Posts Tagged ‘Ohio’

New Adventure Thrills in Hocking Hills, Ohio

Wednesday September 17, 2014 at 10:10 AM | 0 Comments

Fly like Superman across the river down below

Fly like Superman across the river down below

Recently, I saw the woods and the river in the Hocking Hills region of Ohio from a whole different angle–flying like Superman. At the Hocking Hills Canopy Tours Adventure, the SuperZip is quarter of a mile zipline that begins at the top of an 85 ft. tower and ends across the Hocking River where strapping young men await your arrival. It’s their job to help you get earth bound once you stop.

The swift journey–an up to 50 mph speed, is a blast. I did it twice and managed to capture the flights of some of my traveling companions.

The end of the line of the SuperZip

The end of the line of the SuperZip

One of the terrific things about this zipline is that there’s the thrill of speed and height without the stomach drop that comes with a roller coaster ride. Plus it’s eco-friendly. Nothing but pulleys, zipline cable and the laws of physics at work.

The SuperZip is also a perfect thrill for anyone who doesn’t have the couple hours it takes to go through the full Hocking Hills Canopy Tour–and it’s cheaper. One trip on the SuperZip is $30. Two trips cost $45 and one more is $55.

Segway trip past folks in flight

Segway trip past folks in flight

Because the SuperZip doesn’t require reservations, this way to tour Hocking Hills can be a spur of the moment decision. It can also be paired with a canoe trip from nearby Logan. It’s possible to paddle up the river, take time out for a SuperZip trip or two and then resume your river travel.

For those afraid of heights, or just wanting a from the ground view, Hocking Hills Canopy Tours has added another adventure–the Off-road Segway tour.

Wildflowers and butterflies abound

Wildflowers and butterflies abound

I tried that too and give that trip along trails mowed through sections of the property a thumbs up as well.  At first, as I almost ran over the guide, I wondered if I would ever get the  hang of Segway travel.  Fortunately, he was patient and taught me well. After a session of practicing,  I was able to navigate hills and turns without any trouble.

The guide did warn us a few times that Segways can be dangerous, particularly if one isn’t paying attention or getting too cocky. For anyone who has water skied, cross-country skied or skated before the movement felt similar. A helpful hint is to remember is that you’re the boss. Don’t let the Segway take over. If you step off by accident, let go–the thing will stop.

As I rode along on my Segway, following the guide who pointed out details about the area and woods, I was relaxed enough to enjoy the scenery.

Because  the Hocking Hills Canopy Tour Segways don’t go over 12 miles an hour, I wasn’t speeding by the butterflies flitting among the purple thistles and golden rod.

A way to enjoy the woods

Enjoying the woods in Ohio

For sections of the off-road trip that wound through woods, across fields, and up and down hills, we skirted by part of the “X- TREME”  zipline, a series of 11 ziplines that tower above the ground with a birds eye view of some of Ohio’s prettiest landscape. It was fun watching folks fly by overhead as I moved along on my own adventure.

If you go, make reservations soon for the Hocking Hills Canopy Tour if that’s your aim. Fall foliage season is on its way. Again, the SuperZip does not require reservations. The Off-Road Segway tour has only been in operation for 3 months. Reservations are required for that as well.

By the way, the Off-Road Segway tour is for people 14 and older. Check Hocking Hills Canopy Tours website for other age and size regulations.

If you go: Hocking Hills Canopy Tour is about 45 minutes south of Columbus, Ohio. There is a snack bar, gift shop and places to picnic.

Hocking Hills Canopy Tours
10714 Jackson Street
Rockbridge, Ohio 43149


I was a guest at Hocking Hills Canopy Tours for research purposes.

Photos and Post courtesy of Jamie Rhein, member of Midwest Travel Writers Association


James Thurber Country in Columbus, Ohio

Wednesday December 11, 2013 at 6:06 AM | 4 Comments

James Thurber's college years home

James Thurber’s college years home

Which high schooler reading James Thurber’s short story, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” didn’t dream of having a secret life? I know I did. Happily, what I envisioned when I doodled in the margins of math papers has come to pass. I am a traveler. In my travels, I’ve had the pleasure of learning more about James Thurber’s genius as a social commentator and humorist through his connection to Columbus, Ohio.

James Thurber was born in Columbus on December 8, 1894 and now enjoys status as one of the city’s favorite sons. Thanks to a dedicated, enamored with James Thurber following of staff and volunteers at the Thurber House Museum and Thurber Center, Thurber has a firm footing in Columbus’s must see landscape.

The Thurber House at 77 Jefferson Ave. is at the edge of  Columbus’s downtown. The tree-lined street divided by a picturesque boulevard evokes thoughts of Thurber’s era when people took Sunday strolls, even though, most of the Victorian-style red brick, once private homes, now house businesses and non-profit organizations. Thurber’s home on the left, towards the end of the boulevard, looks just like it did when Thurber lived there.  The house is both a house museum that showcases James Thurber’s legacy, and a literary power house that, in conjunction with the Thurber Center located next door, promotes literary excellence.

Poet and author Charlene Fix at the last of 2013's Literary Picnics

Poet and author Charlene Fix at a Literary Picnic

The literary power house role of the Thurber House Museum and Center starts with the tidy side yard by James Thurber’s former home. Its wrought iron fence provides the boundary for the Literary Picnics that take place each summer.  The Literary Picnics feature renowned Ohio authors who read their works from the house’s back porch to a rapt audience of picnikers who bring their own food or order a gourmet box meal ahead of time.

