It’s starting to get cold in Indianapolis after record warm temps in December. I’m ready for spring to get here so I can get back outside and off the couch. Also, I’m hoping the rental car situation improves this year because I’m dying to make a trip to Portland, Maine, to do some hiking, fishing & eating. In 2019 there were non-stop flights from Indy, but it looks like those are no longer available, so that means I have to go through Boston & drive north.
As much as we’re all trying NOT to catch COVID, we have to be realistic and accept the fact we’ll all probably get it at some time. If you’re concerned about what to do when that day comes, The Atlantic had a great writeup in December with recommendations on what to do.
This Monday, the College Football Championship is in Indianapolis, with Alabama playing Georgia at 8 pm. Lots of festivities downtown, including several concerts on Monument Circle. The weather looks a little iffy, but I hope it holds off so people can enjoy the festivities.
Meanwhile, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution sportswriter Chip Tower slams Indianapolis as the host city for the 2022 College Football Playoffs National Championship. Happily, Indianapolis Monthly had a reply.
And finally, “Don’t Look Up” on Netflix was a surprise hit. After watching it, I could totally see how the movie’s premise could happen…
Two low-level astronomers must go on a giant media tour to warn mankind of an approaching comet that will destroy planet Earth.IMDB.com
It’s the week before Christmas, and we’ve had some amazingly warm weather lately. I was looking at the long-term forecast, and it says we’re going to be in the 60s on December 25th… In INDIANA! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a 60-degree Christmas in the Midwest.
The Bearded Bagel opened up a brick-and-mortar shop on 96th St. in front of Sam’s club. I haven’t been yet, but they specialize in steamed bagel sandwiches like Broad Ribble Bagle (BRB) serves. Not as big of a menu as BRB but a lot closer. The food trucks have been around the city for a while now and have a pretty decent following.
Speaking of Carbs, the Chef/Owner of Northside Social plans to open a biscuit place around 96th and Keystone. I’m keeping my eye on that as it’s really close to my office (and I love a good biscuit sandwich).
Staying on the food topic, The Union Jack Pub in Broad Ripple has opened a new location across the street from their old locations. They own the building, so they should have a little more control of future costs. I’ve had lunch at the new location twice this past week. For the first lunch, I ordered a Cuban sandwich with a salad. It was very good, and I would not hesitate to get that again, but the guy sitting next to me ordered the 7-inch personal deep dish pizza, so I knew I needed to return.
This was a solid little pizza that was absolutely delicious. LOTS of cheese and toppings with a very flavorful sauce and light doughy crust. All I was missing was a side of garlic butter to dip that crust in.
I’ve been a little less serious about the Low Carb diet these past few weeks and have found myself “cheating” a little more than usual. I’m still eating better than I was earlier this year and have seen the benefits of lowering the carbs and sugars in my overall diet. I can’t remember the last time I had fast food, and I’m totally OK with that!
And finally, here’s a little bit of food trivia I learned about this past week. Did you know Wolfgang Puck lived in Indianapolis? In fact, Indianapolis was his first American home, and he worked here for a couple of years in the ’70s. He still has a presence in Indianapolis with a Wolfgang Puck Express located in the Indianapolis International Airport (IND).
At the age of 24, Wolfgang took the advice of a friend and left Europe for the United States. His first job was at the restaurant La Tour in Indianapolis, where he worked from 1973 to 1975.https://wolfgangpuck.com/about/
Enjoy the next to the last week of 2021, and Look for our year-end recap next week.
Last week we ended up in Buffalo, NY after visiting Cleveland and Niagara Falls. This time around we’re going to dip into the Allegheny National Forest and get away from the city. We left Buffalo around 9am and started our journey south.
Ever since I was a kid I remember seeing barns and billboards along the highway with “See Rock City” on them.
When I happened to find a “Rock City Park” in Olean, NY I was excited to check it out. After doing a little research on my return I realized the “real” Rock City is actually on Lookout Mountain in Tennessee but the one in Olean was impressive nonetheless!
After climbing around the rocks for about an hour it was time to move on and check out the town of Bradford, PA. Bradford is the home of the Zippo lighter and Case knife factory (and museum). It’s a busy little town with a lot of little shops in it’s downtown. Unfortunately the Visitors Bureau was not open when I arrived, I think they were at lunch. They DID have a nice setup outside with maps and visitor information, which is what I was stopping by for anyway.
Before lunch I decided to checkout the Zippo/Case museum and see what it was all about.
The Zippo/Case museum was quite impressive, if you’re into these products it’s worth your while to stop by if you’re in the area. The inside lighting made it difficult to get any good photographs without a lot of glare so I concentrated on other items outside.
Lunch was at Togi’s Family Restaurant where the “special” was their version of a Big Mac. It was quite tasty & a LOT bigger than I ws expecting. The hand cut fries were cooked perfectly too.
After the big lunch, and fighting off the feeling to take a big nap, I continued on my way to the next stop, the WWII Museum in Eldred, PA.
What a great museum housed in a very small town in rural PA. This place was HUGE and had more items than a lot of other similarly sized museums I’ve visited over the years. Evidently a lot of the items had been donated by area families over the years and a local hero named Mitchell Paige had a lot to do with its success. He had an entire section of the museum dedicated to him.
After a successful day of traveling it was time to head up to Tracy Ridge and setup camp for the night. Tracy Ridge is a primitive campsite at the top of a bluff. The sites are spaced far apart and this evening there were only 3-4 of us in the entire area. This is my ideal situation for car camping, Plenty of room and lots of piece and quiet. Unfortunately this is hard to find these days with so may people out doing the same thins I’m doing. Traveling and camping during the week is the trick to get access to some great spots.
