Posted in: Exploring Ohio, Food, YouTube Video Link

Milk Jar

We have been wanting to try a rolled ice cream for a while now. The timing and location just hadn’t worked out before. While we were out of town, a new place called the Milk Jar went in. The one location offered rolled ice cream!

They had a lot of different flavors. The rolled ice cream was $7. You pick a base flavor (we did Cookie Monster/cookies and cream) and then you can add unlimited toppings after it is rolled up. They start with a liquid base and pour it on the cold surface. An Oreo cookie was added and chopped up and then mixed with the freezing ice cream. The mixture was then spread thinly over the metal surface and rolled into strips.

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It was fun to watch and the ice cream was good, but at $7 for a bowl, it is a sometimes treat for us.

VIDEO: Rolled Ice Cream

Posted in: Exploring Ohio, Food, Hiking, Sightseeing, YouTube Video Link

Jungle Jim’s Market

Anyone who lives near Cincinnati has heard of Jungle Jim’s. It is a grocery store. Now, if you are not from the area, you may be wondering asking “Sarah, why do I care about a grocery store?” The answer is that it is not just a grocery store. It is definitely an experience. If you are passing through or new to the area, please stop to check it out. I would recommend at least an hour or two, and if possible to go on a weekday. The weekends tend to get pretty crowded.

What makes Jungle Jim’s so unique? It is crazily decorated and offers food from around the world. It is home to the famous port-a-potty restrooms (Don’t worry, it’s just the door. The bathrooms are actually big and clean. (YouTube Video.).

There are two locations: Eastgate and Fairfield (both in Ohio). Both locations have the port-a-potty- bathrooms and the Jungle Jim’s movie that show how the store began (NOTE: as of February 2022, the Eastgate location still had the movie playing, but the Fairfield location had the movie room closed). Both locations offer an amazing variety of foods to discover. (Ben loves the winesap apples Jungle Jim’s carries. It is by far his favorite apple. The kids love finding new “weird” snacks to try.) However, each one is decorated differently (mostly because these are one-of-a-kind items). My personal favorite is the original location at Fairfield. Why? I think it has more things to see and to explore.

Eastgate has similar offerings of the Big Cheese, international food items, a big fish counter, and a large candy section. There are some larger decorations at the Eastgate location including an old beehive amusement park ride and a small Airstream RV. If we are just going to go for a quick grocery run, we might go to Eastgate.

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Fairfield has a monorail system installed along the side and front of the store. The cars are stationed amid a large snake-guarded building (located on the right side of the building when facing the front). Inside the store, you will find a large ship in the seafood department, a singing Elvis bear in the candy area, and a Robin Hood treasure-filled forest scene in the English food section where I like to pick up tea and Hobnob’s. They offer cooking classes and different tasting events. There is also a pressed penny machine there.

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Tours are also available for a fee and are by appointment only. We have not done one yet, but it does look fun! There is also a weekly podcast that broadcasts on Wednesdays.

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NOTE: Although both locations have very large parking lots, there is not really designated RV parking.

Posted in: Exploring Ohio, Museums & Tours, School, Sightseeing, YouTube Video Link

National Museum Of The United States Air Force

The Air Force Museum is located in Dayton, Ohio. It is also attached to an active military/Air Force base, The Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

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Entrance to the museum is free, as is the parking. There are also free docent-led tours at set times during the day. There are options to buy extras like the simulation ride and VR experience. The museum is huge. It is spread out through 4 large hangers (all connected) and covers 19 acres (per their website). You will get your steps in for sure. We were there for 3 hours and rushed through it.

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The buildings begin at the museum entrance and start with the history of flight and early planes. You walk through a hallway dedicated to the Holocaust to the World War II exhibits. The second building contains Korean War and Southeast Asia. Building 3 is dedicated to the Cold War. Walking past a group of large missiles, you will enter building 4 where Research and Development and the Presidential planes are located. We were able to walk through several previous presidents’ planes, including JFK’s Air Force One.

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The way there were able to fit all these planes in the building is pretty darn amazing. Some of these planes are incredibly large and it must have been like trying to put together a 3D puzzle.

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It is a lot of reading, with a few kid stations throughout. Some of the more interactive exhibits were closed (COVID, I believe). I would definitely say this is a museum for older kids or at least ones who really enjoy looking at planes. There is not a lot for the younger kids to do, so they may get bored quickly. The museum is spread across 4 buildings/hangers, so it is a lot of walking. There are seats scattered throughout the buildings so that you can rest. Each building also has its own bathroom.

