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Published: September 4th 2019
JOHNNY'S JOURNEYS: OHIO and INDIANA 2019
August 13, 2019 (Tuesday)
It's 4:30 a.m. and time to rise and shine! We leave about 5:30 as Janet drove us to the Mobile
Regional Airport. Check-in was easy at the American Airlines desk. As I waited to board, I was able to
snap a few photos of a gorgeous sunrise.
I'll be on the 7:13 flight to Charlotte, NC. It was a small plane and was maybe half filled with
passengers. The man in front of me had two young daughters sitting across from him. One had a
unicorn visor; while the other wore a unicorn cap. Cute! Though we touched down at 9:47, there was a
traffic jam. It was 32 minutes later before we could disembark. My connector flight would be boarding
in 6 minutes. Gotta hurry!
The 10:46 flight to Columbus, Ohio left on schedule. Wow, that was sorta close. I had a window seat
and enjoyed looking at the green scenery below. At 30,000 feet the cottony clouds were quite pretty. We
should land at 12:10 E.T.
I glanced through the August 2019 edition of the American Way magazine. The front cover photo
was titled DUBROVNIK: An insider's guide to the magical city on the Adriatic. It sure brought back
memories of our Mediterranean cruise in 2016.We had a lovely “Game of Thrones” tour in Dubrovnik,
Croatia. And we land on schedule at 12 noon.
It is always a sign of a good trip when the luggage arrives. Reservations were made a few weeks ago
for a Dollar car rental. I'll be driving a Ford Fiesta for 5 days. Hey, that's the type of car my daughter
used to drive.
Interstate-71 North takes me out of the capital city. I had seen a few billboards for Amish family
cooking. Near Bellville, I stop at Der Dutchman for a delicious buffet lunch. I'll take a lemonade, then
finish lunch with a cherry fluff and apple butter.
Heavy rains stopped any outdoor plans. South of Cleveland, I check-in at a Days Inn in Middleburg
Heights. I'll drive I-71 into Cleveland and drive past the Progressive Field. Hello Cleveland... my first
visit here. Parking lots charge a variety of prices... from $35 on down. I keep driving north until I see
the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It is on the shores of Lake Erie. I find a quiet little public parking lot a
few blocks past the NFL football stadium. For $5.50, I'll get some good exercise on my 21 block route
to the ballpark.
This is now my 6th
different Major League Baseball park to see a game. The Cleveland Indians are
playing the Boston Red Sox and 26,662 fans attend. A special promotion tonight is called “Dollar
Dogs”. Yes, 3 hot dogs for supper cost just $3 tonight. The Indians are losing as I leave the game in
inning. I'm just so tired on this very long day. Back at the hotel room I'm able to catch the game
on the television. Cleveland has tied it and now their playing in the 10th
inning. The Red Sox win it
this evening 6-5 as the game ends at 11:18. Lights out at 11:20.
August 14, 2019 (Wednesday)
I receive a 6:30 wake-up call. And at 7:15 I'm downstairs for raisin bread with peanut butter and
apple juice. Today's plan is to visit the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. This is now my 26th
Park I have been to. This was named by the American Indians centuries ago. The Cuyahoga means
“Crooked River”. The Ohio and Erie Canal opened in 1827 between Cleveland and Akron. It replaced
the Cuyahoga River as the primary transportation artery.
Fast forward to 1969 and this has become one of the most polluted rivers in our country. When the
river caught on fire and burned, due to so much toxic industrial pollution, it became the impetus for
Congress to pass the Clean Water Act in 1972. Soon afterwards, the federal Environmental Protection
Agency was created. 50 years later, hard work and restoration has definitely made this a success story!
My first stop was at Brandywine Falls. In 1814, the bustling village of Brandywine developed
around these waterfalls, when a sawmill was built. The village thrived for about 40 years, before
prosperity dried up. Only one house and barn remain. Built in 1848, it is now remodeled and welcomes
guests as the Brandywine Inn. A boardwalk trail leading down to the falls is such a pleasant walk. I'm
totally at peace as I watch a 65 foot cascade making its way down a series of sandstone ledges.
Surrounding the parking lot are several varieties of beautiful wildflowers. I read with interest about
the Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative (www.ophi.info). As I look down to take another photo, I count 7
bumblebees within just a few feet of each other. As I quietly stroll along the Ohio and Erie Towpath
Trail, I notice dragonflies, honeybees, butterflies, a hummingbird and hear the rhythmic ribbit of a few
frogs. Wow, total tranquility!
