Friday, November 17, 2017

Afternoon Honeymoon: A Day in Ohio's Amish Country

Fun fact: When I was a kid, I wanted to be Amish. Why? Because I loved the idea of attending school in a one-room schoolhouse. Yeahhh, kids are weird.

I no longer desire to live that Amish lifestyle - I like technology kiiiind of a lot - but I do still hold a certain fascination with it. Mike & I both took a few days off work after our wedding, & while we spent the first two mostly sleeping & lounging, we took what I dubbed an "afternoon honeymoon" on Wednesday, driving to nearby Geauga County to check out Amish country.

Geauga County has the second-largest Amish population in Ohio; as of 2010, a little more than 8% of the population was Amish. In Holmes County, further south, a whopping half of the population is Amish, & there's more for tourists to see & do. We chose Geauga County, though, for a few reasons: First of all, it's just a little bit closer, & secondly, it's where my dad grew up. He wasn't Amish, of course, but being out that way always reminds me of my childhood. Finally, Geauga County borders Ashtabula County, which has the most covered bridges in Ohio - & I love me some covered bridges.

Here's a look at the stops we made on our afternoon trip out to Geauga County, using information from Destination Geauga to help guide us.


Mary Yoder's Amish Kitchen

Is it weird to order chicken tenders with BBQ sauce at an Amish restaurant? Because that's what I did. They were delicious, but, unfortunately, Mike's breaded pork chops weren't quite as good. We both loved our sides, though: cooked carrots & homemade mac & cheese for me, & mashed potatoes & chicken noodles for him (which is like chicken noodle soup minus the soup). We each downed a mug of hot spiced cider, too, & left full & cozy.


The Rothenb├╝hler Cheese Chalet

Rothenb├╝hler, home to a massive cheesemaking factory, produces award-winning Swiss cheeses, including one named to the 2017 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest's list of top 20 cheese - out of 2,303 entries! I don't even like Swiss cheese, but their mild Swiss is sommmmethin' special, let me tell you. Mike loaded up cheese & smokies, while I put together a gift basket of local popcorn, honey, Dutch cocoa, licorice, & more. Before we left, we posed with their horse & buggy (after I tried to climb into the buggy & almost broke it and/or myself).


Scheid’s Gifts for All Seasons

This place was confusing. Scheid's is in an industrial-style, barn-like building & seems to specialize in... um, everything, including heater repair, trailers, & taxi services, but they also have a little gift shop - basically just six shelves of locally made items. I bought goats' milk soaps as holiday gifts, & we spent just $12 on a beautiful, hand-carved Ohio wall hanging made by a 93-year-old artisan who specializes in miniatures. (Luckily we didn't have to use Scheid's restroom, which is a port-o-potty.)


End of the Commons General Store

We wanted a larger selection of local goods, so we drove out to Mesopotamia, OH, or "Mespo," to visit the state's oldest general store. It is, truly, the most general of stores, carrying everything from gardening tools to sports-themed totem poles to homemade ice cream to a large selection of cookie cutters - & essentially everything in between. One of the best things we got there was apple butter BBQ sauce, which will taste amazing on some slow-cooker pulled pork this winter. We also got one of their "should be world famous" fry pies in their most popular flavor - apple, of course.


World's Largest Amish Horse & Buggy

Located just across the street from the general store, this giant, wooden structure measures 14' high and 32' long. Suffice it to say they're not a real horse & buggy, but they're pretty stunning, especially when you're not expecting to see them. Nearby is "Buggy's Only" parking (yes, the typo is theirs) for real buggies pulling up to the general store. (Howwww did I not get any of my own photos of this?! This one comes from Flickr.)

 https://www.flickr.com/photos/jwpearce/9687352452

Fairview Cemetery

Creepy thought some may find it, I love old cemeteries, & this one was a great little discovery. Unlike most modern cemeteries in this part of the country, it includes headstones from as far back as the 1700s. We wandered for a bit, but unfortunately, many of the headstones are so old (& perhaps not well cared for) that they're unreadable. I did, however, manage to suss out the one pictured below: "Killed by lighting" isn't something you see very often, especially not memorialized for eternity on a headstone.


Windsor Mills Covered Bridge

Built in 1847, this single-span Town truss covered bridge was renovated in the early 2000s & is one of 17 covered bridges in Ohio open to vehicular traffic (cars only). It's a muted yellow color & feels very solid to walk across, which is not always the case with covered bridges. It's decided less spooky than other bridges of its kind, which I appreciated, & crosses a pretty little area of creek & brush. If we'd gotten there just a week or two earlier, I bet the foliage would've been gorgeous, too.


Coffee Corners Antiques & Coffee House

On our way out of town, we stopped at this cafe/antiques hybrid in charming downtown Burton, OH.  I got a soy latte made with local Burton maple syrup & Mike got a beer, & we settled into a cozy corner in this surprisingly large & decidedly adorable establishment. For 30 minutes or so, we reminisced about our wedding - & finally got to talk about our plans now that we're done planning a wedding. Worth noting: Next door to this place is an online gun auction shop with bars on the windows. Yikes!


I didn't feel quite ready to leave, but it started to pour on our drive home, so I guess we left at the right time. Fortunately, we arrived home with lots of goodies to remind us of our quick trip to Amish Country, & we're planning to go back in the spring to check out some spots we missed, including Quintealia's Tea ParlorMaggie's Doughnuts, & the World's Tallest Our Lady of Guadalupe Statue (33 feet tall!). I'd especially love to check out Holmes County to get even more of an Amish fix.

Have you ever been to Amish country? If you've been to Geauga, Holmes, or Ashtabula County, I'd love recommendations for other places to visit! 
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