Thursday, August 11, 2016

VeloSano 3 Photo Blog

Who: Approximately 1,600 cyclists and cancer survivors 
What: VeloSano 3 - bike rides varying in distance (12, 25, 50, 100, 179, & 207 miles)
When: July 29-31, 2016 (next year's ride is July 21-23)
Where: Starting/ending in downtown Cleveland, and weaving through Geauga, Portage, and Wayne Counties.
Why: To raise money to fund cancer research at the Cleveland Clinic.
How: Sign up at and commit to raising a minimum amount of money!
Photos by OHventures, VeloSano, and others as noted
For more photos, visit the VeloSano Recap post!

At the starting line with fellow 50-mile riders!

With my co-worker and teammate Joanne at the Kickoff Party!

Great view of Mall B during the VeloSano Kickoff Party

My obligatory picture of the giant #ThisIsCLE sign

A group of "Big Wheelers" - AKA riders who raised more than double their required goals

Just some of Team CCAG!

Special guests on stage at the kickoff party!

My favorite sign seen on the 50-mile course! #LycraOverload

Finish line food by Zack Bruell Events

The awesome tunnel of mist to ride through and cool us off at the finish line!

Packing up my bike in my SUV, ready to head home after a successful ride to cure

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Condado Tacos

Photos by OHventures

1227 N. High Street
Columbus, OH 43201
(614) 928-3909


132 S. High Street
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 456-7444

Tacos bring the people together. Plain and simple. If you don't like tacos, I can't trust you and you can't be my friend. And if you don't like Condado Tacos in Short North and Downtown Columbus, then that is taco blasphemy! 

These tacos are works of art. You build them from the shell-up, with loads of delicious and fresh ingredients you won't find at any other Mexican joint. You start with the tortilla, which can be corn or flour, soft or crunchy. BUT you can also get a double tortilla, with cheese, beans, or guacamole slathered in between the shells (my favorite is the "Ju-Ju" shell if you were wondering). Then, you choose from a great selection of proteins: chorizo, shrimp ceviche, brisket, ghost pepper marinated steak, roasted portabellos, and BBQ pulled jackfruit, to name a few. Then, you continue the process choosing toppings, cheese, salsa, and sauces! The possibilities are seemingly endless.

And, if for nothing else, be sure to go to Condado Tacos to get your table an order of the queso dip (pictured above). Believe me when I say, this is the best queso around! Muy bien!

And what's a good Mexican restaurant without some tasty margs? On my recent visit, I was going to just get the traditional house margarita like always, but the waiter insisted I try something different. So, he suggested the blackberry marg (pictured above), which did not disappoint.

Another thing I like about Condado Tacos is the decor. They have a "Day of the Dead" (or Dia de los Muertos) theme going on, with Catrina-style skulls, skeletons, sombreros, designs, and artwork on the walls and tables. I am particularly fond of the "Holy Guacamole" painting, as shown above.

I have gone to Condado Tacos on each of the past 3 visits I made to Columbus. It's just that good. You can reserve the "party table" for groups of 12 or more - which is what we did when having a "friends reunion" back in June. And, yes, we had many, many bowls of queso to go around!

Hofbräuhaus Cleveland 5K Recap

Photos by OHventures

Hofbräuhaus Cleveland
1550 Chester Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44114
216-621-BEER (2337)

When a friend calls you up and asks you to go and run a 5K race with him on a whim, DO IT! My schedule was clear today (August 7), and my buddy Matt asked if I wanted join him, his wife, and their friend Diane, up in Cleveland for the Hofbräuhaus 5K. He must know me well enough to figure I would say "yes"!

For those that do not know, the Hofbrauhaus is a chain of  drinking & eating establishments that specialize in German cuisine and BIER! There are 3 locations in Ohio (Columbus, Cincinnati, and of course Cleveland), and are decorated to make you feel like you're in Germany - long tables, long benches, and high ceilings!

The run (which also offered a 10K option) would start and end at the Hofbrauhaus near downtown Cleveland, and rewarded you with a bratwurst sandwich, a stein of beer (which you got to keep as a memento once you were finished), a dri-fit t-shirt, and a medal! What more could you want?

Thankfully the heat was bearable (it has been one HOT summer), and the course was pretty much flat the whole way. My only problem was the blisters on my feet from training for my half marathons this fall were bothersome during the run. This led to just under a 9 minute pace, with a finish time of 27:03. Not my best, but not my WURST (pun totally intended).

We all reunited at the Hofbrauhaus to revel in our accomplishments, and to feast on our spoils! Polka bands were serenading the crowd - a perfect added touch.

Instead of waiting until next year's 5K race (especially if running is not your thing), be sure to grab some lunch or dinner at one of the 3 Hofbrauhaus locations in Ohio. It's as close to an authentic German experience as you can get in Ohio!


Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens

Photos by OHventures

Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens
714 N. Portage Path
Akron, OH 44303
(330) 836-5533

I'm willing to bet there's few mansions in Ohio more stunning than the Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens in Akron. This magnificent home was built for the Seiberling Family, co-founders of the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company (think big yellow and blue blimp) in the early 1900s. Goodyear put Akron on the map as the Rubber Capital of the World, which was incredibly lucrative for the Seiberlings, to say the least.

The inspiration for the manor was from the English Tudor style, with five historic buildings on site. The mansion served as a place for both entertainment and business, and soon became Akron's first and largest National Historic Landmark. 

The family lived here for 40 years, but nowadays, you can tour the Manor House and see for yourself the incredible amount of detail and luxury that went into the 64,000 square foot home. The furnishings and collections inside the house are all original, with art from England, and beautiful hand-carved paneling on over 20 fireplaces. 

There's a selection of tours which you can take, including the Guided Manor House Tour (every hour on the hour), the Nooks & Crannies Tour (with special behind-the-scenes access to secret areas of the house), or you can choose a Self-Guided Manor House Tour.

There's 70 acres of land, full of beautiful gardens that are also worth exploring. The colors seen at the estate from the various flowers and vegetation are breathtaking, and make for fantastic photo opportunities. One of my favorite gardens to explore is the Japanese Garden, which is full of ornamental shrubs and trees, tiny waterways and bridges, an archway (pictured below), and even a little waterfall.

Other points of interest on the property include lagoon pools, tennis courts, terrace overlooks, the "Great Meadow," the grape arbor, the 500-foot long birch tree allee (pictured below), and the English Garden.

From April through October, you can bring along with you your leashed dogs on Sundays for an additional $5 per dog. You must stay outside and explore the grounds with your pups, as they are not permitted indoors. 

Of course, I had to bring along my dog, Slider, on a visit in May. He explored the Japanese Gardens, the wooden bridge by the lagoon, and by the fountains out back. When taking his photo with the mansion as a backdrop, it reminded me of the movie "Beverly Hills Chihuahua"! My little pup was definitely impressed by Stan Hywet!

The Woof Walk offering is just one of many fun features and activities found at Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens. Kids can enjoy an educational playground, or butterfly exhibits in the conservatory. Baseball fans will get a kick out of the vintage baseball league that takes place in the meadow. And any fan of geocaching or questing would enjoy a special visit.

There are concerts, living history days, plays, "murder mystery" games, holistic tours, special dinners, and so much more at Stan Hywet. Don't hestitate to make it out for a visit.