garden

The Scioto Mile

https://www.sciotomile.com/

The Scioto Mile is a collection of 9 parks along the Scioto River in the heart of Downtown Columbus. Started in 2015, this “mile” was a reworking of the land surrounding the river. Dams were removed. The area was taken back to a more natural state and the its beauty was emphasized. The mile has more than 175 acres of land, but is more than just a series of parks along a river.

The parks are connected by the Scioto Trail. The trail makes up the backbone of the system running from Scioto Audubon Park in the south to the Olentangy Trail in the north and on to the Ohio to Erie Trail. It follows the east side of the river winding from park to park. The parks are not just open green spaces with a few benches. Many of them are filled with sculptures and memorials. There is a center dedicated to the visual arts. More in to the performing arts? The trail has a place for them too. The variety of things to see and do is enormous.

Along the trail is Milestone 229. A restaurant for people on the trail. This is not a fast food joint but a comfort food joint for everyone. It “offers a kids’ menu, as well as vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.” The restaurant has great views of the river and the Scioto Mile Fountain. The fountain is a large interactive fountain that comes alive at night with lights and fog. A must see on the mile.

In the middle is the name sake that flows through the city. This section of the river has been improved to be a great water recreation venue. Paddleboards, canoes, and kayaks can be seen on the river during the warmer months. Tours are even offered.

Along the west bank the trail goes through less parks but is no less as scenic. The trail ends up at the new National Veterans Memorial and Museum and one of the Greatest Science Museums in the nation.

The Scioto Mile is a great way to get out and see nature or to experience the city life, or do both at the same time. It is the variety that makes this state great all within the heart of its capital city.

 

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A look at the Cincinnati Zoo: What does the next ten years hold…

“10 years ago we wrote our first review of the zoo in CincinnatiThis year we decided to return and see how the Cincinnati Zoo has changed over the years… So what does the next ten years hold?…”

Plenty. According to plans recently announced the zoo is expanding many exhibits, adding to them, and giving the overall visitor experience an improved wow factor.

The parking will be expanded and changed going from a lot to a garage. The entrance will be more grand and inviting. Almost immediately visitors will see the animals. The Elephants are planned to move across the zoo and into a new open area, like the Africa section, that is five times as large. The Rhinos also will move in to this area.

Like the continent of Africa before it, Australia is getting a home in the Zoo. Wildlife Canyon will be transformed in to a two-story home for kangaroos and other animals of the land down under. The little penguins, which are native to Australia, are also getting an expanded home in the new section. Above the animals will be a new ropes course. This course will give visitors a chance to challenge themselves as the climb and swing high up in the air.

All of the changes and expansions are expected to be completed by 2025.

Beyond the cosmetic changes coming the Zoo is using the improvements to help enrich the lives of the animals they take care of. As has been seen in zoo across the world, happy animals breed better. The new expansions will be designed to both enrich the visitors experience and the lives of the animals. By using evidence based understandings of animal behaviors the Zoo hopes to be able to expand its world famous husbandry program. Their commitment is to animal care has grown over the years and will expand along with the coming years:

“We will transform the Zoo’s physical landscape by renewing facilities, habitats and gardens so that the Zoo setting matches our growing expertise in animal care, education, conservation and horticulture. We strive to lead in the ever-progressing world of zoos and aquariums, learning from the latest in evidence-based understanding of how animals behave, and implementing changes to promote animal excellence. We’ll advance behavior-based husbandry, increase complexity of habitats, and introduce pioneering animal health techniques and reproductive strategies in the pursuit of outstanding animal care.”

Over the past ten years the Cincinnati Zoo has become one the “Greenest Zoo’s” in America. The Zoo was transformed with the addition of a rainwater collection system. The current system collects over 25% of the water used in the Zoo. The plan is to use this system to supply 100% of the non-potable water needs. As mentioned in the previous post the Zoo also has one of the largest (the largest at time of installation) publicly accessible solar arrays in the nation. With future expansions expect the array to expand too. This array currently creates almost 25% of the zoo energy. Along with the solar, wind, and geothermal the Zoo is exploring Biomass energy options. Biomass is the “leftover waste products” from the plants and animals around the zoo. As they state on their website, the Zoo has a commitment to net zero waste facility.

As part of this ambitious capital campaign, the Zoo is taking their groundbreaking, robust storm water management program to the next level to drive down non-potable water use to zero.  By capturing 100% of the storm water and reusing it in the habitats, the Zoo can divert the water out of the city’s combined sewer system.  The Zoo will also focus on being net zero energy by driving efficiencies throughout the existing systems and pursuing advanced energy options including solar, wind and biomass.  And, with proper organic waste management, the Zoo will strive to become a net zero waste facility.

