Sunday, August 16, 2015

Chapter 43 - Frankenmuth to Van Buren, Ohio

Saturday, August 15th:
The drive from Frankenmuth to Van Buren is only around 150 miles. The drive was mostly down four lane highways including I-75, but even considering that today is Saturday the highways were crowded and there was lots of on going construction.  Ugh, we are back east again. Our decision to stay in a RV park in the very small village of Van Buren with the unusual name of Pleasant View Recreation was because we were rejected by our first two choices further south because they were all filled up for the weekend.  The Pleasant View was also highly rated and its only negative we thought was that its location was not the best.  The park itself was very nice although it was mostly filled with seasonal or full time RVers.  We specifically asked for a site with good WiFi service and we were given a very pretty and shaded site almost directly under their WiFi tower next to the park office.  Their WiFi signal was still very slow and it took us most of the afternoon just to download the few photos for the previous days blog. I guess this is just one of the joys of traveling across the country in a travel trailer.  Primitive living. Like the Oregon Trail settlers, no internet.

This second photo that I took of our RV park was taken while I was seated in a chair right next to our travel trailer.  There was a gentle hill that fell off below our trailer (and for awhile while unhooking I was worried that our travel trailer would roll down the hill), and at the bottom of the hill there is a small "fishing" lake that is mostly lined with seasonal campers although as can be seen in the photo to the left of the camper, there is a small access path to the lake.  Today the weather was nice and sunny but after leaving high temperatures only in the mid-70s, todays high of around 85 here in Van Buren seemed much to hot.

I walked down to the lake and took this photo and while I was there I talked with a young man with a fishing pole who admitted that despite hours of trying to catch a fish, he has never as much had a nibble. After a quick glance at the lake and observing its rather turquoise tinge, I remarked to the young man that it was possible that the owners of the campground were adding chlorine to the water.  He agreed, reeled in his line, and left the lake.  I followed.

Kathy inquired as to the closest grocery store in Van Buren and she was told there were none.  In fact the only commercial building in town if you exclude churches, was a post office.  The closest grocery store was about four miles away.  So away we went.  After returning and enjoying a few drinks before dinner, we had dinner, watched our antenna-driven TV, and then fell asleep finally around nine.  Not very much different than had we been home.

Sunday, August 16th:
For awhile last night (during the cocktail hour) and again this morning (over breakfast) I did a little research on our computer to see what I could learn about our new hometown, Van Buren, Ohio.  Van Buren as it turns out is a fairly old town having been originally laid out in 1833 and a little later named after our 8th President of the United States, Martin Van Buren (1837-41), who likely never visited the city. By 1870 the population of the town was 157 and by 2015 the population has soared to more than double with a recent count of 350.  In 1883 a railroad was run through the city which served primarily the local farming industry.  We crossed the tracks getting to the RV park and last night about midnight we heard the train whistle and the sound of the train on the nearby tracks. Other than this, there is nothing interesting about the small hamlet of Van Buren.  More interesting perhaps is the city about six miles to the south, the City of Findlay, Ohio, population around 41,000.  We decided immediately that we were going to visit Findlay.

As a couple both interested in looking at historical buildings and structures both Kathy and I found Findlay to be a gem, a treasure fold of old homes dating from the 1850s to the early 1900s.  The photo above has Kathy and Cabo standing on the porch of the Hancock Historical Museum which was originally a home owned by the Jasper J. Hull family in the 1880s. Just up the street is the Swan House built in 1865 and now for sale for $318K.  On Sandusky Street in Findlay there are at least ten old homes listed on an online walking tour that were built in the late 1800s.  We did not have the list with us as we drove up and down the streets but many of these homes were really spectacular.  While we could not of course know the real estate value of these homes we suspect most of them would sell in the $300K to $400K price range and they would all be very costly to maintain. These same homes in a more affluent city could be selling at upwards of $1 million.

This home pictured to the right is also not far from the other three or four homes that I photographed as we walked up and down Sandusky Street.  We continued to be amazed that this city of Findlay would contain so many well preserved and architecturally pleasing homes.

One of the things that we liked about this home was the interesting shape of the home's exterior as well as the color scheme selected by the owner.  Kathy wondered if it would be possible to rent one of these homes next summer completely furnished for around $600-$700 per month.  We might be interested. Not sure though that I would want to be responsible for the landscaping maintenance (or the electric bill, etc., etc.)

This last home that we are including was close to the largest home in the area and certainly among one of the most beautiful. We could easily live in this house and be able to sleep in a different room all summer long.  All together I must have photographed a dozen homes and there were many more that were worthy of shots.

There were also not unexpectedly a lot of beautiful churches in the downtown area of Findlay although the one that caught our eye was this closed church that many years ago had been converted into a live theater playhouse. Both Kathy and I would have loved to have been able to see a performance had we had the time and the opportunity.

Downtown Findlay had many old buildings (and many new ones as well) but most of their older buildings did not retain the elegance of many of the historical commercial buildings we had viewed in other cities.  That said, one exception is their Hancock County Courthouse building completed in 1888.  The 16-foot statue on top of the building's tower is none other than the County's namesake, John Hancock. 

This last photo of this chapter shows Kathy and Cabo reading an historical marker against a backdrop of a mural showing the nearby University of Findlay.  The historical marker has nothing to say about the university but it does speak of Findlay's role in the Underground Railroad system prior to the Civil War.  According to the marker this area saw a heavy traffic of escaping slaves as they were heading north to Canada and stated that many of the local citizens were sympathetic and offered their assistance.

We returned back to our travel trailer home by early afternoon.  As always we did our household chores or whatever, just like we would if we were at our home in Estero.  Tomorrow we have around a 200 mile drive down to Marietta, Ohio located on the Ohio River and the West Virginia border in southeast Ohio.  Here we plan to visit old friends and check out another old historic town.

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