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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

HIGHWAYS & BYWAYS, PART 2 - Finding Gomer, via Mayberry

After the disappointing visit to the Lincoln Ridge Pumpkin and Mum Fall Festival, we ventured on in search of Gomer and a traveling Welsh exhibit ~ only stopping in twelve towns across the country.  With Kevin definitely having Welsh ancestry and me being fairly confident of some (still working on that side of the family tree but with my maiden name, I'm thinking, good grief, there's got to be some Welsh blood in there somewhere!), we were very curious to see the exihibit.  Neither of us having heard of Gomer (oh gee, ya' think??), we did a little online research before our trip and learned that the very small community (just slightly over 200 folk) is home to the Wales-Ohio project, including a museum with incredible resources and interesting events (although it's not open in January, February, and March because "it's just too cold and nobody shows up").

Of course, the first challenge was to actually find Gomer.  I mean, in northwest Ohio, there are a lot of places a town of 200 can hide.  Having taken a cursory look at Mapquest, we were convinced that surely we could find Gomer Road (obviously the ONLY road that would lead to the "promised land") somewhere along SR 30 so that's the direction we headed.  We didn't find it.  We did find Mayberry Road and were greatly tempted to follow that....hmmm....but a few u-turns and finally a stop at a nearby Speedway where there was a great debate among those in attendance, we had the directions we needed to Gomer.

The Welsh in America exhibit was being hosted by the Gomer U.C.C. and at the time we arrived was well attended.  In the center of the room were 6 two-sided topical banners telling the story, the history of the Welsh in America, and for us, it was fascinating to feel so connected to this story.  There were some things that we knew, but much we learned.  We now know that Ellis Island was named for a Welshman, Samuel Ellis, who had a tavern on the island, and that the phrase, "keeping up with the Joneses" arose out of 19th century New York when a wealthy Welsh couple named Jones kept improving their estate and their neighbors kept trying to do the same.  We also learned that the Welsh came to America bringing their ideas of equal rights, free speech, and non-conformity (yay!).

Surrounding the room were items from the Gomer Welsh Museum and hostesses served us (frequently!) Welsh treats which we enjoyed greatly (and picked up some recipes for a few) - Welsh cakes, imported Welsh cheese, scones.  Yes, our trip to Gomer was definitely the "win" for the day.

Despite the treats we enjoyed at the Welsh exhibit, we had planned to wrap up our day with a visit to Landeck, home of Keith's Tavern and its "World Famous Fried Chicken."  More country roads, more bean fields, and more trees showing their autumn colors and we pulled into Landeck, passing Kill Road just inside the town limits ~ I commented, "Who would want to live on 'Kill Road'?"  We found Keith's Tavern easily ~ I know, I know, it's not like Gomer and Landeck make it hard on us :) ~ and were seated, fortunately, just before what we are guessing Sunday early evening mass had let out as the place filled almost to capacity about ten minutes after we arrived.

We both ordered the fried chicken and were happy to be seated under the big screen TV so we could get the news that the Rays had clinched first place in the ALC East.  It also helped to pass the time, and I do mean time, that we had to wait for our meal.  Now, maybe someone can comment on here and tell me that "home-fried" chicken takes twenty to twenty-five minutes to prepare...I don't know.  That's why I don't run a restaurant.  But I have had "home-fried" chicken at other places that was served in a considerably shorter time.  That being noted, I do need to say that the chicken I had at Keith's was great, and yes, I licked my fingers when I was done.  So a definite "thumbs up" on the chicken....but the sides, well, let's just say, next time I'll order a four-piece chicken and skip the sides completely.  I had mashed potatoes (pretty sure they were homemade but they were "gummy") and anytime I get coleslaw served in the little plastic container with the cover...well, I just don't go there.  Rolls?  Call me cynical but I'm guessing GFS.  So, our trip to Keith's in Landeck ended up as a "bye."

All in all, not too bad a day for a Sunday Highways and Byways....stay tuned :)

Monday, October 4, 2010

HIGHWAYS & BYWAYS - A Win, Loss, and Bye

Yesterday was our Sunday drive ~ a chilly, windy fall afternoon, but perfect for exploring the highways and byways of NW Ohio and eventually NE Indiana as more Sundays come our way. We had three destinations in mind - the Lincoln Ridge Pumpkin and Mum Festival, Gomer for the traveling Welsh exhibit, and finally, Landeck to try Keith's Tavern's "world famous" fried chicken.

First stop - Lincoln Ridge where we had our "loss" of the day (financially and event-wise). We had read about this festival on the Ohio Tourism site where we were looking forward to "a hay ride.  Go(ing) out into the field and pick(ing our) own pumpkin, just the right one...Have you ever been through a corn tunnel?  Here will be the opportunity to do this and tell all your friends about it.  You can participate in the straw stack, a goat boardwalk and sit back and enjoy the bonfire to warm you up while you enjoy some delicious food." 

Now we are not so naive to believe that all of these "goodies" would be free, but the Ohio Tourism site lists the event itself as "free admission" so you can imagine our surprise when we pulled in the drive to be met by an imposing cowboy-hatted gentlemen you looked us up and down and then said, "It'll be $15.00 for your carload."  So stunned, in fact, that, yes, we just handed over the money, no questions asked :/  I know, I know -- we should have put the car in reverse or inquired what was under the hat....but obviously we were under the total false advertisement hypnotic spell and simply handed Mr. Lincoln Ridge $15.00 as Kevin whispered "Oh, s..."

Trying to think the best, we parked the car and ventured out among the activities, hoping that the purple jack-o-lantern wrist bands we had been gifted with would, indeed, entitle us to free food, free pumpkins, free fun for was for sale.  Pumpkins were 30 cents a pound (I raised and sold pumpkins in a prior life - they weigh a LOT!).  However, there, was one freebie that we got to enjoy (worth the $15? I'll let you decide).  When we had the Pumpkin Patch, Dad alway "dreamed" (or joked, lol) about having a pumpkin catapult -- here's the "Punkin Chunkin" we got to experience at Lincoln Ridge -- all $15 worth of it :)

Check in tomorrow as things improved greatly when we found Gomer (yep, Gomer!) and finished up with supper at Landeck.