My next stop is the most popular stop in the park: Beaver Marsh. This 70 acre wetland was once a
dairy farm, then an automobile junkyard. After the vehicles were removed, beavers dammed the canal
and created a marsh that is now home to muskrats, otters, waterfowl, songbirds, turtles, fish, frogs and
a wealth of other wildlife species. Hearing a loud splash, I look to see just a little brown fur returning
underwater. Just couldn't tell if it was a beaver or otter.
The Ohio and Erie Towpath Trail followed the route used by mules to pull/tow barges along the
canal. Dug by hand between 1825 and 1832, the O and E was the first canal west of the Appalachian
Mountains. Starting at Lake Erie, the canal used an extensive “lock” system before it connected to the
Ohio River 110 miles later.
There is a covered bridge within the confines of CVNP. So I had to drive to the Everett Road
Covered Bridge. It is the reconstruction of an 1870s structure that was destroyed in a 1975 flood. It is a
nostalgic step back into time, as there were over 2000 covered bridges that were built in Ohio in the
1800s. There was a field trip or some kind of activity today, as there were 30+ young children enjoying
walking and splashing in the Furnace Run stream below.
There was time for a short visit to Indigo Lake, where I saw a kayaker. The train tracks run right
through here. Nearby was Howe Meadow. Nothing much going on here today, but there is a Farmer's
Market scheduled for Saturday.
Finally, I reach the Visitor Center. It offered a 20 minute video on the history of the park. I love watching
those. Of course, I had to purchase a few souvenirs, and get a Passport Stamp. As I walk out
to the parking lot, I can look up and see the Interstate bridges above me. Yes, this national park is
certainly different than the majestic ones out west. There is a short little hike down to the river's edge. I
wind up my time here with a walk to the “new” Boston Mill Visitor Center. It opens next year and will
be located in the old train depot station.
It has been a pretty full day at the national park, established in 2000. A few miles down the road and
I'm back in the city of Brecksville. Simon's Restaurant and Deli has a special on corned beef and
cabbage with boiled potatoes. Very filling and so good.
It is now time to drive westwards. My final destination is the small town of Willard, with a
population of around 6000. There are only 3 hotels here, and I check into the Country Hearth Inn.
“Mexican” is on the menu as I drive a few blocks to the La Campesina restaurant. What made this
good supper so memorable is that I.... chipped off a bit of my tooth. Wow, had not planned on that.
There is a beautiful full moon above, as I settle in by 11 p.m.
August 15, 2019 (Thursday)
I'm up at 6:20 and enjoy a continental breakfast before leaving at 7:45. As I drive west on Hwy. 224,
I must have seen 30 signs in front of large farms. They read “No Wind Turbines in Seneca County”. In
just a little while, I enter Hancock County and stop at the corporate limits sign of Findlay. This was my
home for 4 weeks, in the summer of 1975.
As I park my car on Main Street to admire the beautiful entrance to the college, I spoke to a woman
who had parked in front of me. We exchange “hellos” and I tell her briefly that I had lived here 44
years ago. She introduces herself as the President of the University of Findlay, Dr. Katherine Fell... and
takes my photo, in front of the “Founded in 1882” campus entrance sign.
Freshman orientation is going on for the incoming Oilers. And I see lots of dads unloading cars for
their kids. I walked down the Main Street a short distance and reminisced about selling books here as a
20 year old. There are some gorgeous old brick homes nearby. It is time to leave Flag City around 10
a.m. and drive down to Allen County.
After 44 years, this is my first visit back to Lima. I wanted to drive to Hope Street and find one very
special house. Five summers of selling books, door-to-door, 80+ hours each week, began in 1975 at one
particular home in 1975. And I found it!!! Happy memories!
Driving through the city of 37,000 people, I drove down W. Market Street. The house I lived in for
3 weeks was no longer there. A little while later, I found 323 Elmwood Place. Wow, the place certainly
needs some attention. This was “home” for about 7 weeks. Had to take a few photos, including the
front porch steps. My two room-mates, Joe and Danny, and I would sit on the front steps each morning
at 7 a..m. And we would read one chapter from the Og Mandino book “The Greatest Salesman in the
World”. Then we were off to the Tip-Top Cafe on Main Street for a good breakfast. Then I'd jump on a
rented bicycle and pedal all over the city, to sell for 13.5 hours each day, Monday through Saturday.
