Thursday, April 26, 2012

Writers Talk Video

As I previously posted, I had the distinct honor and privilege to appear as a guest on Ohio State University's "Writers Talk," a talk show dedicated to discussing all things writing. The show is put on by the OSU Center for the Study and Teaching of Writing (CSTW) and since I am an alumnus of OSU, I was extremely excited to appear on the show to discuss web writing with fellow blogger Nicholas Dekkar of the popular Ohio blog, Breakfast With Nick

The interview aired on the radio, and since my last post about Writers Talk, it has been posted on YouTube! I get a bit lengthy and chatty with some of my responses, but I was a bit nervous - it was my first ever recorded interview, after all!

Thanks again to Doug Dangler, Shantay Piazza, and Chad Weiss for the opportunity for me to appear on Writers Talk and share OHventures with their viewers!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Put-In-Bay Getaway!

Photos by OHventures

Why bother planning a Spring Break trip or a summertime vacation to far off places like Florida or Mexico, when you can take a getaway to Ohio's own Put-In-Bay? Put-In-Bay is an extremely popular tourist destination in Ohio that thrives during the months of April-October, which is prime season for outdoor activities like fishing, kayaking and swimming. It is located on South Bass Island in Western Lake Erie, and is a part of Ottawa County. The island is 12 miles from the Ohio mainland, and is the third largest Ohio island. Only about 150 people actually live on the small island, but many tens of thousands visit annually!

I recommend booking a hotel and staying at least one night so you can fully enjoy the nightlife and the true Put-In-Bay experience! Below is a list of 10 Things to do on a Put-In-Bay Getaway!

1. Ride The Ferry!: This is sort of a given! Since you cannot drive directly to Put-In-Bay, you will have to plan ahead and park your car on shore (or pay to have delivered on the ferry). The Jet Express Ferry leaves from both Sandusky and Port Clinton and is always a memorable ride! I have been to Put-In-Bay numerous times, and the ferry ride is always a highlight! However, the real fun begins when you arrive!

2. Rent a Golf Cart!: Renting a golf cart is the easiest, most fun and most popular way to get around the island. Odds are you did not pay to have your car delivered on the ferry, and that’s OK! Island goers (adults and children alike) are encouraged to travel by golf cart on Put in Bay. Not only do they get you from place-to-place, but you get to enjoy a different sort of transportation that is fun for everyone you’re with!


3. Climb Perry's Victory & International Peace Memorial: Perry's Memorial was erected in 1936 to commemorate one of the most significant events in the War of 1812, the Battle of Lake Erie. It is named after Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry who led the victory of the battle. This enormous memorial is a column stretching 352 feet into the sky, making it the tallest "Doric" column in the entire world, and fourth tallest monument in the United States. As of April 30, renovations will be completed and visitors will once again be able to climb to the top of the observation deck!

4. Taste Some Wine: The Heineman Winery at Put-In-Bay has got to be my favorite winery I have been to in Ohio. The fantastic wine offerings are due to Put-In-Bay's rich island soil that helps grow some of the highest quality grapes in the state. Daily tours are offered 11AM - 5PM in which you get complimentary samples of wine. The Pink Catawba is one of the most popular wines. I suggest you get a bottle of that and some of the others to stock up on, since getting to Put-In-Bay is not the easiest of trips.

5. Explore Crystal Cave: As its name suggests, it is a cave full of "crystals" (really, a blueish mineral called celestite) and is the largest geode (a rock cavity with crystals inside) in the WORLD. Most geodes you cannot even put your hand inside, yet this one you can WALK inside. You can get tours of this while also touring the Heineman Winery. This is truly one of the most unique attractions in the whole state!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Youngstown Crab Company

Photos by OHventures

3917 Belmont Avenue
Youngstown, OH 44505
(330) 759-5480

Growing up near Youngstown, I have long known the splendor that is the Youngstown Crab Company. Throughout my travels, I have even seen billboards for this well-respected restaurant as far away as Canton and Wooster (over an hour away)! Youngstown (or any Ohio locale) is admittedly, a place you probably wouldn't peg as having amazing seafood. However, this place will knock your socks off with its quality of food.

This place is more than a few notches above your run-of-the-mill Joe's Crab Shack or Red Lobster. If you're willing to dish out a few more bucks than normal for a meal, then you should be sure to treat yourself to the Youngstown Crab Company for an absolutely delicious meal of crab legs, mussels, steaks, and other seafoods. It's a favorite dining destination for me and my family, and I recently went there as a birthday gift to my taste buds!

The Youngstown Crab Company is one of the only places around that you can get fresh raw oysters on the half shelf, tantalizing lobster, and, naturally, fantastic crab! One of my favorite crab dishes is the appetizer of spicy crab and shrimp queso (pictured directly above). The clam chowder and shrimp gumbo are also fan favorites!

For dinner, I recommend the cajun linguini alfredo with sea scallops, or the tilapia and crab au gratin (both pictured at the top of the post). And, you can not go wrong asking what the fresh fish catches are for the day!

As an added bonus, the Youngstown Crab Company has an enormous bar with ample seating and fantastic drinks, including its famous "Parrot Punch" (which comes in a souvenir parrot-shaped glass), and a long list of craft beers. There are also real life parrots in cages by the bar that will interact and talk back to humans (which gets more and more fun the more drinks you have in you). 

