Quaint Hamlets & Scenic Byways

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Last Thursday we left Indiana’s Amish country behind us. We had expected a 4.5 hour travel day to our next destination but the day ran longer than anticipated.  Not only were there several construction sites along both the Ohio Turnpike and I-75 that slowed us but we also passed a horrendous accident scene involving a semi tractor trailer that had us at a short standstill.  That, and given the day’s high was 86 degrees, Don had dropped his towing speed down to 55-60 mph instead of his usual 65. He doesn’t like to push it in the heat. Eventually we arrived, no thanks to either of our GPS systems. It was past our usual dinner time once we got Suite Pea settled into her new location. I was grateful for my foresight of preparing extra food the previous day so that all I had to do was nuke it. Once the supper dishes were washed and put away we called it a day and went to bed, saving our exploration of the RV park for the following day.

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Welcome to Holmes County

We traded one state’s Amish area for another’s. Our “home” for the time being is Scenic Hills RV Park in Berlin Township, Ohio. Berlin is at the heart of Ohio’s largest Amish community and is the oldest existing village in Holmes County. The entire area is a scenic vista of rolling hills dotted with family farms.

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Scenic Hills is conveniently located just south of the Amish Country Byway. With only 113 campsites, it’s a small park, but the way it’s laid out it appears larger. I’m sure all of the green space contributes to that.  Other than the 5 super sites near the entrance the remaining campsites are of average spacing in between them with an equal number of them being pull-thrus and back-ins. All have full hookup with great water pressure, and all are level. The campground offers no amenities other than a laundry, a dump station, free campfire wood, and free wifi, which we did not use so I can’t say how fast or reliable it is. This is reflected in its rates which are very reasonable. Cash or check only accepted. One other thing I might add is this is one of cleanest, most well tended RV parks we have ever stayed in.

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One of the back-in sites. That’s Suite Pea on the left.

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The 5 super sites near the entrance. The only difference between these & the other campsites is the width & the bricked patio areas. When we changed sites we were moved to where the Montana 5th wheel is in photo.

                             Two different styles of pull-thru sites below. One graveled, one grass

On our first full day we spent half of it visiting with friends. We met up with Barb and Tom, and Glen and Sue for lunch at Mrs. Yoder’s Kitchen. As it is with most RVers, we spent more time gabbing than we did eating. It sure was nice catching up on everyone’s travels. Speaking of friends, Beau made some new acquaintances too, sisters Gracie and Baylee. They have scheduled a few play dates together.

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Beau with new friends, Gracie & Baylee

Saturday we made the mistake of going sightseeing along with a few hundred other weekend tourists. We opted to start small with the exploration of the area by just focusing on Berlin. We were surprised to see just how commercialized it is. Lots of craft and trinket shops with many having nothing whatsoever to do with the Amish or their lifestyle, several bakeries and cafes, and a few farm markets thrown into the mix for good measure. Close to lunchtime we spotted a pretzel shop and decided to check it out. After perusing the display case we left empty handed. Don summed it up well, after having sampled pretzels in the Amish communities of Shipshewana, Indiana and Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the offerings at the Pretzel Nook was a disappointment. Heading back to the truck we spotted a line at a little hole in the wall advertising homemade ice cream. Sure enough, alongside there was a man making ice cream with a large salt and ice packed wooden bucket attached to the motor of a John Deere tractor. Don ordered the pecan pumpkin and I sampled the black cherry. Both were delicious.

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One of the 95 parochial Amish schools in Holmes County

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Tiring of the crowd we decided to move on to Mount Hope and the Heini’s Cheese Chalet that Glen told us about. It was pretty crowded too but the cheese people are obviously use to it. They have it down to a science. The cheese tasting is done in single file around a horseshoe shaped area. With over 35 varieties to sample, not to mention dips, spreads, sausages, salsas, and more, we were there for quite awhile. We both left carrying bags to stock our fridge and pantry with.

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We spent Sunday tackling the housework and grocery shopping then topped it off with a campfire. The ensuing day was drizzly and chilly. I felt it was a good day to tackle the laundry and bribed Don into helping me by taking him out to breakfast first. He chose Boyd & Wurthmann’s restaurant after looking at dining reviews on Yelp and Trip Advisor. It was obvious why the place is always packed when we drive by, the food was local fare, tasty, and ample. It’s where the locals go. Rather than use the laundry facilities in the park which consists of only two washers and dryers each, we drove into Millersburg to use the laundromat. With four loads, I didn’t want to make it a half day event. The owners showed up to clean the already immaculate shop and struck up a conversation with us. Once they learned we were full time RVers the conversation ran the usual course with lots of questions about the lifestyle, mail forwarding, why we chose South Dakota for our domicile, etc. We are always delighted to share our RVing life with others.

