by Greg Enslen, 08/08/12, GregEnslen.com

Last week, my folks visited from Florida. They were returning from a swing through New York and took a jog over to Ohio to spend four days with us before heading back south. Thought I’d share a few highlights from their trip.

Breakfast of Champions

Breakfasts are something of an Enslen family tradition—we love going out to eat in the morning, so anyplace with “pancake” in the title is fair game. Bob Evans is the go-to place when my folks are visiting Tipp City, as they usually stay at the nearby Holiday Inn or La Quinta.

And Bob Evans didn’t disappoint—we were there twice in two days, and everyone enjoyed it. Of course, if you order anything other than a bowl of oatmeal, you tend to feel a bit sluggish afterward. I mentioned that the “Farmers’ Market” omelet should only be eaten if you’ve just worked for hours at an actual farmers’ market—you’d need to burn off 1,326 calories to make up for it. And don’t try the “Border Scramble” unless you’ve just spent hours traversing a rugged border crossing!

We visited Sam and Ethel’s on Tuesday morning, and the Old Tippecanoe Coffee Shop on Wednesday, reminding me of how many great options we have here in the downtown. Mom was impressed with the wagon-wheel-sized pancakes at Sam and Ethel’s, and Sam got her favorite from the coffee shop, the veggie stack: a bagel loaded with cream cheese, provolone, and every kind of veggie you can think of.

We’re lucky to have so many local places open early—and late. In fact, I just heard that Tony’s Bada-Bing is now serving pizza and subs late into the night, along with the brewskis.

A Slow Trip to Nowhere

One of the good things about visitors is that you’re inspired to go places you never get around to going on your own. This trip, we visited Johnston Farms in Piqua, and took a ride on an old-time canal boat.

The Johnston Farms website said, somewhat cryptically, that the boat runs Thursday through Sunday, “12:30-2:30 & 4:00.” So we headed up on Thursday, getting there right at 2:30. We hurried across a large open field to the museum—ac

tually, with three kids, we straggled more than hurried—to where a woman was standing outside, patiently watching us. We asked if “we’d missed the boat,” but she told us not to worry, and directed us down a path to the canal.

The ride was a dragonfly-filled journey down the canal, which was practically choked with underwater plants and vines. They were so thick, you could almost walk across the canal without getting your feet wet!

As the large, flat-bottomed boat crept along, pulled by two tired-looking mules, a member of the crew talked about the history of the canal and the myriad Ohio canals that formed a statewide network in the mid- and latter-nineteenth century. The kids loved watching the fish and dragonflies, and Katie liked it when the boat turned around, moving sideways through the brackish water.

Dinners and Diners

We also splurged and had some great meals while my parents were in town. Monday night, their first night in Tipp, we went to Harrison’s. I had the onion soup, a personal favorite, and my folks both had wraps—Dad got the pecan chicken salad, and Mom enjoyed the spicy Mediterranean wrap, which includes blackened chicken, red pepper hummus, cucumbers, tomatoes, and feta. Yum.

Wednesday night, I got to share my unhealthy obsession with Marion’s Pizza in Troy, which Mom declared “outstanding” and said that it would need to become a regular part of any future trips to Ohio. The pizza was great, as usual, and I noted that the decor in the new Troy building is identical to that in all of the other Marion’s locations. It looks like it’s been there for years.

Thursday night was an Enslen tradition—Taco Night! We used to have these every Sunday night growing up, often sitting down to watch TV together while we ate. It’s a surprisingly healthy alternative to going out for Mexican food, especially if you lay off the cheese and sour cream and load up on the lettuce and cilantro and pico de gallo. I always make a side of refried beans, and Sam whips up her amazing corn salad. If you want to go crazy healthy, you can even use turkey meat or tofu instead of ground beef for the tacos. But that may be going too far.

Next Time

Feel free to drop me an email at info@gregenslen.com if you’d like to let me know more about the Bob Evans, canal boats, and Marion’s Pizza. Talk to you soon!