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The cafe is located on the second floor, but it was closed when we were there. The gift shop has a wide range of items. We found small postcards for $0.10 and large ones for $0.25.

DETAILS:

  • WHERE: 1100 Spaatz Street, Wright-Patterson AFB, OH 45433
  • HOURS: 9:00 am-5:00 pm, M-U
  • COSTS: Free (simulation and VR cost extra)
  • PARKING: Yes
  • BATHROOM: Yes
  • TIME RECOMMENDED: 3+ hours
  • COVID RESTRICTIONS: Masks required (as of March 2022)
  • Details correct at time of posting, please double check before you go.
Posted in: Exploring Ohio, Museums & Tours, School, Sightseeing, YouTube Video Link

da Vinci Hands-On Exhibit: Machines In Motion

The boys and I went to the Air Force Museum (aka National Museum of the US Air Force) when they were off of school. The museum was getting a new exhibit ready to open; the inventions of Leonardo da Vinci. The best part was that it was going to be interactive and hands-on! (Click here for details.) The museum and this special exhibit are both free. The da Vinic exhibit runs through 5/8/22. Next week’s post will be about the rest of the Air Force Museum!

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We went back to the museum with Ben to see the da Vinci exhibit. It was newly opened, so we got there right when the museum opened and went straight back to the exhibit (in Building 4). There were a lot of different exhibits, almost all of them were ones we could interact with. A couple of the inventions were locked, but you could ask one of the museum staff/volunteers to demonstrate them for you.

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I think the designers and builders of these inventions did a great job. There were placards describing each item and what it was meant for. I think even younger kids would enjoy this exhibit, although they would need help with the pieces and supervision so they didn’t get any fingers pinched in the gears.

I think one of the coolest pieces was the tank, although it must have been extremely heavy.

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VIDEO: da Vinci Machines In Motion

DETAILS:

  • WHERE: 1100 Spaatz Street, Wright-Patterson AFB, OH 45433 (Dayton, OH area)
  • HOURS: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, daily
  • COSTS: Free
  • PARKING: Yes (free)
  • BATHROOM: Yes
  • TIME RECOMMENDED: 1+ hour
  • COVID RESTRICTIONS: Masks required (as of 3/2/22)
  • *Details correct at the time of posting, but please double check before you go.

Posted in: Exploring Ohio, Museums & Tours, Sightseeing, YouTube Video Link

The Lucky Cat Museum

On our quest to find new and interesting things in our area to see, we found the Lucky Cat Museum, in the Clifton area. It is one woman’s personal collection of lucky cats. She has been an avid collector for years and has a large variety of Japanese Lucky Cats. The museum is free, although donations are welcome. There is also a gift shop where you can buy your own lucky cat themed items, ranging from postcards to lucky cats.

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One of my favorite pieces was a disco ball cat. The poor cat has been broken 3 times! The cat had been loaned out and broken. Micha glued it back together, painted it, and then covered it in the disco ball mirrors. The medallion and coins were left bare. The second time the cat broke, the medallion and coins were repaired and covered in mirrors and crystals. The last time it broke, the cat was glued together, filled with expanding foam, and the mirrors replaced.

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There were a few interactive pieces as well, including the slot machines (tokens provided).

VIDEO: Walking Through The Lucky Cat Museum

DETAILS:

  • WHERE: Essex Studios (2511 Essex Place #150, Cincinnati, OH 45206) 
  • HOURS: By appointment only
  • COSTS: Free, donations accepted
  • PARKING: Yes
  • BATHROOM: Yes, in the building but not in the museum
  • TIME RECOMMENDED: 45 minutes (time allowed per appointment)
  • COVID RESTRICTIONS: Masks, only 6 people per visit
  • *Details correct at the time of posting, but please double check before you go.
Posted in: Exploring Ohio, Food, Sightseeing, YouTube Video Link

Golden Lamb and Black Horse Tavern

After visiting the Harmon Museum, we walked across the street to the Golden Lamb to have lunch. Ben and I had both been there pre-kids. It is a really neat old hotel. The attached restaurant had undergone a renovation since we had last been there, so we decided to try the Black Horse Tavern. The restaurant had a nice fireplace, although we didn’t get to sit near it.

