Monday, August 31, 2015

Warren Fit 5K Recap

Photos by OHventures

On August 29, 2015, dozens of runners gathered in Trumbull County for the Warren Fit 5K, the follow-up and re-named event to last year's World Fit 5K. The race was hosted by the North-Mar Church in Warren and was a benefit for the Bella Women's Center. 

As is the trend of  many of my recent runs over the years (Foxburg Nature Festival 5K, Boardman Memorial Mile, and various Turkey Trots to name a few), this has become a family affair. My mom, dad, aunt, and nieces all walked and ran in the event, with my nephew being pushed in a stroller. My brother and his wife not only ran the event but were also the organizers of the entire race. To top it off, my grandma and grandpa were volunteers at the water stop. Many of us placed in our age groups as well (I was 3rd in the 30-39 year males with a time of 23:02)! 

I am a firm believer that a family that runs together, stays together

It has brought me and my brother closer together, giving us a hobby that we share in common. It is ensuring that our family will remain healthy and active, so we can have many years together. And, it reinforces philanthropy and charity. I highly recommend that every family gets active and starts participating in 5Ks! It's one of the best decisions we have ever made together!

Ariel-Foundation Park

Photos by OHventures

501 S. Main Street
Mount Vernon, OH 43050
(740) 393-9577

Mount Vernon is the county seat of  Knox County, located in North Central Ohio, and is home to the brand new Ariel-Foundation Park, a 250-acre public green space built on the site of the former Pittsburgh Plate Glass (PPG) manufacturing plant (which closed in the 1970s).

This breathtaking park includes historic ruins of once-booming industrial buildings, with certain portions of the factory purposefully left standing. Crumbling brick walls, free-standing freight elevators, and other remnants are strewn across a large grassy field, with terraced landscaping and magnificent earthworks strategically placed throughout the park.

Intriguing art pieces are also found along the pathways of Ariel-Foundation Park, most of which pay homage to the glass industry. Large electric-blue-colored blown-glass and metal scaffolding create art that is incredible and thought-provoking.

The centerpiece of the park is the Rastin Observation Tower, a smokestack from the old factory that has been transformed into a must-see landmark. With a spiral metal staircase built around the 280-foot smokestack, park visitors can climb over 220 steps to reach the halfway point for a magnificent view of Mount Vernon.

Climbing to the top was a workout and a test of my bravery. You are totally safe and secure, but those who are wary of heights (like myself) might feel a bit uneasy. Scaling the stairs was definitely worth the sweat, as it provided a great photo op, and a unique experience unlike anything else in the area.

There's a lot more to do at the park as well: you can fish and boat (non-motorized boats) in the 3 lakes, take a spin on the biking trail, hike the wooded area on site, and visit the museum to learn more about the history of PPG and the relics that are left on display.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Old Mill Winery

Photos by OHventures

403 S. Broadway St.
Geneva, OH 44041
(440) 466-5560

The Old Mill Winery, as you might have guessed, is a winery that was built in what was once a working mill. It joins the ranks of other old-things-turned-into-wineries, such as the nearby Old Firehouse Winery (an old firehouse turned into a winery, located down the street in Geneva-On-The-Lake), South River Vineyard (an old church turned into a winery, located about 10 minutes away in Harpersfield), and the School House Winery (you guessed it - an old school house turned into a winery, located in Dover).

Located in the City of Geneva (just a few minutes south of the Lake Erie coast), Old Mill Winery is spacious on the inside, and has a large, outdoor deck perfect for summertime drinking (I particularly enjoy the directional signs right outside the patio, which point to various nearby local wineries - pictured below). The interior is dark, with an old fashioned feel to it. Old street signs and other antiques cover the walls, and large exposed wooden planks run across the low ceiling (like an old mill, naturally).

