Double Nickles 2011

Left Lynchburg on Friday for a four day bicycle exploration of the Amish country near Millersburg, Ohio. About a nine hour drive (with a stop at Tamarack in WV for lunch) brought us to the Sojourner's Lodge, our home for the next four nights. It's a beautiful retreat nestled in the countryside near Mt. Hope. Shelly and Bob, the Helm's longtime friends from Ohio, met us at the Lodge.

Bob just finished a month long bike tour from LA to Boston; he's out of our cycling league! We dined at Mrs. Yoder's Kitchen, a great culinary stop to kick off our tour. It was Friday night in Mt. Hope and buggies were everywhere. Note the child seat in the buggy! The event under the lights that brought everybody to town, Amish and English alike, was none other than VOLLEYBALL!


Awoke (EARLY) to a beautiful clear day. After positioning the cars, we ate a sumptuous breakfast of oatmeal/blueberry pancakes (thanks Laurie) and hit the road from the Lodge via Mt. Eaton to Kidron. First stop was the famous Lehman's Hardware Store; a place with everything, that you can literally spend hours roaming around.

Every good day there are many things to be learned, and today we learned what it means to not stitch in the ditch. It is a term in quilting used to indicate that the individual pieces are sewn to the backing away from their edge providing a 3D effect in the finished quilt. There is a quilting room in Lehman's where local women sew quilts to be sold for charity.

Pressing on we pedaled to Fredericksburg where we planned to pick up the Holmes County trail; a 15 mile trail with one lane for bikes and one for buggies. We ate our sandwiches in a park where a baseball tournament was ongoing and checked out a car and buggy wash; first one I have seen!

The Trail was a gem along a river with farm land and a bird sanctuary. There was an exit at the Walmart where we parked the cars. The store had a buggy barn in it's parking lot. A great ride was had by everyone! (38 miles)

We headed back to the Lodge stopping at Kauffman's Country Bakery for breakfast goodies and landed the very elusive rhubarb crumb pie for dessert tonight. Happy hour earned Bob & Shelly "honorary Double Nickels" membership when they lived up to our "We ride to eat" motto by providing white wine sangria, fruit salsa (6 peaches, 6 kiwis, and 5 strawberries cut up and refrigerated overnight), regular salsa and yummy chips. You guys know the way to our hearts!

Many thanks to Gary, our esteemed trip leader for a great day in Holmes County.....Ohio Amish country! And now it's time to cook hot dogs over the camp fire. Yes, we have a real fire but the Morgan's are really not camping!


After a night filled with boisterous thunder storms at times, we awoke to a beautiful day for bike riding. We headed north to Akron and began riding on the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath. The canal was completed in 1830 connecting Cleveland to Portsmouth on the Ohio River. The canal had a long life, operating until a flood wiped it out in 1913. Evidence of the lock system built to negotiate the hills in Akron is quite impressive. Approaching Akron, the trail was built on pontoons over a portion of Summit Lake.

North of Akron, the Towpath enters the Cuyahoga National Park and goes all the way to Cleveland. We rode about 30 miles to a point just beyond Boston Mill. We encountered many riders participating in a charity ride for the United Way. The most venturous of those riding 100 miles from Cleveland to Akron and back.

We stopped at the Winking Lizard for lunch; a regional tavern chain famous for their beer selection (22 drafts and 105 bottled) so we had to partake. The TOF Brothers chose the Great Lakes Brewing Company's Lake Erie Monster brew which Gary raved about in advance. It was great (big malt character balanced by strong grapefruit and some hoppiness) and took any pain we were experiencing out of the afternoon ride!

Riding rail trails reminds one of the fleeting nature of business. In today's ride we passed the enormous hulks of the once thriving tire industry in Akron, and the small town of Boston Mill which sprang up to support a paper mill on the river and then all but disappeared before becoming a visitor's center for the national park.

The Cuyahoga Scenic Railroad has a great deal for bicyclists. Ride your bike one way and for $2.00 you can ride the train back to your starting point. And that is what we did! The last two cars on the train are a freight car for bikes and a passenger car for riders. It is a really cool service the railroad provides; a great way to promote cycling. In our car there were many families and couples as well as lone riders. Total miles today...35.

The day ended with us dropping by Gary's mom's house for dinner. Evelyn is a delightful, spry, gracious 88 year old. Thanks Evelyn for a delightful evening!


Today was a day sans bikes dedicated to touring the Amish country. We began with a tour of the Heini's Cheese factory in Bunker Hill. Did you know cheese was discovered by accident when nomads carried goat's milk in goat's skins on camels in the Sahara desert? Expecting milk, they got cheese and it was an industry was born. We got a tour of the factory, bought our share of cheese and headed to our next tour; an Amish Farm.

The Yoder Farm is a working museum where you take tours of two houses, a barn, a school with a buggy ride thrown in as well. The tour guides are "English" but Amish men and women take care of the farm, run the bakery (great snicker doodles), and serve as guides in the barn, school and for the buggy rides. One thing that is very impressive is the kids are taught Pennsylvania Dutch at home and English and German in school. Even though their schooling ends after eighth grade, every Amish person we met spoke outstanding English!

Our next stop was in Charm, where we scoped out the Harness and Boot store and Keim's Lumber. Keim's is an amazing place. Think Home Depot or Lowes kicked up a notch or two or maybe...ten! A stop at the Coblentz Chocolate Company ended our touring day. Of course no one bought any goodies...NOT!

Day's end brought us to Katie and John Weaver's house for dinner. The Weaver's are a delightful Amish couple who live outside of Mount Hope. Their son Steve and youngest daughter of four, Linda, ate dinner with us. John works in a cabinet shop, Steve in a fireplace/stove store and Linda in the cheese factory.

Salad, bread, home made strawberry jam, Amish peanut butter, chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, noodles, green beans, plus raisin and strawberry pies left us well sated to say the least! We learned a lot about the Amish this weekend. In the area we were in there are three sects. A very conservative one that wears darker colored clothes, and is more withdrawn from the English and two more liberal sects that are very involved in the community, can own tractors and bulldozers and wear brighter clothes. The most liberal sect allows the use of bicycles and even cell phones! It was neat to see bicycles really used for transportation in all the areas we visited. Unmarried men do not grow beards and unmarried women wear black bonnets to church which is held every other week in a family home. There are about 25 families in a church. Small school houses dot the landscape were one or two teachers with about 25 students each have classes from September to April. The Amish are very friendly and hospitable and they are hard workers. They are also very pragmatic; finding a way to reach their goals while remaining true to the tenets of their religion. One thing that surprised us was how well traveled the the Amish are; traveling by public transportation or hired car!
Extended families live together with every one working to support the family. Parents often build a smaller house on their property called a "dotty house" that they move into and then their son's or daughter's family moves into their house. The Weaver's are raising one this weekend! It was interesting to note how popular Friday night volleyball was. Often matches are held as fund raising events attended by both Amish and English. It was also interesting to be around people where the culture of horses was always a topic of conversation. Only Jinx I think could have contributed to the conversation.


Reluctantly, we left the Lodge and headed for home. The trip was uneventful except for the fact that a storm matched our speed all the way from Ohio to Beckley, WV. It pounded us with rain at times slowing us to a crawl and we all got totally soaked at the rest stop at Tamarack. A quick detour by the Benavitch house to check in on the patient was our last stop.

It was another great Double Nickels bike trip; our first extended weekend one. Many thanks to Gary and Laurie for planning and hosting the event. A great time was had by all!

What is David doing? Can you guess? It really is legal, I think!


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