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They had the Christmas decorations up still (1/8/22), and it was fun seeing all the little sheep and lamb ornaments on the trees. We decided to try a few different items and share amongst ourselves. We ordered the Sauerkraut Balls, Bacon Jelly and Biscuits, Golden Lamb Farms Platter, Cheese Curds, and a bowl of the Shaker Chicken & Spaetzle soup.

It’s hard to go wrong with cheese curds and there are very few soups that Will doesn’t like. We liked the pickles from the platter and the sauerkraut balls were surprisingly delicious.

VIDEO: Quick Walk Through of the Black Horse Tavern/Golden Lamb

Posted in: Exploring Ohio, Museums & Tours, Sightseeing, YouTube Video Link

American Whistle Corporation

There is a really neat factory tour near Columbus, Ohio at a company called the American Whistle Corporation. I have had this on my list of things to do with the kids for years, but never got around to it. We finally found a day where everyone was off of school and made our appointment.

I would pay attention to your GPS, because although there is a small sign, it is easy to miss. There is parking around the back of the building. There is a small entryway with a display case and framed articles about the company. The next room is the main manufacturing area (which also includes the bathroom).

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The manufacturing area was smaller than I thought it would be, but it looks like they had it well laid out and made good use of the space. There was enough room for our group, plus 2 other small families, to walk around and listen to the tour.

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Our tour guide was great. He kept it interesting, as well as informative, and was enthusiastic about his place of work. The tour was a mix of walking and seeing the equipment, a demonstration of the equipment, watching people work, and watching a video. The tour ended at the plastic whistle area near the gift shop. The gift shop had several different items available for sale. At the end of the tour, each person also gets a metal whistle.

For an extra fee ($2.15) you can make/buy a plastic whistle. We made one whistle that I now have on my keys. To make your own whistle, you get to pick a color for either side, as well as the ball. We went with a glow in the dark, a blue, and then a green ball. You put together your whistle pieces (placing the ball in the interior circle area and line up the sides). Once you place your whistle in the machine, you pressed a button on either side and the machine sonic welds the pieces together.

I would definitely recommend taking this tour if you are close to Columbus!

VIDEO: American Whistle Corporation Tour

DETAILS:

  • WHERE: 6540 Huntley Rd, Columbus, OH 43229
  • HOURS: Tours are available Monday to Friday. (Currently, tours should be pre-scheduled. M/W/F tours are at 10:00am, T/R tours are at 1:00pm). Gift Shop is open M-F 9:00am-4:00pm.
  • COSTS: $6/person for the tour (includes a whistle)
  • PARKING: Yes (Parking available behind building.)
  • BATHROOM: Yes
  • TIME RECOMMENDED: 1 hour
  • COVID RESTRICTIONS: n/a
  • *Details correct at the time of posting, but please double check before you go.
Posted in: Newbie Tips, YouTube Video Link

Buying A New Car Online: Our Carvana Experience

We bought Ben a car a few weeks after we got back to Ohio. Between school starting soon (with no busing) and him having to go physically into work, we needed two cars. I drove the truck as my vehicle. However, with diesel prices high and the truck not having the greatest fuel mileage for short distances/city driving, we decided to sell it. We were on the lookout for larger sized car that we could still take road trips in comfortably. We were leaning towards an SUV and narrowed it down between a Jeep Grand Cherokee and a Subaru Ascent. We looked on Facebook, Autotrader, and Carvana for our new (to us) car. I am sure everyone has heard by now but used car prices are inflated and there is a chip shortage for new cars, so cars were going fast and for higher-than-normal used car prices. However, after spending over $200 in one month for diesel with just local driving, we wanted to get a more fuel efficient car.

CARVANA PURCHASING:

  • SEARCHING FOR YOUR CAR: We had never bought a car online, much less sight unseen. Carvana’s site allows you to search for your car by price, make/model, type, year/mileage, and features. Some cars have free delivery, while others have a delivery fee. There are several pictures of the cars, including any chips or “imperfections”. A detailed list of the car’s features and a Carfax report are provided as well. After searching for a while, we finally found a car that we both liked, a blue Subaru Ascent. There were a couple paint chips and a scratch listed, but they didn’t look too bad. We placed the order and were eagerly awaiting our delivery.
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  • PURCHASING: After you find a car you like, you can then start the process of buying the car by clicking the green “Get Started” button. This will hold your car for 30 minutes while you complete the account registration, trade-in options, payment information (cash/Carvana financing/3rd party financing), delivery/pickup (date/time), driver’s license information, and optional items (gap insurance, etc.). After those steps are completed, there are a few more things that need to be done. If you pay with cash, your bank has to verify the funds either through a 3-way call between you/Carvana/bank, or thorough a third-party called PLAID. To use the third-party verification, you need to give them your account information, including password. We picked the 3-way call, as I was not comfortable giving someone my bank log-in information. Your bank funds will be verified, but will not be withdrawn until you accept delivery of the car. There were a few online forms to complete before delivery as well. Buying a car unseen was a little worrisome; however, there is a 7 day return period for a full refund with Carvana, if you decide not to keep the car.
Purchase Example: Click To Enlarge

