Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Explore Geneva-On-The-Lake

Photos by OHventures (unless otherwise noted)

A tourist attraction for decades, the village of Geneva-On-The-Lake in Ashtabula County has long been known for its 1950s style "Strip" of arcade games and carnival foods along the coastline, and its impressive collection of more than 20 wineries spanning the countryside. I am a HUGE fan of heading up to Geneva-On-The-Lake to take a trip in what feels like a far-off land. The Lake Erie shores add a perfect backdrop of seemingly endless blue waters, and you can find an array of things to do on a weekend or week-long visit. 

There's enough to please any type of adventurer: the wino, the active outdoorsman, the historian, and even the laid-back relaxer in your group! Here's a collection of some of the best things to do when you explore Geneva-On-The-Lake.

1. The Lodge at Geneva-On-The-Lake (4888 N Broadway, Geneva): The romanticism of Ohio's Lake Erie shoreline is encapsulated to perfection at the upscale yet affordable Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake. Immaculate views of the state's northernmost shore and an array of activities and attractions for folks of any age are at your fingertips when staying at the Lodge. Dine at the Horizons

2. Lakehouse Inn & Winery (5653 Lake Road East, Geneva-On-The-Lake): While there are many wineries along the coast, I am rather fond of the Lakehouse Inn & Winery mainly due to the picturesque and breathtaking view! The wine was of course very good as well and a very affordable wine-tasting sampler is available. Sitting on the patio on a beautiful sunny day overlooking the lake makes you feel like you are in wine country in Italy or France. Truly one of the most relaxing experiences you can take!

3. Wine Shuttle Tour (board at 4888 N Broadway, Geneva): The wine shuttle pulls right up to the front entrance of The Lodge at Geneva-On-The-Lake and takes thirsty tourists to 4-5 wineries in the area, and returns to the Lodge approximately 5 hours later. Anyone is welcome on the shuttle (even those who are not staying at the Lodge), but reservations are required at $20 a person. You can request to visit certain wineries, and we suggest: Kosicek Vineyards; one of the most widely known wineries in the area, Ferrante Winery; an old church which was converted into a winery, South River Vineyards; Old Mill Winery, Grand River Cellars, and the aforementioned Lakehouse Inn.

4. The Ferris Wheel at Old Firehouse Winery (5499 Lake Rd. E. Geneva-on-the-Lake): Nothing brings back memories of childhood like a ride on an old-fashioned Ferris wheel! The Ferris wheel in Geneva-On-The-Lake can be found next to the Old Firehouse Winery (which, as the name suggests, is a winery built in an old firehouse) with rides costing just $2.75! It's a classic throwback to festivals and amusement parks of yesteryear, and the last standing relic of the now defunct Erieview Park. 

5. Geneva State Park (4499 Padanarum Rd, Geneva): This 698-acre state-run park is situated along the Lake Erie coastline, and has thick forestry and marshy inlands. You're sure to find a number of enticing activities at Geneva State Park,: hiking six-miles of multi-use trails, biking (see below), fishing, hunting, boating, archery, swimming, picnicking at the Crabapple Picnic Area, staying in one of the deluxe cedar cabins, or camping on one of the many campsites.

6. Lake Erie Shoreline (multiple addresses): The "On-The-Lake" portion of the city's name of course refers to the fact that it is located directly on the shoreline of Lake Erie - and it would be a sin to not spend at least some of your time in Geneva-On-The-Lake actually ON the lake. You could visit the shoreline in the aforementioned Geneva State Park, or find another public portion of the beach to visit. Use this time to swim, fish, suntan, picnic, skimboard, or just soak in the sights!

Photo courtesy of Trip Advisor

7. The Pickled Pepper (4949 Golf Ave., Geneva): There's a slew of great spots to grab food while at Geneva-On-The-Lake, but the Pickled Pepper stood out to me on a recent visit! Located on "The Strip," this neon green and yellow restaurant looks straight out of a Jimmy Buffet song, as if it belongs in a beach town like Key West. It has amazing bar food like wings, coconut battered shrimp, burgers, and jalapeno poppers, all paired nicely with a cold (non wine) alcoholic beverage and some live music!

