Right Here In Ohio

13 car rain loadLinda Burton posting from Columbus, Ohio – The minute I crossed the state line into Ohio, two things happened. The road improved, and the rain stopped. I had loaded the car in a sprinkle; there was just enough rain to trickle down my neck. The deluge waited until I-96 towards Detroit; from there the wiper was set on triple speed and even that wasn’t enough. The trip from Lansing to Columbus was just 267 miles, but after two hours in the driving rain I stopped at an Arby’s to give my knuckles a break from their painful grip on the steering wheel. “I hear it’s supposed to 13 arbysrain all day,” said the young woman who handed me my Jr Ham and Swiss. “And the real storm is coming through this afternoon.” Rats! I missed something in the weather forecast; I remembered seeing round balls of yellow on the screen as I packed last night; how did I miss a predicted front, wildly coming at us from the west? “You just have to deal with it,” I told myself. “Drive on.” The GPS directed me onto US23 south towards Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti; I crossed a few rivers flowing towards Lake Erie, just to the east. The landscape was heavily treed, 13 flag porchthough I spotted a few patches of corn here and there. And then, I was in Ohio, and the sky was blue. US23 became I-475, and then, I-75. I spotted signs for BGSU (Bowling Green State University); at Findlay a sign proclaimed Flag City USA. Then Exit 156. Suddenly I was on a two-lane road surrounded by farms, and silos, and sun-drenched fields. I passed through Arlington, and Williamstown, small towns where every corner had an American flag and every house had a front porch. At Dunkirk I stopped for gas.

13 house victorian“Such pretty countryside,” I said to the clerk, who sat perched on a stool behind the counter, overseeing her domain. On the corner across the street was a gray Victorian house with a red tin roof; yellow marigolds lined the walkway; from the porch one could look over a lush green cornfield stretching far into the distance. “I’ve 13 ohio cornbeen all over the country myself,” she said, pointing out the window to my car, “it’s all nice, but I wouldn’t live anywhere else.” Back in the car, I sipped my Diet Coke and scratched Jack’s head, reluctant to leave; the peace and quiet felt good. Jack stepped onto the seatback for a look around; Alex continued dozing on his pillow, droopy eyed. “To be a cat,” I thought. A nap would be nice, here in this warm sun; but not just now.

I continued on to Kenton; from US68 a switch to CR31, headed towards Mt Victory, where I passed a gathering. Parked beside a barn I spotted seven wagons hitched to horses; seven men with long beards and flat-topped farmer’s hats; they seemed to be conferring. Mt Victory, I learned, is a historic Ohio village established in 1851, and the center of the Old Order Amish who live in Hardin County. Maps are available for self-guided tours around the back roads of the countryside; some of the Amish 13 house fencefamilies sell fresh country eggs, honey, baked goods, seasonal fruits and vegetables, hand-crafted quilts, and handmade toys and furniture. Unlike the Amish communities in other parts of Ohio, Hardin County’s Amish don’t advertise their wares or sell their products on Sunday; no large bus tours are allowed either. If they have items for sale, they display a simple handmade sign at the end of their lane by the edge of the road.

Marysville, Dublin, Hilliard; I was almost in Columbus but still not far from the Milton Center Prairie Preserve, the Oletangy Indian Caverns, and the Big Darby, a National Scenic River. Did you know that the name “Ohio” came from an Iroquois word meaning “great river” or “large creek”? Of course you know that the state’s nickname now is “Buckeye State” and that’s due to all the buckeye trees, though I haven’t spotted one yet. The highest point in the state is 25 miles west of Marysville; it is Campbell Hill, elevation 1,549 feet.

13 ohio mapOhio is almost a square-box state, with Lake Erie to the north and the Ohio River to the south. Other rivers include the Cuyahoga, Great Miami, Maumee, Muskingum, and Scioto; the rivers in the northern part of the state drain into the Atlantic Ocean via Lake Erie and the St Lawrence River; rivers in the southern part of the state drain into the Gulf of Mexico via the Ohio River and then the Mississippi. Ohio is within a day’s drive of 50% of North America’s population and 70% of North America’s manufacturing capacity. Besides all the cargo ports, it also has a well-developed highway network; it is literally a “link” between the Northeast and the Midwest. Geologically Ohio has rugged hills and forests, plateaus, and glaciated plains; there is coal mining in the Appalachian east and farming in the west, with industry concentrated in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Akron, Toledo, Dayton, and the largest city and capital, Columbus.

13 columbus skylineColumbus, Ohio (#39 on the Journey), is the 4th largest of the capital cities, with a population of 787,033 (US 2010 Census); named for Christopher Columbus and home to several biggies – Ohio State University, Battelle Memorial Institute, Chemical Abstracts Service, and NetJets; if you aren’t familiar with their claims to fame, watch for later posts. Nationwide Insurance is headquartered here; so is Wendy’s. Last year BusinessWeek ranked Columbus among the 50 best cities in America; this year Forbes gave Columbus an “A” rating as one of the top cities for business in the country.

13 ohio entry cWhat is it like to live here? Relocate America puts Columbus in the Top Ten; USA Travel Guide rates the Columbus Zoo (a family place) at #1. That sounds positive. The cats and I are settled in our room tonight with a rose bush blooming red outside the window. There is a Culver’s across the parking lot, a PetSmart across the street, and a pillow-top mattress on the bed.

So far, I’d say living is good, right here in Ohio.

Note Capital Rankings by Population — #1 Phoenix,; #2 Indianapolis, #3 Austin, #4 Columbus, #5 Boston, #6 Nashville, #7 Denver, #8 Oklahoma City, #9 Sacramento, #10 Atlanta