Monday, July 21, 2014

Spartan Race Ohio Giveaway!

Spartan Race is on a mission to get you active, healthy, excited about change, and return to our ancient roots where running through woods, getting dirty, and facing adversity was part of everyday life. These events are all about challenging today’s perception of normal.

These events challenge the familiar, today’s perception of normal living and getting you out of your comfort zone!

Having experienced many different racing events, Spartan Race wanted to make adventure racing more accessible to everyone, but do not be fooled by the word ‘accessible’, as these events have a challenge for everyone’s needs.

Spartan Race now introduces a level for everyone beginning with the entry level Spartan Sprint, intermediate level Super Spartan, the advanced Spartan Beast, and the ‘99.9% need not apply’ extreme level Death Race.

Whatever your level, Spartan Race will test your strength, stamina, and sense of humor.

The Spartan Sprint, Super, and Beast are coming to Ohio for the first time ever on October 4 - taking place at The Wilds in Cumberland, Guernsey County!
  • The Spartan Sprint is comprised of 15+ obstacles over 3+ miles and is a great way to get off the couch and onto the course! 
  • The Spartan Super will test your physical strength and mental resolve. Tackle 20+ obstacles over 8+ miles, and show that you're Spartan tough! 
  • The Spartan Beast is a true test of will. Tackle 25+ obstacles over 12+ miles, and prove you're the ultimate Spartan! 

And YOU can be the proud winner of a FREE entry to the Spartan Race Ohio courtesy of OHventures and the Reebok Spartan Race! To qualify, simply follow OHventures on Twitter and mention @OHventures in a tweet with the words "I want to #SpartanUp in Ohio" by 12:00 Noon on August 4, 2014. A winner will be chosen at random that evening.  

Get ready to #SPARTANUP in 2014! AROO!

Dragon Boat Festival at Portage Lakes

Photos by OHventures

When I was asked to compete in the annual Dragon Boat Festival at Portage Lakes on July 12 in Summit County, I blindly and excitedly agreed. I had no clue as to what I was getting myself into, but I knew that it would be a challenge I couldn't turn down! My good friend Chelsie was recruiting friends and family to join her corporate team, Morgan Stanley, in the competition. My fellow coworker Craig happens to be Chelsie's husband, and the two of us proudly joined Team Morgan Stanley.

What I soon learned was that the Dragon Boat Festival consisted of teams of twenty individuals (including at least 8 females in this particular event) who all sit facing forward in pairs within a single dragon boat, which is a long, sleek lightweight watercraft decorated with a dragon head and dragon tail. Team members each use a single oar on the side of the boat in which they are seated and paddle in unison in order to power the boat. 

One additional teammate sits at the head of the boat on a small chair and serves as the drummer, who keeps rowers in pace with one another by beating on it in a rhythmic fashion. There is a non-team member who stands at the back of the boat and steers the vessel when needed (for instance, when the team needs to make their way to the starting line).

A circle of breast cancer survivors gathering on Turkeyfoot Beach

This particular dragon boat race - officially dubbed the Dragons On The Lake Dragon Boat Festival - was for an amazing cause. The event is hosted by the Dragon Dream Team, Ohio's first all breast cancer survivor dragon boat team. Through paddling and other activities, the members embrace the motto of celebrating life after breast cancer. Through the Boatloads of Hope Community Outreach Program, the Dragon Dream Team delivers a silk pashmina, along with a powerful message of hope to other breast cancer survivors. This program currently exists in 7 area hospitals. 

There were 3 classifications of teams at the Dragon Boat Festival: survivor teams (made up completely of breast cancer survivors), community teams, and corporate teams.

With our Morgan Stanley Team Captain Chelsie

As a corporate team, we would be going up against 12 other corporate teams. Since not all of us actually work at Morgan Stanley, we had our first opportunity to meet our fellow rowers at our very first practice, which took place a couple of weeks before the actual event.

At practice (and the day of the race), we found that this was a rather technical and high-skill water sport that relies heavily on teamwork and synchronicity. Some tips we discovered were:
  1. Keep your hips as close to the gully as possible. Do NOT lean out of the boat.
  2. Keep your oar straight up and down, and close to the side of the boat when paddling.
  3. Paddle in sync with the rest of your team. Do so by putting the oar in the water each time the drum strikes. Keep your eyes on the person up 2 and to the left.
  4. Lean your body forward and dig your oar deep into the water.
  5. Count out loud along with the rest of the team to keep together.
It is a lot easier than it looks or sounds! On race day, our team met for the very first time as a whole unit, which was a major disadvantage. But the team captain, Chelsie, was full of encouragement and enthusiasm that helped our morale. When we found our spot on Turkeyfoot Beach, we practiced counting and moving in sync while on land. 

Me and my teammate Craig taking a break with a game of cornhole.

Then, at 8:00 AM, the festival began and the first heat (out of three heats total) took place. The heats were made up of three boats (not necessarily all of the same category). We paddle to the "starting line" where we all have to reach alignment. Once alignment is achieved, the horn blows, and you fly out of the gates as fast as possible! Our first heat was less than stellar, as the front of the boat was way out of sync with the back of the boat. However, we still managed to get 2nd place out of the 3 teams and cross the finish buoys with a respectable time.

In each heat, we took what went wrong and remedied it so that we could do better in the next heat. Our three times were approximately 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 13 seconds, and 1 minute 12 seconds. After much anticipation, it was revealed that these times were enough to take us to the FINALS!

