Excursion 54, Part 2 (The Macrobus of Memories)

I never rode in a city bus until I was at college in San Antonio; sans car, I had to beg rides or take the bus.  Luckily, San Antonio had a great bus system.  As a child and a teen, I was too close to both my elementary school and my high school to take school buses, but I did occasionally go on field trips. The first field trip I ever took, which was when I was very young, was to a dairy. It wasn’t very exciting, but it got us out of school.  When I was in the 8th grade, the entire 8th grade went on a day long field trip, first to the El Paso planetarium, then to a state park adjacent to the mountains that are such a big piece of El Paso’s landscape.  The picnic at the state park was all fine and good but what my little geek self was excited about was the planetarium.  Oh, was I excited about that.

We all got in the buses to go to the planetarium and one of the cool things about not being in school was that you could chew gum. Gum was not verboten in the real world.  I have never been a huge gum chewer, but when I was offered a stick of gum by one of my classmates, I took it.  Why not live the high life?  We arrived at the planetarium and debarked.  But as we were filing in from the lobby into the actual arium part, a pinched-face planetarium employee put his hand out to stop me.  “Are you chewing gum?” he asked.  Well, I was.  I forgot to spit it out.  I went to put the gum in a trash can but when I came back to the line, the employee would not let me in—he wanted to punish me for nearly having brought gum into his beloved planetarium (heaven forefend).  No teacher intervened to help me, and so I was forced to sit in the lobby for an eternity while every one of my 130 grademates got to see a planetarium show.  It would be another 10 years until I entered the doors of a planetarium again—although, in a belated soothing of my still-ruffled feathers, that second experience let me know I had not really missed anything with the first.  Still, what a fucking mean thing to do.

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Excursion 54, Part 1 (The Minibus of Memories)

Sometimes the passage of time becomes abrupt, almost jarring.  For example, almost overnight, it seems, people stopped referring to taxis and began referring to Uber.  “When did Uber become a thing?” I couldn’t help but wonder. Sometimes it is far less apparent—just as you may not notice that someone you are constantly with has aged.  One personal example of this involves the Volkswagen Beetle.  Like many families of an earlier age, my family used to play “lovebug,” where occupants of a car would compete to count Volkswagen beetles, the first person seeing one shouting “lovebug!” to claim their prize (there is a less genteel version of it called “slugbug,” the parameters of which are presumably clear to the reader, but we did not stoop to that).  Once upon a time, the Volkswagen Beetle—the original Volkswagen Beetle—was everywhere.  Then, gradually, it was not everywhere.  Eventually, it was hardly somewhere.  And that’s when you notice time has passed.

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Excursion 53, Part 2 (Eat Dessert First)

Try and think of the earliest dessert you ever ate.  Can you think of anything?  The earliest things I can remember, all from the time I was four or less, are animal crackers, vanilla wafers, ice cream (the earliest word I learned to spell, because my parents would ask one another, “Do you want to go get some i-c-e-c-r-e-a-m?”), and chocolate shakes.  The latter I remember because I got sick with some sort of stomach bug and had to go for several days without eating or drinking anything except for sips of water—that was how sensitive my stomach was.  I started fantasizing about a milkshake and, when I could finally eat again, I pleaded for a milkshake.  My parents, bless them, obliged—and I promptly threw it up.

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Excursion 53, Part 1 (Septic Thanks)

We don’t always take the time to appreciate the little things in life.  For example, at the moment of this writing, I have a gnat/fruit fly infestation in my house. I don’t know where the little buggers are reproducing yet and I am probably going to have to tear my house upside down.  I normally don’t take the time to appreciate a gnat-free house.   I do appreciate the relaxation of going on my little excursions across Ohio, but often not until I am actually on the road.  What I dread, to be honest, is having to wake up so early. I am such a night person, that getting up early enough to catch even the trailing rays of the morning’s “golden hour” is certainly a chore. One saving grace of excursions in the winter is that the sun, at least, rises a bit later.  I need those minutes.

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Excursion 52 (Glimpses of Space and Time and Space)

On my way back from a gaming event in Cleveland, I decided to take the long way home and drive through the flat farming country of north central Ohio.  In such areas of Ohio, you get a bit more wide open view, though usually bounded by a row of trees sooner or later, and this gives you a bit of perspective on the small things—such as you and I—encountered in such larger landscapes. Continue reading

Excursion 51 (A Caledonian Amuse-bouche)

One of my hobbies is roadside photography.  Another, much older hobby of mine is strategy board wargaming (complex strategy boardgames simulating historical conflicts throughout time).  Every October I go to a gaming convention in Cleveland to indulge my inner—and, let’s face it, outer—geek.  Since I began my foray into roadside photography in Ohio, I have tended to use the trips there and back between Columbus and Cleveland as opportunities to explore more hidden highways and byways of Ohio, taking long meandering routes instead of the speedy Interstate.

I did this in October 2015, heading northwards out of Columbus before eventually cutting east to get to Cleveland.  Along the way, I took some photographs, but not too many, and I present this modest collection of 11 photographs as tokens of my journey.

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Excursion 50, Part 3 (Steubenville at Dusk)

My fiftieth excursion had been a long, nice day and I was ready to go home.  But though I was already heading south for home, there was one stopping point left, as long as the light held out:  Steubenville, Ohio.  Steubenville is south of East Liverpool, also on the Ohio River, and also a struggling Rust Belt town.

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Excursion 50, Part 2 (East to East Liverpool)

My 50th excursion, quite a milestone, took me northeast from Columbus to Coshocton (because all roads lead to Coshocton), and well beyond.  But let’s pick up a bit northeast of Coshocton, where I was driving northward through what was essentially the southern reach of traditional “Amish country” in Ohio (though Amish communities can be found throughout the state). Continue reading

Excursion 50, Part 1 (The Fiftieth Excursion)

Most blogs fizzle out after a few months.  So too do most attempted hobbies.  So I consider it remarkable that I somehow have managed to keep doing both for some years.  I write this in July 2016, more than four years after I started the blog, but the excursion I write about took place in late September 2015, so I still remain behind—but am trying to catch up.  Fifty is a big fat round number, so it seems like an opportunity to pat myself on the back a little bit.  That’s a lot of trips around Ohio, many thousands of miles clocked, and the past few years have given me an opportunity to explore and learn about my state in ways that I had never imagined.

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Excursion 49, Part Two (They Came from the Sky)

I saw a UFO once.  I mean that literally, as in an “unidentified flying object.”  It was back when I was a kid and my family was getting up very early in the morning to go on some long trip.  I went outside, to put something in the car or get something from my father’s truck, and somehow I noticed something extremely tiny and odd up in the sky—it is rather amazing I noticed it at all, so small and far away it was.  It looked like the tiniest of circles hovering in the stratosphere.  I went and got my dad, who came out and looked at it, and then went back inside and got his spotting scope—the closest thing we had to a telescope.   Even through the spotting scope, we could make out very little, just a few appurtenances or gewgaws coming out of the thing.  Eventually we decided that it had to be some sort of weather balloon, high up in the atmosphere.  Sorry if you were expecting tentacles.

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