A couple of weeks ago Alex and I had the luxury of taking a 12 day vacation to visit his family. Alex is from Indianapolis but has family in Columbus, Ohio as well. We decided to spend the first 6 days of our trip in Columbus visiting with his mom and grandparents. I was very excited not only to meet this side of his family for the first time but also to be able to enjoy the scenery and all the beautiful fall colors; I’m sure I sounded like a broke record really quickly with all my comments of just how gorgeous the trees were and how beautiful everything looked!
We had several things on our agenda for our time in Columbus and I was really looking forward to all the fun fall activities as well as our race (and yes, we did pick out this race and then base our trip around it in case you were wondering; that’s how I plan about 90% of all my travel now). Columbus did not disappoint at all and we had an awesome time!
We got in around noon on Thursday so we had at least half of the day to spend doing fun stuff. After we unloaded our luggage, went grocery shopping and had lunch (I also had a small nap since we had been up since 3:30 that morning) we decided to make the drive to the town of Circleville, OH for their annual and very well known Pumpkin Festival. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from a pumpkin festival since I had never been to one before but I was excited because I had read many good things about it and I even had a blogger recommend this to me.
The place was packed for a Thursday evening and it seemed the whole town was shut down just for this event. There were blocks and blocks of venders selling crafts and trinkets as well as any kind of food you could want. There were carnival rides, sweets to eat, bands playing and pumpkins galore!
I had my first ever taste of an ‘elephant ear’ which is like a giant, flat sopapilla (at least that’s what it tasted like to me). We also sampled the pumpkin waffles, pumpkin donuts, pumpkin burgers, apple cider slush, and the highlight of our night was the deep fried pumpkin blossoms. I wish I had a picture of them to show you but it was so dark at this point and I was eating them as fast as I could so I forgot to take one. They took the blossom from the pumpkin plants and deep fried them and served them with ranch dipping sauce, it was so good! I know it sounds weird but it was delicious.
We also spend time walking through the competition area which I always find so amusing. I love seeing all the different things that people make, draw or bake; people are so creative! There was also a contest on the best produce which I thought was really interesting.
The Circleville Pumpkin Festival did not disappoint!
On Friday morning I got up and went for a run because I just couldn’t bear the thought of being surrounded by so many beautiful trees and not taking it all in. Alex’s grandparents live in a somewhat secluded neighborhood and so there was plenty of beautiful scenery to be had (and plenty of up and down hills too!)
After our run Alex, his mom and I headed downtown to the race expo. After we got our packets we made our way to this cute little deli that Alex just loves called Katzinger’s. We actually ran right by this during the race in German village.
Alex had their famous Rueben sandwich and I had a turkey sandwich with the most amazing horseradish Dijon mustard, wow that was a good sandwich!
Later that evening after dinner Alex’s mom took us to a local church for a free ballroom dancing lesson. Beth (Alex’s mom) loves to ballroom dance and she has found several local communities of people that get together on a weekly basis and offer free dance nights. We had a lot of fun but we both realized very quickly that we should probably do a lot, and I mean A LOT more of these lessons before our wedding.
On Saturday morning Alex and I got up and we headed to the Ohio State vs. Purdue football game. I love college football so I was very excited about getting to see this game!
Alex went to Purdue so we were silently cheering them on amongst the sea of red and white. Purdue actually led the entire game until the last 3 seconds of the game, whomp, whomp! Ohio State won the game in overtime and although we were sad about Purdue it was really fun to see the crowd so excited. I also completely understand now why they have the “Buckeye bounce” (when everyone jumps up and down together), and it’s because everyone is so dang cold! The bands at half time were outstanding, Ohio State band really knows how to perform. I have to say, seeing a football game in the horseshoe was quite awesome!
Sunday was race day, you can read about that here and here. I still cannot say enough good things about this race. Columbus really put together an awesome race and I cannot wait until I can go back and do this one again someday.
On Monday Alex and I spent some time relaxing and shopping with his mom. Then later that night Alex and I had dinner reservations for a 4 course dinner at a place in the Short North (this is essentially the hip, happening part of town where the “in” crowd like to hang out).
The dinner was a fall inspired meal with wine tastings and pairings at each course. We didn’t know what to expect but when we arrived we saw that we were going to have an intimate dinner at a Tuscan table with 12 other people. It was a very pleasurable evening and I thoroughly enjoyed talking and chatting with the others at the table.
Oh and the food, wow I wish it would have been appropriate to take pictures because this food was to die for. The first course was a dinner salad with nuts, goat cheese and a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. The second course, which I think was everyone’s favorite course was a roasted chestnut soap. The third course was actually my favorite, it was a roasted acorn squash stuff with vegan sausage, apples, onions and celery; oh my goodness I can still taste it’s goodness. The final course was a pumpkin moose that was probably one of the best tasting pumpkin things I have ever had and it was paired perfectly with the dessert wine that was chosen. We actually bought two bottles of wine that we had tried that night and we are saving them for a special occasion. We had a really great time that night, we don’t usually get dressed up and have fancy dinners so this was a very pleasant and fun change of pace for us. I’m really glad Alex was so thoughtful and made the reservations.
Tuesday morning was our last morning in Columbus so I made sure I got up and ran in the beautiful weather just one more time before packing up. We had lunch with Alex’s grandparents and mom before they took us to get our rental car. We drove a rental car from Columbus to Indianapolis and that was probably one of the most fun road trip experiences I have ever had. Alex likes to drive and I don’t so it works well for the both of us. He let me have full control of the music so I put on all my favorites from my iPod and we just sang and talked the whole two and a half hour drive. We made it safely to Indianapolis and dropped off the rental car where his dad was waiting for us….but I’ll save the rest of our trip for another post.
I’m so glad we were able to spend time in Columbus and I am so very glad I was able to finally meet Alex’s mom and grandparents. There were so warm and welcoming and I look forward to more visits up north in the future!