There were some storms off in the distance that I would need to keep an eye on as it had rained every day of the trip this far, so I expected today to be no different.
Mother nature pulled no punches and let me have it after dark. the lightning got pretty severe at one point but it blew through quickly and I was able to get a decent nights sleep. She came back in the morning just to say good morning with a nice little downpour as I was breaking camp down. At this point once you’re wet you just deal with it and make the best of it. I had another big day ahead of me and it was time to head out!
Stay tuned for the fourth and final installment of the Allegheny National Forest road trip next week. Thanks for reading!
My first summer road trip is FINALLY here. I had this trip planned last fall but COVID-19 had so many closed I decided to wait until 2021 to make the journey to Cleveland, Buffalo, and the Allegheny National Forest (ANF).
Timing is everything when it comes to the a road trip. You have to know what’s open and what activities are available, especially during the pandemic where things are temporarily (or sometimes permanently) closed. The goal was to hit the ANF mid-week to avoid the crowds and have more time to explore.
Since my first night of camping was almost 8-hours from the house I decided to split the trip up and check out some places along the way. My planned itinerary for this trip was:
- Sunday – Cleveland, OH
- Monday – Buffalo, NY and Niagara Falls
- Tuesday – Tracy Ridge Campground – Bradford, PA
- Wednesday – Buckaloons Recreation Area – Irvine, PA
- Thursday – East Harbor State Park – Lakeside Marblehead, OH
- Friday – Return to Indianapolis
I’m glad I left on a Sunday because I-70 was smooth sailing to Columbus. There has been construction (as usual) on the route and several major fatal accidents over the past few weeks that have shut the Interstate down for HOURS. In one case The Indiana State Police reportedly had to wake drivers up once the accident was cleared.
Sunday, Day 1 – I’ve driven to Cleveland before but usually take I-69 to Ft. Wayne and east on I-90. This time I had a few places I wanted to check out in Central Ohio so I decided to take I-70 to Columbus before heading Northeast on I-71 to Cleveland.
My first stop was at Swenson’s Drive-in on the north side of Columbus. They have an interesting burger called the “Galley Boy” which is a double cheeseburger with 2 sauces, one of which is BBQ. I wasn’t quite sure what the other one was but I suspect it was Tatar sauce. Paired with onion rings and a diet soda the combo made a great lunch. Interesting thing about this location. It’s right next to an IKEA and a Top Golf. The IKEA/Top Golf match up occurs in Cincinnati as well. It’s actually a great idea where half the family can shop and the other half can hit the driving range (and BOTH can EAT!).
Next stop was the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, OH. This place was the setting for The Shawshank Redemption. Unfortunately when I arrived the tours were all booked, except for the 4-hour one, so I “toured” the outside & went about my day.
Since I was going to be in the Cleveland area I thought I should make a return visit to the Szalay’s Farm & Market that’s located right next to the rail trail in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. I accidently left my phone in the car and failed to get any pictures. This place was PACKED with people stocking up on farmers market supplies. There were doing a really great food business with pop up shops spread around outside.
Finally it was off to check out Cleveland and find some dinner. Unfortunately it rained every day on this trip and by the time I got to downtown Cleveland it was pouring so I abandoned my sight seeing plans. Once I checked into the hotel & set out to check out a local Mexican place I had heard good things about.
Cozumel Mexican Restaurant is a local chain that has some great reviews online. When I arrived it was pretty busy but I managed to grab a seat at the bar. They had a bunch of containers on the back shelf of the bar where they were infusing all minds of fruit in Tequila and Vodka. My drink of choice this evening was a Paloma and this one did not disappoint. They even rimmed the glass with Tajín for a salty & spicy kick. For dinner I ordered a Chicken and Chorizo burrito called the Burrito A La Diabla and it was delicious, as were the rice and beans server along the side.
After dinner it was time to retire to the hotel room and get ready for another day of driving and sight seeing on my way to Buffalo and Niagra Falls.
Next week we’ll discuss the Buffalo area and continue the trip to the ANF.
Over the winter I watched a lot of YouTube & I stumbled upon some interesting ones regarding Disc Golf. I’d seen the baskets around various parks in the past and had never really seen anyone playing. Enter COVID-19 and Disc Golf becomes one of the fastest growing outdoor sports in the world. According to the Professional Disc Golf Association the sport saw an 84% new player growth in 2020.
There are over 10,000 courses throughout the world and most are completely free to play, unlike Ball Golf that can run you $100 a round (and take up a good chunk of your day). You can get started in Disc Golf with a single Disc that costs $10 or a starter set of 3 Discs for under $30. Scoring is can be a simple as a piece or paper or with the use if an app such as UDisk (also reporting record growth).
UDisk is a mobile app that lists Disc Courses around the world with reviews and course conditions updated by players. It also allows you to see the Disc Course layout and distances to the baskets. Lastly you can use UDisk to keep score and track your progress as you learn the game. For $15 it’s one of the most useful apps I’ve used, let alone pay for.
Playing Disc Golf is similar to Ball Golf where each player tries to get their Disc in the basket with the least amount of throws. The holes are rated with Par’s like Ball Golf and other rules such as Water Hazards and Out of Bounds are similar. I’m not nearly ready yet but there are Disc Golf Leagues all over the place & they seem to be very active. I’m going to try my hand at joining one this fall once the summer travel settles down. If you’re looking for a new sport to try & don’t think you can beat Disc Golf as a way to get outside and get some exercise while playing.
And finally, I visited Micro Center in Cincinnati last weekend and picked up a 7-inch touch screen for one of my Raspberry Pi devices. If you like to tinker, or know someone who does, a Raspberry Pi is a great gift. It’s an inexpensive (under $50) computer on a board that can be “hacked” to do just about anything. I’m going to build the real-time weather station shown in the video below.