So let me squeeze in a report from my latest jaunt as part of "Project 88," my plan to visit all 88 Ohio counties. This last Sunday and Monday, I ticked off eleven! Here's how it went.
Sunday afternoon, after a couple of baptisms, I headed off for Port Clinton, in Ottawa County. This is Commodore Perry territory; if you take the ferry over to Put-In Bay, you can see the monument commemorating one of the U.S.'s few victories in the War of 1812. I didn't take the ferry, but I did look around Port Clinton. Here's the Veterans Park. It was pretty elaborate, including an eternal flame (picture didn't turn out, sorry).
In case our British friends, or Canada, gets rambunctious, Port Clinton has a tank:
A lighthouse, looking out on Lake Erie:
From here I headed east along State Route 2, then turned south in Loraine County, passing through Brownhelm, where I pulled over to get this pic:
In case it's not clear, this isn't an active gas station. A sign made me think the local preservation society was responsible for this. Anyway, nicer than the decay I've seen so often. Heading down S.R. 58, I saw signs for "New Russia"! Didn't get a picture, however. I was headed to Oberlin, home of Oberlin College and the Gibson family bakery. Don't know the story? You can read it here, but the gist is this: some college kids got arrested for shoplifting at the Gibson bakery in Oberlin -- a town dominated by the college of the same name -- and the "woke" contingent of students went crazy. Some of the administrators appear to have egged the students on, resulting in the Gibson bakery family -- having suffered severe economic damages -- filed a lawsuit. Which they won, to the tune of $44 million, later reduced to $32 million. The whole thing is pretty outrageous, and I'm glad the Gibsons fought back and won. So I made a special trek to the Gibson bakery, here:
Looking around inside, I was impressed by the wine and cheese selection. While the bakery does have baked goods, it more a small grocery, and I was tempted by the cheeses and sweets, I bought a bottle of wine and a water. While checking out, I told the clerk I'd come all the way the across the state, and made a special visit here just to show support (I explained a little about my Project 88, as well). She let me take her picture:
Here are some sights around Oberlin, which despite being infected with far left ideology, is a pretty nice looking town. Here's the oldest church in town, which helped with the Underground Railroad back in the day:
Here's an explanation of the church: it was built for the legendary Presbyterian preacher Charles G. Finney, who was part of the Second Great Awakening (oh how we need a third, or a fourth, if the late Tom Wolfe was right?), and later pastored by a woman preacher.
Here's the Allen Art Gallery. Isn't that lovely?
Then look what the Philistines did! They glommed some ugly building right onto it. So dumb.
And then this, right in the center of town:
You know what was perfect here? The UN flag -- that's the rightward most one. While the U.S., Ohio and Rainbow flags were in great shape, the poor UN banner was completely faded and looked pretty ragged. Unintended irony?
From there I headed west into Huron County, passing through Wakeman. I looked over and saw this and shuddered. That's a church?
But soon I saw this, and calmed down:
|Saint Mary Church, Wakeman, Ohio|
In case you can't tell, Edison is holding both the light bulb and the phonograph. Here's where he grew up:
Here is more information about the great Edison:
By now it's past six, and I have a few more stops. Here's the Zion Episcopal Church in Monroeville, done in an unusual style:
The church is no longer in operation; it's just waiting for someone to fix it up, or else to fall down.
Next stop was dinner. I chose the Freight House in Norwalk. It turned out to be an interesting place, all done up in a railroad theme. There was a model train running around the perimeter of the restaurant, overhead; I got a photo, but only later discovered an off-color license plate was in the shot! I enjoyed a nice plate of ribs and some tasty beer. Here's the place:
From there I headed down the road a mile to my hotel. Cheap but not scary, if you know what I mean. Under $40 a night! I'd normally not give that a second look, but it had high reviews. It was run by a nice family with two young children. It was clean and quiet, but the a/c acted strangely during the night. Thankfully it was pretty cool outside. The mother told me I didn't work it right (duh!).
The next morning I was up early, and after hitting the McDonalds for breakfast, I figured out my plan. I realized I had some extra time, so I decided to drive east and take in two counties not on my original plan, Medina and Wayne. I'd still get back to Mansfield, for the main highlight, on schedule. I'd planned for fuller visits here later, but I can still do that; but for now, it was a single stop in each county. My first stop was the Crittenden Farm, which was actually someone's house, and didn't look open for visitors. My phone ate the photo however. This brought me into Ashland County. From there I drove east along U.S. 224, through several nice towns, stopping in Homerville. Not much there, but I did get this picture:
I saw the fellow driving the horse and buggy for awhile, but sometimes the Amish don't like their picture taken, so I figured this was more polite. Then south on 301 to West Salem, taking me into Wayne. This caught my eye. It looked like a church...
