Strawberries, Red Barns and Courthouse

June 27, 2016 

Another fun day with my sister Janice as we drove over into Wood County and then on several county roads, each one seemingly more narrow and further out in the sticks until we reached our destination of King’s Berries. This out of the way location is a U-Pick strawberry patch - with a twist.

Instead of how we picked strawberries in our family garden, hunched over, bent over, hunkered down, squatting to get at the ripe red morsels (my back aches thinking of that), this operation is designed to save a person’s back and legs with an ingenious way of growing the berries. As can be seen in the photos, all the plants are in potted styrofoam pots that are then stacked atop each other so that they grow off the ground and the berries are then much more easily accessible to the pickers. The poles are equipped with a drip watering system that flows down over all the pots giving each adequate moisture. At the base of the poles is another container in which they have planted lettuce, thus conserving and using all the water that drips down past the berry plants. Also, instead of “picking” the strawberries, we were given small snip scissors and cut the berries at the stem. This also saves on the plants being pulled and inadvertently pulling off new buds and unripened berries. 

We were the only two picking at the time we were there, plus the lady who oversaw the operation and who weighed our picks to arrive at the price for our little bit of effort. They also sell some craft items, homemake jams and jellies, and other little gifts.

They are open Monday, Wednesday and Saturdays and have a Facebook page for those who might like more information.

While it was a great way to pick strawberries and I enjoyed this new way of doing so, it was getting warmer and warmer with rising humidity. For the half hour or so that we were there, I was getting a bit moist.

Back into Janice’s nice air conditioned van and off to parts unknown. Other than the berry picking we had no specific plans and just kept driving west, past Bowling Green and on to Grand Rapids, Ohio. This small uniquely Midwestern village is well preserved with its' 19th century downtown buildings and the restored and maintained mule towpath for pulling canal barges down the Miami & Erie Canal along the Maumee River. While it would have been fun to pretend I was back in the 1800’s with a ride in a canal boat, the operation is closed on Mondays. 

As we found, most of the restaurants in the quaint little town are closed on Mondays. Not yet noon we opted to just meander through the countryside, mostly on county and secondary roads into yet another county and chose to visit Napoleon, Ohio for a lunch spot. Although I grew up here in Northwest Ohio, I can’t remember ever visiting the town, but upon entering the downtown, one can’t but be impressed with the stately 1800’s courthouse for Huron County. It is well maintained and preserved as is the rest of the downtown.


On our return eastward back to the Kline farm we followed a fair distance along the rain swollen Maumee River, then along the Portage River through Pemberville and then Woodville, Ohio before arriving back to the farm, whereupon I set about trimming the ends off my container of strawberries. 

Not having time to make shortbread, a pie or other dessert, my sister Nancy and I drove into Gibsonburg, just for me to buy some vanilla ice cream. Back at the house I enjoyed my fresh picked strawberries atop a bowl of the ice cream. 

It was delicious…

A unique red barn in Huron County, Ohio

Readers may note I’ve not mentioned the progress with the overdrive installation on my 1934 Pontiac, Phiona. I have received several updates over the past 11 days and am happy to report that the overdrive device has been installed on the driveshaft and that, with the rear end, should be completed tomorrow, Tuesday. I am figuring that if all goes well, we will drive down to Canal Winchester on Wednesday or Thursday to retrieve her and drive the car back here to the farm. And, thankfully, the next several days weather forecast is for cooler temperatures.

Amber Waves of Grain

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Greetings and salutations from the farmlands of Northwest Ohio.

Today I took my truck to Bowling Green, Ohio to have the blower motor replaced, as it had expired shortly after arriving in Ohio. Thankfully, it did not blow its’ last breath while we were driving across country. And, FOR SURE, I am not going to be driving back into the hellish weather in Phoenix, or elsewhere across the country, without cool A/C breezes blowing inside the truck.

On the drive there, I couldnt help but notice the ripening wheat fields and the pastoral views along the way. Additionally, I went into our village of Gibsonburg and visited near one of several now defunct lime factories. What once were very large, deep pits from which the lime was extracted are now small lakes used for recreation. The one I visited, Siverrock, is a fishing spot, even with a small dock from which to launch small fishing craft.

It was hard to believe that what was once a huge, dry pit in my younger days has now filled with natural spring water and has taken on a special “natural” beauty.

The “hill” across the water is the remnants of the tailings after processing the lime. 

The now abandoned factory - nature reclaiming the surrounding landscape.

Bucolic scenes of fields after fields of ripening wheat.

Not to be forgotten, the deep green of corn fields.

Along a lonely county road.

Additionally, views of the Portage River from the deck of an iron span bridge:

Scenes like these quiet my soul and help me put aside all the recent, bad news. 

Oh beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain… for all the violent news we hear, try to remember that good exists in the world and beauty abounds around every bend in the road. Take the time to stop, gaze out over this land and be amazed at the awesomeness and power of peace that can fill your soul. Pray for Peace. Practice patience and understanding. Strive to do no harm and live a life of gratitude for all you have.