8. Covered Bridge Tour (various locations, self-guided): Ashtabula County is the epicenter of covered bridges in the state. With a total of 18 of these historic structures, Ashtabula has more than any other county in Ohio, helping it to fittingly earning the title of the Covered Bridge Capital of Ohio. Another claim to fame is that one can find both the longest and the shortest functioning covered bridges in the entire United States right here! You can hop in the car and take along with you an official map of all of the covered bridges in Ashtabula County, planning your path through the countryside that will get you to see the most covered bridges possible. Or, if you happen to be partaking in the wine shuttle tour provided by the Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake, you can ask your driver to take you to a few of the bridges on your way to and from the local wineries.

9. Eddie's Grill (5377 Lake Rd., Geneva): Another worthwhile dining locale on The Strip of Geneva-On-The-Lake is Eddie's Grill! This iconic restaurant is straight from the 1950s era, complete with a working jukebox, a walk-up outdoor ice cream counter, a next door video game arcade, and all of the famous classics unchanged since its inception in 1950. Get the footlong chili dog with fries and a root beer float, and you won't be disappointed!

10. Water Works Water Slides (5485 Lake Rd., Geneva): This is the only item on the list I haven't experienced firsthand, but it's something on the bucket list (although I am still trying to figure out if there is an age limit...). These are 2 giant twisty-turny waterslides right on the shore, next to the Old Firehouse Winery on The Strip. A great way to cool off (again, if they allow adults, that is...).

11. GOTL Bike Trail: You can bring your own bike or even rent bikes from the front desk of the Lodge at Geneva-On-The-Lake so you can take a cycling adventure on a tame lakeside trail. The trail can be seen on the map above (outlined in blue), but you can also take the bike on the streets of GOTL, to the arcade or "The Strip." Just don't wine & bike! 

Monday, July 27, 2015

VeloSano Photo Blog

Who: Thousands of cyclists and cancer survivors (known as "Living Proof")
What: VeloSano Bike To Cure - bike rides varying in distance (12, 25, 50, 100, 179, & 207 miles)
When: July 17-19, 2015 (next year's ride is July 29-31)
Where: Starting/ending in downtown Cleveland, and weaving through Geauga, Portage, and Stark Counties.
Why: To raise money to fund cancer research at the Cleveland Clinic.
How: Sign up at Velosano.org and commit to raising a minimum amount of money!

Photos by OHventures, VeloSano, and others as noted
For more photos, visit the VeloSano Recap post!

Giant "#ThisIsCLE" sculpture at the VeloSano Kickoff Party

"WHY I RIDE" wall honoring cancer victims and survivors

Finish line food by Zach Bruell Events

Exactly how I felt after riding 100 miles - summed up in one photo!

A rider painting abstract art in honor of cancer survivors and victims

One of the GIANT hills (around mile 88) of the 100 mile course

A spread of food at Rest Stop #2 of the 100-mile course!

VeloSano finish line (photo by cbslocal.com)

Zumi The Pig! A virtual VeloSano bike rider & fundraiser!

Me painting at Rest Stop #6!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

VeloSano Recap

Photos by OHventures

The old phrase "it's like riding a bike" probably wasn't referring to riding a 100-mile bike ride across Northeast Ohio. Unlike that phrase suggests, riding 100 miles is no easy feat - something I learned firsthand while participating on July 18, 2015 in the second annual VeloSano Bike to Cure

This epic fundraising event was held in Cleveland, with over 2,000 cyclists signed up to raise money in the months leading up to their bike rides. Each cyclist was required to gather a certain amount of donations according to whichever distance they committed to pedal (12, 25, 50, 100, 179, or 207) - all of which would go towards funding cancer research at the Cleveland Clinic.

The health system where I am employed started its own team to rally for the cause. Our team consisted of 27 caregivers, all of whom opted for varying distances. Being the daredevil I am, with my ever-growing bucket list on hand, I signed up to ride 100 miles (joining just 1 other individual on my team who was going this distance). We all had matching jerseys which I thought made us look like superheroes!

Do I look like the green Power Ranger with my bike jersey?

However, no matter what distance anyone rode, we were all there to push ourselves to the limit and put ourselves under physical pressure - a small feat compared to what anyone who has ever lived with cancer has had to go through during treatment, chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. Knowing individuals in my life who have personally suffered from various forms of cancer - and working at a hospital system - has given me a glimpse of the struggles cancer patients endure. They are incredibly brave and strong to go through what they do, so I was more than happy to tackle the 100 mile course.

