Monday, September 14, 2009

Tippecanoe Battlefield

Originally uploaded by True North Two
On our way back from an exhausting but incredibly trip to Chicago, we stopped at Tippecanoe Battlefield, just outside Lafayette, Indiana. It's probably equally famous for its being the home of Purdue.

We've visited several battlefields, including Gettysburg, Stones River and Perryville, all Civil War sites. We also visited Tu-Endie-Wei, a pre-Revolutionary War conflict site. This was our first foray into the period called Tecumseh's War, when a federation of tribes was battling for their lands against colonialists and was threatening a British alliance.

I'll leave the history to the experts, but it was interesting to learn how such a small, wedge-shaped piece of land lodged between a creek and a swamp was so important. Today, a large obelisk stands near the entrance in honor of those who lost their lives in battle.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Winged Sun

My husband and I were out for a Sunday drive when we came across a cemetery we'd never seen before...and trust me, we've been all over our county. We found some great symbols on stones, including the winged sun; I don't think I had seen that symbol in real life...just online.

The winged sun is used often by Pennsylvania Dutch, according to this site.

It represents resurrection, Jesus or heaven. The site I referenced says the sun often appears as a circle with a dot in the middle because that was the symbol for the sun in old almanacs. I think I can make out a dot on this one, though it is covered in lichen and therefore difficult to tell for sure.

The stones in this cemetery were really ornate and beautiful. The names were old ones, including one so beautiful I'd consider using it if we ever have a girl: Aureolia Rosalie.

I also spotted a few stones that had what looked like a small inset frame. I wonder if they are supposed to be gates, a common symbol of entrance to heaven, but they were deep, almost like they were once used to place small items inside--maybe a photo or small vase?

Friday, July 24, 2009

For my readers

From time to time, I've mentioned visiting place for my book. I'd been working on it for months and months and on July 15th, it was sent to the publisher.

The book, tentatively titled "Tiny Journeys: Day Trips from the Queen City," covers attractions, grouped by area, which can be visited in a day or weekend. Most are less than two hours and nothing in the book costs over $25. Most attractions are free or donation only.

I am currently working with my editor to add some maps to make it even easier to go on a "Tiny Journey." Looks like it will hit the web and brick-and-mortar stores for sales late this year or early '10. I will be doing a few signings, with one already lined up with my alma mater, Shawnee State University, when the book is released.

You should be able to find it at many of the attractions mentioned in the book, which I later plan to list here. Some are offering to sell it in their gift shops, which is very exciting!

For now, stay tuned with twitter (@CincyDayTrips) or on Facebook ( or click on the box to the right).

Thanks for reading, and I hope you make the leap from my blog to my book!


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Portsmouth Flood Wall Murals

I attended Shawnee State University from 2001-2005. One of my favorite things to do was walk the floodwall--first along the top of the grassy section and then down to the murals.

Portsmouth is famous for the flood wall murals, which depict area history and important events. The murals are so lifelike, with some good photography skills you could easily state a photo that looks like you're part of the paintings.

The murals were designed by artist Robert Dafford. They were commissioned after a group of citizens thought the flood wall could be more than just slabs of cement. They were right. I love how the murals depict what the flood wall is protecting. On the opposite side, you'll find a wall of painted stars that have been signed by notable figures from the area.

In the photo above, you can see the artist has painted himself into several scenes. I think it's a great way to "sign" this beautiful work of art.

If you're ever in Portsmouth, make sure this is one of your stops. Though several other river cities have similar murals (Point Pleasant, WV has some, for example) this will always be my favorite.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Mothman Country

Point Pleasant is a place I've been waiting to go, not only to cover for my book, but as a sort of pilgrimage for a girl who loves a good cryptoid story.

We arrived in Point Pleasant around 11 a.m. on a Saturday. Feeling a little sheepish, we got out of the car near the Silver Bridge collapse site memorial to take photos. We felt the eyes of the locals on us as I lined up my shot. Boy, I thought. They must really get sick of gawkers.

