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Friday, July 10, 2009

Ohio truly IS the heart of it all...

Photo credit: DBR26

I don't know if it's evident anywhere on this blog but I am originally from Ohio. I was born in Louisiana as my dad was in the military when I was born, but on both sides of my family, we are from Ohio, have been since 1813. I was raised in Ohio from the time I was less than 2 years old, leaving for the Air Force when I was 18, coming back when my husband retired from the Air Force in 1998. The ONLY reason I'm not in Ohio now is my husband having to take a job transfer to Arizona. Believe me when I tell you, as nice as Arizona is, it ain't Ohio.

Recently, my loyalty to my home state was called into question and I still feel the nee to set the record straight. I might live in other places but Ohio is forever my home and as it says in my bio, I am FOREVER a Buckeye. Always have been, always will be, I own Ohio State University clothing, have the stickers on my car, wear it with pride and make no apologies for doing so.

As a travel writer, I can say there are sexier places to write about like Cabo San Lucas in Mexico, Hawaii or Puerto Rico, but there is no place BETTER to write about than Ohio.

Ohio has much to lend itself to the perfect vacation. Stretching from the Ohio River to the south, Lake Erie to the north, and tons of water all points in between, there's a huge amount of water sports available there. Whether it's jet-skiing, water skiing, boating, tubing down a river or just laying on an air mattress in one of many, many lakes, Ohio was water in abundance. Fishing is an extremely popular past time in Ohio and with several stocked lakes and streams, a trophy sized fish isn't beyond your reach.

Hunting is also a huge favorite in Ohio with the first day of deer season causing businesses to become virtual ghost towns with the rush to get to the woods! Not only does Ohio have deer, it has wild turkey, pheasant (some of the best you've ever seen), bobwhite, cottontail, coyote and wild boar, to name only a small number of the various animals you can hunt there.

However, if you prefer to hunt the wildlife of Ohio with your camera, oh the things you'll see! Home to over 70 state parks offering a wide range of things to see and do, from historical to just plain beautiful, Ohio has a way to experience it, no matter what your interests. Concerned about lodging? Ohio's state parks offer varying levels of accommodations, from primitive camping all the way up to beautiful, restful lodges.

But that's just the activities you can do outdoors. To list everything folks can do in Ohio would take days, weeks, months, years... At the end of this month is an event for which Ohio is famous, the Ohio State Fair! I have to be honest and say the Fair is probably one of my more favorite things to do in Ohio. I LOVE to buy corn on the cob from local vendors, I LOVE to ride the rides, I LOVE to walk through the agriculture barns and see animals, arts and crafts and delicious food raised, grown or made by the 4-Hers... The people of Ohio are a wonderful group of people and the fair showcases some of the best Ohio has to offer.

Looking to both entertain and educate the kids? There's a place in Columbus that allows kids, and kids at heart, to experience science first hand and it's a ton of fun! The Center of Science and Industry, affectionately called COSI for those of us from the area, gives you the opportunity to walk through a heart, steer a rocket, spend time at the bottom of the ocean, see an IMAX movie and until Labor Day weekend, experience "Lost Egypt".

You know, I can't even BEGIN to share everything with my readers about Ohio without making this one of the longest blog posts you could create. In Ohio, there's museums, amusement parks, zoos and water parks galore!

As my home state, I miss Ohio a great deal. Since moving to Arizona, I can't begin to count the number of times I've told my husband, "Honey, please, get me back to Ohio!" I've traveled all over the world and there's no place I'd rather be than Ohio, believe me! I miss Young's Dairy's amazing home made ice cream. I miss the smell of fresh cut hay. I miss the trees changing colors in the fall and the flowers blooming in the spring, alive again after a winter filled with soft, fluffy snow. I miss seeing a cardinal in the tree outside my window and I miss my home.

Ohio gets a bad rap from the rest of the country and it's not deserved. I don't know WHY people don't like Ohio. If you'd just spend a day there you'd see what I and my fellow Buckeyes see, a lot of small towns filled with warmhearted people who would give you the shirt off their back, if needed. If you're a big city person, Ohio is an escape to a simpler time. This isn't to suggest Ohio is "simple" because it's not, it's just easier. A favorite day trip for folks coming to Ohio is to tour the barns painted to commemorate Ohio's bicentennial. There's one in every county! Or, just drive around and see all the covered bridges! There are so many, you'll need more than a day to see them all.

Pay a visit to the good people at Ohio Tourism and either drop them a line or give them a phone call at 1-800-BUCKEYE (800-282-5393) and tell them, "I want to see Ohio!"