Monday, January 19, 2009

Visit Amish Country in Winter

The following poem was written in a guest room journal by Katherine Szerdy from Hudson, Ohio, and is shared with her permission:


Mother-daughter trip
To Garden Gate Get-A-Way
Amish Paradise
Or warm weather escape

Carol, Herb, and Beverly
Have a special knack
For providing a haven --
Go out of way to spoil guests

Take some time to tour
Baltic, Charm, and Sugarcreek,
Millersburg, Berlin, --
You will be forced to slow down
Behind buggy climbing hill

Alongside of road
Rugged old Amish man walks
Lunch pail in hand
In below zero temperatures
Miles to go before he's home

And we Englishers
Have the gall to air complaints
About winter time --
Don't miss out on the lessons
Which old man winter teaches

Slow down, take the time
Look at sparkling snow landscapes
See the horses breath
Hear snow crunch under your feet
Feel the cold tickle your nose

Time to head back home
After Mom-daughter retreat
We'll be back next year
To smell sparkling snowflakes fall
And taste Carol's homemade bread!

Written by guest at Garden Gate Get-A-Way Bed & Breakfast in Holmes County Amish Country

Monday, January 12, 2009

Ohio Weekend Get Aways

You've been cooped up in the house or married to your job and you're ready to go away for the weekend with your spouse or your best friend...Only problem: They like culture and you like shopping OR They like fine gifts and you like flea markets OR They want to go to wineries, bakeries, cheese houses and you just want to go out exploring, etc. There is one place in Ohio that has something for everyone! Holmes County Amish Country. Some people think that the only reason to visit Holmes County is to see the World's largest Amish community, but it is much, much more. You will find fine gifts and flea markets, fine dining and fast food, golf, spa treatments, chocolate factory, cheese factories, wineries, tours, museums, historical homes, pottery, animal ranches, auctions, hot air balloon rides, Rails to Trails hiking and biking path, antiques, farms, art galleries, furniture builders, quilts, festival and events,and more! Some of the places mentioned are just over the County line, but close enough to visit. When it comes to Amish Culture your can tour Behalt, a narrated mural tour that depicts the history of the Mennonites and Amish. You can also take a back road tour to learn about culture and customs including stops at Amish-owned businesses. Treat yourself to dinner in an Amish home and see how that family lives. Shop the many small businesses owned and operated by the Amish such as candle makers, furniture builders, leather workers, quilts, hickory rockers, basket makers, general stores, etc. For those who prefer a culinary get away, you will find places like Raven's Glenn Winery, Breitenbach Winery, the Winery at Perennial vineyards, Gateway House wine-tasting show room, etc. Looking for some cheese to go with that wine? Our area boasts many cheese factories with award winning cheeses from Guggisburg Cheese Factory, Heini's Cheese (where you can sample 50 kinds of cheese), Walnut Creek Cheese, Pearl Valley Cheese, Steiner Cheese, and more. Coblentz Chocolate Factory will get your taste buds flowing. Not only can you watch the chocolates being made, but you can make up your own box of your favorites or buy something pre-packaged. They have caramels, creams, clusters, nuts, milk chocolate, dark chocolate and so much more! If you've visited an auction or festival in Holmes County you have probably seen them selling Trail Bologna and Swiss sandwiches. There is a small town, Trail, near Walnut Creek where they make the famous, Trail Bologna. You can purchase some to take home in many local cheese factories and bulk foods stores. Speaking of bulk foods, you can find almost any kind of spice, flour, sugar, candy, and miscellaneous foods at places like The Ashery, Walnut Creek Cheese, Troyer's Country Market and more. Off on the back roads the Amish have set up general stores that also include these items that are often less expensive than the bigger stores on the State Routes. For those in to culture you will find some places like no other in the USA! Warther's Carvings Museum is home of the works of world master carver, Mooney Warther. No words can describe the skill and genius of this man who only had a 2nd grade education. You have to see it to believe it and it appeals to all ages. Wendell August Forge have 2 locations in the U.S. and one is in Berlin, Ohio. Not only can you watch the craftsman making items in the back room, but the gift shop is huge with a variety of items from coasters, to bread plates, to wedding/baby gifts and more. Holmes County Pottery has Ohio's largest wood-fired kiln. Meet the artist and watch him forming new creations to firing in the kiln. Treaty Line Pottery is just down the street and worth a stop as well to see their Japanese-style kiln and different styles of pottery. Bowden Bells is a one-of-a-kind place that makes bells and other items from recycled materials. The bells come in different sizes and have beautiful, wind chime-like tones. If you are more in to physical activities you haven't been left out. Holmes County has part of the national Rails to Trails path running through the County. This program is where old railroad tracks have been up-rooted to make way for hiking and biking paths. Holmes County has the only section of path in the USA where you might pass an Amish Buggy. They actual have a "buggy lane" on the trail. There are also several golf courses in the area including a course that has Ohio's only Par 6 hole! So when you are looking for a place with a lot to do, think Holmes County! This blog was published by Carol Steffey, of Garden Gate Get-A-Way Bed & Breakfast where they help guests to "experience" Holmes County.