There's Gold in Them Thar Hills...and a Couple of Firsts in Ohio
August 23, 2015
Sure, we’ve seen Domino’s or the local pizza place deliver to a campsite, but this was our first campground where the campground provided pizza delivery….and of course, delivery was in a golf cart….it's very own golf car....and it was a county park.
Campfire Pizza golf cart
The first six nights of our nine-night Ohio stay, was at Winton Woods, in Cincinnati. Originally we were only planning a few days in Cincy, but ended up extending it because Greg had a solar job and I had some local onsite work on Tuesday and Wednesday.
We arrived on Friday and our friends, Jen and Scott and their two adorable girls, came to see us. Scott and Jen met when the three of us worked at EB Games…it’s sort of complicated because Scott was in Louisville, Jen was in West Chester and the bottom line, they are living happily ever after and I take all the match-making credit. :-)
Hanging at the campground with Scott and Jen....and Riley (Hobie, too)
Brooke, their oldest, tormenting Hobie. (Hobie stole the chewy from another campsite!!)
He was one pooped puppy after playing with the girls!!
On Saturday, Josh (and his wife Shawna) came up from Louisville. Josh, Scott and I used to run the warehouse in Louisville and it had been many years (over ten) since we had all seen each other—although Josh and Scott get together frequently. Since Greg had an extremely early flight, he took the car to the airport and Scott and Josh picked me up at the campground….which was extremely nice of them!! Our day was pretty low key, and included a really nice lunch and a great day at Scott and Jen’s house hanging out….drinking some beer, listening to music and getting caught up on all stuff that went on since we were last togehter. I had forgotten how funny those two guys are, but they kept everyone laughing. I actually ended up sleeping over at their house, so avoided a night in the coach by myself!!
Jen, Riley, me, Josh, Shawna, Scott and Brooke
Scott bought a special t-shirt for the occasion. Honey Badger!!
Josh and Scott chillin.....
Greg picked me up on Sunday at Jen/Scott’s house and eventually we made our way back to the campground, where we napped and did some work stuff.
The highlight of the remainder of our time in Cincy was a trip to Graeter’s Ice Cream (with Scott/Jen and their two kids) and a bike ride around the park. The park/campground is really nice and had a great lake, bike/jogging/walking trail along boat rentals. Definitely a very nice (and fancy!) county park.
Most people take a hike around the campground, but this is Greg’s new way of checking out things:
Yes, it is still alive!!
We left on Thursday morning with a fairly short drive (for us) to Barkcamp State Park in Belmont, Ohio. Honestly, Barkcamp is a great name for a doggy daycare, so we didn’t know what to expect….and were pleasantly surprised. Barkcamp is our first campground that also has a horse camp. There are three camping sections, one dedicated to those who camp with horses.
Horses hanging out the at Horse Camp loop
The State Park has a lake/beach area, archery range, hiking/snowmobiling and horse trails, and mini golf. They also have a pretty cool general store and Mail Pouch Tobacco barn.(Barkcamp State Park also takes Passport America Sunday through Wednesday. We stayed Thursday-Saturday nights, of course!!)
The General Store and well at the campground
Mail Pouch Tobacco Barn at the campground.
The Mail Pouch Tobacco barns have an interesting history.
Since we had no plans for our time here, I hopped online to see what there was to do in Belmont, Ohio. According to Trip Advisor, there’s only one thing to do in Belmont—Barkcamp State Park. Hmmm….needed an alternative plan.
Well, when we’re looking for something to do, we have a variety of resources we check out:
Good Sam’s Trip Planner (things to do)
Chamber of Commerce websites of local towns
Google “What to do in XX” which usually leads me to some local blogs, etc
Off the Beaten Path book (yes, an actual book with pages and everything!)
Ask the locals
This search resulted in one of our best field trips to-date—The Palace of Gold. The Palace of Gold was rated by CNN as one of the eight religious wonders to see in the US. This place was originally designed to be a simple residence for Srila Prabhuapada, founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), during his stays at the New Vrindaban Community in West Virginia. The Palace is located in Moundsville, which was about a 45-minute drive up a very windy mountain road. To say it’s out in the middle of nowhere would be an understatement!!
Our Hare Krishna (or Society for Krishna Consciousness) knowledge was fairly limited to Greg, who dined with a group of Krishna’s on their school bus at a Grateful Dead concert way back in the day. We honestly didn’t even have a clue that this was an active religious community anymore. Obviously with social media, they have refined their recruitment strategy and expanded their efforts beyond airports.
The simple residence (now Palace) that the devotees set out to build, turned out to be anything but simple and ultimately, Srila Prabhuapada passed away before it was completed, so it was turned into a shrine to honor him. This place was spectacular and what made it so, was that it was build by his devotees. The devotees were unpaid and had little experience and trained themselves in the traditional artisanal skills. The walls and floor are cut, inlaid marble, the woodwork is exquisite, and the detail of the paintings on the ceilings was unbelievable. There are countless sculptures, carved teakwood, stained glass and cut crystal, as well as extensive gold leaf (more than nine pounds). It was amazing to see the detail of this place, and all completed by those who had no training prior to starting this project….and coming from someone who tried to teach themselves (unsuccessfully) how to tile, this is what made this place truly spectacular. (Trace, only $8.00 for the tour; gardens and grounds free)
Front of the palace, coming up the road
Side view of the Palace
Close up of the detail work.
The building was completed in 1979 and the unfortunate part of the story is that they haven’t kept up with the maintenance. Also, with the “amateur status” of those building the Palace, there was some inconsistencies in the concrete, and overall craftsmanship. Luckily, they are in the process of doing a major renovation project to restore it to its original beauty. The other unfortunate part is they didn’t allow pictures inside the Palace. Bummer.
Some of the renovation work being done....you can see the difference.
The Palace lobby....the peacock stained glass was repeated throughout. Magnificent!
A picture of inside the Palace.
I took it prior to the tour started (before they told us "no pictures!!) Oops!
We also toured the rose gardens and hung out on one of the benches and spent around 20 minutes or so talking to a very nice lady who was taking care of the gardens. She had been part of the movement in the US almost from the beginning and spent her early years recruiting. (Hmmm…wonder if she ever hung out at Grateful Dead concerts?) We found out that there were about 150 people currently living in and around the “compound” in West Virginia and at its peak, there were about 800.
The Rose Garden
Along with the Palace and gardens, we went to the temple, where they were doing some chanting....and where they allowed pictures.
The ceiling of the temple
Inside pics of the temple
We also checked out the grounds, which included various housing (some of which you could book and stay), a nice lake and some rather large statues. Oh, and of course, a little snack bar.
Close up of some of the large statues
The Sacred Cow
When we told our friend Tracy where we were going, she told us to "be careful" as she knows how impressionable Greg is. Not to worry; their principles don’t really align with Greg's. While they have very admirable principles, celibacy, a strict vegetarian diet, and no alcohol, caffeine, etc. would be deal breakers for him!!
We wrapped up our time in Ohio with a bike ride to the lake/boat ramp where we had a picnic lunch and later Saturday, hung out by the fire. Ahhh...life is good.
Well, we are heading back to the scene of the crime—off to Pennsylvania starting today through mid-October. Our first week we'll be at French Creek State Park and the rest of our time at Brandywine Creek Campground.