While Jeff and I lived in Oregon we devised a road trip game. The scrabble tiles representing each of the cardinal directions and numerical cards from another game all went into a drawstring bag. We’d first draw a card, that was how many minutes we’d drive in the direction of the tile that we’d pull. Once we’d gone however many minutes, we’d draw both again. The only caveat that we had was that we were not able to directly backtrack, and if we drew that tile, we’d re draw.
We’ve tossed the idea around of coming up with a rebranded version of this weekend plan generator, and haven’t had a chance to test drive it yet. While we’ve been talking about an Explore Ohio weekend road trip, we instead chose to drive down to Athens for the day, exploring the farmers market, poking into shops along the high street, stopping in for lunch at Sol, hitting up an art exhibit at the Dairy Barn Arts Center, and hiking along the Ridges.
Can we take a minute to talk about how amazingly peaceful and calm Athens is?
We’d been down one day last summer, again on a whim, though that was one that was born out of desperation to get the hell out of that tiny apartment that we were living in, and even then, the only exploring we really did was the back patio and beer list while eating pizza at Jackie-O’s. Great day, not so much on the exploring side of things.
This time however, with the help of the visitors bureau, we had a game plan.
We started the day here in Columbus, grabbing coffee from Espresso 22, our local coffee shop, and heading south through and out of the city. I am constantly amazed at how beautiful Ohio really is, especially as you go south, the rolling hills, love them.
Athens Famers Market
We started our day at the Athens Farmers Market, working our way from stall to stall, checking out not only what the market itself had to offer, but what looked good from each of them.
Farmers market shopping is our household preferred way to shop for produce, meat, cheeses, and eggs, and while we may have an idea of what we want to do meal wise when we get there, often it will change as we go, depending on what looks good that day. This was no different.
We got tamales from Nixtamalized, veggies for me, peach paw paw for Jeff, both of which were cooked perfectly and full of flavor.
Swung by Herbal Sage Tea Company for a bag of loose leaf tea that I was low on, snagged a couple of bottles of kombucha from Lapp It Up, (Both of which are ammmmmmazing), and the most beautiful heirloom tomatoes from Crowdery Farms (hello caprese salad).
The produce, purveyors, and selection hooked us. Saturday morning trips back to Athens expressly for the Farmers Market are in our future, plus, the drive down was fast and easy.
Shopping in Uptown
After the farmers market we drive into uptown Athens (or downtown, I’m always turned around on which is the appropriate), parked and took our time perusing Court Street, popping in and out of the shops that caught our eye. Not all of them allowed photography inside, a preference which I will ALWAYS respect. The shops and bars along Court are varied, and definitely welcoming. We browsed our way up one side and down the other, taking our time to poke around and explore.
We stopped into Artifacts Gallery first, where the shelf of carved wooded creatures whom hail from Oaxaca Mexico stood, thier heads and tails swaying gently in the breeze as they watched the comings and goings of the shop. The shop owner, Amy Mangano, describes her shop as follows.
We have cute clothes, cool tees, fun gifts, unique jewelry and USA crafted pottery. Artifacts has been an Athens, OH shopping destination for over 40 years! It started as an antique shop in the 70’s (hence the name) and has since evolved into a fun boutique with an extensive mix of eclectic items. We sell dresses and tops, graphic tees for men and women, pottery, sterling and gemstone jewelry, kids tees, tapestries, incense……..we try to please everyone! Need some bacon lip balm? We gotcha covered. How bout some cool shades? Yessir.
– Amy Mangano, via shopartifactsgallery.com.
Poking through the racks of merchandise had me giggling, and seriously jonsing for thier funny pot holders.
Import House is father down Court St, and has two doors in which to enter. One side of the shop carries shoes and clothing, the other, an assortment of incense, water pipes, salt lamps, various Buddha statues (I managed to fall in love with the one that isn’t for sale, but hey, c’est la vie), tarot cards, and a whole lot of Ohio wear and decor. I felt right at home, and am plannign a trip back to spend more time poking around. Jeff at this point was ready to be done with shopping, and as we still had most of the street to explore, figured that it was heavily in my favor to come back at another time.