At other times author readings are held either at the Thurber Center or at other Columbus venues. Both local and nationally known authors are featured. The mix is a literary banquet that happens throughout the year. Last month, I delighted in Tom Barlow’s reading of one of his short stories from his newly published collection Welcome to the Goat Rodeo.

Self guided tours of the Thurber House are daily from 1–4 p.m. These tours are free. Guided tours are on Sundays for $4 for adults and $2 for students and seniors.

Formerly The Great Southern Hotel where Thurber visited

Formerly The Great Southern Hotel where Thurber visited

For more James Thurber travel (and food and libations), head to the Westin Columbus Hotel (formerly The Great Southern) 310 South High St. 614-228-3800. Here, James Thurber would visit his mother and brother, Robert, who lived at the hotel from the mid 1940’s to 1950’s.  In Thurber’s, the hotel’s bar/restaurant you can take in framed prints of James Thurber’s cartoons while enjoying the ambiance and offerings of this AAA 4-Diamond hotel that first opened in 1897.

At The Ohio State University, Thurber’s alma mater, Thurber Theatre is located in The Drake Performance and Event Center. The theatre is named for Thurber who began his time at OSU in 1913 and served as a staff member of The Lantern, the university’s paper.

James Thurber's grave at Green Lawn Cemetery

James Thurber’s grave at Green Lawn Cemetery

Although James Thurber did not live in Columbus as an adult, his grave is in Columbus’s historic Green Lawn Cemetery. Thurber died November 2, 1961. The cemetery, founded in 1848, was designed to serve as a park as well as a cemetery and is known for its birdwatching opportunities, as well as its notable residents.

For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter and follow @ThurberHouse on Twitter.

Post courtesy of Jamie Rhein of Midwest Travel Writers Association. Photo of Charlene Fix, courtesy of Jamie Rhein. Other photos courtesy of The Thurber House and Westin Columbus.

Haunted Prison Tours: Three historic places of frightful fun

Monday October 21, 2013 at 11:11 AM | 2 Comments

Inside Ohio State Reformatory Cell Block One

Inside Ohio State Reformatory Cell Block One

The Ohio State  Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio is a creepy edifice of Victorian Gothic, Richardson Romanesque and Queen Anne  loveliness– even on a sunny day. Opened in 1896, its architecture was meant to inspire Ohio’s young bad boy men to reform themselves by turning to a more spiritual life. These days, come Halloween season, the prison’s creepiness sets the stage for another type of spirit–the ghostly, ghoulish and zombie-with-a-chainsaw kind.

The Haunted Prison Experience–each Thursday-Saturday through Nov. 2, is a fright fest guarantee. Last year, I had the pleasure of gripping a friends arm and shrieking my way up and down dark stairways,  around dark corners and past the peeling paint of  shadowy rows of cells that reached four stories high, anticipating the next time a ghoulish type either chased me with a chain saw or whispered in my ear, “I’m still here.” At each turn, there was a staged surprise–coffins where the dead person wasn’t quite dead, a burning car that blared its horn when we passed, a lightening flash and thunder crash that unexpectedly went off–that sort of thing. Creepily delicious.

Chainsaw carrying creepy guy

Chainsaw carrying creepy guy

Although, The Haunted Prison Experience is a show staged by actors, The Ohio State Reformatory is thought to be haunted. Ghost hunts are possible during other times of the year. The prison, closed in 1990, is also the prison that was used for the main setting of the movie “The Shawshank Redemption.”

As a note, no one under 13 is allowed in the Haunted Prison Experience. Those who are under 13 can see the prison from May 1 to Sept. 1 during the prison’s regular tour season.

Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary, one of the temporary homes of bad boy Al Capone, is another Gothic-style prison that has crumbled into perfection to provide a haunted Halloween backdrop.  Terror Behind the Walls at Eastern State Penitentiary, through Nov. 9, offers six Hollywood-like sets in various parts of the prison that scare and thrill due to actors trained to know how to up the fright factor depending upon the visitor.  Younger kids with parents get a toned down version unless they seem up for more. It’s recommended that kids 7-12 come during Family Night on Sundays. Those under 18 who tour without a parent or guardian need to have a signed waiver form.

Terror Behind Walls at the Eastern State Penitentiary

Terror Behind Walls at the Eastern State Penitentiary

Insider Tip: Buy tickets online. They are cheaper and you shouldn’t have more than a 30 minute wait once you arrive.

West Virginia Penitentiary in Moundsville, another Gothic architectural style prison of creepy proportions, was opened in 1876 and closed in 1995. Back in the day, its active death row  sent almost 100 men to the electric chair or the gallows. The result of this activity has placed the West Virginia Penitentiary at the top of the most haunted places list.

Tours here are not Halloween specific and are April through November. For the creepiest experience, take the Twilight Tour, daily from 7-10 p.m.– or the Ghost Adventures on Saturday nights. There is an age constraint for each. Only children 12 and over can do the Twilight Tour. Those under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Ghost Adventures has an 18 or over requirement. The younger crowd can go on a regular daily tour. The West Virginia Penitentiary is closed on Mondays and holidays.

Post courtesy of Jamie Rhein, member of Midwest Travel Writers Association; Ohio State Reformatory photo courtesy of Mansfield/Richland County CVB; creepy guy photo courtesy of Jamie Rhein; and Terror Behind Walls photo courtesy of Eastern State Penitentiary.

Disclosure: My tour of the Ohio State Reformatory was courtesy of Mansfield/Richland County CVB, but the views are my own.