But my initial impression was wrong. Not only were there tons of other people posing by various sites and buying armfuls of memorbilia, the townspeople seemed to be eating it up. And why not? I'm sure it brings in a ton of money.

Our next stop was a souvenir shop, almost exactly across the street from the memorial, where we saw quite a few people congregating. Turns out, we weren't the only ones who were in town to see the sights.

Inside The Point (the name of the shop), we found every sort of trinket from shot glasses to plush Mothmen. As we waited to check out, we heard the owner giving the woman in front of us instructions on how to get to the TNT igloos which were used during WWII and later became the hotspot for Mothman sightings. We were intrigued, as we had heard they were not accessible or open to the public. My husband asked the owner if he had another map, and the nice man proceeded to not only give us the map, but also give us detailed instructions for finding the igloos, draw a diagram, tell us stories that involved ancient Shawnee burial grounds and show us photos take by other visitors. Needless to say, I was intrigued.

Past feeling silly for being tourists, as we had seen many others in town for the same reasons, we found the Mothman statue near The Point and took some photos. My husband asked if I wanted to go to the TNT area, to which I replied "Hell yeah I do!"

Now, I must explain that I am a skeptic but enjoy these types of things for their folkloric value. That being said, our visit to the TNT bunkers made me uneasy to the point where I no longer wanted to linger despite being interested in poking around as we drove to the abandoned, desolate part of the nature preserve where they are located.

We located the guardrail the man at the store had described. It seemed like we walked forever between a thick, overgrown forest on our right and a foul, stagnant pond to our left. I had gone a few feet too far when my husband called out from behind me, "Hey, I think this is it!"

It was. Through a short, thick tunnel of vines and mud, we found the entrance to the first igloo. It was more bizarre than I expected. And bigger. Much bigger.

The odd thing was, we walked in cautiously, as not to disturb the people inside because, well, we both felt like there were going to be people inside. There weren't.

The man at the store explained that energy travels from one igloo to another and that we should take photos inside. Keeping an open mind, we did that. We saw nothing, but it was still unsettling. The detailed Mothman grafitti and empty black powder cans alluded to the area's past. Everything echoed all around us, from a deep exhale to our footsteps in the dark.

We traveled to the next one, this time down a longer, darker tunnel of foilage. We passed the owners of the cars we saw in the pulloff where we parked, which made us feel a little better. Then we went in. This one made me most uneasy. It seemed to sit back slightly more and it was more overgrown. I felt like if I was going to see anything that day, this was going to be where. I didn't see a thing, but the uneasiness grew.

We found the third one but didn't linger. It was hot, we were alone in the middle of nowhere and it was getting weirder by the minute.

On our way back, green snake passed beneath my foot, between it and my flip-flop. Having little fear of snakes, I simply shook it out, but my husband yelped in surprise and we had a good laugh. It was when the commotion was over that I started to feel really odd. "Do you feel weird?" I asked him. "Someone is back here watching people," he said. Well, those were my thoughts exactly and we decided to hightail it.

We passed the two other igloos quickly, not stopping to take another peek. The pond was making an odd crackling noise, sometimes sounding like knocks on a door. We felt like there were eyes on us.

We're both logical, rational people and we know very well that there could be cameras around there or even people hiding to play a trick. No matter what gave us that sensation, though, it was enough to give us pause and to make us drive away quickly.

I plan to scan the map soon and share it; it's not a good place for small kids and you should be careful of various hazards. I'm glad we visited but maybe next time it will be in a larger group--safety in numbers.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Cave Hill Cemetery

Originally uploaded by True North Two
Last weekend, we traveled down to Louisville to attend a friend's wedding--a beautiful rooftop ceremony at Glassworks.