DELIVERY:

The day of delivery, we received a phone call that they were finishing detailing the car and should be there by our appointment time. We had to send (via text) a selfie with our driver’s license, the back of the driver’s license, and proof that the car had been added to our insurance. Your insurance information has to say the name/VIN of the new car in order for them to release the car to you! Even though I had always been told that any car we bought was covered as long as our insurance was up to date, I called and let our insurance know to start it on the date of delivery. Because delivery was on a Saturday, my insurance agent also sent a confirmation letter in case there was a delay of any kind with the electronic card updating.

The car ended up being about a half hour late, but the driver did communicate delays through text message. It was fun to watch the car being unloaded. (VIDEO link here) Once the car was unloaded, we had the opportunity to take it for a test drive. We drove down a few exits on the highway and then stopped in a parking lot to look it over. There were a few more paint chips than were disclosed on the listing, as well as scratches to the interior roof material (which were not disclosed at all). The car drove really well and was comfortable, so we decided to accept delivery. The car came with 1 key fob and a Carvana key chain.

Just like buying a car at a dealer, there was some paperwork involved but there were only a few forms that we had to sign. The car came with temporary tags and Carvana will mail you the permanent plates so you do not have to go to the DMV. I have to say, not dealing with a car salesman and the DMV was really nice. Once we accepted the delivery, we were also given the Temporary Tag application, a Limited Power of Attorney for Vehicle Registration, and an Application for Dealer Assessment that needed to be signed, notarized, and mailed back in the provided FedEx envelope. Our driver was not a notary and we had not been told ahead of time that we would need one to finish the car’s paperwork. We hurried over to my bank with 10 minutes to spare. Unfortunately, she would not notarize the paperwork. She claimed it was because she couldn’t notarize something that gave someone else power of attorney to take out a loan in our name. We read it carefully and the paperwork stated clearly that it was for the purpose of “applying for a certificate of title, to register, transfer title”, so I am not sure why the bank teller would not notarize it. We then rushed over to the UPS store near us that had a notary on staff. It only cost $5 for the notary service. I still would have liked to have known about needing a notary ahead of time. We probably would have moved the delivery time up so that we would have been able to contact the bank(s) and make sure they were available and could/would notarize it.

POST PURCHASE:

Because the car only came with one key fob, I wanted to buy another one so that we would each have one. Batteries Plus will cut and program car keys for you. When we stopped in to get a new key fob, it was going to be over $200 for the fob and programing if we bought the key through them. It was cheaper to buy the fob on eBay and then take it to Batteries Plus to program it. Some Ace Hardware stores will also program car keys. Your car does have to be present to program the new key fob. It was $85 for the key fob on ebay and $60 for Batteries Plus to cut/program it. (Check for coupons, Batteries Plus runs anywhere from $60-$70 for programming.)

The key fob that came with the car started dying after 3 days. It seems like the battery was just getting low, but it wasn’t something I would necessarily expect after only having the car for 3 days.

I did send some feedback to Carvana about the missed “imperfections”, the key fob, and the lack of knowledge about needing a notary. They were nice and gave back a standard “we’ll pass it on” message and told me we could always return the car if we were unhappy since our 7 day window was not over yet.

My temp tags were set to expire on 11/23/21. On 11/10, we got an email saying processing had been delayed and that new temp tags were available in my online Post Sale Dashboard. I had to print out the new tags, as they were active beginning 11/10/21 and were a different plate number. The reason given was “Covid”. It seems to be a reoccurring theme; as Ben likes to say, “Covid did it”. At this point, I could have made an appointment with our local DMV faster. On 11/16/21, I received a text saying that the registration was complete and the plates were on the way. It also stated that the plates required a signature from FedEx. I contacted Carvana on 11/17, as the app and online post-sale dashboard did not have a tracking number. I’m glad I contacted them, because they were due to arrive on 11/17. Although it stated I needed to sign for them, and I was home, FedEx just rang the doorbell and left the package on the porch.

