Travelchick

My adventures and mis-adventures as I travel here and there

Abandoned Houses

While on a weekend trip to Ohio last weekend, I made a pleasant discovery. Thanks to phones with the ability to access both web pages and navigation systems, it is easy to look up attractions coming up along your travel route. This allows me to combine travel with another favorite of mine: ghost towns and abandoned houses. I actually located a ghost town along our route, North Milan, and we stopped by. Disappointingly, there’s relatively little to see- just a small small graveyard. I don’t think my husband was very impressed with his first ghost town, but we’ll keep trying. I’ve been interested in ghost towns for maybe a couple years now, but my fascination with abandoned houses is really a life-long obsession.

When I lived in Walla Walla, there was an old house on a lonely road surrounded with the most beautiful weeping willows. The inside of the house was pretty much ravaged and destroyed, but out back I find a small camper that was untouched. Inside were the various accouterments of camping life- including a toothbrush, comb, blankets. That was one of my first experiences with a truly abandoned house. The house is now completely gone and a brand new housing complex has gone up in its place.

While in Mexico on our honeymoon, my husband and I took a walk down Meroma beach and found an interesting abandoned house alongside the half-finished and elegant two-story open concrete structure with a purpose that we couldn’t quite determine (House, resort, theater?  From what we later saw people saying on forums, it was going to be a private home, but money ran out during construction. This is, however, only one of several stories going around).  We did take a few pictures, but this couple actually used the place as a stage for their wedding photography.

A few weeks ago while biking nearby our neighborhood, we passed an abandoned house almost invisible past the trees and overgrowth along the side of the road. We didn’t have lights to see inside (the windows were all boarded up), but we did poke around outside, where there was a full tennis court and a couple of outbuildings.

After discovering various websites dedicated to listing various ghost towns around the country, I began to wonder if there was such a following for abandoned houses as well. It’s easy to find a few abandoned houses nearby, but if there was some sort of list for places you might pass by while traveling, that would be even better!

Anyway, I have begun to search for such a thing- and yes it does exist!- and have so far found a really interesting site for abandoned houses in Ohio. I go to Ohio every once in awhile since one of my best friends lives there, so maybe I’ll be able to visit some of these places soon.  Not Mudhouse Mansion, though, as the current owner seems to be a little too likely to call the police on anyone who tries to explore her decrepit property….  Franklin Castle, considered the most haunted house in Ohio, seems a little more promising.  I’m disappointed by the author of the site’s inability to find the secret passageways when he explored the house, though.  I’d have to say that that would be the biggest pull for me.  I LOVE the idea of secret passageways, rooms, whatever! The sad thing that I keep coming across, however, is that many of these houses, even the ones that some people were just recently able to explore, have since been torn down or in some way been made inaccessible.

I will definitely search for abandoned houses in my area to explore, and I’ll keep you posted! In the meantime, enjoy the tales of this Ohio explorer as he tells stories of his exploits in some of the most famous (and haunted) houses in his state.

November 26, 2010 Posted by | Abandoned Houses, Franklin Castle, Ghost Towns, Mudhouse Mansion, North Milan, Secrets Maroma Beach | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Cooking Carob Cake and Granola in Michigan

Well, friends, after arriving in Michigan and giving myself about a month to settle in, I am again turning my attention to blogging. I must say that the trip here (more on that later) and the initial adjustment period have been surprisingly smooth and, dare I say, easy? The sky will probably fall now that I’ve said that, but really I doubt it. Life (no, God) seems to have touched everything around me and turned it to gold. I’ve never been happier!

Yesterday was The Boyfriend’s birthday. I’m a traditional, occasion-observing sort of girl, so I wanted to give him something. Easier said than done for a guy who readily admits he already has everything he wants and wears a large corresponding smile at all times. Nevertheless, I had a few ideas and set about making them happen. Being the penniless, jobless loser that I am, I thought it would be perhaps a bit more economical to give a gift of homemade food (and, let’s face it, even the man who has everything still needs to eat). Granola (which he’s obsessed with) and carob cake (he loves carob so much it’s almost disturbing) were on the menu. And here’s where the link to travel comes in (you were wondering, weren’t you?): when you uproot yourself and move across country, sometimes you really miss the places you used to buy food!

Back in Walla Walla, Washington, we had a store called Andy’s Market. If I could be back there at this very moment, I’d kneel down and kiss the ground it stands on. Andy’s Market had all the fresh local produce, all the inexpensive bulk everything, all the vege and vegan alternatives that I could ever ask for. It’s not a chain and it’s not to be surpassed, apparently. I needed all these nuts and dried fruit and carob and I had no idea where to get them! Everyone here shops for food at Meijer, which is the Michigan version of Wal-Mart (not considered “The Devil” because it’s not nationwide?….). Besides that, there are a few other familiar and not-familiar stores. I finally found carob at both Hillers Market and Whole Foods Market. Whole Foods also has a very small bulk section where I was thankfully able to find the nuts I needed. They also had a bit of cheaper price on the carob goods. That, coupled with the fact that they carry Vegenaise and liquid aminos, means that I’ll cross Hillers off the list and rely on Whole Foods as my substitute (albeit a poor one) for Andy’s. Whole Foods in no way measures up to the variety or price of the bulk foods section in Andy’s Market. Sigh.

