Tuesday, June 26, 2012

5 Ohio Museums That Won't Bore You

Museums can be one big yawn fest, and the simple utter of the word can send a shudder down an adventurer’s spine. But there is such a thing as a cool, adventurous museum, and Ohio is home to quite a few kickass museums. Below is a list of some of Ohio’s coolest museums that you’d be more than pleased if you chose to visit!

1. Pro Football Hall of Fame (Canton): Ohio has some pretty hardcore football fans, from the Cincinnati Bengals to the Cleveland Browns. The genesis of the nation’s captivity and affection for the pigskin sport began in the Canton area, as the city is considered to be the birthplace of the NFL (originally the American Professional Football Association) in 1920.

2. Rock & Hall of Fame & Museum (Cleveland):  Cleveland was overall chosen as the spot where this iconic structure would be built due to the fact that Cleveland DJ Alan Freed is widely credited as coining the term "rock and roll" and that Cleveland was the location of the very first rock and roll concert. I first traveled here as a junior in high school, and most recently in 2009. It is a jaw dropping experience entering a place where you can marvel at Les Paul guitars, Michael Jackson's glove, Elvis' signature apparel, and numerous other music gems. You can also walk through the "hall of fame" itself which lists all inductees, from The Beatles to Madonna.

3. National Air Force Museum (Dayton): It is only fitting that the Dayton area is home to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force (or NMUSAF), as this is known to be the "Birthplace of Aviation," where the Wright Brothers (Orville and Wilbur) lived and invented the world's very first successful aircraft. The museum houses many artifacts relating to the history and development of aviation and pays homage to the Wright Brothers.

4. COSI: Center of Science & Industry (Columbus): This science museum has been named by Parents Magazine as the #1 Science Center for families in the country. But this museum is good for all ages, old and young and everything in between. The plus side is that the museum makes science fun instead of geeky with exhibits on space, the ocean, weather, the human body, and more. There are also limited edition exhibits like the Titanic, dinosaurs, or the current H2O exhibit! You will bring out the kid in you and learn a ton while getting lost for hours in this absolutely awesome learning experience.

5. Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum (Pickerington): While working in the Ohio state legislature, I had the opportunity to meet the government affairs specialist for the American Motorcycle Association (AMA). While crafting bills pertaining to motorcyclists and traffic actuated stop lights, he also took the time to inform me that the National Motorcycle Hall of Fame was located just minutes away from downtown Columbus! Again, I was absolutely gobsmacked that Ohio is home to such a kickass museum that any young boy fascinated with motorcycles (or those experiencing their mid-life crisis) would die for.

Run With The Pack Recap

Photo by Steve Matheny

They say a dog often takes after its owner. And, in my case, that seems to be true! My newly rescued pet chihuahua Slider has been an absolute joy over the past month that I have owned him. Just like me, he seems to be quite the adventurer and athlete! Not many would expect that out of a nine pound fully grown dog, but I have certainly lucked out by landing myself an OHventurous canine companion!

This was evidenced by our recent participation in the "Run With The Pack 5K" to benefit Pets Without Parents. The race is designed so that you can run with your dog, with the entry fee going toward a great cause of helping shelter pets find homes. It took place this past weekend, Saturday, June 23 bright and early at 8:30 AM at the Scioto Audubon Metro Park.

Slider and I arrived at 7:30 AM with my mom and aunt who were visiting Columbus for the weekend. We had a late night, so an early morning race was going to prove challenging. I chugged a 5 Hour Energy Drink, ate some granola bars and stretched out in preps for the event. This was my first official race since running the Capital City Half Marathon in May, and I was still recovering from illiotibial (IT) band syndrome from that race. Slider and I had run just a couple of times in the days leading up to the race, but I had seen him run freely in the dog park and knew he'd be a fast one!

