Holiday lights synced to music

Christmas is a fun time of year to travel. No matter where you are, you can always find holiday light displays to enjoy. We found an extremely fancy light display at a house near Columbus, Ohio last weekend.

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Benny’s Pizza and Pub is one of central Ohio’s best

It is no secret that local non chain restaurants can often be the best places to dine. Benny’s Pizza and Pub in Marysville, Ohio is one such place. It was a classic car hop service Drive In during the 50’s, complete with one of those huge Frostop Root Beer mugs on the roof. The old mug still graces the roof, but Benny’s is now a large facility with a menu featuring pizza, ribs, subs, salads and award winning in-house smoked brisket. There are specialty drinks and 31 taps offering craft beers, some of which are from a local brewery.

You start you culinary adventure at Benny’s with a large basket of freshly popped popcorn to munch while you read the menu. Three of us were dining and it took us a while to decide on our ordering strategy. Pizzas? What toppings? Half and Half’s? Dinners? Subs? Whew! Everything looked so inviting!

Enjoy some popcorn while you read the menu

Delicious Southwest 7 layer salad

 

 

 

 

 

 

I finally decided to order the smoked brisket with the house BBQ sauce and beer battered fries for my side. Sher and our son went with the family sized pizza, half veggie and half “All the way”,  a cute name for lots of variety of toppings. We all ordered a Southwest 7 layer salad as well.

The pizza as delivered!

In a very reasonable time our food arrived. The pizza was huge (18″ according to the menu) and was literally overflowing with toppings! I was amazed at the portion size of my smoked brisket and the fries. Wow! There was enough brisket there to serve two people at least.

Brisket, fries and Texas toast. Look at how much food!

Well, Sher and our son loved the pizza. My fries were very good, hot upon arrival. The brisket was fabulous. Fork tender, you could really taste and enjoy the smoked flavor that came through even with the BBQ sauce, which was also excellent. We ended up with some take home boxes, as we didn’t finish the pizza or the brisket. Including our drinks, our tab ended up being just shy of $20 each. While not inexpensive, the pricing is worth it for the quality and quantity of food.

Benny’s Pizza and Pub is a great place to dine, and we would highly recommend it. The decor is not fancy, and there are some TV’s scattered around. Of interest is the nice collection of old photos on the walls, including some of past visits from celebrities. There is often live entertainment on the weekends, and seasonally there is outdoor dining and large crowds for the bands. Benny’s is closed on Sundays. Go to their website here for full menus and hours.

And if you like brisket, you’ll be making a mistake if you do not order it when at Benny’s!

This photo of Pete Rose and Roy Rogers together caught my eye. There were lots of old photos on the walls

The Merry-Go-Round Museum in Sandusky

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The Museum building

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The working carousel

Early "Armored Horse"

Early “Armored Horse”

Sandusky, Ohio is home to a fascinating museum devoted to the history of the carousel and merry-go-round. You will be amazed at the history of the different styles of animals used throughout the years. There are so many subtle variations within the different styles.

Another feature is a full sized and working carousel within the building. Go ahead, enjoy a ride on this marvelous piece of history. It was purchased in the 1990’s. No animals came with the ride, and museum staff lovingly added animals from the onsite collection as well as loaned animals from private collections.

The museum is in the old Post Office building and there have even been some paranormal activity reported within the museum! Here is the museum website with all information including open hours, etc.

Tom’s Ice Cream Bowl

Tom's Ice Cream Bowl

Tom’s Ice Cream Bowl

Tom’s Ice Cream Bowl is a real off the beaten path gem in Zanesville, Ohio. Sher and I were told to be sure to take in this local treat shop by Alan Cottrill, a local artist. (read about our time with him here.)

This favorite shop has been in business since 1948. The history of the establishment is interesting but the real story is that the ice cream dishes are worthy of high praise! Sher enjoyed the banana split while I ordered the hot fudge sundae. Huge portions, delicious homemade ice cream and scrumptious toppings were quickly prepared and served to us

Also offered are home made chocolate candies and a wide variety of nuts. The nuts are fresh roasted daily. In addition Tom’s has a good selection of sandwiches on their menu.

Yummy!

Yummy!

Candy/Roasted nuts counter

Candy/Roasted nuts counter

Long story short: when in Zanesville, Ohio, patronize Tom’s Ice Cream Bowl. Anyone you talk to in Zanesville will tell you the same. Here is their websiteUse it for directions and hours open. This is a terrific place for an ice cream break.

We shared conversation with Alan Cottrill, master sculptor

Alan Cottrill, left, with Maj inside Alan's Studio and Gallery

Alan Cottrill, left, with Maj inside Alan’s Studio and Gallery

As soon as we had introduced ourselves Alan immediately noticed the small leather medicine bag that I wore around my neck. Understanding proper protocol he did not ask what was carried within. I knew that Sher and I were in for a treat interacting with this gifted and learned sculptor.

Alan graciously shared with me his history that led to his work in the 3D world of sculpture. From an international multi-millionaire businessman at 30 to a starving artist in New York City at 40, he explained how each came about. Alan really lit up when he recounted the “first time” he “touched clay”. Thus the paint brush was put aside and his true genius showed itself.

Small version with photo of final scupture in place

Small version with photo of final scupture in place

Red Cloud study board

Red Cloud study board

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was fascinated to learn that Alan spends so much time learning everything he can about the person who will be featured in his work. A bust of George Armstrong Custer is displayed on the first floor of the Gallery. A duplicate is now at West Point. Alan spent a lot of research time on the photos, life and times of Custer. Then I noticed a large board on an easel with mutiple photos and a book about Red Cloud, the famed Ogala Souix War leader. Thus I was able to see the beginings of what will in the future be another fine sculpture by Alan Cottrill.