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CARVANA, The Pluses:

  • No negotiating. The listed price is the price (plus any delivery fees/taxes, which are disclosed pretty clearly during the process). There is no sitting for hours negotiating over the price or if the floor mats are included. Not dealing with a car dealership was great.
  • Getting the car delivered on our time table. Granted, they ran late and we had to change a few things around, but it was still amazing to get it delivered right to us.
  • Not dealing with the DMV/BMV. No long lines for us! Carvana takes care of getting the permanent plates mailed to you.
  • Updates. We got several updates during the process via text messages (from online forms needing to be completed to the status of our plates).

CARVANA, The Negatives:

  • Lack of communication. Some things Carvana was great at with communication: the driver letting us know the schedule changes, online paperwork needing to be signed. However, not knowing that we would have to find and pay for a notary was a big miss in my mind. It would be simple enough to add that to the information given to you during the online buying/closing process. Not being provided a tracking number for the new plates would also be an easy fix. Although customer service told me it should be online, I could not find the tracking number in my account.
  • Accuracy. The car was in good shape, but there were more chips and scratches than advertised. The interior roof scratches are hard to miss if anyone had actually cared to look. We would have potentially looked at another Ascent, but this one was already here and we did need a car.
  • Third Party DMV/BMV delays.
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Posted in: Campground Review, Exploring Michigan, YouTube Video Link

Kampvilla RV Park

For our stay in Michigan, we stayed at Kampvilla RV Park in Bear Lake, Michigan. It is an independent campground. For our stay here, we had full hook-ups for most of our stay, but had to switch to electric-only for the last 3 days. We had made our plans a little too late (4 months before) with the 4th of July holiday to get full hook ups for our whole stay. When we checked in, they gave the boys a Kampvilla postcard, sticker, and temporary tattoo.

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The campground had a heated pool, rec room with a washer and dryer, a patio with foosball, horseshoes, shuffleboard, sand volleyball, badminton, a playground, basketball hoops, and a pool. The equipment was left out (instead of having to go up to the office), so it made it very easy to play. There was another shed with a washer and dryer a little bit further into the park. It had a drive/path through the woods to tent sites, so it made a nice walking path.

There was ice ($3) and firewood ($5) were available for sale. You could pay at the office or in the drop box attached to the firewood shed.

Everyone was really nice at the campground. They had a lot of nice amenities and were pretty close to local attractions and grocery stores. It was about 30-33 minutes to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park Visitor Center. We would stay here again.

VIDEO: Campground Tour

SUMMARY OF CAMPGROUND:

Our rating: 3.5 out of 5 hitches

Cell Phone Reception: AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile

Laundry: Yes (2 washers and 2 dryers)

Bathrooms/Showers: Yes

RV Sites: Pull Through, Back-in (paved/grass/gravel)

Pop Up Tents/Gazebos/Outdoor Rugs On-Site: Yes

Amenities: picnic table/fire pit at site, playground, pool, games

Cabins: No

Tent Camping: Yes

Full Hook-ups: Yes

            Amps: 30 and 50 amp

Pool: Yes

Food On-Site: No

Camp Store: Yes

WiFi: Yes

Fishing: Yes

Posted in: Broken/Damanged Things, Exploring Ohio, Maintenance, Newbie Tips, YouTube Video Link

Sands RV

We were finally able to get our bathroom fan repaired. MaxxAir had sent us a computer board and a motor, as either one of those items could have broken. We were able to find a mobile RV Tech who came out and replaced the computer board for us. As we were talking, he recommended a RV shop that he thought we might like: Sands RV.

We stopped in a couple of days later. This store was really neat! It had a little bit of everything: curtains, furniture, toilets, fenders…

The store was owned by Bob, who also worked on the Ungers RVs. The picture below was 1968 and Bob is the one on the far right.

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As we were leaving, they also gave us a flame color changing stick for the fire. The boys got a big kick out of it at our next camp fire. It did work really well and lasted a long time (much better than the packet we had bought at a campground store).

We had a great time exploring the store. Everyone was very friendly. If you are in the area, I would definitely check out this store. It was like a RV treasure chest with something for everyone! We did a quick video walk through of the store (link here).

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