Monday, November 2, 2009

A Tour of Historic Holmes County, Ohio


But for right now, I’d like to share a bit of Ohio with you.

Providence, Ohio, the fictional town in The Cheese Shop Mysteries, is located in the western portion of Holmes County.

I recently toured the area and took a ton of pictures.

Isn’t it beautiful? Pastoral? Bucolic?

I decided to stay at a bed and breakfast that was listed in a visitor’s guide
to Holmes County.
Acorns at the White Oak Inn was first in the alphabet.
So is Avery Aames.
And the inn had received awards.
Kismet, right?

I headed north from the airport with a song in my heart, but right off the bat, I was rerouted from the clear directions I had received from the Inn. Uh-oh. I definitely needed GPS to get there. To make matters worse, while getting intermittently detoured, my cell phone reception vanished. No phoning home, no GPS. Let’s hear it for good old AT&T. Boo-o-o-o!

Rather than lose my cool, I leaned back in the seat, took deep calming breaths, and drove along a number of scenic routes knowing I had enough gas to get me just about anywhere. And then I drank in the atmosphere. The hills undulated like a theme park rollercoaster. The burnt amber and shimmering gold leaves on the trees lit up the horizon like a brazen fire. And there were hundreds upon hundreds of farms. Big farms, small farms. I stopped to take pictures of barns, silos, and vistas. I laughed when I saw not only cows, sheep, and goats, but llamas. Yes, llamas!

Finally I arrived at the historic White Oak Inn and was greeted by Yvonne and Ian, the owners.

Shout out to Yvonne and Ian.

They advertise that the inn is “in the middle of nowhere.” Well, my friends, it really is. There are no houses around. No hotels. No sounds but the babble of the nearby river and the wind blowing through the trees. A slice of heaven. There are no telephones in the room--which was a little worrisome seeing as I still had no cell phone reception--but I was able to get on the internet when I sat in the inn’s great room, a meditative spot decorated with antique furniture, collections of teacups and teapots, earthenware, and an old square Chickering piano. When I retired to my little cottage, which was decorated with brocade and lace, I lit the fire, poured a glass of wine. (Of course, I'd purchased some cheese along the way for a snack.) I picked up a book and suddenly realized I was on vacation. Wahoo!

I slept like a log in the comfy bed,
and in the morning, after a serene walk and a scrumptious breakfast made by Yvonne--a foodie who blogs with other innkeepers--I set off for Millersberg and Berlin, cute, touristy towns…

…where I met LaVonne of Amish Tours of Ohio--a terrific gal with a sharp wit and the most intimate knowledge of Holmes County and the Amish people. Check out:

Over the course of six hours, LaVonne took me to a number of cheese makers, a winery, an Amish leather maker, and a general store, all while regaling me with stories. [That's an Amish farm on the right.]

I gained a wealth of tidbits to add to my stories--lucky me! But I also learned something else.

I go too fast.

I don’t take enough time to breathe and listen and absorb.

If you’re like me, take a minute now. Breathe. And then enjoy life one moment at a time.

Oh, and try a bit of Guggisberg Baby Swiss cheese or Heini’s cheddar, local Holmes County cheeses made with Amish farm milk. Yum!!

If you want to know more about The Cheese Shop Mysteries, coming from Berkley Prime Crime in July, 2010, click on this link to check out my website: Avery Aames


Win a $25 Gift Card to Williams-Sonoma gourmet food and kitchenware store!

In early November, we're going to have an Iron Chef Week. Each of our mystery writing cooks will post a recipe with the same secret ingredient. To enter our drawing for the gift card, all you have to do is send an e-mail, suggesting a future Secret Ingredient to:

NOTE: You must be a follower of our blog for your entries to count. Just click on one of the "follow" buttons in the right column and you're all set. One entry allowed per day per person. The winner will be announced right here on November 9th! (Again, if you're not following our blog, another winner will be be sure to follow!)


  1. Your pictures are beautiful! So relaxing. I need that kind of an escape!

    Try Verizon. :) I'd be all flippy without cell phone reception!

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  2. What a fabulous post! You're making me long for some quiet and solitude, but you've also encouraged me to try to find it myself right here, right now. What a lovely trip! Thanks so much for sharing your descriptions (love them!) and pictures with us.


  3. Sounds fabulous, Daryl. I'm ready to dive into your cheese series and enjoy some of that gorgeous countryside!

    ~ Krista

  4. Guggisberg swiss cheese! - you're making me homesick! Isn't it the best?

  5. Avery: Ahhhh...thank you for the virtual vacation!

    BTW, everyone: I had the pleasure of reading Avery's debut mystery in manuscript form and (just like her post today) it's a book to escape in: beautifully descriptive, clever, a joy to read. I'm looking forward to seeing the first Avery Aames Cheese Shop mystery on the shelves at last!

    ~ Cleo
    Coffee drawing live today at 7 PM
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  6. I have been to this area before, but just a quick swing through. I obviously needed to slow down like you suggested!

  7. I'm so glad everyone enjoyed the ride. It was so much fun for me. And Cleo, you're making me blush. Thanks!

  8. Avery-

    Thanks for sharing your trip with us. It was a lovely mini-vacation for me!