss Big Tex’s.


Last Night Under Dark Skies

June 14, 2009

When I titled a previous post “Lugging a 52 Lb. Telescope Across the Country for Nothing, Part 1”, I fully expected that this post would be Part 2 of that story. But this is definitely not the case! The skies were dark and clear, and although the “seeing” was not so good, Sally and I spent several hours stargazing.

My efforts to get webcam shots of Saturn didn’t go well. Thermal convections in the upper atmosphere caused the image to distort, shimmer, float, and otherwise smear all over the place, so I couldn’t get pictures.

I did mount my digital camera on the tripod for this night shot:

Night sky looking toward Silver City

Night sky looking toward Silver City

It’s a little blurred due to the long time exposure, but you can get an idea of what the star-filled sky looks like.

As the night wore on, the visibility got better, and Sally and I used both binoculars and the telescope to explore the constellations, finding a couple of interesting star clusters, the Lagoon Nebula, and a number of other attractions.

Unfortunately, we had to get up early to pack the car and depart for Tucson on Friday, so around midnight we bade farewell to the starry skies and went to bed.


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