29 October 2007

Churchill Downs

We went to our first "real" horse races at Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY. I say, first "real" horse races because we went to what we thought were horse races at Scioto Downs near Columbus back in August where they had open harness racing. I guess this is "real" horse racing as well, but not what we were expecting.

Anyway, Churchill Downs is where they have the Kentucky Derby in May. The weather was perfect and it was a good day. We found a parking spot where we didn't have to pay $10 for parking and someone gave us free tickets. So we got to get in for nothing. We also got to place our first bet on horse racing. Nicole put down $2 (minimum bet allowed) on #4. Since we didn't know anything about horse race betting, she asked the attendant who to bet on and she placed it on the favored horse to win (not knowing about the 57 other betting options available). The betting made the experience much more exciting, especially since "our" pick was in second place and almost pulled into first at the end. If our horse had won, we would have went away with 36 Washingtons. But alas, we went away losers.

The facilities were beautiful and extravagant. It felt like we were in a James Bond movie or something. Attendees ranged from the typical red-neck all the way up to people "dressed to the nines" sporting Chanel, Coach, Armani, etc. Here are some pictures of some people who were somewhere in between...

Louisville Zoo Halloween Party

Billed as "the World's Largest Halloween Party," the Louisville Zoo puts on a little Trick-or-Treat thing for kids 11 and under (Rebekkah just made it...wow is she getting old!). There were no animal exhibits and thankfully, since we were members of a reciprocal zoo, we got in free. Anyway, they herded the people through a predetermined paths to visit several dozen themed booths that handed out candy. To Nicole's delight, it was raining. Actually, it was a very light sprinkle and it was not really all that cold. So overall, the experience was a good one. Here are some pictures for your enjoyment.

Louisville Slugger Museum

We went and visited the Upchurches again this last weekend. On this visit, we decided that we better visit the Louisville Slugger Museum. We didn't go last time because the only time free was on a Sunday and they had no bat production on Sundays. So we took the tour this time and it was relatively interesting, though not something I'd say is a "must do." It was pretty cool how they can create a bat with a lathe in about 30 seconds. Of course, that doesn't include the sanding, staining, etc.

Anyway, here are some pictures for your enjoyment.

24 October 2007

Rebekkah's 11th Birthday

For Rebekkah's birthday, we planned on going to dinner at Red Lobster at her request. Unfortunately, there was 30 minute wait on a Tuesday night. We have no idea why there was such a wait. Nevertheless, we and the Milmores, who came to celebrate Rebekkah's birthday with us, decided that was too much of a wait so we decided to go to the Old Canal Smokehouse. We at lots of good food and Rebekkah opened her presents. It was a fun time for all.

Circleville Pumpkin Show

This last weekend we went to the Circleville Pumpkin Show which is about 45 minutes North from where we live (about 15 minutes South of Columbus). We had heard big things about this festival but we were not really all that impressed even though there were tons of people there. In fact, according to Wikipedia (shown on signs all around the festival), the Circleville Pumpkin Show has been billed as The Greatest Free Show On Earth. But there really just wasn't much to see. After you saw the giant 1500 lb pumpkins and the 14 ft wide pumpkin pie that was it. What it seemed to be mostly about was food. There was an obscene amount of food booths. We had Gyros while the kids just had junk. It was fantastic.

We also stayed to watch a pie eating contest for kids under 14. Micah wanted to do the boys contest but unfortunately (fortunately in his parents opinion) was not picked. I almost hurled about 2 or 3 times while watching the girls. The rules were that you had to clean out all of the pumpkin pie filling and eat the outer crust and you could not put your hands above the outside of the plate (i.e., you could not use your fingers to assist in your pie eating).

There were also some rides. We got the kids a few tickets so that they could ride the carousel and do the fun house. After an elephant ear we were ready to go. All in all it was a fun family day, but I would not go back. There was just too many people there and not much to see. Anyway, here are some pictures...

20 October 2007

Ohio Renaissance Festival

Last Sunday we spent all day at the Ohio Renaissance Festival. It was a beautiful October day of about 80F. When I saw it I thought it might be cheesy but it was not a bit. We enjoyed it so much that we wished we had found it sooner.

