We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
I had never spend any time in Ohio, except passing through to other places like most people do, but I just spent a few days banging around Knox and Holmes counties, and found it to be like a larger-scale New England - but the New England of three generations ago. This area is thoroughly agricultural; most of the places are very well-maintained and the farms are well-manicured and appear prosperous; it's hillier than I expected; the autumn foliage matches that of Vermont and New Hampshire, and the towns resemble New England towns minus the old mills.
But that figures: most of the settlers of Ohio came from back east for better farming land - and found it.
It's the kind of place that feels like the real heartland of America. We were there for Parent's Weekend at Kenyon College (about which more, later) in Gambier, which is a few miles outside the fine town of Mount Vernon, Ohio and a little more than an hour or so from Columbus, if you drive 80 mph on 71 - which everybody does.
Yes, this area is Amish Country to a degree. Plenty of them moved to central Ohio and up in Holmes County they do a lot of funiture business and wood-working, along with horse-breeding, farming, and the making of jams, preserves, baskets, etc.
Most of America is appealing in its own way, but the feel of central Ohio is strong for me in the comfortable, undramatic hominess of the towns and landscapes.
I will post lots more snapshots over the next few days, as I find the time.
I live a few miles from Kenyon. I hope you will post some pictures of the magnificent Episcopal chapel on the Kenyon campus. They let St Vincent Catholic Church use it Saturday nights for those Catholic students who can't make it St Vincents. A nice touch of ecumenism in Ohio's North Central Highlands (our official geographical desgination).
This area is where I originated and left due to economic conditions of Ohio in the 80's. Holmes County, Ohio has the largest population of Amish in the US or at least did at one time. Check out the world's biggest piece of cheese in Mt. Hope!
It's a truly lovely state, Bird Dog. I've only visited it once, in Columbus for a national board meeting, but I loved it for its beauty and charm. If you ever go to Columbus, there is a wonderful restaurant called The Refectory, where my husband and I had the best Dover sole we ever ate, and an absolutely great wine.
We got to watch one of the most charming little spontaneous scenes I've ever witnessed, where one of the college students, who was sitting with his girl in the booth across from us, got down on his knees in the aisle and proposed marriage to her, engagement ring and all. She cried and said 'yes' and the diners around them blotted away a few tears too.
I'm so glad you enjoyed your visit to the Buckeye State. My wife and I live on the edge of Wayne County which is Ohio's largest agricultural county. Wayne County is also home to another large population of Amish folks.
We traded in life in Greater Cleveland for a much more rural existence a few years back and just love it. Suffice it to say there is something charming about our local drug store and grocery store having hitching posts!
You also managed to visit during peak autumn leaf color as well - what timing.
If you have a couple of hours, go south on 166 (I think) to Granville, a picture postcard of a little new England college town, you would think. Also the home of Denison University, with a beautiful campus and chapel. The chapel is supposed to be the second highest point in Ohio, although I don't know if that is true.
Or try it without the /show part, and click slideshow if it works.
Or http://www.flickr.com/photos/rhhardin and you get over 10,000 Doberman photos too, from taking a camera every time we go outside, and programming skills making it trivial to upload every photo I tick off.