Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: November 2021
Ohio was named after the Ohio River, which is one of the largest rivers in the United States. It is commonly referred to as the Buckeye State due to its abundance of Ohio buckeye trees. It features several major cities, has a rich musical history and offers a wide range of outdoor activities.
We spent the previous days underground exploring Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky and afterwards went for a COVID-19 test. Usually results come back within 24 hours. Since we had some time to kill, we started the day off at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, which is the oldest and largest military aviation museum in the world. And it’s completely free to visit.
We first walked outside the museum around Memorial Park, which contains a number of commemorative plaques, memorials, trees and benches in honour of certain Americans for their service and sacrifice.
We then spent the next couple of hours wandering through the museum, which showcases more than 360 aircrafts and missiles. The museum is divided into a series of different exhibits which are spread across five hangars and highlight the military aviation history in the United States. We toured through the various galleries in sequential order, starting first with the Early Years, which provide an overview of the Wright brothers, who were born in Ohio and invented, built and flew the first successful airplane.
We later explored the other exhibits, which included aircrafts and stories from World War II, the Korean War, the Southeast Asia War, the Cold War, a missile gallery and space gallery.
One of our favourite exhibits was the Presidential Gallery, which showcased a collection of aircrafts used by several American presidents, many of which we could walk through. This included presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman and Dwight Eisenhower. The collection also featured a plane which was used regularly by presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon.
We could have easily spent the whole day here, but we had other places to be. We wrapped up around noon and headed to the car to eat a quick lunch before continuing our drive towards Ontario.
The next stop on our itinerary was Ohio Caverns, the largest cave system in the state. It is also known as the most colourful cavern in the United States and contains many crystal formations. While Ohio Caverns is open daily, during the off-season there is just one option for a cave tour, the Winter Tour, so that’s what we signed up for. Except we had to wait about an hour for the next cave tour as a tour had just started a few minutes after we arrived and the other guide was on a lunch break. And so we waited.
The tour started right inside the Visitor Centre where there’s a door in the lobby with steps down to the entrance of the cavern. We were joined by two other people. The tour is 50 minutes in duration and along the way our guide provided more information about how the cavern was created, discovered, used for tours and about the interesting cave formations found underground.
The Ohio Caverns were discovered in 1897 when a young farm hand went to investigate the disappearance of water in a sinkhole. After digging around, he found a crevice which led into a natural entrance into the caverns. Tours were offered shortly after the cavern was discovered, but they were self-guided. As such, the cavern contains quite a bit of graffiti and many of the cave formations were broken off and taken as souvenirs. Over the years, more passageways were opened and electric lights were installed to help with navigation. Eventually the self-guided tours ended and today the only way to peek inside the caverns is with a guide.
The path is paved, but there are a few narrow passageways. The cavern is also considered a wet cavern, which means that many of the cavern’s formations are still active and growing. As such, there were some puddles on the ground and we experienced a few cave kisses, or rather droplets from the ceiling.
The last four rooms during our tour showcased about 90% of the elaborate cave formations, which included lots of crystal coloured stalactites, stalagmites, columns, and soda straws.
We wrapped up our cave tour just before 3p.m and made one final detour to check out the highest point in Ohio at Campbell Hill while we continued to wait for our test results to come in.