The next day we decided to see a few things before heading back to Cincinnati. We visited Falls of the Ohio State Park, the Edison House and Cave Hill Cemetery.

Cave Hill is home to some notable burials, including Harlan Sanders. We managed to miss his grave because we couldn't find a brochure about the cemetery (they were all gone). I didn't figure this out until I got home!

We did, however, have a nice hour driving around in the alternating rain and blinding sun looking at the different monuments. One that caught my eye was this sphinx stone, which symbolizes protection and guardianship.

If you're ever in Louisville, this is a nice stop. It was very peaceful and had it not been so hot and damp, we would have walked around.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

this paperweight has now been on three desks. good reminder.

New necklace

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Floyd Collins

Update: After posting about that Floyd Collins note, I discovered that it was left by my mom and dad's neighbor, who is a caver. She heard me mention going to Mammoth Cave and she works downtown too and saw our car. I was freaked out that someone was reading my mind as I had been looking into a trip down there the day she left the note.

We were originally supposed to head down to Cave City in March but decided to wait for when our friends could board their puppy and stay the whole weekend. The chance came up this past weekend, and we made sure to visit Floyd Collins. I bought a book about him in the Mammoth Cave gift shop and I'm sucked in. It's such an interesting story and I find myself wanting to get right back in the car to go explore the various places mentioned.

If you want to visit his grave, the smart thing to do is go buy your cave tour tickets--if it's a fairly busy day, you'll be on a tour later than your purchase time and you'll have an hour or so to kill. Perfect. Simply turn right out of the main parking lot and you'll see a gate on the left--turn there and keep driving (and goodness, watch out for turkeys) and you'll eventually come across Mammoth Cave Baptist Church. Floyd's grave is in the front near the church. Take a little gift--his grave is covered with them and many cavers stop to ask his blessing and leave an offering before descending.

Thinking Outside the Box

This morning, as I came into town via the 6th street exit near P&G, I noticed a man standing inside a giant box.

Not only was he inside a giant box, he was somewhat blocking business walking traffic and wearing a suit. He had painted something to the effect of "Think outside the box" with a link to his Career Builder profile below. I thought this was brilliant--he was near several of Cincinnati's biggest employers, where many people come into town. The people walking to their jobs had to go around him, meaning they definitely noticed him and no doubt will be talking about it at water coolers all over the city.

I wish I could have taken a better photo--I only got him in the very edge of the frame with my iPhone. I'd love to post his info here to give him an even better shot at attention--I've been there, buddy and I know it's tough to stand out!

It's amazing that people want to work but are having to resort to publicity stunts to even get a phone call back.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Saturday, May 9, 2009



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Monday, May 4, 2009


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I was headed out to grab some lunch. As I stepped out our office door, I nearly ran into Cincinnati's own superhero, Shadowhare!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

A trip to Wright-Patterson AFB

As you can see from some of the mobile upload posts below, I recently visited the USAF Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

My dad works for General Electric and has always been interested in planes and the engines in them. When I was little, we often went to the Dayton Airshow and to visit the museum. I was always most interested in the nose art--especially that which appears on WWII aircraft because most of it follows the theme of beautiful, curvy bombshells and pinup girls. Despite my feminist upbringing, I appreciate the nostalgic value. I also feel a little sad for the men who missed the women waiting for them back home--many ladies painted on planes were modeled after sweethearts and wives.

Two of my favorite planes at the museum are a B17 Flying Fortress called the Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby after a popular song and a B24 called the Strawberry Bitch. The latter is rumored to be haunted.

Even if you know next to nothing about planes or aviation history, a trip to Dayton is an excellent way to spend a day or two. The museum is huge--we were there for six hours last weekend--and there is now a Presidential and R&D tour (these are very popular--get there early). You can also visit the Wright Brothers Memorial, Huffman Prarie Flying Field (where the brothers conducted many experiments) and the Wright family plot at the beautiful Woodland Cemetery. It's amazing to see all of these monuments and realize that Ohio is the birthplace of aviation. That's something to be proud of.


Forgotten Ohio list of haunted USAF Museum planes:

Woodland Cemetery

Huffman Prarie Flying Field and Wright Brothers Monument (the monument is directly across from the interpretive center)

Museum site:

Saturday, April 11, 2009

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Friday, April 10, 2009

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Gold Mine in Clermont County

I grew up in a house located less than five minutes from East Fork Lake State Park. I've always heard rumors about a gold mine being located on park property; it's common knowledge that small amounts of gold had been discovered in this area the 1800's.

Turns out there wasn't just one, but three gold mines on park property. My mom, whose grandfather owned a farm located on what is now a popular hiking and fishing area (you can still see daffodils where the farm used to be), told us she thought she knew where the entrance to a mine was. It was Sunday, the weather was beautiful, and we were we headed with my parents to look for it.

To my surprise, we found it after less than an hour of looking. Most of that time was spent looking for a road on the other side of the creek where it's located. We hiked down an old road, rounded a bend which overlooked a creek, and spotted the opening in the side of the hill.

For accountability and safety reasons, I personally don't want to reveal here exactly where we found it. I will say that it is easy enough to find if you poke around on the web a little.

I believe we found the Allen Mine. I'm not sure if this tunnel was built to access the mine, acted as a sluice or if it came later, when the trails were built. It connects to the creek through a hill. You can see the entrance of the mine from the other end.

The mine has been caved in for some time. I'm just amazed that a mystery from my childhood was cleared up in a matter of hours. We hiked further up on top of the hill, where we discovered an old foundation and well.

Who says this region is boring? My husband and I have gone on countless mini-adventures like this one. That's what inspired me to write the book I'm currently working on. Next time you complain about being bored, think about all of the things hidden around you!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Free Floyd Collins

I recently started a new job downtown. It's closer to where my husband works. Because of this, we've found a new parking spot in a lot roughly halfway between our buildings. I mention this because people who know us don't know where we've been parking the past few weeks, and because this new job came about at a time when it was really hard to dismiss the timing as anything short of a miracle.

Fast forward to this evening, when I met my husband at his car. He was about to back out when he spotted something fluttering on his windshield. My heart sank, as I thought it was a ticket, and began wondering what the heck we did wrong. It was actually this piece of paper, which looks like receipt paper, with the words "Free Floyd Collins" written on it and stuck under the wiper.

My first instinct was to take out my iPhone and look up name. I got a chill as the Google search results appeared. The words "Cave City" caught my eye first.

You see, we've been planning a weekend trip to Mammoth Cave with another couple. Earlier that day, as I was eating lunch, I decided to look at the Mammoth Cave site and make sure all the attractions were open the weekend we'd be headed there. Cave City is where it is located.

Floyd Collins was a caver who met his fate trying to find a connection between Sand Cave and the more popular Mammoth Cave system. He was trapped in the cave, a media circus and crowd gathered above, and he was eventually found dead--according to legend his body was found with a cave cricket resting on his nose. He was originally buried in the cave when it was determined removing him was too risky; he was moved several times until he was eventually interred under a tombstone that reads "Greatest Cave Explorer Ever Known." In addition, he was given proper burial on March 24th, 1989. Today is the 23rd, so I guess you could say it was the last day he was trapped in the cave.

I have to admit I was slightly freaked out when I read all of this. A random note that refers to a folk hero from a region I had just looked up hours before. In a parking lot no one knows we park in.

