Our destination for the Fourth of July was Cleveland, but you know what they say; getting there is half the fun! We packed up our SRT4 and headed south on I-75, it is truly the most boring stretch of road but it’s the quickest way out. We rarely take freeways and if we do, it’s only for a short time. Once outside of Toledo we exit the freeway and make our way to the small town of Galion.
Kris loves a good country road, through the years he has refined routes to our favorite get-aways, he has perfected the trip to and from Cleveland. Anyone who likes to drive back roads will surely enjoy the ride, Amish Country is by no means “on the way” , but if you’re not in a hurry it makes for a great detour ! Take 97 out of Galion and continue east through Lexington, Bellville, and Butler.This stretch of road takes you through numerous tiny towns and past beautiful farmsteads. Cows of all sizes and colors graze, goats stand on top of their houses as knee-high corn waves in the warm summer breeze, it is all very relaxing. The roads start to get curvier here and hills are more frequent, You will come upon the Mohican Memorial State Forest, and it’s a beauty; more than 4,500 acres of white and red pine, gum, aspen, ash, cherry and walnut trees inhabit the land. If you have the time stop and go for a hike, hiking trails wind through the primitive and scenic areas of the forest and park, ending up in places like Pine Run Creek, The Fire Tower and Clearfork Gorge, maps are available. We made a stop at the fire tower and the gorge overlook, time was short, so no hiking today.
Once in Loudonville follow 39/60 into Amish country. Notice how peaceful it is, the farms are stunning, as you climb the hilly roads fields look more like paintings than the real thing, the lush green of crops in contrast to amber waves of grain. Horses and buggies rule the roads here, bicycles are also a favorite mode of transportation so you must be watchful. Berlin is Amish country’s most popular town, furniture stores dominate the area, there is a nice variety of shops and restaurants too. Speaking of restaurants, we had lunch at a little place called Boyd & Wurthmann, a local favorite since 1938 it is the oldest continuously operating restaurant in Berlin. We ordered a BLT on homemade wheat bread and a chef salad when suddenly our eyes were drawn to the most incredible strawberry shortcake ever seen. A chunk of the most amazing shortcake is first placed in a large bowl, followed by generous scoops of sweetened, fresh sliced Amish strawberries, next it’s your choice of ice cream or homemade whipped cream, yes, we definitely were ordering one. The thought of it still brings a smile to my face, the shortcake was like no other, it had the texture of a tres leches cake with maybe a touch of cornmeal in it, not like a biscuit or sponge cake at all. It had air pockets in it that gratefully soaked up the juice from the strawberries, with a generous serving of whipped cream it was summer in a bowl.
We walked up and down the main street of Berlin, going in and out of lovely little shops, this is a girlfriends weekend shopping paradise! After sampling cheese, and chocolate we were ready to drive some more. Going south on 557 you will come across Hershberger’s Farm & Bakery; Stop In! If you like animals and or food, this is paradise. There’s a pavilion filled with farm animals and it seemed all just had babies; fenced in areas contain goats of all sizes and colors, baby cows and sheep relax in their pens. Looking for a pet? Puppies and bunnies are waiting to be adopted too. The animals are gentle and eager for attention, they sell ice cream cones filled with food you can feed them. Visit the giant horse, I’ve never seen one so big. The bakery has much to choose from and also sells produce, you can even get a bite to eat here. There are several Amish towns in this particular area, next we were headed towards Charm, with a name like that what more can I say? Again, lots of agriculture here, Kris could drive for hours on these scenic roads, the view never grows tiresome. Walnut Creek, Winesburg and Wilmot are also nice stops, don’t hesitate to just drive around, each turn in the road brings another picture postcard view.
The time passed too quickly, as always, and we still had to make our way to Cleveland. We took 93 north till dusk fell around us then got on 77 to the city. After checking into our Bed and Breakfast, we had dinner at Momocho Mod Mex in Ohio City, just a few blocks from where we were staying. Their specialty is guacamole, and they offer many varieties, the menu is packed with delicious selections, we chose three small plates, empanadas with goat cheese and butternut squash, chilles rellenos that were out of this world, and a queso fundido with chorizo, yum! It was a day filled with breath-taking scenery and delectable food, now it was time to wind down and get some sleep.