Only it wasn't:
By the way: anyone who travels around the country can't help be struck by how frequently you find Masonic temples, either active, or else their old buildings, used for other purposes. There's a story there, but I'm not the one to tell it. Anyway, I've got to keep moving!
From West Salem I hopped on U.S. 42 to take me to Ashland. If I stayed on 42, it would eventually become Reading Road in Cincinnati. For some reason, it fascinates me to drive on a new part of a road I've been on, many, many miles away. In Ashland, I still had some time to kill, before my main appointment of the day, so I found this coffee shop, Downtown Perk. The fellow in the kilt (at the counter) is a bonus.
After this, I headed over to Mansfield, to visit the Ohio State Reformatory, first tour at 11. My best friend Brad will be disappointed; he suggested we go together, but I didn't think it would work with me zigzagging through eleven counties. I'll make it up to him. Anyway, I didn't want to miss the first tour, so I hurried over -- only to be stuck in a line of cars waiting for the gate to open, which it did, right at 11. Of course it's no longer a prison, but whoever runs it offers several tours, one about the movies made there (including Shawshank Redemption and Air Force One); but what intrigued me was the "Inmate tour":
Real-Life behind bars may be difficult to understand unless you have lived it. Such is the case for the tour guide, Michael Humphrey, who spent 14 months here in the late 1960s. Walk through the prison as Michael leads you through a normal day for an inmate and hear stories that stick with Michael all these years later.
Alas, I found out it's only available on weekends; and the Hollywood tour didn't start till noon. So, I opted for the self-guided.
Here's the outside; you can see people lining up for the later tour:
Here's a fellow answering questions in one of the first rooms you visit; these are the areas that were public in the old days, and they've been fixed up nicely. He was a friendly fellow. In another room, there was equipment used for executions. When I realized that people had actually been executed with the things I was looking at, I decided no pictures, and I moved on. Yes, they most likely deserved it; but we'll be better off if we don't kill people we don't have to.
Here is a room seen in Shawshank:
Here's one of the cell blocks, five levels high. Even with fresh paint, this must have been a terrible place.
One of the cells. It is actually smaller than it looks.
After this, it was time to head west toward Crawford County. My next stop was Galion, where I wanted to see the Big Four Railroad Station -- the same railroad that used to run through Russia (now CSX). Here it is:
From there I turned south toward Mount Gilead, bringing me to Morrow County. Here's the center square. There was a lot of traffic, it wasn't easy getting to this safely, but I did.
Here's a closeup:
Oh, by the way -- back on U.S. 42!
From here I turned east again toward Chesterville. This is one side of downtown; across the street looked a little better:
Continuing along S.R. 95, I passed into Knox County, heading for Mount Vernon. My great-great-great-grandfather, Adam Fox, who served briefly in the Maryland Militia during the Revolution, lived here for a short time, before making his way to Cincinnati and then dying in Indiana. Anyway, here's a monument to those who suppressed the "Great Rebellion":
Nearby are some markers telling a lesser-known story from the War Between the States, of a private citizen who opposed the war, and was arrested for no other reason than that:
Think what you like about Abraham Lincoln, but there are dark sides to his legacy.
This restaurant caught my eye. I resisted temptation to get a malt:
It was after 2, and I had a bit of a drive home, so I opted to only go as far south as Utica, bringing me to Licking County, and then turn west, skipping Fredonia, where I hope they have some commemoration of Groucho Marx. Here's a mural in Utica, telling a story:
Did you realize window glass used to be hand-made? When it was, Utica was king.
And that's the last of my photos! Sorry, it was starting to rain, and I had a 2+ hour drive home. From there I headed down U.S. 62, through Johnstown, the home of the late, great state conservative congressman, John Ashbrook. A little further south I took the Columbus, 270 beltway around to U.S. 33, thence to Bellefontaine and then home.
Next trip? I'm not sure. Maybe back east, to check out the Amish in Holmes County, our national park, Cuyahoga Valley, in Summit, and the NFL Hall of Fame in Stark? Or maybe Hocking Hills in Hocking, and knock out a few down that way? Only 18 to go!