Like we did in Athens, Jeff and I are in Butler County this weekend, spending the weekend exploring a part of the state that we haven’t spent much time in since moving to Oho. Kentucky has the Bourbon Trail, Bend Oregon has the Ale Trail, California has Napa, Mississippi has the Blues Trail, and Southwestern Ohio, Butler County to be specific, has the Donut Trail.
As soon as we found out about it, we were in.
Butler County, Day One
Thanks to the Butler County Visitors Bureau, we were given an itinerary, and we were off. We drove down from Columbus last night, checked into our hotel, grabbed dinner, and while I know that we had the TV for a least a little while, I was out the moment my head hit the pillow. This morning, we were up before the sun was (lemme tell you how much I am NOT a morning person) to get started on the Donut Trail, which after that first brain clearing, life affirming cup of coffee, I was glad we were up so early.
Watching the sun come up as we were exploring the countryside and small towns that are dotted throughout the county in search of donuts, and more coffee, was beautiful. I’d been down to Cincinnati for Reds Games, and one very fast trip in and out of Jungle Jim’s, but other than that, I’ve spent zero time exploring down here.
I had no idea how beautiful it really is. This morning was foggy, as most fall mornings are, and watching that lift and burn off through the rolling hills and over the rivers and creeks that we crossed, I was in exploring heaven. More than once I asked Jeff to either turn around, or back up (much to his chagrin, as we were on roads, albeit empty ones) so that I could snap a shot that I had seen, but wasn’t fast enough to capture as we were driving by.
The Donut Trail
The Donut Trail has it’s own feature post in the works, but I’m having such a ball that I didn’t want to wait until the photos are edited and the full post finished to tell y’all about how awesome it is down here.
At one of the stops along the trail, Kelly’s, to be specific, we met a gal who told us about Operation Pumpkin, Hamilton’s fall festival, and soon everyone waiting in line in the shop chimed in to tell us how awesome this festival is, and how we absolutely had to check it out. Thankfully, our itinerary has some flexibility in it, so as soon as we finished the Donut Trail we looped back to downtown Hamilton and hit up Operation Pumpkin.
The high street through downtown is blocked off, booths line both sides of the street, vendors selling crafts, paintings, pretty sure I saw an insurance tent somewhere in the mix and further down were the food trucks. Before we talk more about the food trucks, ’cause you know those caught my eye, let’s talk about what was going on in the middle of the street…. the pumpkin carving contests.
The pumpkins were about half the size of a Volkswagon beetle, and these “carvings” were more works of art than pumpkin carving. We watched them work for a while before moving on, sampling apple’s, watching families explore and enjoy the sunshine, and listened to the live music that floated on the air. All of this is framed on both sides by historical architecture, sturdy, solid buildings that paint a picture of a bygone era in your head when you first see them.
Burwinkel Farms & Lunch at Dai Trang Bistro
From there, we headed to Burwinkel Farms, in Ross, and worked our way through thier corn maze. Turns out that I am still not a fan of corn maze’s. At all. I consider it a large win that I didn’t lose my sh#t and forge my own path through the corn out of the maze, though I definitely thought about it.
After the corn maze, and the smells of kettle corn being made, Siri guided us to lunch at the Dai Trang Bistro, tucked into a strip mall in West Chester Township, where we dug into the fish sauce wings like we hadn’t seen food in a month. They were so. freaking. good. Super crispy on the outside, flavorful and perfectly cooked on the inside.
By the time that we were done with lunch, we made the executive decision to juggle our itinerary a bit more, and headed back to the hotel so that I could dig into editing photos and start working on the posts that will come from today.
That was just day one.
Day Two’s Agenda (such as it is)
Tomorrow is slated for breakfast at Northstar Cafe, which is one of our favorites, Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park to zip around in a golf cart, exploring the park and checking out the Intrude Exhibit, which I am particularly excited for, as I have a collection of bunnies (statuettes, paintings, and the like, not live ones) due to being born on Easter Sunday. From there, we’re going to Jungle Jim’s, to not only explore, but load up on groceries before we have lunch at Aladdin’s Eatery and then head back to Columbus.
But first, sleep.