Friday, 3 July 2015

LIFE: Travels and Ponderings on a Roadtrip

The Ohio -  West Virginia border

Last week we decided to take the long way around to our nephews joint birthday in Pittsburgh PA and spent a couple of days in Ohio. Part of Joe's birthday present was to take a trip to a theme park so the plan was for an early Wednesday morning drive down to Mason OH, ride coasters all day, spend the next day at the Zoo, drive over to Pittsburgh on the Friday and spend some time there over the weekend.

Our little trip turned into five nights, visiting five states - including two new ones for my visited list (Kentucky & West Virginia) and travelling over 800 miles in one huge circle. 

Cincinnati Cincinnati
Cincinnati, Ohio

Spending a lot of time on the road with hours and hundreds of miles between all the cities you find things to past the time. Like punch buggy game (I lost), watching every single cars licence place to see where they've travelled from and wondering where they are heading to, and pondering odd things like;
  • How bloody huge America is
  • How the hell do you comfortably drive from California to Pennsylvania in a Fiat 500?!
  • If only the camera would stop focusing on the windscreen damn it
  • How road signs warning about a "bump" in the road is just an everyday occurrence in Michigan 
  • Thus leading to thinking ... wow everyone has better roads than Michigan
  • And public transport while we're at it
  • Wait I don't know if I picked up my camera ... 
  • Oh look there's a truck with a Confederate flag 
  • Does eating in a McDonald's count as visiting a state?! 
  • Constantly wondering how the hell houses in Pittsburgh don't slip down the hills
But at least since I ditched TMobile and switched to Boost I know have phone signal in the middle no nowhere, especially on the turnpikes to not only GPS track every single mile but to wiki search anything that makes my fancy. Always leaning, always learning ...

Learning things like how farming is Ohio's number one industry so it's no surprise when you're driving around the state how many fields and farms you come across. While born a country lass, my life is now spent hidden away in the burbs of Detroit so it's always nice to see fields, trees and animals as far as the eye can see. As for the countryside smell, yeah not missed that so much. It was particularly eerie with the mist rising come Friday morning as we left Cincinnati and headed east.

Mile Marker HighwayOhio Interstate 70 by Zanesville

Driving on American roads is always filled with history, even if it is a little more on the modern scale of things. Interstate 70 is one of America's major highways stretching from Maryland all the way west to Utah. In many places it mirrors the former path of Route 40 of which the mile marker (above) was one used for. I always have a great love for state historical societies and their plaques.

West Virginia
Ohio - West Virginia border

So we followed I-70 as far as Washington, PA which meant getting to tick another "new" state to my visited list - that of West Virginia. Granted it was only a 14 mile stretch but we did stop at a McDonald's so I'm counting it all the same. But even with that short drive through the state, I can certainly see why it's a state known for it's mountains and rolling hills.

DrivingThe Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Sunday rolled around and it was time to head home and back to normality. We took our normal route back along the Turnpike. Normally we visit the in-laws in November/December when it's all gloomy, snowing, wet and leafless so seeing all the green fields was a particular delight. Well it was after all the rain stopped.

I actually got really excited back in May when one of my favourite blogs the Dainty Squid shared her walk around the Cuyahoga Valley National Park which lies between Akron and Cleveland in Ohio. That huge bridge in all her stunning photographs - well that's the bottom of this one I managed to catch a gloomy photograph of. We've driven over this part of the national park so many times coming back and home Pittsburgh and it's always looked so beautiful down in the valley.

Detroit, Michigan

And while I'm still suffering from post holiday blues, it is always a welcome sight seeing Detroit's skyline as we travel north up I-75. Home isn't too far away with you see those towers of the Ren Cen (told you you could spot it miles away!).

I have a lot of blog posts about this road trip in a lot more detailed planned out for the forthcoming weeks (and probably months because I'm slow at times and I love sharing details and history) so bare with me!

But let me know how you cope and past the time on road trips and when travelling?!

Blogger Tricks

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

LIFE: 30 Days Wild #3

So here rolls out the final part of the #30DaysWild challenge. This last part actually sees me getting out of the burbs and travelling through the countryside between some of America's big cities which made a nice change. It's always a welcome sight seeing cows and horses when you haven't seen them for months on end. The countryside smell, not so much - I'm a proper townie these days can't you tell?!