Photos by OHventures

Dozens of booths lined the paths near the starting line, including a Doggy Kissing Booth, raffle drawings, giveaways, sponsors, and more! Some of my favorite booths included the Pet Butler (who cleans your yard when **it happens!), the Animal Hospital of Polaris (which seems to have a great deal of amenities), and the various booths offering treats and other services.

Literally hundreds of dogs and their owners were at the park on that beautiful Saturday morning. Some people ran without a dog as well, or there were multiple people running with one dog. Every breed imaginable was present, from bulldogs to bichons, collies to cocker spaniels, and mutts galore! Slider was definitely in the smaller size bracket, but that did not stop him from performing above and beyond any expectations!

The horn blew when I was in the middle of filling out raffle tickets, so I had a bit of a delayed start. But once we started running, it was Slider speeding ahead, zipping through the crowd and causing quite a spectacle! Many people commented to us as we ran by, in aw at how quickly my dog's four little legs were moving. I had a hard time keeping up with the little guy! However, immediately when we hit the 1 Mile Marker, right by the Scioto River, Slider had to take a rest to go potty and drink some water.

We picked up the pace again for the second mile, as we ran under a path shaded nicely by trees. Still, I was pouring down sweat, and it seemed to be time to downshift to a power walk for a bit. At one point, I picked Slider up to give his paws a break as we jogged for a few tenths of a mile. After stopping for some more water, we kicked it into gear and ran the third and final mile. More comments came from fellow runners who were impressed and amused by Slider's abilities and demeanor.

I too gave compliments and made comments to other runners on how well their dogs were doing, and how beautiful their pets were! There was a gorgeous husky running near us most of the time, and a number of retrievers I was fond of! But the chit chat was kept to a minimum, as Slider and I had a lot to prove! We finished strong with a time of approximately 33 minutes! I was very proud of my dog (and I am sure he was proud of me). We had some water, and also had him cool off in a small doggy pool. After replenishing with a bagel and apple, we mingled (including with my friend and OHventurer Jason Warner) and made our way back home to rest!

I have to say that this was one of the most fun things I have done in a long, long time! If you have a dog, and/or if you simply care about dogs, I highly encourage you to participate! This race brings a smile to my face seeing all of the happy-go-lucky dogs running about, and knowing that it goes to such a good cause. There are other dog runs around the state that you can keep an eye out for! It is quite an experience!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Nelson Ledges Quarry Park

Photo by Jenn Daly for OHventures

Nelson-Kennedy Ledges State Park
State Route 282
Nelson Township, OH

(440) 564-2279

Known by regulars and locals as simply “Nelson Ledges,” the Nelson-Kennedy Ledges State Park in Nelson Township, Portage County, Ohio has always been notorious for its eclectic visitors and risky rock-strewn terrain. Located just under an hour away from my hometown of Hubbard, it was here that I first got a thirst for traveling the state to visit adventurous parks and trails. My friends and I would drive out to Nelson Ledges during the summers of high school and college ready to hike, swim, and explore.

Because of the dangerous crevices and chasms that exist at Nelson Ledges, our parents were sometimes leery of allowing us kids to visit the park. However, if you stick to the officially marked trails, you will remain safe and out of danger! This is one park in particular where the majesty of Mother Nature is best to be viewed from a distance. The established trails (all named after a color: White Trail, Yellow Trail, Red Trail, Blue Trail) allow hikers to experience the beautiful and dramatic quartz and sandstone rock formations, such as Old Maid’s Kitchen, Dwarf’s Pass, Fat Man’s Peril, The Squeeze, and Devil’s Icebox.
The trails here are not very long, adding up to just 3 miles in total length. However, there is a great variety of terrain that one can experience when hiking here, from a nice and leisurely jaunt on the rim of the park to the very rough and rugged channel in between the bottoms of the cliffs.