Now, there are a variety of explanations for this note. One, someone noticed our state park stickers on the back window and thought we'd get the reference (apparantly the phrase is often seen on bumper stickers and t-shirts in Cave City). Two, it's referring to something else--maybe a prisoner--but what reason would they have for putting it on our car? I couldn't find a reference to a case involving someone of that name in Cincinnati. Another possible explanation is that they have the wrong car and this is a crazy coincidence. All I know is I will be visiting several Floyd Collins sites when I go to the area next month.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009


My husband and I visited Paint Creek State Park over the weekend to take some photos for my book. We headed down to the spillway area, which is my favorite part of the park. There were some early fishermen, some in waders in the cold water. We saw a crow pluck a fish from the rapids. There were signs of life all around--spring begins tomorrow! See this sprout poking up through the dead leaves of fall and winter?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Seip Mound

Visited for a book chapter.
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Saturday, March 14, 2009


Our friends' sleepy puppy, Lucy.

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Friday, March 6, 2009

Butt Drugs

On a recent trip to Indiana, I spotted this drugstore. How could I not look twice, much less skip taking a photo?

I know it's a bit immature, but in my defense, the company embraces the unusual name. And why not? A little self-deprecation never hurt anyone. If I'm ever in the area again, I'm getting a t-shirt.

This reminds me of a gas station we used to pass with my mom on visits to my grandma. For a long time, it was called Pee-Pee Gas. This site makes it seem like that's still the name, but I haven't seen a sign for years. "Pee-pee" was a phrase we were discouraged from saying as children, but that was the one time it was acceptable. Ah, the innocence of youth.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Love Van

I spotted this van when I walked to the corner for lunch. On the side, it said:

"The Greatest Thing You Will Ever Learn, Is Just to love, and Be Loved in Return"

I love when people paint and/or glue things to vehicles, or when people drive unusual vehicles. I once saw a car in Indiana somewhere, out near the casinos, that had hundreds of little plastic toys glued to it. There used to be a man in my college town who drove a hearse and wore a top hat everywhere he went. Also in my college town...there was an older gray car with messages written all over it in Sharpie Marker...about the government, religion and anything else he seemed to be paranoid about.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cave Graffiti

Found this graffiti during a tour of Marengo Cave. Most of it seemed old, though some was newer and therefore puzzling since the only way in is on a guided group tour.

I like the way "Oscar" is scrawled. Not that I condone graffiti, but it looks like it was long enough ago to be forgivable. Has that turn-of-the century look to it.

Caves are so delicate and beautiful that I can't imagine doing this now.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Not our Scavenger Hunt

When does curious become nosy?

My husband and I asked ourselves that question on Valentine's Day when we were visiting Big Bone Lick in Kentucky. We had just come from Rabbit Hash in a strange frame of mind, given the unusual characteristics of that small hamlet. On a whim, instead of walking to see the bison herd as we usually do when visiting there, we headed down to the sulphur spring.

After a few wrong turns, we finally smelled, and then saw, the spring. We took some photos and marveled at the briny bubbles coming up from the ground. My husband notices small details, whereas I take in overall impressions, so it was no surprise when he's the one who saw the red rose in the grass right off the trail.

Upon closer inspection, we discovered it had a note wound tightly around the stem and tied with a piece of blue ribbon.

Nobody else was in the parking lot or on the trail, so we decided to take a peek.

The note read:

3.) Jeez 'o peet man!!! Took you long enough to get here!
Pick up the pace!! These flowers DO die you know! Go down*****
and find my sign on the right! Get yourself a flower!

"Don't let my client see you!"

I've omitted the street name in the interest of letting the person who set up this scavenger hunt have some privacy, especially if the next rose was hidden in a location where they work. We put it back exactly as we found it.

We briefly entertained the idea of staying one step ahead of the intended person and drove down the road out of curiosity, but eventually abandoned the hunt when we came to the conclusion this was between two lovers and nothing more. We've seen to many adventure movies.

What would you have done?

Friday, February 13, 2009


This post is a little late, but I just uploaded this photo from my phone.

On Inauguration Day, some coworkers and I gathered in a conference room to work while we tuned in.

I thought this picture was funny...if you look closely, you'll notice we are all live-tweeting. Dorks.

Early Valentine's Day

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