The bartenders explained that they are known for their sangria, as well as their Grindstone White and Grindstone Red wines. I decided to do a tasting of a variety of wines, including both of these. The Grindstone Red tasted much like grape juice and was very sweet and jammy. I decided to take home a bottle, however, to offset some of the usual dry reds that I have on the wine rack, so I have a variety for my guests. They also have a Grindstone Pink (a blush wine that is typically used in their sangria coolers), and a surprisingly oaky and peppery Cabernet.

There are some food options that pair perfectly with their wine, and is reason alone to visit the establishment. For an appetizer, I tried the Old Mill Dip (a roasted red pepper, cheese,  and sausage dip), which was out of this world. Other house favorites include the St. Louis Style Ribs, the Original and Loaded Wine Burger, and the Niagara Pasta Alfredo with your choice of meat.

Visiting Old Mill Winery for some wine or food is, to me, is one of the must-do things when visiting Geneva. It brings out the charm and character of the lakeside city and will be a regular stop for me whenever I am in town.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Bodhi Tree Guesthouse & Studio

Photos by OHventures

8950 Lavelle Road
Athens, OH 45701
(740) 707-2050

The Bodhi Tree Guesthouse & Studio in Athens is approaching its one year anniversary of being in business, and is quickly becoming a premier Ohio destination for rest and relaxation. This Buddhist-inspired getaway can be found off the beaten path, hidden among the trees and on four acres of the Appalachian hillsides of Southeast Ohio. Travelers can choose to stay overnight in one of four beautifully furnished guest rooms, each with different sized beds and amenities.

In addition to being a cozy wooded bed and breakfast, Bodhi Tree also offers meditative and therapeutic services, such as Thai massages, private yoga classes, and a refreshing and revitalizing flotation tank (an extremely unique and rare experience in the area).

Booking a room (the one with the King Bed, naturally) earlier this summer allowed for me to retreat from the busyness of life, clear my mind, and treat both my body and soul. I opted for a Thai massage coupled with a 60-minute float, which began shortly after I checked myself in to the guesthouse via an access code given to me prior to my arrival.

I was anxious to try the float tank, so I made sure that it was first on my schedule during my visit to Bodhi Tree Guesthouse. The tank itself is located in one of the back rooms of the first floor. It is a giant white pod filled with a high-density saltwater solution, and illuminated with purple lighting. The tank is a sound-proof and light-proof chamber that allows for ultimate solitude and relaxation. There are 90-minute floats and couple floats available as well.

Entering the tank for the first time was a surreal sensation. It took a bit of time to get acclimated to the fact you are completely suspended, with just your face peeking above the water as you lay on your back. But once you trust the fact that you will indeed stay afloat, it becomes an incredibly peaceful experience, complete with light soothing music in the background.

After a quick shower to rinse off the saltwater, it was time for my Thai massage. One of the owners of the Bodhi Tree, Liz Chamberlain, performed this deep pressure massage that is done on mats rather than on a table. Thai massages help to strengthen you with full body stretches that adjust your joints and massage your muscle tissue. It was energizing and much needed!

The rest of the day allowed for me to explore a bit of downtown Athens, which is just 5-10 minutes away! I returned in time to watch the sunset out on the gorgeous back deck, and read a book in the candlelit living room. There are no televisions at Bodhi Tree Guesthouse, so I was accompanied by just the sound of crickets!

One final element of my stay was the complimentary breakfast offered the following morning. It was a hearty vegetarian spread featuring ingredients grown on the premises and sourced from area farms. This included yogurt from Snowville Creamery, and a roasted tomato & gruyere quiche cooked with local eggs. It was a tasty and perfect way to end the stay.

Thanks to the owners Liz and Russell Chamberlain, the Bodhi Tree Guesthouse & Studio is an excellent rendezvous for locals and out-of-towners that will leave you recharged and inspired!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Warrior Dash Ohio II 2015 Recap

Photos by OHventures

Another year, another Warrior Dash! After 5 years of muddy mayhem at one of the most popular obstacle running series in the world, I am thinking that Warrior Dash Day should be a national (or international) holiday! While some running events have been fizzling out, the Warrior Dash keeps gaining more momentum and more popularity as time progresses!

