Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Swensons Drive Ins

Photo by OHventures

Swensons Drive-In (original location)
40 S Hawkins Ave
Akron, OH 44313
(330) 864-8416

I know I am always writing in this blog telling you how to be active, stay in shape and workout, but let's face it: we all need some cheat eats every now and then, and there is no better place to pig out than Swensons Drive-In restaurant. Swensons has only seven locations (in the whole wide world) and they can all be found in beautiful Northeast Ohio. The very first of these yummy establishments was erected in 1934 near Market Street in West Akron. Now, you can also find Swensons in North Akron, Kent, Montrose, North Canton, Jackson Township, and Seven Hills.

So why am I clamoring so loudly about some dinky fast food chain? Aside from the fact that (as mentioned) they are only found in Ohio, these restaurants have been recognized numerous times as having some of the BEST burgers in the nation. And this isn't just your crazy Uncle Buck or your nosy neighbor Linda telling you this. These accolades have come from legitimate sources, including Forbes Magazine, who flat out gave Swensons the title of "America's Best Burger" in 1999.
Swensons was also featured on The Food Network's show "Food Feuds" in which it competed against another local burger joint and won the title of the "Best Juicy Double Cheeseburger in the Akron Area." These are just some of the many morsels of praise Swensons has received throughout the many decades of its existence.

The Galley Boy hamburger is what to get when you go here (which I know you will, since it's on the Buckeye Bucket List). It is famous for its two mysterious special sauces that are slathered all over a double cheeseburger and garnished with a single green olive. And, while I could go on and on about the delectable menu, some other highlights would be the fantastic fried mushrooms (pictured above), the zesty and cheesy potato teasers, and any one of the multitude of milkshake flavors they offer (including mint, peanut butter, key lime, and butterscotch). And my personal favorite beverage? The "refreshingly different" Californian, which is a grape and lemon soft drink combo that tastes like, well, California!

If you aren't hungry yet, you will be the moment you pull into this Ohio favorite. The best part is, you don't even have to get out of your car - it's one of the few remaining good old fashioned drive-ins! Even more of a reason to hit the gym after a satisfying visit to Swensons!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Boxing It Up

Photos by OHventures

I've always thought that the sport of boxing was for brutal brawny badass guys that could punch your lights out like Sugar Ray Leonard, cut your eye open like Rocky Balboa, or even bite your ear off like Mike Tyson (maybe he confused it with an ear of corn). While those guys are no doubt strong, scrappy fellas who I'd never want to cross in a back alley, they aren't fighting just to fight, they're fighting for the glory of the sport of boxing.

I wanted to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee, like Muhammed Ali. So, I checked out a listing of all of the boxing gyms located in Ohio (thanks to BoxingGyms.com), and found some nearby in Columbus. With the encouragement of one of my coworkers, Julie, I decided to take a boxing class after work at the Thompson Recreation Center near downtown C-Bus.

I came to find that, while this was not the fanciest of gyms, one major perk was that two-time International Boxing Council (IBC) champion and Columbus native Michael Clark would be teaching the class (pictured above). I had the privilege of speaking with Michael briefly before the class and he told me that he grew up at Thompson Rec Center, and trained there his entire life. He said that teaching the classes at the very place that molded him into the professional boxing champion he is today is his way of "giving back to the community." His classes are only $10-$12 a pop, which is extremely generous and a great deal, especially from someone of his calibur.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Where To Ski In Ohio

Photo by OHventures (taken at Mad River Mountain)

There are five ski resorts in Ohio (or four if you combine sister resorts Boston Mills and Brandywine). All of these hills are manmade and very similar to one another. The smallest of the resorts is Boston Mills. The largest and most fun is Mad River Mountain, due to the fact that it is near the highest point in all of Ohio (Bellfontaine). The newest resort is Clear Fork, which I have yet to ski at. I have been to all of the others, however, so I definitely approve of these Ohio hills! 

Boston Mills & Brandywine 

1146 West Highland Road
Northfield, OH
(330) 467-2242

Mad River Mountain
1000 Snow Valley Road
Zanesfield, OH 43360
(937) 599-1015

Clear Fork Resort
341 Resort Drive  
Butler, OH 44822
(419) 883-2000

3100 County Highway 320  
Mansfield, OH 44903
(419) 774-9818

Be sure to read our post on skiing in Northeast Ohio and check out our pics from our other trips in the photo blog

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Caesar Creek State Park

Photo by OHventures

Caesar Creek State Park
8570 E. State Route 73
Waynesville, OH 45068

Whenever I visit to a State (or Metro) Park, I try to find a unique feature that makes it stand out from all the rest. That was not a hard task for me when I headed to Caesar Creek State Park, located in the Southwest portion of our state at the crossroads of Warren, Greene and Clinton counties. There are many highlights within Caesar Creek, including the historic Pioneer Village, an educational Nature Center, and an intricate collection of paths for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding.