 

 

A look at the Cincinnati Zoo: Ten years later

3400 Vine St, Cincinnati, OH 45220

http://www.cincinnatizoo.org

10 years ago we wrote our first review of the zoo in Cincinnati. Over the past decade we have been to almost all the other major zoos in Ohio (sorry Akron). This year we decided to return and see how the Cincinnati Zoo has changed over the years.

The Cincinnati Zoo opened in 1874. Over the years it has changed with the times. In the early days it was not as conservation minded as it is now, but neither were most zoos. Now the zoo seems very conservation minded and animal focused. It’s not just the animals that are the focus of the new mind-set. The visitors too play a big part in it. Everything the zoo does is now more focused on producing less waste and proper use of the waste that is produced, such as recycling. While this was the case 10 years ago, it seems more so now.

The first thing we noticed is that parking has expanded and moved across the street. The new space was covered, a welcomed relief in on a hot spring day. Like the Toledo Art Museum the zoo did not waste the covering either. On top were solar panels converting the sun’s rays from car heating annoyance to power that could be used to cool the buildings instead.

Most of the attractions at the zoo seemed the same as we saw in the past. This was too be expected as a few of the buildings are on the National Historic Landmark list. The Reptile House still being the oldest zoo building in America. Even with the same exterior nothing looked run down. Everything had gotten a fresh coat of paint and been up kept. The world of wings still having wet paint signs up.

The zoo seems to have focused on a more of the same but better expansion plan over the last decade. The major change was to the African animals. The entire section of the zoo has been expanded and reworked into a modern open exhibit area with each exhibit not being a focus, but part of a whole. The animals are still semi separated, as the predators cannot be kept with their prey, but are less single species exhibit. The overall openness makes it feel as if one is transported from the southern Ohio to the open savannas of Africa. This section is also where Fiona, Cincinnati’s most famous resident, is housed.

The zoo also built and opened an indoor Gorilla viewing area so that they can be seen in their winter enclosure. We went in the spring and did not see this in use.

The last ten years have been good to the Cincinnati Zoo. It hit a record attendance in 2013. If our visit was any indication it is still as popular as ever. With a long and varied history the zoo has changed a lot since opening day and will be forever changing as time goes on.
So what does the next ten years hold?…

 

Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park and Museum

https://www.pyramidhill.org

Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park and Museum is a 300 plus acre outdoor sculpture park in Hamilton. The park is open all year and can be experienced differently during each season. There are many special events during the year and at times the park can be busy. The holiday lights, for example, are a very popular event.

This park was started by Harry T. Wilks, a philanthropist who was big in the Hamilton community. He purchased the land to build his home. Over the years he added sculptures, hiking trails, roads, and small lakes. Soon he also started purchasing the land next to his property. Wilks was a big donor too local arts and education organizations. In 1997 he created a nonprofit to protect the park from private developers who might break up the land and spoil the beauty.

The park is open during the daylight hours and the museum is open in the afternoons. It does cost to visit the park. One can stop at the front gate or visitor’s center to pay for entrance.  Using the map provided one can travel by car throughout the park seeing all the sculptures. This is the low activity way to see it. The medium activity level way is to drive around, park at the many parking lots, and then walk around. The higher activity level way is to park at one of the lots and walk the nature trails and road around the park. This park is accessible to just about anyone. The park also does rent Art Carts (golf carts) to tour the park. The length of time it takes to see the whole park depends on the mode of transportation and activity level. What is nice is the park can be done in a long or short amount of time.

What one will see when touring the park is over 60 modern outdoor sculptures. These are very large sculptures. Some are colorful and some are made of natural materials. Each one is impressive. Even if modern art is not to your liking, it is nice to see them and explore them from all angles. Each different side is like seeing a new piece of artwork.

The park houses an Ancient Sculpture Museum. The museum is open in the afternoons and included in the cost of admission. This museum house many ancient sculptures from Greek, Roman, Etruscan, Syrian and Egyptian cultures. If you’re a first timer to the park, a timing to stop at the museum is a must.

It must be mentioned, that the park can also be reserved for events and weddings. There are event venues throughout the park. The gardens are so popular that most good weather weekends have an event going on. From Butler Philharmonic concerts to fishing derbies to food festivals there is something for everyone.

No matter your ability level, this park will have something to see. So spend an afternoon this year visiting this park, you will not be disappointed.

