Miami Whitewater Forest

Last night's "date night" with the lovely Robin (a weekly event we both look forward to with relish...and sometimes other condiments) included our first ever visit to nearby Miami Whitewater Forest, the largest of Hamilton County's seventeen parks, woods, forests, and preserves. As I have written about before on this blog (here), I have long wanted to experience and explore this park.
We had no trouble finding our way there, and found ample parking. Unfortunately, the gift shop and visitor center was closed (we arrived well after 7 p.m., which is closing time). But we weren't there to buy anything, but to enjoy the warm evening and talk a nice walk.

Which we did. We started on the path that skirts the lake, where people were boating and fishing, and then continued to the trailhead of the Shaker Trace Trail.

We opted for the 1.2-mile "inner loop" rather than the 7.8 mile "outer loop" on the trail. A wise choice, no doubt, since we didn't bring along a flashlight. But it was a glorious little hike, utterly free of exertion (THAT'S how we likes our exercise!).

Miami Whitewater Forest's 4,345 acres offer a visitor center with nature displays and a gift shop, multiple hiking trails and two riding trails, a nine-hole disc golf course, a soccer complex, shelters, picnic areas, and a campground. New in 2013 will be the installation of the Simmonds Family Dog Park, an eleven-acre facility that will be the largest dog park in the Cincinnati region.

Jolly's in Hamilton

Date night with the lovely Robin last night started out in fine fashion, with our first 2013 stop at Jolly's, a local favorite now in its seventy-fifth year.

The historic drive-in is a true treasure, serving up much the same fare for many decades.

We each ordered a chili-and-cheese footlong, I had fries, she had onion rings, and we both had (but of course, mon ami) the ice cold root beer in a glass mug. It was so good. So good. Did I mention: so good.

Jolly's has two Hamilton, Ohio, locations: 210 N. Erie Blvd. (Rt. 4) and (pictured)165 N. Brookwood Ave.

Maribelle's in Oakley

The lovely Robin and I enjoyed dinner Saturday evening at the trendy Maribelle's in Oakley. And when I say trendy, I mean trennnnnnndy.

The Maribelle website explains, "Our proteins are sustainable, antibiotic- and hormone-free. We support local business, markets and farms. Our menu items are fresh and made in-house. We can easily accommodate special dietary needs. Gluten-free and vegan friendly....Locally Owned and Operated." The only thing I'm not sure about is whether the kitchen personnel espouse appropriate political views.

But there was no doubt about the quality of service or of the food. We each enjoyed a piece of the "Bread and Amish Butter" appetizer (above).

Robin enjoyed the pork chop entree.

And my strip steak was perfectly prepared and deliciously adorned.

It's not a cheap meal, by any means (we didn't even order drinks or desserts, and still spent more than $60), but everything but the price was to our liking. Maribelle's is located at 3235 Madison Road in the Oakley Centre strip mall, a few blocks from Oakley Square.

Amish Home (Holmes County, Ohio)

The above is one of my favorite travel pictures, taken in 2009 in Holmes County, Ohio. The lovely Robin and I took a retreat with other pastors (including three others from our church) at a favorite spot, the Valley View Inn in New Bedford, Ohio (near Holmes County). While there, we toured a couple Amish homes and farms, and on one of those tours I took the above photo. I think it nicely represents the simplicity and beauty of the Amish way of life.

Arthur's in Hyde Park

Last weekend the lovely Robin and I had the opportunity to experience Arthur's Cafe, just off Hyde Park Square (in Cincinnati, Ohio), on Edwards Road.

We were able to park just a few feet from the door, and the place was hopping when we arrived just before 6 p.m. on a Saturday evening. We were seated immediately in a booth at the back. According to the restaurant's website, a restaurant has occupied the Arthur's spot since at least 1947, when it was called the Allen E. Bradford Restaurant. It became Apke’s Grill in 1948, then Art’s in 1956. It became Arthur's sometime in the 1970s. Today it is owned by three locals who started working at Arthur's in the 90s as bussers and servers while in college--Susan Selzer, Joe Santorelli, and B.J. Hughes. The restaurant's interior is adorned by a huge mural of former bar regulars painted by cartoonist Jerry Dowling (visible at left in the middle photo, above).

The lovely Robin ordered the Boursin Cheese Burger (above). I had the Swiss and Mushroom Burger, and our friend Ted had the Gourmet Burger. All of the above were served with fries, and we all agreed they were delicious (although mine was more medium well than medium, as I ordered). It was a pleasant place to eat, obviously popular, and the service was just right.

Lane Library Book Sale

New location this year. Badin High School. The sale goes through Sunday.

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2013 Great Strides Walk in Hamilton

Despite a recurring drizzle, today's Great Strides Walk at Joyce Park in Hamilton, to fund research to cure cystic fibrosis, was a great success (the above picture is of most of our team--a few showed up just a little after the photo was taken!). 

The valiant walkers--the largest crowd yet in the event's third year--were undeterred by the rain, and many walked the full distance. Including, of course, yours truly (I think I was pretty much the undeterredest). 

Best of all, while the final figures for the event are still being tallied (and are expected to exceed previous years by a large margin, I'm told), Calleigh (above) and Ryder's team was blessed to account for more than $6,000 to help fund a cure (both the location totals and our team total will be added as an update to this post once those figures are known)!

Thank you to all who participated, whether by walking, donating, and spreading the word! Calleigh and Ryder are blessed to have friends and family like you!

UPDATE 5/7/13: The initial post-walk report from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation has the walk attendance at around 120, and the Grand Total amount raised at $28,750 (not counting, of course, funds that may be donated in the days after the walk). Of that total, Calleigh and Ryder's team gave $6,390! Both totals top last year's efforts (our team effort by $170--so far--and the Grand Total by more than $3,000).