My favorite attraction here is Pioneer Village, which contains 15 authentic buildings from the late 1700s and early 1800s. Many of these buildings are original structures where the founding pioneers of Ohio's earliest years resided. Some have been transported from various parts of the state and reconstructed on site, while others are purely models of homes from the time period. One building, the Lukens House, is, remarkably, in the very same spot it has been since it was constructed over 200 years ago!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Skiing in Northeast Ohio

Photos by OHventures

1146 West Highland Road
Northfield, OH
(330) 467-2242

If you're used to skiing in the snowcapped mountaintops of the great Rockies or lush Sierras out West, unfortunately, you very well may be gravely disappointed with the skiing options at your fingertips in Ohio. The hills in Ohio are miniscule bunny hills compared to the astronomical ascents in places like Colorado, California, and Utah. However, if you have never partaken in the wintry sports of skiing and snowboarding, if you are merely a novice, or if you simply need a mini thrill before zooming down real mountains, there are several ski resorts in the state that will do you just fine.

One of the most notable ski complexes in the state is the Boston Mills & Brandywine Ski Resort (AKA BMBW), located in Summit County in the towns of Northfield and Sagamore Hills. There are two separate polar parks for you to choose from and explore (Boston Mills, and Brandywine, naturally). Each of these parks costs about $41 for admission ($36 for children), although cheaper deals exist depending on the time of day or the day of the week.

You are free to bring your own equipment, but if you are like me, you have to rent. Both snowboard and ski rentals cost approximately $30 ($25 for children). If you are truly new to the game, you may get a bit overwhelmed at first with the entire process, but there are plenty of courtesy staffers on hand that will make sure you get just the right size of blades according to your weight, height, and skill level. The larger of the two resorts is Brandywine (much MUCH better than its counterpart...my advice is to skip Boston Mills altogether if you want my honest opinion).

Once you're all bundled up and strapped in, the real fun begins. If you are worried about the lack of snow, they do have snow machines that create some fake white stuff that, while not nearly as good as the real stuff, gets the job done and is better than nothing. You can compare the above photos (taken on the same day) to see how much fake snow exists as the "base" for winter sports enthusiasts on mild days.

BMBW is a fine getaway that conjures up great memories for me, as I began coming here each and every Thursday evening as part of my high school's official Ski Club. We hopped on an old yellow bus and drove an hour and a half to what at the time seemed to be enormous eskers. It is then that I learned everything I really needed to know about skiing - from how to walk (more like waddle) in the skis, how and when to utilize the poles, and of course how to zip down the slopes with the greatest of ease.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Pure Barre

Photos by OHventures

Pure Barre Columbus
960 West Fifth Avenue
Columbus, OH 43212

Keeping your workout fun and interesting helps you to stick with your fitness regimen, so I am always looking to uncover unique ways to exercise and get in shape. Pure Barre is the "workout that is sweeping the nation," but I had originally thought it was only for women. But one visit to a special Valentine's Day co-ed session of Pure Barre, and I was quickly proven wrong!

While Pure Barre is certainly is more popular with women (the company itself was founded by choreographer and dancer Carrie Rezabek Dorr), any and everyone can benefit from the uber-intense workouts offered at their various venues across the country. This became painfully evident to me as I found myself shaking as I pushed myself to complete the 55-minute session.

Each class incorporates ballet bars (hence the name Pure Barre), weights, bands, and small medicine balls in a series of isometric movements, which, thanks to my trusty dictionary, are muscular actions in which tension is developed without contraction of the muscle (think very small - yet effective - movements). The motions are set to fun, upbeat music (think pop & rock jams from LMFAO or, yes, Justin Bieber) and instructors help guide you by giving demonstrations and thorough instructions on how to perform the moves correctly.

The Pure Barre classes are very fast-paced (much to my liking), and keep you moving and sweating it out the entire time (which must be how they came up with the name of the co-ed event, "Sweatin' With Your Sweetie"). I was surprised with how difficult such seemingly simple exercises turned out to be and just how much tiny little movements could do for your body.

There is a perfect combination of using the ballet barre, performing yoga stretches, and performing core-strength exercises that does wonders for your thighs, abs, arms, and - ahem - your "seat."