Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Second Sunday Drive, Day 31

"A Winding Road That Beckons Me to Roam"
Ohio 536, Monroe County

All things, they say, must end, and by the first of September, I knew it was time to go home.  After returning from Evansville, I left Sharon in Parkersburg to catch up on her chores, and headed back to Roseland for a final day with Ron.  On Saturday morning, September 1st, I packed up the Saab, asked Nancy to plot a course to Columbus, Ohio, and said good-bye to West Virginia, Roseland, and Ron.

Nancy gave me two choices, the shortest and the fastest.  As the shortest was a series of back roads with lots of twists and turns, and the fastest was almost entirely made up of Interstate 70, I chose the former.  This led me back down the mountain to New Martinsville, where I crossed the Ohio and turned, briefly, onto Ohio 7 to Hannibal.  At Hannibal, I left the river behind and climbed up a road every bit as twisting as the one I had driven down on the West Virginia side.  Ohio 536 has been reviewed as a great motorcycle ride, and it was great fun in the Saab.  I sure wouldn’t want to have my F250 with the Lance Camper on this road.

After about twelve miles, 536 dead-ends into Ohio 78, and I turned toward Woodsfield, the seat of Monroe County.  The impressive court house in the center of town is clearly marked “County Court House,” but unlike any other such building I’ve seen, you have to look carefully to find out which county.  A ground-floor door on the left side of the structure’s front says “Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office,” but even the brass plaque which tells us that the building was “erected in 1907-1908” and gives the names of the members of the Building Commission, is labeled with just two words, “Court House.” According to Mapquest, I had just covered 37.6 miles, and that should have taken me over an hour.  Sounds about right for the day.

"County Court House"
Woodsfield, Ohio
From Woodsfield, I continued on Ohio 78, past Lewisville and its Buchanan Presbyterian Church, taking a variety of back roads out of Monroe and across Noble County.  I missed the Noble seat of Caldwell, and crossed under Interstate 77 on my way to Chandlersville.  Just after crossing into Muskingum County, I passed The Wilds—a name which meant nothing to me at the time.  I have since learned that The Wilds is one of the largest privately owned non-profit conservation centers in the country.  Covering almost 10,000 acres of reclaimed mining lands, The Wilds has as its mission “To advance conservation through science, education and personal experience.”  The more I read about the place, the more I’m convinced that next time I have to add it to my schedule.

I finally joined the modern highway world at Zanesville, seat of Muskingum County and second capital of Ohio.  From October 1, 1810 to May 1, 1812, Ohio’s business was conducted from a building on the site of the present county court house.  Other than this nineteen month period, the state capital was Chillicothe from statehood in 1803 until 1816 when the capital was moved to the center of the state, i.e. Columbus.  I had now covered ninety-nine miles through Ohio’s back country, and the road on to Columbus would be a mere forty-nine miles covered in as many minutes on the Interstate.

Buchanan Presbyterian Church
Established 1826

Columbus is not only Ohio’s largest city, but also the state capital.  It is almost exactly in the geographic center of the state, which makes it convenient for all to reach.  Once there, drivers have a choice of many different spur and ring roads to speed them through the city, around the city, or to their destination in the city.  I had reserved a room at the Hawthorne Suites—Airport, which was just a block off the interstate, but, as it turned out, over five miles from the airport where I was to pick up Kevin at 10:30 that evening.  With several hours to kill, I settled in to a very nice hotel suite, and looked for someplace interesting to have dinner.  As I looked, I couldn’t help notice that I was not in the most upscale neighborhood.  Just next door to the Hawthorne Suites was an abandoned Howard Johnsons and there were many blocks in the neighborhood that were just empty lots.  Turning to Yelp, I found a west African restaurant nearby, but when I found the place, the restaurant had closed.  My cheap gas app showed the lowest prices at a nearby independent station, but they didn’t have a blend with an octane rating high enough for the Saab, and to get the cheapest price, you had to pay cash—which I didn’t have, well not enough to pay for a tank of high-test gas.

Heading back up Hamilton Road toward an Ethiopian restaurant mentioned in Yelp, I saw a seafood place over on the right.  At this point, fried shrimp sounded better than kitfo and injere, so I pulled into the parking lot and ordered my dinner.

An Eastern Ohio Farm

What I should have done was drive out to the airport and make sure I could find the terminal.  The hotel desk clerk had told me that it was just fifteen minutes up Hamilton Road, and I gave myself a half hour to get there.  Kevin’s flight, of course, was quite early, and he called as I was on the way.  Actually he texted me.  Had he called, I would have been able to talk to him through the car’s sound system as my phone was linked via Bluetooth to the car.  But text messages are another matter, and there was no way I was going to try to read and respond to his text while driving a new car on an unfamiliar road in the dark. 

When I did get to the airport, neither Nancy’s directions nor the airport’s signs got me to the terminal.  Instead, I found myself driving through the airport grounds and back onto one of the interstate spurs that would take me into central Columbus.  Getting off at the first exit, I managed to make a series of u-turns that eventually got me headed back toward the airport.  Turns out the signs for the terminal are quite clear, when you come in from the west.  From Hamilton Road, it was a different matter. 

Kevin was standing on the curb in front of the terminal, and he jumped in the car so we could head back to our hotel.  I was so glad to see him.  As it was now past eleven at night, we filled up the car’s gas tank, got to our room and crashed for the night.

The Muskingum County Court House
Zanesville, Ohio

No comments: