27 December 2013

Dec 2013 OHIO East Liberty 1 - O-HI-O

Traveling to East Liberty, Ohio, today to visit Mike's sister and hubby, Kathy and Jim. About a 9:30am departure with a stop in Ann Arbor for lunch. Roads were busy but dry, and weather clear. It finally looks like winter. Trees are completely bare except for a few dry brown leaves.

Got to A2 about 11:30am. First stop, the Medicine Shoppe. Then lunch at Seva, our favorite veggie restaurant. Started with a roasted tomato soup. Then Mike ordered a squash stuffed burrito smothered in cheese and I ordered pad thai noodles. Mine was un-typically too hot, so we switched and both were still happy.

After that we headed south on US-23 through Toledo and then Findlay, Ohio, dubbed Flag City USA. Traffic quite crowded along this corridor and we were happy when we merged onto I-75. At that intersection is a huge golden mosque dome with two towers that look like rockets on each side. Seems out of place on the horizon in this part of the world. Beautiful though.

No snow whatsoever, either on the ground or falling down, until just after the I-75 on-ramp. At that point we saw the first signs of snow on the ground, on cars, piles along the side of the road from plowing, hanging off of trees and brush, and finally trickling down from the sky. The deeper we got into Ohio, the deeper the snow. Still clean and white and very pretty. Our first snow of significance this winter. 

Just before getting to K&J's home we pass near the highest elevation spot in Bellefountaine, Ohio. Per the Garmin, we hit 1411 feet in altitude, but the nearby highest spot is actually Campbell Hill at 1550 feet. Not high per mountain standards, but a fun fact. There are also very few natural lakes in Ohio. The closest lake of note to J&K's is Indian Lake which is man-made. Kath camps there on occasion.
Got down to K&J's about 3:30pm. Travel time was 4:26 hours and mileage was 258 today. We lugged our stuff in and settled down in the sun room. They built this addition to their home last spring. It has floor to ceiling windows on all sides, heated for year-round use, very comfortable, and with a lovely view of their 8.2 acre "ranch-ette." Their home sits atop a hill with a rolling terrace going down to a creek at the back of their property. Soooo peaceful there!

K&J are animal "enthusiasts" shall we say. They have a cat named Widget. About 12 years ago Mike rescued her as a  feral kitten from a hidey hole at the San Francisco Airport. We already had four cats, so Kathy adopted Widget. I flew her from S.F. to Michigan (where K&J lived at that time) and although Widgie is a bit feisty, they all live happily. Although in every photo I have ever taken of Widgie, she is scowling. 

They have had many cats, dogs and other animals over the years, all of which were rescues. Currently, they have a border collie named Jip, a cockatoo named Spooky, an African gray timneh named Tim, and four chickens (they have names, but I'm not sure who's who). They also have aquariums and terrariums, but I'll talk about that tomorrow.

A couple of years ago Jim had converted an old storage shed into a luxury chicken coop. Kath invited us down to go chicken pickin'. We drove to a nearby town where a business sold baby chicks to farmers. We picked out nine chicks to start Kath's flock. They had to be raised in an indoor heated environment to start, but soon were running around their private fenced in scratch yard. Now we always get farm fresh eggs when we visit or K&J come our way.

That night we planned to have dinner in the nearby town of Urbana, normally a 30 minute trip max. But it had continued to snow and roads looked pretty bad for travel. The great debate--go or not go. We are all adventurous and definitely up for a good meal, so "go" was the decision. We were so glad we went, but it was a treacherous drive there. Back roads, after dark, at least one accident detoured our journey, lots of wet sleety snow on the windshield, roads unplowed. It was a challenge and double the normal travel time.

On route, there was a second great debate between the guys in the front seat and the gals in the back as to whether this outing was a wise and safe decision, but when we arrived at Cafe Paradiso, we all agreed it was worth it.

We started with a brushetta plate and steamed mussel appetizers and wine and cocktails. Main dishes included cioppino, angel hair pasta margarita, sausage tortellini, and chicken picatta. There were soups and salads and warm Italian bread with herbed oil for dipping. Everything was delish. No room for dessert though.

The placed was packed with families, quiet romantic tryst duos, a party of six celebrating a birthday. These six all wore colorful tissue paper jester hats they had produced from popper toys. Both the owner and his wife stopped by several times to see if all was well and it was. I felt like we were in a trattoria in Italy.

Stuffed and sassy we journeyed back out into the snow. Fortunately the snow plows and salt trucks had been busy while we leisurely ate. The trip home was not nearly as treacherous and quite a bit quicker. Back home we had a few more cocktails and more conversation and an early go-ta-bed.

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