Sunday, March 17, 2019

A Head Full of... Winklepleck?!

Nice lady haunting one of many graveyards we discovered in Ohio's Amish country
A couple of years ago, Ms. Brugger & I headed up to Ohio's Amish country—specifically, the little town of Berlin (accent on the first syllable), in Holmes County—to hang out with her folks, Delmar & Fern, who enjoy visiting there on a regular basis (see "Hanging With Bigfoot, and Other Amish Tales"). Once again, over these past few days, we did this thing, having taken a bit of time off work for the occasion. We headed out Thursday morning for the roughly 350-mile trip, and—much to your surprise and mine—I found myself hunting a number of geocaches along the way. The most interesting was probably a historical location in Virginia, just shy of the West Virginia border, known as Shot Tower Historical State Park It's a 75-foot stone tower that was part of an ammunition works in the early 1800s. The cache there (GC7DZXF) was placed by some folks known as "The Shenandoahs," whose caches I have found from Virginia to South Carolina. Their hides frequently lead you to intriguing locations, and this one was no exception.
Old Shot Tower viewed from the trail around the location
I-77 viewed from the trail overlook near the Shot Tower
Rather than ride in silence or listening to tunes, we availed ourselves to the audio book of Paul Tremblay's Bram Stoker Award–winning Head Full of Ghosts, which lasted us the entire northbound trip and fair portion of the southbound. I've had it on my Kindle for far too long, thanks to a book queue I may never actually get through, but I must say I'm glad Ms. B. felt inclined to treat us to the audio book, as it made for superb-quality riding/driving time. The narrator, Joy Osmanski, nicely brought the characters to life. I've not read any of Paul's other novels as yet, but I think his Cabin at the End of the World will be priority in the upcoming queue.
This little piggy went to (the Amish) market...
for the last time.

Upon our arrival in Berlin, we settled in at Zinck's Inn, where we had stayed on our previous visit. Del & Fern were apparently starving and anxiously awaiting our arrival, for they immediately hustled us off to the nearby Boyd & Wurthmann's restaurant, where we had dined several times last time around. This was the only meal we had there on this trip, and it was a good one, with Swiss steak, Amish noodles, and green beans for all of us but Del, who tore into a chopped sirloin steak. We spent the rest of the evening in traditional Brugger fashion: sipping wine and watching TV with Del & Fern in their hotel room while riding out a terrific thunderstorm complete with tornado warning (apparently, a tornado did touch down and cause severe damage not very far away). We prevailed and then went to bed.

Last time around, it wasn't particularly cold in Berlin. On this trip, the warmth wasn't very, and the cold very much was. On Friday and Saturday, we had flurries of snow off and on, though none of it stuck or caused any travel issues. And it made for some fun geocaching. Friday morning, I accompanied the gang on some high-powered, Brugger-style flea marketing and antiquing. Then Ms. B. and I headed out to nearby Sugarcreek for a visit to Silver Moon Winery, which we had enjoyed, albeit briefly, on our previous trip. I did snag a couple of caches on this noble endeavor, I am happy to report. It was out here, while traveling the aptly named Spooky Hollow Road, that we found ourselves passing through the mysterious, legend-haunted community called "Winklepleck." By the grace of God, we survived both the winkles and the plecks.
Aptly named.
Sheep appeared very happy to see us.
For dinner, we opted for the Berlin Farmstead, a very short distance from our home away from home (actually, it's safe to say that, in Berlin, just about everything of commercial nature is but a short distance from our home away from home). Now, I will say I loved the food here—"broasted" chicken, grilled vegetables, and creamed corn—but on this night, it was particularly crowded, and as for their system of seating patrons...there was none. The foyer was filled with ravenous people, and although the pair of young Amish women ostensibly overseeing things inquired as to the number in each party and dutifully wrote said number on their official number-taking tablet, they proceeded to seat only whoever happened to be standing closest to their station at any given moment. After a while, we took it upon ourselves to go stand close, and thus we managed to sit down. Some folks, I'm not so sure about. Now, this place has clearly been around for quite some time. I don't know whether this brand of not-even-slightly controlled chaos is SOP, but I'd sure as hell hope not. Based on the quality of the food, I'd really like to dine there on a future trip, but I'd not be willing to go there hoping I might actually be seated based on my proximity to a couple of pairs of thoroughly discombobulated eyes.

We spent the rest of the evening in traditional Brugger fashion: sipping wine and watching TV with Del & Fern in their hotel room, this time sans terrific thunderstorm and tornado warning.
A massive hornet's nest, thankfully uninhabited,
on old grave marker

Saturday morning saw us venturing forth to nearby Walnut Creek to purchase delicious foodstuffs at the big Amish market there. Afterward, the Bruggers were determined to press on with the requisite antiquing/shopping, but I jumped ship and headed out to the more remote, scenic corners of Holmes County. I managed to find a host of small, damn-near ancient graveyards, not to mention their attendant geocaches. At one little boneyard, I managed to leave my hiking stick behind, though I did not realize it until the next cache, which is where I really could have used it. Here, at a woodland hide called "Panther's Hollow Overhang" (GC40T8M), as I was making my way down a particularly steep, slippery embankment, my feet managed to get away from me. Next thing you know, I'm whooshing down the incline toward a rocky ravine. I grabbed a handy tree, only to have it laugh at me and rip off a portion of anatomy on my right hand sufficient to cause prodigious bleeding and a wee bit of stinging. Seriously, it was merely a flesh wound but a most annoying occurrence, given that a hiking stick in the hands of someone less absent-minded might have made a meaningful difference regarding favorable v. painful outcomes.
A cheesy outhouse at Guggisberg Cheese Works
A nice little graveyard, where I managed to leave my hiking stick behind
Different graveyard, more graves
For Saturday dinner, we opted for pizza at East of Chicago, which was pretty good. We spent the rest of the evening in traditional Brugger fashion: sipping wine and watching TV with Del & Fern in their hotel room, again sans terrific thunderstorm and tornado warning, although I did suffer a minor migraine, which wasn't exactly the most pleasing turn of events. I reckon I can count my blessing it wasn't one of those killer headaches that occasionally knock me for a loop.

And this morning, after an apparently non-existent long weekend, since we just bloody got to the place, it was time to say our goodbyes. I tell you, I don't recall a spell of days that ever passed so quickly. We were there, and then we weren't. At this point, we have all arrived home safely—I even with my hiking stick, since we went out to retrieve it prior to hitting the highway. After finishing up A Head Full of Ghosts on our return trip, we put on the audio book of my Ameri-Scares series novel, West Virginia: Lair of the Mothman, which I had yet to listen to. I must say, I'm very pleased with the narration by Tim Lundeen. If he is available to narrate more of my books coming out on audio, I should like to request his services. Check out the audio book from Audible here.

Yep, it was a fast, fun weekend, marred only by how damn fast it really was. Well, that and the migraine. But hey, we survived the madness known as Winklepleck!
A hat for every occasion
Well, Brugger always has had a thing for older men.

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