Precious Cargo Delivered

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Our trek across country with my 1934 Pontiac in tow has ended without incidents.

Our early Monday morning departure allowed us to complete the steep climbs to Payson where we stopped at the Bee Line Cafe for breakfast. Continuing, we ascended further on the steep climb up the Mogollon Rim, which put the hardest, most nerve wracking part of the trip behind us. From the top of the Rim, which is the southern edge of the Colorado Plateau, all further climbs were of no real significance.

After my brother Tom arrived with nieces Jen, Arisa and her boyfriend Zackery, my original travel plans and route changed. Jen offered to drive my Toyota Tacoma back to Ohio with the younger two while Tom and I drove his Chevy 2500 with the car in tow. I mulled her offer for several days, then decided to take up her offer. It proved to be a good decision simply for the fact the Chevy’s back seat is cramped for two, let alone three people, which was the initial plan. Jen was able to take off ahead of Tom and I as we would drive at slower speeds. The youngsters had more room and enjoyed more comfort in my Tacoma than they would have with three of them jammed into the Chevy. They were also able to stop and explore while Tom and I drove with one intent - to get the car to Ohio safely and  in a timely manner. 

By taking my truck to Ohio, I’ll have a means of transport to drive back to Phoenix after my visit in Ohio ends toward the middle of July. All of my camping gear is packed in the truck so that I can take my time and stop at campgrounds along the way.

Above: St. Louis and Gateway Arch. 

Right: View of looming clouds as we entered Illinois after crossing the Mississippi River along I-70 from St. Louis...          

 and then nearer to Indianapolis, IN, much more ominous storm ahead, which dissipated just as we arrived in the city.

With the hot summer weather and more violent summer storms, I had already decided to curtail driving Phiona back until the Fall when I can more easily enjoy the drive without suffering through heat and possible storms.

Later in August I will fly back to Ohio and retrieve Phiona. I am thinking of taking a Southern route on the return, possibly through Owensboro, KY (where the former owners of the car live) and then possibly via US 60 which I have driven a couple of time previously. That will take me into Arizona. I have plenty of time to plan that drive.

Friday, June 17, 2016 

Now back at the Kline farm. We dropped off the Pontiac in Circleville, OH after first meeting the gentleman who sells and installs the overdrive units on cars. After explaining the mechanics of his device, he and his wife Shirley showed us their absolutely incredible collection of 31 vintage cars, most being obsolete makes. Both of them collect cars but not only cars - every Ohio license plate ever issued covers one section of a wall, hundreds of taillights (backlit) on another wall, headlight lenses, brass locks and so much more. Their collection would blow your mind. And, to top it off, they are the most engaging and down to earth folks you'd ever meet. 

The actual machine work is done by a younger man in Circleville where we took the car, unloaded it and drove it into his shop. 
They will drop the entire rear end including the driveshaft, cut the shaft, install the overdrive unit, and reassemble with the wiring and components to make it function.
The work should be done next week, and then we will drive back down the nearly 150 miles and drive Phiona back up here to Gibsonburg.

Photos of some of Lloyd Young's and Shirley’s collections:

From the frying pan into the fire

Holy Smokes, it is HOT, HOT, HOT in Phoenix!

It is no secret that the desert Southwest can be brutally hot in the summer, and most pleasantly mild most of the rest of the year.

For the last three days record breaking temperatures have blasted into Arizona having arrived earlier than in the past. Not that we don’t get 100° and above days by this time, but not ones this high. Friday was above 114°, Saturday, was hotter still at 115°, today was 113°.

To give some idea to those living in the North, or some other more mild climates, imagine placing a roast in your oven at 450°,  then opening the door during the baking and being hit by that intense heat. That is, more or less, what it feels like going from a nice air conditioned building or car out into this intense heat. 

Oh yeah, it is a Dry heat alright, but, Hot is HOT. I had a drip system leak to repair this morning, then had some branches that needed to be trimmed back on a tree. Thankfully I had that all done before 9 a.m., by which time it had already climbed up to near 100°. As you can imagine, it was refreshing to get back inside to cool off. 

With some of my Ohio family arriving in just a few more days, I wonder what they will say when they step out of my brother’s truck and feel the blast furnace heat slap them in the face. One day my great niece wants to go for a hike near water, so I am taking them up near Black Canyon City, about 45 miles north where we can hike to the Aqua Fria River. The water level will be shallow but will allow us to actually sit in the water, if they wish, and cool down after the hike in. It will not be as hot there, but I will need to keep a cautious eye out for them and their safety. Dehydration is too common, especially to the uninitiated to this summer climate. I’m confident that I can handle 104°, but a little nervous for them.

An overnight trip to the Grand Canyon will be part of their visit, where the heat should be more tolerable. 

Looks like it’s gonna be a long hot summer.