The Historic Canal Experience

“Low bridge, everybody down
For it’s low bridge when we’re coming to a town
You can always tell your neighbor,
You can always tell your pal,
If you’ve ever navigated on the Erie Canal.”

Did you know that while famous, “Fifteen Miles on the Erie Canal” is not an authentic Erie Canal folk tune? While it does describe the canal experience accurately, it was actually written after the canal’s heyday. We learned that (and a whole bunch of other facts about canal life!) when we visited the Miami & Erie Canal Historical Canal Experience in June!

The Historic Canal Experience is part of the Metroparks Toledo system, and is located a bit outside the city in Grand Rapids, Ohio. The canal links Toledo to Cincinnati, from Lake Erie to the Ohio River.

You can walk through the Ludwig Mill, a working water-powered saw and gristmill. It’s a fascinating place, and I really enjoyed seeing all the machinery needed to get the job done. We went all the way to the top floor, and a few of us even ventured down to the basement to see where the water comes in!

I always find it interesting when a location has a flood record for posterity’s sake…1904 was a rough year!

The train bridge is a reminder of how quickly the canal’s usefulness came to an end once the railroad came through the area:

The best part of the experience is the ride on The Volunteer, a replica of an authentic mule-drawn canal boat. We got to see how the men and mules moved the boat through the locks, and we were treated to a musical experience the day we went, which made the history come alive in a unique way!

I really didn’t know anything about mule-drawn canal boats before this experience, so it was a great opportunity for all of us to learn something, and I really enjoyed it!

Clouds Fountain

When we travel, I’m always on the lookout for a cool fountain, and this one in Toledo of rain falling from clouds did not disappoint!

Tasty Tuesday–Kewpee Hamburgers

Here’s a look at one last place we stopped to eat on our summer road trip…Kewpee Hamburgers in Lima, Ohio.

Kewpee is the second-oldest fast-food hamburger chain in the country. The company was founded in Flint, Michigan in 1923, and is thought to be what inspired Dave Thomas in his creation of Wendy’s. The first Kewpee restaurant came to Lima in 1928. The Art Deco streamline moderne style of the 1939 building is very evident inside, with lots of chrome and curved lines.

The make a “mity nice” burger and fries! Yes, it’s a square patty, just like the ones at Wendy’s.

Their slogan made me laugh!

This was a fun, historic place to stop for a meal on our way to Toledo!

Radiator Springs

“You’re in Radiator Springs, the cutest little town in Carburetor County!”

It’s time for a look at one of my very favorite parts of our trip to Disney California Adventure…our visit to Radiator Springs!

Cars is the movie I most associate with Turkey’s and Bunny’s early childhood. We went to see the movie at the drive-in theater when our house was being built, and it quickly became a family favorite. It’s still my favorite animated movie, and one of my favorite movies, period. So it was really special to be able to explore that town with Turkey and Bunny!

We discovered that apparently everyone knows to park their strollers by Stanley:

I loved getting to see the Cozy Cone Motel…it’s a popular spot to meet Lightning and Mater, too!

The most popular ride in town is “Radiator Springs Racers.” The area they built up around the ride not only looks really cool, it also tells the story of how Radiator Springs came to be (yes, there is an actual spring flowing from an old radiator!):

We saw other familiar spots, like Ramone’s House of Body Art:

And Flo’s V-8 Cafe, where we stopped for a bite to eat:

Luigi’s Casa Della Tires is also the location of another fun ride, Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters:

We got to see Doc Hudson’s trophy case:

And the Horn-O-Plenty:

There were also cool billboards on the way into town:

We saw three different Radiator Springs residents…Lightning McQueen (of course!), Mater, and Red. They were treated like any other costumed cast member at Disney with handlers and everything!

But what was maybe the coolest part of the whole experience was seeing the neon lit up at night, just like Lightning did for Miss Sally:

I am so thankful we got to have this special experience together!

Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella

I thought it would fun to take a side-by-side look at the two Disney castles I’ve visited. Of course, the Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland is the original, and is iconic, but there’s no denying that the Cinderella Castle at Disney World is much grander (both because it’s actually taller and also because they didn’t screw up the forced perspective). I love that I got to see each of them decked out for a special anniversary!

From the back, the Sleeping Beauty Castle almost reminds me of a child’s castle blocks set, while the Cinderella Castle is fancier:

Walt and Mickey stand proudly in front of each!

I’m not the type of person who wants to visit every Disney park, but I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing “Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant” at Disneyland Paris someday, too!

Tasty Tuesday–Tony Packo’s

“Incidentally, if you’re ever in Toledo, Ohio, on the Hungarian side of town, Tony Packo’s, greatest Hungarian hot dogs with chili peppers, 35 cents.” Jamie Farr as Klinger on M*A*S*H

One of the major highlights of going on our trip to Toledo was finally getting to eat at Tony Packo’s!

We went to the original location in the Hungarian neighborhood, and I’m not going to lie…walking in the door felt like going home. It had that great pub feel, but with a Hungarian twist!