All in all, I’m not sure that making homemade granola and carob cake are the most economical ways to go, but they are definitely the most fun! I found the cake recipe in the April 2010 issue of Better Homes and Gardens. Dorothy Olsen of Provo, Utah won the $25,000 grand prize for her Whole Wheat Chocolate-Blueberry Cake. Being all at the same time a fan of chocolate, dessert, and healthy eating (hypocritical maybe?), I had to try it out. The only change I made was to substitute unsweetened carob powder for unsweetened cocoa powder and vegan carob pieces for semisweet chocolate pieces.

This cake is rich and decadent.  The Boyfriend and I love the way the whole wheat flour tastes in it!  Very wholesome.

Whole Wheat Chocolate-Blueberry Cake

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder (or carob powder)
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup frozen light whipped dessert topping, thawed
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate pieces (or carob pieces)
  • fresh blueberries or Blueberry Sauce (see recipe below)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In medium bowl combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In blender combine water, blueberries, and the egg.  Cover and blend until smooth.  Add to flour mixture.  Whisk until well combine.  Pour into greased 8x8x2-inch baking pan.
  2. Bake 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool completely on wire rack.  Invert onto serving platter.
  3. In small microwave-safe bowl combine dessert topping and chocolate pieces.  Micro-cook, covered, on 50% power (medium) 1 minute.  Stir until smooth.  Let stand 5 minutes.  Pour onto cooled cake, spreading evenly.
  4. Cut cake into squares to serve.  Top with fresh blueberries.  Serve with Blueberry Sauce.  Makes 9 servings.

Blueberry Sauce: In blender combine 1/2 cup frozen light whipped dessert topping, thawed, and 1/2 cup fresh blueberries.  Cover and blend until smooth.

I found the granola recipe, Easy Homemade Granola, on this website.  I slightly modified it by also adding 1/3 cup walnuts (LOVE walnuts!) and cutting the brown sugar to 1/8 cup.  The granola turned out REALLY SALTY! so I’d recommend cutting down on the salt as well.  Maybe 1/2 tsp. in instead of 1?  Otherwise, it was delicious.  The Boyfriend adds some plains oats to his granola anyway, so that probably helps with the salt factor.

Easy Homemade Granola  (from “Baked: New Frontiers in Baking” by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito)

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup whole almonds
  • 1/3 cup whole hazelnuts
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the oats with the cinnamon and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together the oil, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla. Whisk until completely combined.
  4. Pour the honey mixture over the oats mixture and use your hands to combine them: Gather up some of the mixture in each hand and make a fist. Repeat until all of the oats are coated with the honey mixture.
  5. Pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Spread it out evenly, but leave a few clumps here and there for texture.
  6. Bake for 10 min, then remove from the oven and use a metal spatula to lift and flip the granola. Sprinkle the almonds over the granola and return the baking sheet to the oven.
  7. Bake for 5 min, then remove from the oven and use a metal spatula to lift and flip the granola. Sprinkle the hazelnuts over the granola and return the baking sheet to the oven.
  8. Bake for 10 min, then remove from the oven. Let cool completely. Sprinkle the raisins and cherries over the granola.
  9. Transfer it to an airtight container, where it will keep for one week.

I noticed on the Andy’s Market website that you can order things online…. Hmmmm…. I may try that.  Until then, I’ll be crying on the inside every time I walk out of Whole Foods.

© Travelnole and Travelchick-girl unstoppable, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Travelnole and Travelchick-girl unstoppable with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

April 1, 2010 Posted by | Detroit, Moving, Travel, United States, Walla Walla | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Riding Greyhound- Day 3

Last night I finally got so sick feeling and tired that I laid all our luggage down in the bus station and sprawled out across it. And I actually fell asleep. Around 1am we finally reboarded our bus. I was so thankful to be one of the few people on the bus without a seatmate. Unfortunately, my sister had someone sitting next to her, which made me feel really guilty. Still, I fell fast asleep for about four and half hours until a stop woke me. The woman sitting next to my sister moved to another seat, so she got to sleep some too, and I slept again for three hours. I’m currently in Boise, Idaho. When we were driving in, I looked around and saw how “northwest-ish” it looked and this powerful feeling of home swept over me. I felt happier than I ever believed I would to be close to Walla Walla again. Our bus is still about an hour and a half late, but we’re close now, so it almost doesn’t matter. Everyone looks happy and refreshed in this part of the country. I feel happy and refreshed. I met a woman who got on the bus in West Virginia, has been on for three days, and has to get back on Saturday.

There is seriously no limit to what might happen on Greyhound. A non-US citizen from, well, some other country, who speaks only Spanish was called off the bus along with a translator this morning. After a few minutes the bus driver came down the aisle, “Ok, which one of you jackasses stole this here man’s wallet? He’s not a citizen and all his papers are in there!” It came to light very quickly that the “jackass” had thrown the wallet down the toilet. A flashlight was found and the offending article was fished out and deposited in a plastic bag, after which items that had fallen out of the wallet were also fished out. Needless to say, much laughter and expressions of disbelief surrounded the event. It added to our hour and a half delay.

September 13, 2007 Posted by | United States | , , , | Leave a comment

   

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