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The park offers free fire wood from the lumber yard next door.

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We spent Tuesday cruising the back roads and discovering what a few of the other villages had to offer but first a stop at an authentic Amish bakery for morning sustenance. Diligent research took us to Miller’s Bakery.  Located on a narrow country lane in the middle of nowhere, even our GPS had a difficult time finding it. But WOW,  was the hassle ever worth it. The cheese tarts and blackberry filled doughnuts were delectable! From there we visited the towns of Walnut Creek and Sugarcreek.

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Plaited in 1826, Walnut Creek has a large Amish population and is popular with the tourist. Smaller in size and with fewer shops, it’s not as commercialized as Berlin. The draw here is The Amish Country Theater with it’s comedy variety shows and the Walnut Creek Cheese, a grocery and retail store that offers a little bit of everything. We browsed the aisles but made no purchases. Then we moved on to Sugarcreek.

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Sugarcreek is actually in the neighboring county of Tuscarawas. It’s known as “The Little Switzerland of Ohio.” Founded in 1814 at the intersection of two Indian trails, it’s where the first Amish to arrive in Ohio settled in 1808. In the center of town stands the world’s largest cuckoo clock, listed in the Guinness Book of World Records, it’s perhaps the town’s biggest draw. The clock chimes on the hour and half hour. We stationed ourselves in the little seating area in front to await the show. Very kitschy! One other thing that caught our attention, polka style music is piped out to the population in the streets.

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We finished the day with fresh German brats on soft pretzel buns washed down with ice cold Yuenling beer.

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A couple from the campground told us about a huge Belgian horse on display at Hershberger’s Farm and showed us a photo they’d taken. We were so impressed, yesterday we went to see him for ourselves. His name is Hershy’s King Buck. Born in 2012 and weighing in at 2650 lbs., he still has a few years of growth ahead of him. We were told that Buck could top out at over 3000 lbs. His size is intimidating but I quickly learned he was very gentle and loved having  his nose stroked. The farm is a perfect outing on a beautiful Fall day. It has something to offer everyone, no matter the age. All of the pumpkins, gourds, colorful mums, and Amish buggies against the deep red barn made the setting visually appealing too.

                                                                                 KING BUCK

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Hershberger Farm grows more than just huge Belgians. Check out those pumpkins.

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Today was moving day. Our shortest one to date. We have extended our stay by 2 nights but with the park being booked for the weekend it meant we had to change sites. The only site available was one of the super sites in the front. It’s been a big hit with Beau. Our rear window looks out over the street below and with Amish neighbors beside us and up and down the road, Beau has taken up residence on the couch to watch the horses pass by. A happy dog makes for a happy home.

Here’s lookin’ at you kid…….

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4 thoughts on “Quaint Hamlets & Scenic Byways

  1. Wow, what an awesome area. I want to hang with you two and check out all theawwsome
    Places!! I just love farms, horses and the buggies!! The campground looks very nice and since Beau approves then I think it’s a winner!! We tried to go to a COE park we tried to go to last year but was full and so we went somewhere else! Sounds like we should have checked out other spots!

    • There’s always next time Sue. We like COE parks too but have with many of them that we need to make reservations well in advance. They’re very popular. There’s also another campground on OH 39 between Millersburg & Berlin. It’s smaller but newer. We didn’t check it out though. In all honesty, when in comes to the Amish restaurants, markets, & places to learn about the culture, we prefer northern IN & Lancaster, PA to Holmes County. However, if you’re talking about the pleasant scenery, Holmes County wins hands down.

  2. Reading your post this morning reminded me of why I love reading each one and always look forward to them. You have a very descriptive writing skill that just draws me in.

    We stayed overnight in Sugarcreek last year on our way to NY state where we discovered the cuckoo clock in their downtown. I’d love to go back and spend more time in the area. The countryside was so beautiful and very peaceful.

    • Thank you for your kind words. I don’t fancy myself to be much of a writer but it keeps both our daughters & my father happy to know what we’re up too. I do agree with you on the scenery. The rolling hills & the Amish farms make for a peaceful, picturesque countryside. It’s been a very relaxing, enjoyable experience.

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