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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
In September 2015, I took a page from infamous presidential accident Andrew Johnson, who in 1866 conducted what has come down in history as his “swing around the circle,” a series of campaign stops designed to influence the upcoming Congressional elections in his favor. It started off okay but, God love him, President Johnson came to Ohio; Ohioans were vocally none too happy to see him, and it went downhill from there. His trip was widely considered a disaster. Luckily, my own “swing around the circle” was not at all a disaster. Rather, I embarked upon a pleasant, meandering circle around the area of Ohio between Columbus and Cleveland, a region rather devoted to agriculture.
When I was in high school, I was a member of the Math Club. Yes, you heard me correctly, I did not lose my virginity in high school. One year we traveled to Monahans, Texas, about 250 miles away, for an academic competition. It was probably more than just a math competition, because we went in a school bus. On the way back, after a long day, I stared out from the bus into the darkness of the west Texas desert, listening to Simon & Garfunkel’s Concert in Central Park on my Walkman knockoff. When the song “Homeward Bound” started playing, I was suddenly swept up, listening to the lyrics, by a feeling of incredible melancholy. To this day, when I hear that song, especially when I am traveling, I still feel those strong emotions—there is something in that song about a desire to be rooted, to be anchored, to belong somewhere, that to me is very powerful. It may speak to me so strongly because it sometimes seem to describe my entire life rather than merely an episode in it.
I grew up in El Paso, Texas, and went to college at Trinity University in San Antonio. There’s 550 miles of Texas between the two cities. Over the years of driving back and forth, you come to learn things—traveller’s things, at least—about the places in-between: Van Horn, Fort Stockton, Junction, Kerrville, etc. You’d know where you can get gas, which towns or villages had a place to eat—which town had the Pizza Hut, which had the McDonald’s, and which had the “Dairy King.” That was all driving on I-10, I should note, the same drive, every time, which gave me a very limited view of half a thousand miles of Texas. Though I drove near it many times, I never once saw the village of Iraan, Texas (“the second largest town in the second largest county in the second largest state”). Of course, when you have half a thousand miles to cover, minutes become precious.
That’s one of the things I like about being in Ohio and taking my little excursions. I can explore and see all the things you can’t see from the freeway. I feel “invested” in Ohio, because of this, more than I ever felt invested in Texas.