Check it out :: 2 W State St, Athens, OH 45701
Athens Underground is the first true vintage shop that I’d ever been in. Antique shops, sure, but in my mind, they are two very different things. They don’t allow photography in the store, which from a photography stand point I totally understand, and respect, however, it was also kind of killing me, as EVERYTHING was crying out to me as a photographer.
I had to remind myself that I was not in fact there on a buying trip for my studio, and again, knew that I was on a limited timeframe due to being mindful of the fact that Jeff is not in any way someone who enjoys shopping. He was however, the one who ended up purchasing while we were there, coming home with a handful of new to him books that had caught his eye.
Check it out :: 90 N Court St, Athens, OH 45701
Passion Works Studio
Passion Works Studio is just off of Court Street, and I would have walked past it had I not been looking for it. It’s there that the Athens Flowers are created by artists with and without what our society views as disabilities. (personally, I choose to look at it as differently abled, rather than disabled, but that’s a discussion for another time). These flowers are bright and vibrant, and can be hung in or outdoors, though they recommend that if you’re going to hang them out side, to keep them out of the direct path of the sun or of the elements.
The flowers themselves are made from recycled aluminum newspaper printing plates and are all hand painted on site by the studios artists, and come in small, medium, or large.
The studio can be found at 20 E State St, Athens, OH 45701.
Lunch at Sol Restaurant
For lunch, we headed to Sol, which bills itself as an Island Bar and Grill. We got there at the strange slightly after lunch, not quite dinner, maybe still could be considered brunch because it’s the weekend hour and ended up ordering an array. Sol fits into Athens perfectly. The service was friendly, the beer was cold, and the game was on the TV’s over the bar.
We refueled, and got back to exploring.
Dairy Barn Arts Center
The Dairy Barn Arts Center is tucked back into a small valley below The Ridges, and sits just above the road that you drive in on. The mission of the Dairy Barn Arts Center is as follows ::
The Dairy Barn Arts Center’s mission is to offer exhibitions, events, and educational programs that nurture and promote area artists and artisans; develop art appreciation among all ages; provide the community access to fine arts and crafts from outside the region; and draw attention and visitors to Southeast Ohio.
The Contemporary Ceramics Exhibit was in residence while we were there, and what artists can do with clay, blew my mind. There were a few pieces that I would have bene more than happy to take home except for the small stumbling block of there was no way that I would be able to convince Jeff to display a gigantic gold princess crown anywhere in our house. (again, photography was not allowed, so you’ll have to go check them out on your own.)
Check it out :: 8000 Dairy Ln., Athens, OH 45701
Across the street from the Dairy Barn lies the trail head (such as it is) to the stair case that leads you up to the top of the ridge. Once you’ve climbed the wooden staircase, you pop out through the tree line into the back of the cemetery. These first grave stones that you see, they’re newer, well kept, and few in number, the further back you walk across the open field, however, and that feeling falls away.
And it falls away fast.
Where you really are standing, despite the name change, is the burial grounds that were utilized when it wasn’t called The Ridges a name that was adopted in 1984, but rather the what it was built as.
While it was still in operation it operated under various versions of the name, settling on the Ridges after a naming contest in 1984. The graves are not marked with names in this part of the graveyard, but rather the deceased’s patient number. Here’s where the rub is with that (other than the obvious) men had thier set of numbers, and women theirs, and the numbers ran side by side. Which means there are two graves for each number, and the records of who was buried where have been lost to time.
To say that it’s eerie up there is an under statement, but amazingly peaceful at the same time. We were up there as the sun was starting to set, and I can for sure tell you that you don’t want to be up there once the sun drops.
Totally haunted, and totally worth checking out :: 100 Ridges Cir., Athens, OH 45701
We lost track of time while we were exploring, and have a trip back planned for the early part of next month to explore more. Make sure to join the Cook.Eat.Explore email list (You’ll never be spammed, I promise) to not miss a thing!