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Issue Date: July 2004 Issue


Park Places

Whether you're drawn to the fine food and floor-to-ceiling windows of Geneva's new resort lodge, the tent-times-10 appeal of a Kelleys Island yurt or the cozy solitude of a log cabin in Mohican, Ohio's state parks have just the place for you to enjoy our

Travel Options

Textile Treasures

Witness the beauty, history and legends of the Americas, Asia and Africa woven in textiles in The Fabric of Life: Columbus Collects Textile Art, on display from June 4 through Sept. 12 at the Columbus Museum of Art. The bedspreads, rugs and quilts from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries were used in daily life, as well as to honor important individuals, tell stories and celebrate religious and magical deities. Hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and until 8:30 p.m. Thursdays. Admission is free for members and free for all visitors on Sundays. On other days, admission is $6 for adults, $4 for seniors and students and free for kids under 6. For more information, visit www.columbusmuseum.org or call (614) 221-4848.

— Genie Ogletree

The Pops under the Stars

Visit Sawmill Creek Resort Aug. 7 for an outdoor performance by the Boston Pops Orchestra, presented by the Sandusky State Theatre. Conducted by Keith Lockhart, "Broadway Babies" will feature patriotic songs and George Gershwin favorites. Concertgoers also will be treated to strolling guitarists, street performers and other musical ensembles. The show starts at 8 p.m. and ticket prices range from $19.50 to $64.50. For more information, visit www.state-theatre.com or call 1-877-378-2150.

— GO

A Celebration of Shaw

The Shaw Festival, located in Niagara-on-the-Lake in Ontario, Canada, is the only theater in the world specializing in the works of playwright George Bernard Shaw. This year, the festival features 12 plays, including such famous works as Shaw's "Pygmalion," which ends Nov. 27, and George F. Walker's "Nothing Sacred," which runs until Oct. 30. For more information, visit www.shawfest.com or call 1-800-511-SHAW.

— Marina Takahashi

The Resort

The Lodge and Conference Center at Geneva State Park

A few things you may not know about our state parks: It's possible to escape to an Ohio state park without spending much time outdoors. It's possible, in a state park, to relax in a handsome leather armchair that looks as if it should reek of pipe tobacco and literature. And it's possible, in an Ohio state park, to dine on smoked-Gouda gnocchi smothered with grana, shiitakes and picholine olives.

Skeptical? So was I — till I did all three.

The Ohio state parks have nine resorts, from Shawnee Resort in Friendship to Punderson Manor in Newbury. My husband and I visited the newest one, The Lodge and Conference Center at Geneva State Park, on the first weekend it opened to guests in May.

The Lodge is just a short walk from fishing, boating and trails. So if you want that type of park experience, it's there. But the Lodge is not a place for roughing it. With 109 rooms featuring three-star amenities and copious meeting space, the Lodge attracts the business and leisure traveler: the golfer, who can choose between many 18-hole golf courses; the wine aficionado, who can visit any of the 19 local wineries; and the historian, who might enjoy a trip to Ashtabula County's famed covered bridges. Of course, families would find a nice vacation here, too, especially if they're drawn to the amusements of Geneva-on-the-Lake.

On the late afternoon my husband and I arrived, however, we did none of these things. Geneva was significantly colder than Cleveland that day, and we found our wardrobe inappropriate for the outdoors. So, soon after arriving, we sat in the lobby, where the stone fireplace climbs four stories to the ceiling. I enjoyed a wooden rocking chair with a perfect view of Lake Erie, while my husband marveled at the details in the floor's tilework.

Eventually, we decided to go exploring. What we found on our trek around the resort were windows, mostâ„¢of them overlooking Erie's gray chop. The fitness room is surrounded by windows, as is the indoor pool across from the game room, where we indulged our inner teen-agers by playing many games of air hockey.

Before long, it was timΩ for dinner at Horizons, the on-site restaurant. Predictably, its most striking feature was the view. Everyone can see the lake from there — even the people at the bar. (Bottles of liquor and wine are stored low, in order not to block sightlines.) On a riser in the airy, octagonal dining room, we dined on the scrumptious smoked-Gouda gnocchi and chicken baked with lemon and thyme.