This required me to raise $1,500. Thanks to the many others who also have experienced the pains of cancer in their own lives, I was able to reach my goal (and then some). I asked each person who donated to give me a name of an individual they knew who is a survivor or victim of cancer, and I would place their name on my jersey as a reminder as to why I ride.

At the kickoff party on Friday, June 17 (ocated at Mall B in downtown Cleveland), there was a "WHY I RIDE" wall in which I also wrote each person's name. It was powerful to see that wall fill up with names and reasons that people have chosen to be there. It was clear that this was not just any ordinary bike ride.

The kickoff party also gave me the opportunity to hear from US Senator Rob Portman from Ohio, who was there to share his family's story of cancer, and also to drive a pace car the next morning. To top things off, he even decided to ride 50 miles himself! It was an honor to see him there. It was also very tear-jerking to watch a very compelling movie on the big screen where survivors of cancer (referred to as LIVING PROOF) spoke about why they were choosing to ride and why VeloSano was such an important event.

Things were also more lighthearted at the kickoff party. I got the chance to meet the Cleveland Indians mascot, Slider (who would have to be my second favorite Slider after my dog), take a team photo, eat some grub catered by Zach Bruell Events, listen to tons of live music, pet a potbelly pig named Zumi who was a virtual rider, and even appear on the evening news (WKYC) as I was checking my bike in (I didn't know I was being filmed, but many people told me they saw me on air!).

At the start line at 7:30 AM with my fellow Century Riders!

After staying overnight at my friend's house in Willoughby Hills, it was time to start our bike ride nice and early at 7:30 AM. The 100-milers were pedaling the farthest distance you could for the 1-Day routes. They needed to start us early so we wouldn't be riding when the sun went down. I estimated I would finish the ride in about 8 hours, but you'll soon see how wrong I was!

Despite recent rainy weather, it was a beautiful sunny day all day for our ride - perhaps a little TOO sunny. When the horn blew and our race began, the sun was just rising and there was a pleasant breeze from the Lake Erie air. We weaved through downtown Cleveland with police located at each intersection for the first few miles of our ride. This allowed us to surpass any red lights or stop signs so we could make a swift exit from the busy city roadways. 

Our route was taking us east near Cleveland Heights and Beachwood, then eastward in a giant circle through or near Orange, Chagrin Falls, Solon, Aurora, back north to Burton and Chardon, then back west through Geauga and Cuyahoga Counties until we reached Shaker Heights and came back to downtown Cleveland.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

VeloSano Thank Yous

Thanking ALL who gave to my 100-mile VeloSano bike ride! $1,575 raised (105% of my goal!).

I pedaled and sweat and powered through to make it to the finish line in just about 10 hours (including all of the stops!) Miraculously I am not sore days later (although I do have a heat rash - yuck). 

It was incredibly challenging and so inspiring to ride through the countryside of Northeast Ohio for such a great cause. 

Knowing that 4,500 people will be diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. every DAY is reason alone to take on this task. To all that gave money and cheered me on, YOU the true champs! 


My Family: Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Patty, Curt, Regina, Cousin Linda, Aunt Phyllis

My Co-Workers: Sue, Robert, Debbie, Rose, Ryan C., Carol & Bruce, Sara

My Hometown Friends: Marti & Butch, Darla, Matt & Carrie, Marcy, Marisa, Mike V., Clara, Chuck

My Fellow Torchbearers: Erica, Paul, Amanda, Danielle, Michael

The RHB Crew: Ryan, Judy, Norma & Ron, Ali & Derek, Suzanne, Pattie & Dan, Nadine, Mary, Fran, Stacey & Marc, 

The OSU Bunch: Steve, Caitlyn, Jared G., Matt C., Alyce, Andrea, Jared B.

More Thanks: Gary, David & Deborah, Jason F., Sherri', Lisa

Special Thanks: 
To Emily, for letting me crash at your place in Willoughby Hills!
To Bruce, a volunteer on race day who helped me at the finish line!
To Erin, our fearless Team Captain!
To God, for getting me through and keeping me safe!