Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication – Leonard Da Vinci
The Zen of Simplicity
There are days when you just feel like driving down the highway on a whim, trusting the open road ahead to lead you into the arms of a welcoming entity. Day-tripping is what this kind of day-cation is known as and people have been taking them since the Medieval times. Often times these short road trips are best done alone because solidarity provides the participant a brief moment in time to focus on nothing else but the environment they’re in and their reaction.
Time slows like a molasses in an hour-glass the further you travel outside the city limits of a major metropolitan area. You don’t have to travel too far to experience this sensation. Getting away from the white noise of the urban bee-hive helps clear your thoughts and that’s essential to maintaining mental health. We’ve all been there. Hitting a mental wall, burned out from relationships, your job, the wacky world around you. It takes all you have to maintain balance and stay in the line.
Edward Hopper’s paintings depicted the quiet desperation of both men and women during the rise of the cubicle worker era in his mid-century paintings. Film classics such as 1971’s Five Easy Pieces starring Jack Nicholson portray another type of American–the rebellious loner, whom like a testosterone-fueled square-peg, cannot find his correlating slot in an increasingly more automated, emasculated society.
Canadian rock band, Arcade Fire, encapsulated the existential dilemma for the 21st century with their 2010 album, The Suburbs, an album that could serve as an audio reference manual for disillusioned Gen-Yers who want for nothing more than to hop a Huffy bicycle back to the suburban sidewalks of their 80s and 90s youth.
No matter what your background is, living in a fast-paced world inundated with superficial social media friendships and the constant pursuit of chasing money at the expense of growing true relationships with friends and family can lead to a yearning for simpler times. It’s only natural and the concept has been pondered for centuries. When commerce and technological advancement are the main causes promoted to a secular, emotionally and financially bogged down class of worker drones, it leads some to wanting to pause and look at themselves for solutions (see image above).
Where the River Rolls Slow
For a few hours on a sunny Saturday afternoon, New Richmond provided me with an opportunity to disengage from my usual routine, step away from the familiar daily grind and have a pleasant experience without having to board an airplane to do so.
Residents of New Richmond might regard any romanticism about their hometown as overshooting the mark (“try living here awhile” they might say), maybe justifiably so, but based on first impressions, I was able to get a new look at the tri-state area that isn’t a view of ball parks across the Ohio River. This perspective took me to historic New Richmond on the Ohio River Scenic Byway, just minutes away from Ulysses S. Grant’s birthplace in Point Pleasant.
The relaxed atmosphere reminded me of an episode of The Twilight Zone titled, “A Stop at Willoughby”. In the episode, an anxiety-ridden working stiff commutes to and from work on a time traveling train that drops him off in a 19th century Midwestern hamlet. New Richmond has some “Willoughby” qualities. It’s peaceful, restful and the 19th century architecture adds extra charm. The area celebrated its bicentennial in 2014 and its historic ties to the times of the American Civil War and Underground Railroad cements the correlation.
The river rolls along at a sleepy pace and noise levels are minimal. Strolling along the pedestrian sidewalks of Front Street you encounter friendly locals who say hello in passing. There are several businesses along Front Street, including a few antique shops, an ice-cream parlor, Front Street Cafe and the Green Kayak Market & Eatery.
Scenes from New Richmond
After strolling down the street to take in the fresh air and admire the old buildings nestled along the Ohio River, the humidity aided in building up a thirst for something cold to drink. I recalled a couple beer signs in a store window when I pulled into town, so, I made my way back towards that direction. Stepping past the outdoor patio that filled the sidewalk area in front of the Green Kayak, I passed from bright sunlight into a cavernous bar.
I could tell right away this was my kind of place. The interior of this old building was cozy–brick walls, painted metal ceiling tiles, dim lighting–the perfect place to knock a few cold ones back. There’s a long, handcrafted wooden bar with Sweet Water 420 pale ale on tap and two LCD TVs hanging on the wall behind the bar. I noticed a couple attractive young women perched atop two bar stools, wearing girls fast-pitch shirts. Could this be a hang-out for local athletes after the game?
If you’re in the bar for awhile you’ll notice the crashing sound of wooden planks hitting the cement floor that will hunch your shoulders the first time you hear it. No fear, it’s just an adult-sized version of Jenga known as Stakked, placed towards the front of the bar. Towards the back of the bar, tucked in the corner is a small stage area where local musicians play during the week. The summer acoustic concert series at Green Kayak is well documented on their Facebook page.
For a slow Saturday afternoon, I felt obliged to make my arrival known after my first glass of Sweet Water by pumping $5 into the jukebox, where sounds of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Aerosmith, and Black Sabbath filled the bar for a solid 90 minutes. This caught the attention of owner, Jim Comodeca.
Jim is a laid back, cordial type that engages customers directly, providing a hospitable atmosphere to match the charm of New Richmond. I was given a private tour of the new back-room addition currently under construction and that was super cool being that I’m a perfect stranger who’s not even a regular at the restaurant. That’s the kind of proprietor Jim is, and the friendliness of the college student staff is a nice complement.
Vacation Rentals from Green Kayak Market & Eatery in New Richmond
If you’re looking for a day-cation getaway that’s not too far from home, check out Green Kayak’s vacation rentals. The Loft at the Green Kayak gives you a great view of the Ohio River from the vantage of a 2-bedroom, second floor unit. Flat screen TVs, master bed and amenities are accessible as well as a discount on a kayak rental. Also available is a Kentucky lake cabin rental on Elk Lake. Find some peace and quiet on the tranquil lake with a private dock, dirt roads and short drive from Elk Creek Winery.