There are also caves and waterfalls to add to the splendor park-goers can see on a visit. My favorite part of Nelson Ledges is the aforementioned Devil’s Icebox, which can literally cool you off if hiking on a hot summer day. There are rock formations that resemble a devil or demon that seems to be overlooking the cool spot. I also enjoy and get a chuckle out of the “Fat Man’s Peril” which would truly be a peril to someone who was obese, as they would have a hard time getting through the passageway.
A view of the cliffs at Nelson Ledges Quarry Park

Rock climbing is not allowed at the park, although one may be tempted. But, as I mentioned before, these cliffs are extremely dangerous, and you should exercise extreme caution when in the area. It is quite a sight, however, to see wildflowers, ferns and trees growing along the walls of the cliffs, their roots reaching all the way down in plain sight.

When finished hiking, my friends and I would typically head down the street to the Nelson Ledges Quarry Park (12001 State Route 282) where we could spend time swimming and laying on the beach at the amazingly beautiful quarry. Aside from swimming, there is a designated spot for cliff jumping (the location can be seen above at the orange pylon), which provides a great thrill. A lifeguard is on site in a kayak to ensure safety.

Me with friends Jeff, Mark and Paul at Nelson Ledges Quarry Park in 2004

The campgrounds here do tend to attract a specific group of free spirits, who may even refer to themselves as “hippies,” and thus there are often musical celebrations and festivals full of tie-dye, headbands and tambourines. But seeing this from afar can be a fun spectacle and provide a nice slice of culture in your life!

National Museum of US Air Force

Photos by Anna Garcia for OHventures

1100 Spaatz Street
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
Dayton, OH 45433
(937) 255-3286

The National Museum of the United States Air Force, located at the Wright Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, is the world’s largest and oldest military aviation museum. My former boss was a licensed pilot who would always rant and rave about the Wright Patterson Air Force Base and all that takes place there. I hold our nation's servicemen and women in high regard, have a huge interest in history, and like any young boy growing up, always have had a fascination with airplanes and aircrafts. This museum was calling out to me!

There is no cost for admission to the museum, which consists of three large hangars. The first hangar is dedicated to the beginnings of aviation, the second is about World War II, and the third contains memorabilia from the Korean War & the Cold War. You can sign up to take a tour to the nearby base to see more planes, but the tours are limited. Currently the museum is home to a traveling Holocaust display of personal artifacts, which I would highly recommend, as many of the concentration camp liberators were from Ohio.

It is only fitting that the Dayton area is home to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force (or NMUSAF), as this is known to be the "Birthplace of Aviation," where the Wright Brothers (Orville and Wilbur) lived and invented the world's very first successful aircraft. The museum houses many artifacts relating to the history and development of aviation and pays homage to the Wright Brothers. The Huffman Prairie (part of what is now called the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park), where the brothers performed many of their experiments, is located nearby.

In addition to the sections of the museum dedicated to the pioneers of aircraft (from Ohio and elsewhere), there are 360 aircraft and missiles on display, including many rare aircrafts such as Bockscar the B-29 Superfortress that dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki during the last days of World War II.

We are truly lucky to have such a renowned museum with such important historical artifacts located here in Ohio. It’s one of the many reasons I am proud to call Ohio home.

Many thanks go out to my friend Anna Garcia for providing insight, information and photographs from her visit to the museum in June 2012.  

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Run With The Pack

Ever wanted to run in a race with your favorite four legged friend? It's likely you already do take your dog on a run with you every now and then so that the both of you can get your exercise in. Or, you may just take your pup to the park where you can allow him to frolic freely without a leash. Either way, you know your companion needs adequate amounts of fresh air and canine cardio. And now, you can let your dog join you on a 5K run or 1 mile fun run with the sixth annual Run With The Pack 5K loctated at the Scioto Audobon Metro Park in Columbus.

The race - which welcomes all spayed and neutered dogs on leashes with up-to-date shots - takes place Saturday, June 23, 2012 at 8:30 AM. Pre-registration costs $25 for no time chip and $30 with a time chip, while registration on the day of the race is $35. The money from registration (as well as money race participants choose to contribute through fundraising) goes to the Pets Without Parents Animal Shelter in Clintonville.