The festival meets every weekend for 2 mos. It happens at a re-created 30-acre medieval village with shops, shows, games, and music all throughout the village in Harveysville, OH (about an hour from Cincinnati).

We went to several of the shows: Saffron Finch, Pirate Stunt Show, Jousting, and the Swordsmen. Our favorite was Saffron Finch who was sort of like a jester. Nicole volunteered for one of his acts which was to make a bologna sandwich with his feet. He made it and she actually ate it! We have a video of it but it was much too large to put on the site.

I got volunteered to go up front for the Swordsmen show which was two funny guys Kirk and Guido who did tricks with swords and told jokes. They were teaching me to do a manly walk to woo my woman. At the end we were told to get our women and kiss them.

Micah got to try on a helmet at one of the shops. This was just one of many shops to look at in the village.

There was also a real full armor joust. Unfortunately no one got knocked off of their horse and there were no sword, axe, mace, etc. fights. The jousting was not quite as cool as I thought it would be but it was fun to watch nonetheless.

16 October 2007

Holmes County - Visiting the Amish

Last Saturday we decided to visit our Amish neighbors three hours to the north in Holmes County. Some of the towns we visited/passed through were Millersburg, Berlin, Walnut Creek, and Charm.

The first place we stopped at was Behalt the Amish & Mennonite Heritage Center in Berlin. We were planning on seeing the cyclorama but decided against it after thinking about it a bit. Instead we looked at the bookstore and looked at and tried on some Amish hats and clothing.

The second place that we found on a brochure we picked up at Behalt was Yoder's Amish Home near Walnut Creek. This was an Amish farm that is now owned by "English" (i.e., non-Amish) who were raised Amish (now they are Methodists). They renovated the home and now give tours of the home. This was exactly what we were hoping to see in Lancaster, PA but did not find. It gave a tremendous introduction to Amish home life.

We decided to do the whole package deal which included the house and school tour and a buggy ride (it was only $32 for the whole family; totally worth it in my opinion). At the end of the house tour we got to visit the bakery. They had some really tasty cookies and some things called "Fry Pies" that were like those hand size fruit pies you get in the store that come individually wrapped only about 50 times better...mmmmmm!

The buggy ride was given by an Amish man who took our picture after our short ride. Nicole was scared the entire time and felt like she was going to fall out of the carriage. After this I concluded that she would not make a very good Amish.

Before we left, we roamed around the barn and checked out the animals. Boy did that place wreek like nobody's business! It was here that we saw the most hilarious thing: a horse itching its hiney on the barbed wire fence. The video just does not do it justice because I got it after it was pretty much done. The picture does a better job of showing it.

After visiting the Amish home we stopped at the Amish Flea Market in Walnut Creek. We could not figure out why they called it an "Amish" flea market since there were really very few Amish and most of the stuff was just junk and not Amish paraphernalia. Needless to say we didn't stay there very long. Then we stopped on the street shops and Nicole picked up a picnic basket for a mere $52 (please note the sarcasm there).

Our final stop was at a cheese factory called Guggisberg Cheese. Oddly, we didn't buy any cheese but instead bought a deck of Dutch Blitz and some snacks. We ate dinner right across the street at a very charming Amish/Swiss/Austrian restaurant called "Chalet in the Valley." I had the Berner Plate while listening to Edelweiss (the kids had spaghetti and Nicole had miscellaneous items). Very good end to a very fun day!

Mohican Valley Trail - Bridge of Dreams

On our trip to Hershey, Pennsylvania, after our visit to Lancaster, we learned that just 3 short hours away was the largest community of Amish on the planet in Holmes County. So we decided to take a drive north to once again spy a look at people who seem a bit odd to us.

On our way there, we spotted a stop along the side of the road called the Mohican Valley Trail. This trail includes a beautiful view of the Mohican River from the 370 foot long Bridge of Dreams. This covered bridge was built by local citizens on an old train bridge and is supposedly the longest in Ohio and the second longest in the country.

While there, some random trail riders passed by on horseback and Nicole hit them up to take our kids for a quick spin around on their horses. So on our kids jumped on the horse and took a turn for about 5 minutes. The kids had a fun time and we got some good pictures and video. It was a nice 30 minute break after two hours of driving.