Team Morgan Stanley ready to take on the competition!

The final round in the corporate division consisted of our team (Morgan Stanley) versus Vorys Legal Counsel and Merrill Lynch (who happened to be our friendly rivals the whole day!). The final round took place at 3:30 PM. We lined up and paddled our asses off! Unfortunately, Merrill Lynch smoked our boat. But we came neck and neck with Vorys. The final times were soon announced, and we sadly lost to Vorys by only 0.12 seconds! The good news is, we improved our time once again with a time of 1 minute 11 seconds. And, even though we took home the bronze, we were just happy to have made it as far as we did.

It was exhilerating to take part in such a different kind of race than I am used to, to meet lots of new people, and to help the fight against breast cancer.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Ride The Miller Boat Line Ferry

Photos by OHventures

5174 East Water Street
Port Clinton, OH 43452
(800) 500-2421

Anytime I head out to any of the Lake Erie Islands, be it South Bass Island (home to none other than Put-In-Bay), or Middle Bass Island, I always look forward to the ferry ride!! While you can take a private boat to the islands, riding the ferry is part of the entire experience. Your best bet is to hit up the Miller Boat Line, located on the mainland in Port Clinton, Ottawa County. 

Once you arrive in town, it is advised that you leave your car behind in one of the nearby parking lots (some are free, and some charge a small fee). While the option exists to take your car onboard, it is not advised unless absolutely necessary. There is a much larger fee to take your car on the ferry ($30 round trip), and there is limited space on the ferry for vehicles. This means you could be waiting to get your car on the Miller Ferry for up to 4 hours. 

My friend Anna and I on the upper deck of the Miller Ferry ready to go to South Bass Island!

If you are concerned about transportation once you make it to South Bass or Middle Bass, do not fret! These are small islands, and each have golf carts for rent (try Erie Island Carts on Put-In-Bay and Middle Bass Rentals on Middle Bass), which are the primary means of transportation (believe it or not, you are permitted to take golf carts on roadways!). Taxis and rented bicycles are also great ways to get around without a car. And, many places are also accessible by foot!

Whether or not you leave your car in Port Clinton, you can then make your way to the ticket booth located on the coastline. A one-way ticket for an adult is just $7! This is very affordable. It is recommended to purchase your ticket for the way back as well so that you can save a step later on when you decide to come back (just don't lose it!).

A view of an uninhabited Lake Erie island while riding the Miller Ferry

When you get on the vessel, take a pro tip from OHventures and head immediately to the upper deck!! This way, you get the best view possible and get the best seats! You will love your view from atop the Miller Ferry, with the Lake Erie winds blowing in your face, and awesome sights that look nothing like the rest of Ohio!

Recently, I took a trip to Put-In-Bay with tons of college friends. We all rode the Miller Boat Line's ferry both ways! The wait was not very long, and the ride was smooth and quick. This week, OHventures gave away a FREE ticket to ride the ferry in a sweepstakes on Twitter! We hope the winner enjoys their ride!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Covered Bridges of Ashtabula County

Harpersfield Bridge - Photos by OHventures

Ashtabula County, located in the northeastern-most corner of Ohio, is the epicenter of covered bridges in the state. With a total of 18 of these historic structures, Ashtabula has more than any other county in Ohio, helping it to fittingly earning the title of the Covered Bridge Capital of Ohio. Another claim to fame is that one can find both the longest and the shortest functioning covered bridges in the entire United States right here!

Covered bridges seem to have an alluring element to them - they are built with exquisite architecture that is not often found in modern times. Driving through the "tunnels" spices up any road trip, and gawking at the rustic wooden masterpieces creates awe and excitement for you and your fellow travelers.

You can hop in the car and take along with you an official map of all of the covered bridges in Ashtabula County, planning your path through the countryside that will get you to see the most covered bridges possible. Or, if you happen to be partaking in the wine shuttle tour provided by the Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake, you can ask your driver to take you to a few of the bridges on your way to and from the local wineries. 

Another great way to see a large amount of covered bridges is to take a self-guided tour by following the special bridge tour signs that are posted throughout the county. Only one is a non-drivable bridge - The Graham Road bridge. This one sits on the side of the road and is able to be walked through

Two bridges we suggest you include on your trip are the Harpersfield Bridge and the West Liberty Street Bridge.

The Harpersfield Bridge was built in 1868 and, until 2008, was the longest covered bridge in Ohio at 228 feet long. The Howe Truss design bridge is still the second largest in Ohio, but takes a backseat to the Smolen-Gulf Bridge, which is the longest covered bridge in the nation and the fourth longest covered bridge in the world with an impressive 613 feet. Even through it is no longer the longest, the Harpersfield Bridge is still a great point of interest, and is an ideal spot for fishing or picnicking. 

The other bridge of note that we suggest to visit is the West Liberty Street Bridge, which is the shortest functioning covered bridge in the country! With just a span of 18 feet in length, it is honestly a bit comical when you see it! But it is also impressive to know that it was built by the Ashtabula County Joint Vocational School carpentry and construction students, and to know that the timber was grown locally. Not only is it the shortest bridge, but also the newest in the county, having been built in 2011.

West Liberty Street Bridge

If you can't get enough covered bridges, try marking your calendar for the Ashtabula County Covered Bridge Festival, which takes place every October!