I will be running with my new chihuahua Slider and hope to see you there! If you would like to run without a dog, you are more than welcome to run so you too can help the amazing cause, Pets Without Parents. Vendors will be present with all sorts of goodies for you and your pet. And, you will be able to let your pet socialize and make friends! Who knows, maybe you will too?!

Register now by visiting the Run With The Pack website.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Yelp All About It!

Photo by OHventures. With Yelp Columbus' City Manager Christina Christian, and Yelp Employee Kristen Radu

Yelp is an extremely popular and useful tool that has been taking over the interwebs in the past few years as one of the most utilized and most popular review-based websites out there! The concept of Yelp is to allow the general public to contribute their very own reviews of area businesses - everything from restaurants to bars, dentists to gyms! Members rank the businesses on a 5-star system and include their own synopsis of their experiences. Giving honest, first hand accounts and personal stories gives readers the ability to more accurately gauge the quality of each location they read about. Yelpers spice up their reviews with fun language, photos, and tips; while readers can add comments and label a review as being funny, useful, or cool!

The Yelp experience and presence in local communities across the country is not just limited to the online world. You can find decals in the windows of establishments along Main Street in your own town that declare "People on Yelp Love Us." And you might even stumble across a Yelp booth or event that happens to be taking place in your city.

For the years of 2010 and 2011, I was chosen to be a "Yelp Elite" in Columbus. This meant that my reviews were deemed as being exceptionally helpful to readers. I was able to attend awesome VIP events such as the Yelp Rooftop Masquerade (pictured below), Yelp in Toyland, and Yelp's Cinco de Mayo Mustache Party! At all of these events, we got to network and get great Yelp "shwag" and items from local businesses for FREE! Definitely a great payoff for writing reviews!

I also have had a number of reviews awared the title of "Review of the Day" and a couple of my reviews have appeared in the Yelp Weekly (see below)

Reviews of the Day (ROTD):
The Candle Lab
Hubbard Grille
Short North Tavern
Camelot Cellars
Gateway Film Center
Spoonful Records
Sugardaddy's Sumptuous Sweeties

Appearances in the Yelp Weekly Newsletter:
Commonwealth Sandwich Bar

I have since hung up my "Yelp Elite" hat to focus more on OHventures. However, I still utilize the site to occassionally post a review (as a non-Elite) and to often read reviews before I check out a new place.

I also encourage everyone I encounter to use Yelp if ever they travel to a new town or are looking to see what the masses think of a new pub or diner.

OHventures shares a common goal with Yelp in getting people informed about the great (and not-so-great) things that Ohio has to offer! I will always cherish and appreciate my time as a Yelp Elite and all of the events and cool opportunities that came about from my 2 years networking with fellow Yelpers! I still keep in touch from time to time.

I suggest anyone who loves to write and is looking to meet new people at cool events to get involved in one of the Yelp Communities in Ohio:

Yelp Columbus
Yelp Cincinnati
Yelp Cleveland

Sunday, June 3, 2012

5 Ways To Cool Off In Ohio

Photo by OHventures

It's June and I can feel the temperatures rising! Ohio has been having an exceptionally HOT summer this year...and it's not even summer! The mercury has creeped into the mid-90s already and who knows what else is in store for the hotter days that are to come. But fear not! The Buckeye State has a more than a few outlets for you to cool off by the water. Just be sure to apply your sunscreen and load up on your H2O before embarking on these waterlogged outdoor adventures!

1. Canoeing: Canoeing is a very strenuous activity which requires a lot of upper body strength and coordination & communication with your canoeing partner. It is essential for the 2 of you to synchronize your strokes in order to stay straight or turn when desired. You can canoe in a lake for a more relaxing ride, or downstream for a bit more of a challenge. Either way, add a pack of Miller High Life and you got yourself a "caBREWing" excursion that everyone will be on board for!

