Five days of exploring Stark County

Who doesn’t enjoy getting away? A beach vacation, sitting poolside and enjoying a swim-up bar with a sea breeze steady enough to keep the sweat from beading down your face.

But some of the best vacations are the ones right in our backyards. They are the things we take for granted because we drive, walk, run and bike past them every day. However, there are plenty of things to do right here.

Here is a five-day plan for your next staycation.

Day 1

Call the Trailhead Canoe Livery in Massillon and make reservations for a canoe trip down the Tuscarawas River. The best part of this is it can be as short or long as you want. Pack a lunch and find a spot along the river to eat. The folks who run the livery will transport you up river, and you always finish your trip where you car is parked.

Day 2

Spend a night at The Inn at Honey Run. Make reservations for a night there and dinner at Tarragon, the restaurant in the inn. The inn is home to 12 beehives, and last year, Honey Run harvested 300 pounds of honey. Allow plenty of time to walk the beautiful compound. This boutique resort inn is pretty close, right down in Millersburg. Here is something they won’t tell you when checking in: The Inn at Honey Run is so well thought of, several NFL owners stay there when they come to town for Hall of Fame events.

Day 3

After you check out of the Inn at Honey Run, plan ahead by calling wineries in Amish country. Make sure you plan to eat lunch there as well, and visit some of the small gift shops just outside the wineries.

Day 4

Load the whole family in the car and go on an ice cream tour of Stark County. You can visit Milk & Honey, Heggy’s, Taggarts, New Baltimore Homemade Ice Cream and you have to head just outside of Stark County and go to Pav’s Creamery, either in Green or Portage Lakes.

Day 5

Admit it, you probably haven’t been to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. This is Stark County’s crown jewel. You can spend a day there. Make sure you allow time to see “A Game for Life,” the immersive theater experience with a hologram of Joe Namath narrating.

Call Canton Food Tours and arrange a food tour of downtown Canton after the Hall visit. You’re going to be hungry, and Barb Abbott will explain the history of Canton as you enjoy food from five or six spots.

Sure, all of this costs money. But if you’re going on vacation, you’re spending your hard-earned money in someone else’s hometown. This is a great way to support the local economy and sleep in your own bed most nights. Who likes packing anyway?

—Todd Porter

Memorable day trips started with Hall of Fame

The deadline for this column coincided with the NFL Draft.

The Cleveland Browns selected the consensus best player with the No. 1 pick, and barring something beyond bizarre, the choice hasn’t become the franchise’s typical fiasco. Maybe this is the year the Browns turn the corner, and maybe Myles Garrett is the man to help them do it.

And maybe two decades or so from now, some youngster from Northeast Ohio will climb into his family’s car for a day trip south on Interstate 77 to the Pro Football Hall of Fame to see someone (Garrett?) from this year’s draft class.

For a young kid growing up 90 minutes from Canton, going to the Hall of Fame was THE day trip for several years. The travel routine was nearly the same every summer: up early, pile into the panel-sided station wagon (seat belts optional) and watch the road signs. Anticipation built when we passed the Portage Street exit. We didn’t know it as the Portage Street exit, though, it was the exit 8 miles from some place called Canal Fulton.

Once at the Hall, there was a semi-quick romp through the exhibits and bust room, each a fraction of its current size. We slowed down to look at the award-winning photos—does the image of blood-streaked Y.A. Tittle ever get old? It fascinated us as kids—and we saved time for the videos, just to hear the voice of John Facenda talk about “frozen tundra.”

But the real goal, our end zone, was the gift store. Mini helmets! Coloring sets (complete with a rainbow of pencils!) Pennants! “Favorite” teams changed over time, but that meant a fresh shopping list.

As a parent, our kids’ destination of choice was almost always a zoo. Akron, Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo, Pittsburgh, Erie, Hershey, Cincinnati, Fort Wayne—we visited them all, many more than once.

We enjoyed them all. But I’m still looking for one that sells mini helmets in its gift shop.

—Rich Desrosiers

Red light cameras and the war of a thousand swords

I strolled in front of the jury box and pulled my suspenders out from my chest. “I’m just a simple Southern gentleman, and don’t know the ways of the big city,” I announced.

“But something just doesn’t seem right here.”

The jury was mine to command.

At least that’s how I envisioned the court scene when I got a ticket from a red light camera and vowed to fight.

“This is a travesty of the worst kind, and it shall not stand!” I screamed to the heavens. My wife ignored me. This might not be the first time I have fought a ticket. In fact, I fight all of them. And you should, too.

As furiously as I could, I checked the little “not guilty” box and put the ticket in an envelope. With the strength of a thousand hammers, I placed the stamp on the envelope. And with the speed of a thousand horses, walked 10 feet to the mailbox.

My plan was simple, I was going to win, “because this is America, and I don’t have to stand for this [nonsense].”

I decided to utilize the tidbits I remembered from that constitutional law class I slept through in college, combined with every lawyer show and movie I had ever seen. A winning combination, no doubt.

I would argue that red light cameras were an unconstitutional money grab. I would talk of “the dilemma zone,” the area you may find yourself when a light turns to red, but you are too far along to stop. “The amount of time between the green and red was too short to be safe, nor allow me the opportunity to stop,” I would say. I’d pull an oversized stop watch from my pocket to indicate that I had timed it myself. Note: I actually will not have timed it.

I would request to know the last time the camera was calibrated and how often it was checked. No matter the answer, I would raise the doubt that the thing worked correctly.

And if all else failed, I would ask to face my accuser. “As defined in the Constitution,” I would say, hoping no one would inquire which part. Then I’d cross my arms and wait. The jury would gasp, the prosecution would throw their papers in the air out of frustration. The judge would dismiss the case and encourage me to further pursue the law. Bald eagles would shoot fireworks from their beaks.

But it didn’t really go like that. When I got to court, I didn’t even have time to pull on my suspenders before it was dismissed. I was called into an office where a woman told me I won. Then she showed me a video of a person who looked very much like me, driving a car very much like mine, very obviously rolling through an empty intersection.

I cleared my throat, thanked the woman and quickly backed out of the office.

—Dave Manley