His Gallery in Zanesville, Ohio is filled with hundreds of his works. His early paintings are also displayed. He shared that his favorite works are the two sarcophagi for his wife and himself. His children’s faces adorn the sides of each, and never will you see a more poignant depiction of love of spouse and family.

A trip to Zanesville is in order for anyone who loves art. This is the Gallery website.

The Cottrill sarcophagi

The Cottrill sarcophagi

We meet the nicest people while traveling

Rachael removing the molds

Rachael removing the molds

We’ve met the nicest people on our travels through the United States. On Monday we were at the Alan Cottrill Sculpture Studio and Gallery. This is located in Zanesville, Ohio and we almost passed by this town as we were traveling on Interstate 70.

Rachael Girton has been working at the Alan Cottrill Studio and Gallery for almost 8 years. She has been working for Mr. Cottrill since high school. She was in a government sponsered program for disabled teens who might have trouble finding a job as an adult. Rachele has type 1 Diabetes which is the most serious form of diabetes.

 

 

She started working at the Gallery while in high school and was such a valued employee that she has been there for almost 8 years.

Maj was fascinated with the process

Maj was fascinated with the process

Abe revealed! The molds will be used for the "lost wax" process

Abe revealed! The molds will be used for the “lost wax” process

She is a totally delightful person and we were so happy to meet her. She led us through the process of removing the molds from a bust of Abe Lincoln. It was fascinating watching her carefully removing the two mold pieces. Maj was there watching her every move!

Be sure to visit Alan Cotrill’s website here to see more of Alan’s remarkable works.

We are in Zanesville

Today we are in Zanesville, Ohio. We are on our way to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and saw signs for the visitors center for Muskingum Co., so we stopped and it is a pretty neat place. I’m really glad we stopped because we found out where the big Longaberger Basket is. The people at the welcome center are so helpful. They told us other places to see as we travel in Muskingum County. We are going to visit Alan Cottrill Sculpture and Gallery now. I wish it would stop raining so we could pictures of the sculptures he has along the street. Hopefully we will get some and have them up tonight.

Melt Bar and Grilled is not your mother’s grilled cheese

We did not have to wait in mid afternoon.

We did not have to wait in mid afternoon.

When our son and daughter-in-law suggested we go to Melt Bar and Grilled in Columbus, Ohio, I was a little skeptical. A grilled cheese restaurant? Little did I know how surprised (and satisfied) Sher and I would be after dining at this unique eatery.

Grilled cheese? Yes. On thick Texas toast. Any cheese you want. Then things get interesting, because you then pick what else goes onto the sandwich. For example, Mom’s Meatloaf Diner comes with a slab of meatloaf and redskin garlic mashed taters. Other culinary delights cover most menu possibilities with pork, beef, chicken, fish and of course vegetarian/vegan.

Each sandwich comes with a huge order of fresh cut fries. You can order either a whole or half size of the sandwich of choice. The half size will fill you up. The whole order size will leave you pleasantly stuffed. Our waiter confessed that even though great desserts are offered most patrons are too full to order any dessert.

Unique design behind the register

Unique design behind the register

My "Backyard BBQ" with beef and thick cut onion rings and cheddar cheese. Tasty!

My “Backyard BBQ” with beef and thick cut onion rings and cheddar cheese. Tasty!

Craft beers are available from the bar. Any combination of sandwich fixins are available to order. Menu items change all the time, according to our waiter. This is a fun place to eat unique and tasty food for reasonable prices. Melt Bar and Grilled started in the Cleveland area in 2006 and now have locations scattered around Ohio. Check out the Melt Bar and Grilled website for all kinds of info including locations and hours for all the Ohio locations.

Sher and I give this eatery a solid five stars. We did not have to wait as we went at an off hour. Our son said there the place is usually packed. Go eat at one, expect a busy place but the wait will be worth it.

Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Columbus Ohio

One of the beautiful butterflies

One of the beautiful butterflies

The Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Columbus, Ohio is a most remarkable facility. Nestled in the beauty of the Franklin Park, the Conservatory houses a wide varitey of fauna from all over the world. Different ecosystems are represented in different “rooms” within the massive structure.

Himalayan Mountain fauna is found in one of the rooms. You can move from the Himalayan Mountains through a door and enjoy desert plants in yet another room, Man made stone outcroppings set the foundation for all of the plants on display. Waterfalls and other water features add to the ambience of the displays.

 

Of special interest is the tropical rain forest room that also serves as a home to hundreds of butterflies. Bred on site, the different species of butterflies are released several times during the week by staff members. During these informative release shows the staff discusses the life cycles and traits of each butterfly.

Strange cacti in the desert hall

Strange cacti in the desert hall

Brilliant color and striking bloom

Brilliant color and striking bloom

Parts of the facility was under renovation when we visitied with our granddaughter, however the construction did not interfere with our enjoyment of the many plants and ecosystems represented.

Make sure to plan a visit to the Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Columbus. All pertainent information is on their website here.

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You never know what you’ll see

This “modified” Class C was set up across from us at a show this summer. Wow. The fellow who drives this did all the artwork/painting himself. He is from Canada and sets up at shows all across the country. You might see him at a festival some time. His rig is hard to miss!

The whole rig is covered in paintings. The more you look, the more you see!

The whole rig is covered in paintings. The more you look, the more you see!