OK, a neighborhood pub with a Hungarian twist and lots of M*A*S*H memorabilia!

I wasn’t going to leave there without trying the speciality of the house, the Hungarian hot dog, with mustard, onions, and hot dog sauce:

We tried some other things, too…fried pickles, pierogis, cabbage rolls, chili, and the German potato salad recommended by our waitress. It was all delicious, and again, felt like coming home. It’s not often I get to go to a place that serves the food of my people!

We also grabbed a piece of cherry strudel to go:

My understanding is that thanks to M*A*S*H, the restaurant is quite the tourist trap (they even have a gift shop in the restaurant, and yes, we did pick up a few things, including a jar of paprika to use at home), but I didn’t know it “back in the day,” so that doesn’t matter to me…the food was good, I loved the atmosphere, and the Jamie Farr/Klinger/M*A*S*H connection made me happy!

If I ever have the opportunity to go back to Toledo, I’m definitely going to stop at Packo’s again, and next time, I might try the chicken paprikas served over Hungarian dumplings (which around here we call spaetzle!).

“I’d give anything to be back in Toledo. Sitting in Packo’s with the guys, having a beer and eating a dog while the chili sauce drips down your arm.” Jamie Farr as Klinger on M*A*S*H


I took so many pictures of Disneyland…I made a conscious effort to really see things, notice things, all of the things, not just the specific attractions we were interested in (although I saw plenty of those, as well!). As a result, I have a lot of photos that don’t really fit in any particular category besides “stuff I liked at Disney,” so here it is!

It might not be as magical as Disney World (I have it on good authority that Disney World is the most magical place on earth, after all!), but it is beautiful, and I’m so glad I had the chance to experience it with Turkey and Bunny!

Unfettered Joy–Part Two

What is it about Disney that makes people so happy?

Last year, following our trip to Disney World, I shared a look at a moment of pure joy I experienced there. Looking through my photos from our trip to Disneyland this year, I realized I had a similar moment when we met Goofy. I couldn’t tell you why (I mean, aside from the fact that Goofy is awesome), but you can see from the look on my face how completely happy I was in that moment. I don’t know how Disney does it, but I wish everyone could experience moments like these!

Chasing the Characters

If you look closely at the shirt I wore to Disneyland, it says “Chasing the Fun.” Turkey and Bunny said it should have read “Chasing the Characters,” because apparently that’s what I do best when we go to theme parks!

Here’s a round-up of the characters we met or saw up close at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure (plus Goofy’s Kitchen)….my personal highlights were meeting Donald Duck, and also getting to see Goofy in his snazzy green suit! Also, since I was wearing a birthday celebration pin, many of the characters either said “Happy Birthday!” to me (like Lightning McQueen), or pantomimed it in some way (like Minnie Mouse).

Not pictured, but also seen by us include Peter Pan and Wendy, Captain Hook, the other chipmunk, Mirabel, Pinocchio and Geppetto, Sadness and Joy, Snow White, the Evil Queen, Ant-Man, Thor, Merida, Mr. and Mrs. Incredible, the Dora Milaje, Mary and Bert, Chewbacca, Rey, Mulan, and Clarabelle Cow. I think that’s pretty impressive for just two days in the parks!

Tasty Tuesday–Goofy’s Kitchen

We only had one truly sit-down meal when we were at Disneyland, but it was a very special meal, prepared in Goofy’s Kitchen!

The restaurant is located in the iconic Disneyland Hotel, and I was very excited to have an excuse to stop by there.

The highlight of our dinner was probably getting the chance to pay our compliments to the chef!

We really loved that Goofy’s distinctive profile is prominently displayed on the tables!

It’s a buffet restaurant, but it wasn’t at all what I was expecting. Of course their were kid favorites like mac ‘n’ cheese and chicken nuggets, but there were also some pretty high-end foods, including international options and even a carving station with steak!

Did I mention there’s also a huge dessert section? There were endless options of cakes, cookies, brownies, and also a soft-serve ice cream bar with all the toppings! (One of the dessert offerings is the specialty of the house, peanut butter and jelly pizza, which I’m sure that Goofy created for Max, good dad that he is).

I had quite an eclectic plate, and it was all delicious! Seriously, I wasn’t expecting buffet food at a family-style restaurant to be so good, but it really was! In addition to the steak, I especially enjoyed the fennel salad (I went back for seconds!) as well as the salmon with artichokes. (Not pictured is the carrot cake I had for dessert, which was also delicious!)

Another highlight of the dining experience were the character interactions. We saw Minnie, Pluto, and Chip ‘n’ Dale (why does Goofy employ so many rodents in his establishment?!?), and in addition to going table to table, greeting the diners, they also entertain with dances on a regular schedule. While they’re performing, the diners are encouraged to wave their napkins in the air (which I did with gusto!), which just adds to the fun atmosphere!

This was such a great dining experience…I’m so glad we had the opportunity to eat at Goofy’s!