Introverts enjoy people-watching. Extroverts enjoy people watching. Jonny Sun, author, screenwriter.

I like to watch people. They make a place come alive. And on our recent trip to Ohio, they presented some of our favorite scenes.

As we broke camp early one morning, we couldn’t help but notice the teenage girl trying to walk her cat on a leash. The campground mandated that all pets must be on a leash, but the cat was having none of it. After rolling around trying to disengage the tether without success, the cat sat down and refused to budge. Time and again, the pet’s owner picked the animal up, stroked it gently, walked a few paces, then tried again. It was difficult to stick to my chores while such an intriguing scene unfolded beyond my window. I don’t know who was the winner. The cat never walked on leash. But the young girl never lost her patience.

On our way home, we stopped at 50 Taters Restaurant, a rather unique place featuring potatoes, cooked in a variety of ways, as its main attraction. We enjoyed our meal, but as we were leaving, one scene provided the cherry on top. A young mother and her three-year-old strawberry blonde entered the establishment. Immediately, the child focused on the larger-than-life cutout of Elvis Presley playing a guitar. The child’s eyes grew larger by the minute and she moved into dance mode. Mesmerized, she pointed to the plywood statue and said aloud, “Daddy!” Mom ushered her to a table. I never learned if the little girl’s dad was a musician, merely had dark hair or could dance a jig, but with a shake of her curls, she was certain of the image’s identity.

Two of the most fascinating folks we encountered are no longer living, but their stories are posted on the wall of the Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio. The most popular attraction at this state park is The Old Man’s Cave. Having arrived in this area around 1796, Richard Rowe, a hermit trapper, lived with his dog in the large recess of this cave that now refers to him as “old man.”  According to legend, as reported by this state park, Rowe was a loner, but had friends who when he died, buried him, his dog, his gun, a print copy of the Declaration of Independence and $600 in gold in his cave. Supposedly, explorers in the 1800s found the grave site. After excavating it, they reburied the bones of the man, the dog and the gun. The money went to a charity. Presumably, this tale was reported in a newspaper at the time.

Also at Hocking Hill State Park is the Grandma Gatewood Trail. As a 20th century woman, Emma Rowena (Grandma)  Gatewood’s story has more documentation. After she saw her 11th and youngest child married, this Ohioan pondered what to do with the rest of her life. She liked to walk and having read several years earlier about the Appalachian Trail, she decided to hike it. Ill prepared for such a journey, her first attempt only lasted a couple of days. But two years later, well equipped, the now experienced hiker was up to the challenge. In 1955, she became the first woman to solo-hike the entire Appalachian Trail. Two years later, she hiked it again; and in 1964, at age 77, she hiked it for a third time, the first person to do so.

We started this trip at the Mountain Music Day Festival at Vogel State Park in the North Georgia Mountains. While we enjoyed the music from a variety of groups, we were fascinated by the movements of the sign language interpreter performing with Moonlight Street Folk, a five-piece band out of Asheville, NC. While the original music of this group is haunting, the movements of the interpreter, in time with the music, is mesmerizing.

Although we didn’t see the people inside the buggy nor looked for them, the horse pulling an Amish carriage pranced down the street like a Lipizzaner stallion. Many of the horses that the Amish buy are retired racing champions or ones that didn’t make it in the racing circuit. This one was a show horse for sure.

• Jamie Denty can be reached at Please visit:  “From My Back Porch” at A “new” old column is published most Mondays.