After dinner, we went up to our room, a cozy place with thick carpeting, pine furniture and renderings of covered bridges on the walls. There, we changed into our swimsuits and headed to the indoor pool. After a long swim, we wrapped ourselves in towels and sat by a window, watching the sunset. Instead of powerboats and seagulls, our day's end was signaled by the sounds of hot-tub jets and splashing children. It wasn't a typical day at a state park, for sure. But it was a memorable one.

— Jacqueline Marino

The Yurt

Kelleys Island State Park

Before I checked into my yurt at Kelleys Island State Park, I wondered what could be so special about something originally designed as a pack-up-and-go canvas abode?

I can understand the yurt's appeal to Mongolian nomads, who have been living in them for centuries. But I was astounded to learn that they're also among the most popular places to stay in the five Ohio state parks that have them and they're often booked a year in advance.

I expected to find a glorified tent on a rough-hewn wooden platform, the interior filled with collapsible outdoor furniture and bare-bones conveniences: a dorm-room-sized refrigerator perhaps, accompanied by a portable propane stove and a plastic commode in a curtained corner.

What I got instead was a round, lattice-framed structure set on a wraparound deck overlooking Lake Erie. To my great surprise, the yurt looked and lived like a real house inside, right down to the thermostat and light switches on the wall. The living/dining/sleeping area was furnished with sturdy residential-quality wood pieces. The little kitchen was outfitted with oak cabinetry, gleaming white appliances and all the items needed to prepare and dish up a meal. There was hot and cold running water in the stainless-steel kitchen sink and a surprisingly spacious full bath, which contained a real flush toilet, sink and handicapped-accessible shower stall.

Park officer/manager Mike Monnett says Å“he yurt's unique appeal lies in its specially coated fabric walls, which allow guests to experience the sounds of nature without enduring the consequences.

During my stay, I planned to pass the time sitting on the sandy swimming beach just steps from my front door and admiring the waterfront view from my well-shaded deck, maybe even fire up the propane grill. Unfortunately, the weather made that impossible, and I spent most of the night curled up on a futon sofa, listening to the rain and watching TV.

All that time indoors brought to my attention a few of the drawbacks of yurt life. First, I had to go outside to open and close the windows, sheets of clear, heavy plastic Velcroed into place over screened rectangles in the walls — not a lot of fun in a heavy downpour. Second, while the yurt proved to be wind- and rain-proof, it certainly wasn't insect-proof. There were spiders on the hardwood floors, the ceiling and the walls.

But arm me with a can of bug spray and I'd go back again.

— Lynne Thompson

The Camper Cabin

Mohican State Park

Twelve years ago, my husband talked me into a backpacking trip. Back then, hiking for miles and sleeping in a two-person tent was fun. But now that we have a preteen and a 2-year-old, rustic camping has lost its charm. We like the idea of camping, but not all the work. So, when we pulled up to Antil's Camper Cabin at Mohican State Park, I thought, This is more like it. We don't need a tent to get the camping experience. With a camper cabin we get the fresh air, the pine trees, the time to slow down — plus a bed and a nearby bathroom with hot showers.

Our cabin was a cozy one-room log house. Green-checked gingham curtains adorned each window and the hewn-log frame beds (a double bed and a bunk bed) added country charm. This was a place where you could read a book, write a memoir or simply be. My husband and I, however, chose to take a walk to the river and watch our toddler son throw stones into it. Meanwhile, our 11-year-old and her friend gathered twigs to start a blaze in the campfire ring. When we returned, we bought firewood bundles and the requisite marshmallows from the commissary.

With our food in the refrigerator — another cabin perk — we didn't worry about keeping milk for breakfast cereal or half-and-half for coffee. Our coffee pot was one of the things we brought from home, along with bedding, towels and kitchenware. A bedside table and a lamp were the only furnishings in addition to the beds. Outside, the porch swing was a perfect place to relax. Even though the cabin was near the parking lot, the pines provided woodsy ambiance and privacy.

There are plenty of things to do near the cabin: Take a walk on the trails, visit the playground, swim in the pool (provided it's open) or play basketball on the court (provided you bring your own ball).

We didn't bring a ball, but we did bring a CD player, games and some of our son's favorite toys to keep him occupied. I wished we'd brought folding chairs for somewhere to sit besides the beds.

It rained during our night at Mohican. But thanks to Lonnie Antil's family and friends, who donated the cabin in his memory, we stayed warm and dry. What a treat to listen to raindrops without worrying about touching the sides of a tent.

— Jamie Rhein


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