As with all years in the past (2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014) in which we have run and reviewed the Warrior Dash you never know what you're going to get. They are always changing it up, adding different obstacles and altering the course, tweaking it to make the elements harsher and more challenging. This is why me and my friends & family keep coming back for more. 

(For those of you who do not know what the Warrior Dash is - get with the program by reading our "What Is Warrior Dash?" blog)

Again, Warrior Dash Ohio II (named as such because another Warrior Dash takes place in Logan, Ohio earlier in the year) took place at Clay's Park Resort in North Lawrence in Stark County. It was on Saturday, August 8, and my brother and I were running in the 9:00 AM heat! Our course was "moderately hilly" at 3.2 miles with 14 obstacles.

List of Obstacles
1. Great Warrior Wall: Scaling a 14-foot wall caked in the slick mud of the Battleground.
2. Alcatraz: Climb/swim across cargo nets that are halfway submerged in a muddy lake
3. Plunge: Crawl up a cargo net and scale back down a 16-foot sheet of plywood
4. Trenches: Stay low and crawl quickly through the dirt and under logs
5. Chaotic Cargo: Climb up and over the tangled cargo nets
6. Dead Man's Drop: Scale up a merciless wall 20 feet in the air, straddle the ledge, and slide down to hit the ground running
7. Giant Cliffhanger With the help of a rope, clamber up and repel back down a 30-foot pyramid.
8. Mud Mounds: Literally a giant mud pit you slid into from about 10-12 feet above ground. Then, you claw your way out of the mud pit, which was nearly impossible to do without the help of others around you!
9. Pipeline: New this year, these were a series of cylindrical (pipe-like) cargo nets that you had to shimmy through at an incline. Many seemed to have a TON of trouble with this, but my brother came up with a great solution to crawl on your back rather than on your hands and knees. Doing that was tons easier than the traditional method!
10. High Tension: Cross a 30-foot slackline hovering over a water pit (this one was tough for shorter people like myself - and especially even shorter people like my sister-in-law who couldn't even reach the cargo nets and had to fall in!).
11. Two X Fall: A series of balance beams that go up, down, and across while being squirted with water.
12. Goliath: This is the largest obstacle, starting with a rope climb, then a two-story balance beam before making a splash at the bottom of a 30-foot-high slide.
13. Warrior Roast: Leap over the warrior fires
14. Muddy Mayhem: Scramble under the barbed wire and through the mud as you near the finish line

When all was said and done, my group felt that this year's run was not as difficult as previous years. A few things can be factors in that. One factor is that this is the 2nd year the race itself was untimed, and also the 1st year that none of us really were trying to be competitive. Another reason is because we are getting stronger each year!

Regardless how the course and the obstacles were, the real fun is the finish line! It's always a great time redeeming our free Shock Top beers, listening to the live music and meeting up with other friends who were running the event! The sun was caking in the muddiness, and it was getting more and more crowded, so the time we spent at the after party only lasted a couple of hours.

Pictured: Me, Ryan, Stacey, Marc, and Erik - Stark County Mudders!

Just like Christmas, New Years, or any other holiday, I always hate it when "Warrior Dash Day" comes to an end. The excitement leading up to it, the adrenaline pumping through your veins during it, and the celebrations afterwards is all why I keep coming back for more. Now if only I could get a day off work for this...

Stand Up Guys Paddleboarding

Photos by OHventures

Ever since my first experience paddleboarding two years ago on a quarry in Columbus (with Project 908), I had been itching to do it again. In the Akron area, at the Portage Lakes, there is a great company aptly named The Stand Up Guys, who offer paddleboarding rentals along the PLX for very reasonable prices! The Stand Up Guys are totally laid back and willing to work with you on rental times and the location on the lakes in which you will launch from. The more people you have, the cheaper it is to rent. I ordered 5 paddleboards for 2 hours, which cost just $125!

My unsuspecting parents came along for the paddleboard excursion!