Running To Fight Cancer

When we're kids, we feel like we're invincible. When we're teenagers, we feel beyond invincible. And when we're in college, we feel beyond beyond invincible! It takes us humans a bit of time to step back and realize that time is precious, our days are numbered, and our lives are gifts!

Perhaps my recent birthday (27!) has made me feel more and more connected with these concepts. I've come to realize even more how important it is to know that getting older is a privilege. It's easy to complain about how "old" we are getting just because we might not get carded at a bar anymore, or a few gray hairs are sprouting here and there.

But, we must remember that not everyone gets the opportunity to age and live to be old like our grandparents. For some people, like those afflicted with cancer, time is even more precious, the days are more clearly numbered, and life is the biggest gift under the tree.

That is why I love so dearly the message of the American Cancer Society, and their inspiring slogan "The Official Sponsor of Birthdays." It's simple yet moving. It's powerful and profound. I can not wrap my head around the startling statistics and heart wrenching stories we hear (and don't hear) of those whose lives have been changed because of a cancer diagnosis. Some survive, and some do not; but they all must fight in hopes to see more birthdays.

We all have the stories of those in our lives who have had to put up that encumbering and painstaking fight. My friend's father who passed away from colon cancer fought so strongly that he lived years after any doctor had ever expected. My friend's mother who passed away from skin cancer fought in such a way that her beauty and joy and amazing smile remained until her last days (and still lives on inside of us). Sadly, these stories can go on and on.

The American Cancer Society fights too. This organization raises millions of dollars a year for cancer research so that we can one day find a cure. And, since no one is immune from this terrible disease, ACS also looks to find ways to prevent cancer from happening more and more.

I am so happy to be running as a part of the American Cancer Society's DeterimiNation Team for the Capital City Half Marathon. I have raised nearly $1,300 so far and am so happy to know that every mile I run will go towards helping people celebrate more birthdays.

I have experienced "runner's knee" during my training, which I have been trying to cure with IT band stretches on a foam roller, more shoe support, glucosamine chondroitin, a knee brace, ice, heat, and rest. But the best way for me to overcome the pain in my knee is to think about all of those who suffered (and continue to suffer) far, far, far greater than me with cancer. Those I truly am humbled to have the ability to complete this race (even if I do have a knee that is acting up).

Not everyone has the ability to run a race, either because they are too ill, or no longer with us. I am running this race for my friend's mother, my other friend's father, and all of the countless people who have or have had cancer.

Please consider donating either to my race, or to the American Cancer Society in general in order to help others celebrate more birthdays.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

OHventures Turns 1!

Cake by Cake Central

OHventures has reached the one year mark and is celebrating its "birthday" today, April 12! It's by no coincidence that this monumental occasion also falls on my very own birthday. This blog was a birthday gift to myself, because I wanted an outlet to express my creative writing and share my stories of all the cool things I have seen and done in Ohio.

I want to thank all of the great followers and readers for their support and encouragement over the past year. It truly is what has kept me writing, and it has helped me find my voice! 

Through OHventures this past year, I have been able to expose readers to the Buckeye Bucket List, writing about a laundry list of awesome activities, including canoeing, hiking, biking, rock climbing, parasailing, ziplining, paddle boating, boating, kayaking, trampolining, boxing, skydiving, wine tasting, caving, running, skiing, winter hiking, urban hiking, and MORE! 

And I have been to cities like Akron, Canton, Toledo, Chillicothe, Youngstown, Columbus, Zanesville, and countless others. I've visited restaurants like Der Dutchmann, Kewpee Burger, Crave, Schmidt's Sausage Haus, and more. And I have written about Ohio landmarks like the Statehouse, the Harding Memorial and the Mansfield Reformatory; as well as staple events such as Warrior Dash, Pelotonia and the Ohio State Fair. 

It wasn't all about me either: my "Featured OHventurer" series introduced readers to awesome Ohioans like Columbus Blue Jackets player Derek Dorsett, Zanesville anchorwoman Kelly Mills, and recording artist Ryan Humbert.

In the past year, the blog has evolved and grown a great deal. Aside from growing in readership, we also were able to reach new audiences by being featured on radio and in print! We were published in Columbus Alive as the Weekly Q&A Feature, and we appeared on the OSU Center for the Study and Teaching of Writing radio show "Writers Talk." Additionally, I am now a guest blogger on Ohio's official tourism blog, Discovering Ohio. You can also find my business cards at the Ohio-centric boutique, Celebrate Local at Easton Town Center, and soon can catch me as a "celebrity runner" in the Capital City Half Marathon, which I am currently training for!

All of this momentum is extremely thrilling!! Over the past year, I have started a new job, moved to a new apartment, traveled to Florida and Nashville two times each, celebrated the birth of my nephew, attended numerous weddings, and the list goes on. While at times these life events have prevented me from writing as much as I would like, I promise that OHventures is a huge passion of mine that I will never let collect dust and fade away! I am in this for the long haul, and there is much more ground to be covered. 

I have tons more in store for the second year of OHventures (and the third, fourth, and so on!). I am so glad to have every reader by my side on these crazy adventures! Thanks again!