Historic Sauder Village

22611 OH-2, Archbold, OH 43502

https://www.saudervillage.org/

Sauder Village is named after Erie Sauder, the founder of Sauder Furniture. Sauders is known for its inexpensive ready to assemble products sold in many big box stores. The village started in 1970’s as a dream of Erie’s and soon became a reality. Over the years Sauder Village collected many old, but not unusual, buildings from around the black swamp area.

The village is divided into multiple sections. Each section has a theme that ties the buildings and surrounding grounds together. At the main entrance is the main village area. This area contains buildings that would be found in a typical small village of the 19th century, including a doctor’s office, a train station, a herb shop, and Sauder’s original workshop, a museum housing a large number of artifacts, and more. Beyond the main village is newcomers and natives area, telling about the early traders in the area and the original inhabitants. Further along is a pioneers settlement, which tells about settlers of the area. Before swinging back into the main village the trail runs through a small homestead of (as of June 2015) the 1920’s.

Each building contains many artifacts and history of the time period of the section of park it is in and of the use of the building. On busy days most have interpretors and artisans inside to help explain the history. These artists and interpretors are what bring the village to life. Everything from the daily routine of a pioneer, to what a barber charged, are brought to life through the stories and teachings of the employees. If the building is dedicated to an art, such as tin-smithing, or glass blowing, it is run by an actual purveyor of the art. Not only will they tell of the history of the art, but will probably be working on something to sell. This living history is brought to life spectacularly through out the village and seamlessly woven in at the same time.

From a small child learning about the history of the Black swamp, to an older person watching the craftsmen ply their trade, Sauder Village will have a little bit of something for everyone interested in history.

The Franklin Park Conservatory

1777 E Broad St, Columbus, OH 43203

http://www.fpconservatory.org/

The Franklin Park Conservatory is a great place to see flowers and trees. Also a great place to see many butterflies and other changing exhibits.

Separated into multiple climate zones the conservatory does more than just show of plants. It puts one deep into the climate and helps them to feel as if they are there. It is cool to go from a desert to a rainforest, but it is even better to know that the plants surrounding you are truly living in their environment. They are not just planted to make the climate zone seem realistic… but actually create the zone.  Sometimes it is hard to see the desert because of all the cactus clichés gardens use. Franklin Park does a good job of making the desert plants thrive and then let them create the feeling of a desert.

It can be a little hard to learn because of all the beauty. But if one can go beyond the view there are plenty of opportunities to do so. Hidden in the center of the main building is a Hot Shop, or glass blowing facility. While not as nice as the one at the Toledo Art Museum, it is cool to see. The shop is outdoors and the weather can be a factor. The demonstrators go above and beyond to make sure visitors learn something about the process of glass blowing as actual works of art are produced. Most of the art is even for sale in the gift shop. Educational classes are offered glass blowing and the Conservatory also offers classes in gardening, wellness, and arts.

However if you are not in the mood to learn the park has many part time exhibits that show the link between art and nature. From a cool butterfly show to the works of Dale Chihuly, there are many ways to just relax and enjoy at the Franklin Park Conservatory.

Adena Mansions and Gardens

847 Adena Rd,
Chillicothe, OH 45601
http://adenamansion.com

Quick Review: In 1803 Ohio became the 17th state in the union. Find out here what happened.

Adena is one of those places that one might never hear of if it wasn’t for the guide books. This is probably because it is small, or because it is tucked away in a small town in the middle of the state. But even with all that going against it, it is a place to go if one really wants to know how Ohio became a state.

Also known as the place where the great seal of the state of Ohio was dreamed up, the mansion and museum tells the story of Thomas Worthington and acquaintances. The museum focuses on people connected to the area and how they formed the state of Ohio from the Northwest Territories. The mansion gives a tour of the life of Worthington.

The museum is small but still has plenty of hands on exhibits and videos that allow one to feel the struggle of an early state. The mansion is historic and not overly grand. It feels as if Worthington was just a slightly richer than normal farmer that loved the area and wanted to give back to it. Unlike some grand historic homes which make you feel as if you are following the footsteps of greatness who kept the status quo, Adena is more the home of a man who became great to serve the common good.

Even though the place is historic and one knows that it is, it still is just an old house at times. The view of where the seal was envisioned is nice but nothing spectacular. Some of the gardens feel like home gardens, not grand jungles. This helps the common man fell of the place but doesn’t help the grandness that it needs to draw people in. Go once but that might be all that you need.