Next it was time to find out who to invite along for this epic adventure. I was able to convince my dad to try it out for the first time ever as a birthday gift to him, and I dragged my mom along too. Two friends, Greg and Matt, also were up for the challenge. None of them had ever done it before. Of course my parents felt initially that it would be totally out of their league, for a number of reasons. But, as any good son would do, I basically pressured them into taking the leap of faith and trusting that they would be fully capable. 

The whole group with our colorful sunglasses!

As the Stand Up Guys demonstrated when they dropped off the boards and gave us a tutorial, it is very difficult to fall off! They purposely rocked and wobbled the boards to show this. This was particularly relieving to our buddy Matt, who actually doesn't even know how to swim! Thankfully for him (and for all of us), the Stand Up Guys provide life jackets with every board. You do not have to wear it the whole time, but you are required to have it fastened to your board.

Father & son out for dad's birthday!

After they adjusted our oars, they showed us the tricks to getting on (start on your knees then work your way up to standing), and paddling (keep your arms straight, one on top of the oar, one halfway down, creating a triangle with your arms and the oar). We were soon off on our own in the wide open waters!

The whole group off up and at 'em (well...or at least half way up, mom)

One of the most challenging parts of the start of our paddleboarding experience was fighting the wind! While it was a beautifully sunny day, there were portions of the lake where the wind was particularly strong and we had to paddle harder to get a good rhythm going. Another obstacle was navigating through the busy waters of Portage Lakes. Even the slowest moving pontoon boats would create little waves that would disturb your travels.

The first person POV!

But aside from those two minor items, paddleboarding on the crystal clear waters was a piece of cake, and we managed to make some good distance in the 2 hour time slot we were allotted. We launched from Old State Park Beach on Turkeyfoot Lake, where then we paddled around the ski & speed zone, through Mud Lake, then turned around, stopping on New State Park Beach before heading back. 

Get it Greg!

Look ma, no life jacket (I was not happy bout that haha)

It was a gorgeous day and so there were TONS of people out swimming, boating, canoeing, finishing, and the like. We were the only paddleboarders that I saw that day. Portage Lakes is a HUGE set of lakes, for those not familiar. So, if given more time, we would have lots more to explore. But, we were all getting pretty fried from the sun, and were working up quite an appetite!

We got back to the launching area and turned in our boards and oars to the Stand Up Guys. We then grabbed a bite to eat on the patio of On Tap at the Harbor Inn and talked about our adventure. Surprisingly, no one fell in! And everyone kept pace pretty well. I was able to prove to my parents and our friends that it is definitely something that most people can do if they just take that first step!

10 Reasons To Go Ape in Ohio

Photos by OHventures

Earlier this summer, OHventures took a visit to the Go Ape Treetop Adventure Course in Strongsville in Cuyahoga County. It was an enormous hit for those of us who went, and it caught a LOT of attention of our friends and readers! Our post was even featured on the Discover Ohio blog (the official travel site for the State of Ohio).

Because of this, our friend Erica wanted to take her boyfriend Paul to Go Ape - but make it a SURPRISE for him! about 15 of us kept the plan under wraps, and secretly met at Go Ape, located at the Mill Stream Run Reservation. Paul was definitely surprised, and was more than thrilled to take on the challenge of Go Ape!

And, now, OHventures gives you "10 Reasons To Go Ape in Ohio!", presented in picture form!

1. To get the opportunity to take a "selfie" 40 feet above the ground (pictured: Me, Erica, & Brandon)

2. To experience the incredibly adrenaline-pumping Tarzan swing, where you get to free fall and fling into an enormous cargo net (pictured: Paul)


4. Because where else can you get a view like this?!

5. To fly through the air on 5 enormous ziplines!

6. To perfect your balancing act on dozens of suspension obstacles!

7. To get the chance to wear these chic and fashionable safety harnesses!

8. To climb on crazy contraptions so unique you'll never see them anywhere else!

9. To get this snazzy finisher's certificate once you complete the course!

10. To spend quality time with all of your closest friends!