Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Conneaut Lake Park 'Blast From the Past'

Get a good look because this was our final trip to Conneaut Lake Park. At least our final time riding the rides or visiting when the park is open. It was depressing when we visited when the park was closed (or basically closed because there were no guests). It was even more depressing full of guests. 

Conneaut Lake Park advertised 'Blast from the Past' over the weekend, with $5 ride wristbands. On the positive side, there were actually a fair number of guests. There were so many safety issues, so few rides operating, and so many guests smoking throughout the park, though, that our CLP days are done.  Several fire hydrants (see below) were covered with garbage bags. I can only assume that means they don't work. Interesting for a park that has numerous suspicious fires over the past few years.

According to the kids, most of the Devil's Den was completely dark inside - meaning that about half of the features in the ride weren't working. 

I have no idea what is up with the electrical box below.

The center of the carousel has pictures of old attractions around the lake. There's the Midway!
Despite being way past carousel-riding age, the kids rode the carousel since there were only about five rides operating.

The 'Blast from the Past' was three or four organ operators and their instruments scattered throughout the park.

On the way out, we spotted this cute little cottage. The decoration under the eaves perfectly matches the decorations on the Park's front entrance.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Ernst Conservation Seeds 50th Anniversary

Ernst Conservation Seeds in Meadville celebrated it's 50th anniversary with an open house for the community. We've often driven by their fields and have even participated in a race that started and ended at their parking lot. Until we visited for their open house, though, I had no idea how extensive their operation was.

They produce seeds for native species for all of the Northwest area and are one of the country's largest producers of native seeds. They've also been very active in growing sawgrass and producing sawgrass pellets. These pellets are used to absorb water by oil and gas drilling sites. The pictures below are inside the pellet processing area.

We took a bus tour of the Ernst fields. Corn and soybeans are used as rotation crop. Since both are 'Round-Up Ready', they can clear a field of weeds so that Ernst's other crops can be planted in a weed-free field.

Looking out our bus window - oats! Ernst grows a few grains, including oats, as well as tons of grasses and flowers.

Seeds are dried in the trucks (below) or in the round buildings seen behind the red truck.

After being dried, the seeds are sorted and cleaned. That process is amazing and actually quite involved.

Finally, the seeds are packed and ready to go. They keep a large supply of each type of seed on hand at all times.

Thank you Ernst Conservation Seeds for opening your doors to us!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Mary Statue in Conneaut Lake

While all of the cousins were visiting, the youngest group did a lot of outside exploring. They hunted for frogs, caught fireflies, and looked for treasures in our yards. While digging through the fire pit, they found this glass statue of the Virgin Mary. 

When they discovered her, she was darkened with ash. After a quick wash, however, the statue was restored to perfect condition. We can't help but wonder about this little miracle. My cousin Cathleen did some research and sent examples of Mary statues surviving all sorts of disasters. 

The picture below is from my cousin Cathleen. You would think that Mary was as large as the girls!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Fiestaware Factory Tour

When we found out that the Homer Laughlin/Fiestaware factory was less than two hours from Conneaut Lake, we knew we had to take a roadtrip. I'm not sure what I expected but was taken by surprise when we pulled into the driveway. The Newell, West Virginia factory sits on the banks of the Ohio River and looks like it an old, old factory - which it is, so I guess I should't have been so surprised.

Bins of seconds sat in the parking lot.

A larger seconds room is inside with more bins. Next to this is a store with even more Fiestaware.

Unfortunately, pictures aren't allowed on the tour. We were right on the floor where they make the dishes and watched as workers attached handles to mugs, dipped pieces in glaze, and sanded seams from the dishes. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of hands-on work for each piece. 

You can see the dumping ground for broken dishes below. They've been burying these broken bits for years, but that might change. A new company started making countertops out of the broken bits!