2. Kayaking: Once you've mastered the skill of canoeing, you can take on the task of kayaking, which kicks things up a notch. Single and double kayaks exist, so you don't necessarily have to go at it alone. Most everywhere that canoeing is offered or permitted, you will find that kayaking is also offered and permitted. Anywhere from Put-In-Bay to Alum Creek State Park to the Cuyahoga River are some of the many outlets for a great kayaking OHventure.

3. Paddleboating: Introducing the perfect combo of biking and boating: PADDLEBOATING! Also referred to as pedal boating, this activity is perfect for young and old alike, and surprisingly enough does not require a great deal of athletic ability. It is much more relaxing and care free than other waterborne transport such as canoeing or kayaking. Two great benefits of paddleboating is that your hands are free and the boat has a very small chance of tipping. Paddleboating is not an activity that would likely take place on a river, but rather on a small pond or lake.

4. Parasailing: Parasailing: It's the happy medium between the ultra-extreme skydiving and the ultra-lowkey sailing. It's getting towed behind a motorboat while attached to a long cord and hanging from a specialized parachute. It's really an exhilerating activity that's both low risk and relatively low cost. Not only will you get a nice splash from the water to cool off, you will also get the wind whisking against your face! There are two locations to parasail in Ohio: Put-In-Bay and Sandusky. Both of which are worth the price and the drive.

5. Boating: Motor boats allow you to add water skiing, parasailing, and inner tubing in the mix if you have the right equipment. But even without those things, you can still enjoy the wind blowing, the sun shining and the water splashing. Pontoon boats are also great, for things like fishing, swimming, picnicking, and just relaxing! One of my favorite yearly traditions was started 3 years ago with some great friends of mine that live on Portage Lakes in Summit County.

Dog Days Of Summer

Photos by OHventures
What I have learned in this past week: becoming a dog owner one wild adventure!

I have always loved dogs but have always known that in order to be a dog owner, I would need to be in a situation where it would make sense and fit well into my lifestyle. I am a busy-body who is always on the go. When I'm not working, writing, adventuring, exercising, traveling, networking, creating, exploring, volunteering, socializing or indulging in one of my many other hobbies, I am trying to squeeze in a little shut eye! So the idea of getting a dog would require me to make a few sacrifices and start adding more responsibility to my already hectic schedule

On a vacation to Florida this month, my aunt (a lifelong single dog owner) told me that, while there are many challenges, there are also plenty of joys that come from being a dog owner. And if you were to look around, you would find that there are (unfortunately) many people in this world who are incredibly horrible dog owners. If you are a dog lover and a committed, responsible person, you will find great success and discover that taking care of and providing for a pet will come naturally.

I decided that if I was going to be a dog owner, I needed to do it right. I needed to take it seriously and do it in a way that would be easily manageable for me. I figured that would mean two things. First, I could not possibly get a puppy. I wouldn't have the time or ability to train the dog and I would not have the patience to put up with the constant barking, chewing, and inevitable accidents. Second, I could not get a large dog. Living in a one bedroom apartment without a yard, I would be ridding a larger dog of its much needed space. In addition, larger dogs make larger messes. Not good.

Next, I knew that I wanted to make a difference and not just buy a dog from a breeder, but instead, rescue a dog from a shelter. My brother, aunt, and many friends have purchased designer breed dogs for a hefty price over the years. There is nothing wrong with doing that. But, for me, I wanted to head to the shelter to see those dogs that are without a home that have been abandoned. I wanted to provide a safe haven for a dog who was lost and afraid.

This led me to the Franklin County Animal Shelter located on Morse Road. I visited the shelter on May 23, 2012 just to get a feel for the place and see how they did things there. As you can probably guess, my visit turned out to be more than just that.