Day 21 // stuck inside a hospital for hours on end made me welcome the sight of a fluffy cloud afterwards


Day 22 // poppy appeared in my wild patch


Day 23 // my little Eastern Tiger Swallowtail has been in and out of my garden for the last month or so, always too fluttery for a picture but this time she settled long enough for a quick snap!


Day 24 // Wednesday saw us driving to Kings Island, and in the rather warm midday Ohio heat, the shade from the old trees was much appreciated between rides.


Day 25 // lusting over this vertical garden at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens.


Day 26 // Taking Interstate 71 across Ohio to Pennsylvania we had a quick stop at a rest stop right in the middle of the countryside. Hay bails and all.

Day 27 // Totally missed this day - crazed dog and a kids party to blame.


Day 28 // Pretty blue skies, fluffy clouds and green fields along the Ohio Turnpike.


Day 29 // First sweet peas of the year picked, fresh from the garden.

Day 30 // morning working in the veg patch and picking some fruit & veg fresh from the garden

Missing only one day on my first of such photograph challenge I think was pretty good. #30DaysWild has certainly made me more aware of what nature is around me, that you don't necessarily have to be out in the wild per say to enjoy it.  Which in turn has made me even more grateful for my garden and having a park (even if it's more of a playground) close by. And even if you're just travelling through the countryside, it's nice to see and appreciate it. It's encouraged me to get learning more about the wild flowers, the birds, the butterflies that pass by, being able to put names to things is always an advantage in my book.

If you missed the first two parts to #30DaysWild you can find them here and here.

Friday, 26 June 2015

LIFE: A Day of Wolves and Warthogs

Detroit Zoo Detroit Zoo Detroit Zoo Detroit Zoo Detroit Zoo Detroit ZooDetroit Zoo Detroit Zoo

In recent weeks the Detroit Zoo opened their new wolf two acre enclosure. The two grey wolves - Waziyata and Kaskapahtew have been making themselves at home, but of course on our visit they were busy napping and keeping cool in the bushes. Luckily though we managed to spot the fives baby Warthogs - all of which are named after Games of Thrones characters, Daenerys, Sansa, Cersei, Tyrion and Hodor. A little over two months old they were delightfully rooting around in the soil and being terribly cute when we visited at the weekend. 

Visiting the summer months, the zoo at this time of year is filled with all the baby animals making an appearance and everyone else trying to cool off. Whether it was the adorable Prairie Dog families to the Grizzly Bears cooling themselves in the pool. 

I'm looking forward to seeing the wolves a bit better next time!

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

GREEN FINGERS: And In The Veg Patch

Veg Patch

What a month June turned out to be in the veg patch. From another cold snap, so-much-rain, some rodent visitors to lots and lots of things bursting into life, it was high time I got around to sharing it all (and for myself for next year). 

The first things have been picked from the veg patch that's the super exciting thing! Cilantro and basil have been growing wonderfully. Plan is to use them as and when I need them especially in my curry making and seal the rest up in the freezer.

#30DaysWild Basil

We would have had lettuce a lot sooner if it had not been for a visitor of the rodent variety. Story goes me noticing about two weeks ago how my lettuce had been practically all eaten, a strawberry plant ripped up, the same with two cucumbers. Now we always blamed the squirrels and it was kinda gutting for it to happen again. Later the same day out in the garden was one huge fat Groundhog, a veggie eating rodent. He'd gone on to murder my sweet potato plant and had started nibbling the cilantro. 

The end result?! Turning the veg patch into Fort Knox with some wire fencing. If the Groundhog is still around (he was last seen charging under our deck) he's been kept out of the veg patch that's for sure. And I offer all my apologize to the overlord of squirrels for constantly blaming them for everything vanishing previously.


But onto more positive experiences - lots and lots of veg (tomatoes, courgettes/zucchinis whatever you want to call them) have flowers, our raspberries are starting to form berries, our cucumbers are growing like there's no tomorrow (and have a couple of flowers) and we have some bushy carrot tops. 

What's even more fun and entertaining while pottering about in the veg patch is seeing all the insects, all the bees and butterflies buzzing around.