Friday, August 05, 2005

Road Trip: Oglebay Resort, West Virginia

Ohio and Michigan nearly went to war over Toledo.

Toby Boyce (c)

An interesting piece of history, but personally I would have much rather seen us battle Pennsylvania and Virginia for the sliver of land that gives West Virginia its unique northern point.

Recently, I attended the Independent College Advancement Associates Conference at Oglebay Resort just north of Wheeling and had my love of the region restored.

Ogelbay is only a couple miles from the hustle of I-70 and downtown Wheeling, but it could easily be 150-miles from civilization. As you head up Route 88 North, the winding road seems to leave stress and tension behind.

Toby Boyce (c)

As I walked into my room at Wilson Lodge, I kept expecting Jennifer Gray to be getting whisked off her feet by Patrick Swayze. The Lodge has been able to maintain a rustic and classic feel despite being updated and brought into a more recent times. The majority of rooms do not have internet access (there is a library on the second floor with wireless capabilities) or the newest gadgets and toys and the bathroom in my two double bed room was small -- but for some reason this lack of amenities made the Lodge even more special.

The meeting rooms were well-kept and clean and provided a nice environment for the conference. The location's food was very good and I found every member of the staff to be helpful and ready to make our visit even better.

Toby Boyce (c)

But the true beauty of the Resort is located outside the walls of Wilson Lodge. The Lodge has four golf courses for the hacker. Arnold Palmer and Robert Trent Jones give it two premiere courses that cannot be matched for beauty. Crispin Course is an 18-hole course that works its way through the facilities and has some beautiful holes and throw in the driving-range and Par III course and any golfer would be happy for a weekend in the West Virginia hills. Personally, I didn't play any of the courses - something about being in my first year of playing golf that I thought these were a notch above my level - but did walk around the Robert Trent Jones course to get a feel for it and I don't think there was a flat-lie on the course at all.

Toby Boyce (c)

If you don't golf, there are numerous other options for the person planning to visit Oglebay. The outdoor pool is beautiful but I made my way toward the lake and the nature center and walking trails. The trails led you through the steep hills and I would suggest good hiking shoes and being ready for a nice level of physical activity before heading over the hills. But my personal favorite was a butterfly park located behind the nature center, which also became the feeding place of three Hummingbirds while I was watching.

All told the trip was a good one and only sitting 2-1/2 hours from Columbus this is a must-visit for all stressed out Buckeyes.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Coming Events...

Sorry about not getting anything posted earlier today, I’m working on a couple of pieces that I’ll get up over the next couple of days.

Have lots of counties to write up and also “road trips” to Concord/Kannapolis/Mooresville, North Carolina and Overby Resort in Wheeling, West Virginia.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Road Trip: Durham, North Carolina

The old adage is that one of the greatest parts of vacation is the planning. And there is always the “call to confirm” that appears in all the flyers.

For my birthday (which is in December) my wife gave me an “IOU” for tickets to a Durham Bulls baseball game. I cashed those tickets on Monday when the Bulls took on the Charlotte Knights in a game that was featured on ESPN's 50 days in 50 states.

Kenny Mayne

The City: Durham has its pockets of nice areas unfortunately they are intertwined in a way that you never know where to feel comfortable. The city was relatively clean with a lot of trees, but had an overall “blah” feel that didn’t make you feel at home.

The Residents: One thing I did notice in Durham (as well as Kannapolis, Mooresville, and Concord) is the politeness of people. Heading in-and-out of the doors, they’d always hold the door for you, just little things that we Ohioans don’t seem to have time for anymore.

Bennett Place: A State Historical site located on the northwest side of the city and commemorates the final days of the Civil War. The sign on the site paid homage to the Bennett Farm being the site where General Sherman accepted the largest hand-over of men from General Johnson during the Civil War. Unfortunately, the site is closed on Monday. We were able to walk around the site and look at the buildings, but the information center and buildings were closed.

Duke University: As a closet Blue Devil fan for years, hey, I’m a former Danville Blue Devil. So when the Buckeyes were out of the NCAA Basketball tournament earlier it was cool to have someone to root for. This was something I was looking forward too, walking around the campus and getting a feel for this fine institution of higher-learning. I was hoping to visit Cameron and run into golf coach Rod Myers (OWU class of 1961) and introduce myself. But, we found that they charged you $2 an hour to park at the site. $2 is nothing, but the thought that I was going to pay an institution of higher learning to simply WALK AROUND the CAMPUS really bugged me. So we drove around campus for a few minutes, but it wasn’t the same and we moved on.

Duke University Tobacco Museum: Obviously, the state of North Carolina shuts down on Monday, which if I’d made a couple of phone calls, I would have known. The site was closed so we drove by slow and looked at the pretty grounds.

Brightleaf Square: Another disappointment. The Visitor’s Bureau made this area seem like the “it” spot in Durham to hang-out and spend and afternoon. There were several restaurants and some interesting – and expensive – shops but the area was rather a dud for us. It did boast the best Mexican Restaurant – El Rodeo – we’ve eaten at in a long-time. I’ve become leery of eating beef at Mexican establishments, but they had some of the best hamburger – it was juicy without being fatty – that I’ve ever had.

Guglhupf Bakery: Now for another rule, cities don’t always agree on how to name their streets. For example, in Durham, there are four different streets bearing the name “Chapel Hill” and that doesn’t include those with other words included in Chapel Hill – like Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd. We spent 45 minutes looking on Chapel Hill Blvd. for the Bakery, only to realize that it was housed in a building on what was listed on street signs as being Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd. We also found this to be closed, but by the time we found it was after lunch.

At this point, we gave up on our search for the “local” scene and headed to a wine shop. Thankfully that was open, so we picked up a couple of local Carolina brews and a Reisling from a Carolina winery to enjoy later this week. We did a little shopping before enjoying the Hampton Inn’s pool and heading to the Durham Athletic Park for the reason for our stay.

Durham Athletic Park: For a complete write-up on our visit to the DAP, visit "Road Trip: Durham Bulls 5, Charlotte Knights 0" at Minor Details.

Overall: My take on Durham is that is an okay city, but not a real tourist friendly place. I’d probably go back for a Bulls game, but it would be on the way through the city and not another vacation destination.