I'm not sure exactly the moment, but the idea hit me sometime in the last two weeks. Maybe it was the beautiful Friday afternoon when I decided to drive up to Carthagena and visit a priest who is recovering from surgery, and then make a trip over to Wapakoneta, the birthplace of Neil Armstrong, whose landing on the moon had happened 50 years ago Saturday. But at some point I started thinking about all the places I'd been to, or driven through, in my home state. I began wondering: of the 88 counties, how many can I came to have been to? In my own quick surmise, I decided it must be 60 or more.
And then came the happy thought: why not make the attempt to visit each county in Ohio? Not just to say I've done it, but to see some of the notable things in my home state: such as the Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Wapak, which I'd never visited?
So Monday of last week, when I headed to Wheeling, W.V. for a priest conference, I decided to make a fuller day of the drive and make a couple of stops. The first was in West Liberty: Ohio Caverns; the second was to see Lock 10 of an old canal beside the Muskingum River in Zanesville.
Then this past Monday, I continued working out my ideas on this. I decided to call it "Project 88." I created a map, the old-fashioned way: I found a simple map of Ohio counties, printed it off, and colored in the counties where I've either lived or visited, and also those I've driven through. I was going to reproduce it here, but I'm not figuring it out right now, so I'm going to save that for another day. But it turns out I've visited 32 counties -- meaning, I've gotten out of the car at least -- and I've driven through 31; that leaves 25. And truth to tell, I've certainly driven through some of those, but I simply don't remember; so for purposes of Project 88, until I find out otherwise, they are terra incognita.
Now, someone may scoff at the value of having "driven through" a county; but why? I grant you there's driving through, and there's driving through! When I'm on the interstate, I'm usually trying to get through as fast as possible. So, for instance, my interstate driving-through encompasses 14 counties. But for the other 17, I've driven through on state or local roads; and that really is a kind of visiting, even if it's not the same as walking into a courthouse, touring caves, eating in a restaurant, or visiting someone's home.
At any case, I am going to make an effort to upgrade those "driven throughs" to "visited," and I've already worked up some itineraries for the near term. I haven't set a timetable for this project yet. Part of me says, why set a timetable? Just let it happen over time; other part of me says, without any sort of specific goals, I'm more likely to fail at this. At any rate, I am going to think about what would be reasonable. As you might guess, the never-visited counties are mostly far away, so visiting them may involve several overnight trips or even a week of vacation, which is a lot more of a commitment than several day trips, which I think can easily knock off about a dozen of them.
The main thing is to be fun. And it will give me fodder for this frequently neglected blog. So if events don't conspire against me, I hope to add a post soon about my jaunt last Monday up into the northwest corner of Ohio, which netted me five more counties visited, and two more driven through. Stay tuned!