There has been a major renovation in the downtown area. The old Tip-Top Cafe changed ownership
and names in 1979. It is now called Teasers. So glad I could visit there again, if just for a few minutes.
Just about each Sunday in 1975, our SouthWestern Company Sunday meeting was held in Muncie,
Indiana. We would drive south on I-75 until reaching Wapakoneta, OH. Today is my first opportunity to
tour the Armstrong Air and Space Museum. This little town is so proud of their native son, the first man
on the moon, Neil Armstrong.
There is a wide variety of memorabilia here. In the Wapakoneta High School yearbook (class of
1947) I notice the phrase to describe Neil. “He thinks, he acts, 'tis done!” A video is offered, and I
love to watch those. I recall meeting Neil Armstrong a dozen years ago in Spanish Fort , AL at a golf
fund-raiser. I was politely turned down for an autograph request. I then told him we were neighbors. “I
used to live in Lima, and you're from Wapak”. The first man on the moon shook my hand, saying
“pleased to meet you, son”.
When I left, I was back on the interstate, driving towards Dayton. Today I stop for lunch in Troy at a
Skyline Chili restaurant. I go for a 4-way meal which included a large plate of spaghetti, a meat based
chili, lots of shredded cheese and beans. It was very filling. You either like this Cincinnati based chili...
or you don't. I do!
Okay, now I'll take I-70 west. A sign at the state line reads: OHIO... Come Back Soon. Nearing the
capital city of Indianapolis, I drive southward to the small town of Franklin. I even saw a mural with
Ben Franklin wearing sun glasses. I've found a few spas that offer a Thailand (or Thai) massage. Yes,
there were poles on the ceiling, and the LMT really does walk on your back. It is just therapeutic to
hear your vertebrae “pop”. Quite relaxed, as I drive through IU in Bloomington until I reach Bedford.
Bedford is known as the Limestone Capital of the World. Limestone from the Bedford area is found
in buildings around the world, including the Pentagon, Empire State Building and the National
Cathedral. This was home for me in 1976. Tonight I check into the Rosemount Motel. The original
structure was built in 1908. I'm shown to my room, #117. I comment that is the minute my daughter
was born, almost 25 years ago. There is a gorgeous orange colored full moon on the horizon. There is a
nearby Hardee's that is still open for supper. I was drawn to the front porch a little later. I was just
mesmerized by this midnight moon!
August 16, 2019 (Friday)
Happy to sleep a little later today, with a 7:30 wake-up call. Just 5 blocks away is the house I lived
in way back in 1976. Well, there is no longer a house at 1415 24th
Street. There's just an empty lot now,
with a For Sale sign and an old mailbox. I'm surprised that I felt so sad over that... but I did.
A short drive south on Hwy. 37 and I'm almost in Mitchell. I see a yellow caution sign.. with a horse
and buggy. Yes, there are a few hundred Amish people in Lawrence County. And they don't drive cars.
About 9 miles south of Bedford, I went to Mitchell Manor.
It had been one year since I had seen Leon Williams. His wife had bought a book from me in 1976
and invited me over for dinner twice that summer. I've stayed in touch through the years with postcards
and Christmas cards. Leon turned 90 years old a few months ago. We had a delightful 2+ hour visit.
This was the primary reason for the 4 day trip up to OH and IN. Sure enjoyed talking about the old
days with him!
As I leave the Mitchell area, I recalled this as my most favorite town / city during the 5 summers
that I sold books up north. One high-light in 1976 was meeting the parents of Virgil Grissom. He was
one of the original 7 NASA Project Mercury astronauts. A few minutes later, I go past the Holiday
Drive In Movie theater screen. It was a blast from the past. I see a sign to exit for a trip to visit the Blue
Spring Caverns. Yep, I did that last year.
At the small town of Paoli, I drive westward toward French Lick and West Baden Springs. Over 100
years ago this was quite the destination for many people from Chicago, traveling by train. During the
Great Depression, French Lick Springs Hotel became the unofficial headquarters for the Democratic
Party. During the Democratic Governor's Conference at French Lick in 1931, Franklin D. Roosevelt
rounded up support for the party's presidential nomination and won the U.S. Presidency the following
year. One of the signs at this National Register of Historic Places says that in 1917, this hotel became
the birthplace of tomato juice.
I'm gonna get pampered with a 25 minute Aromatherapy mineral spring bath at the Spa. The smell
of sulfur was in the air as “mineral baths lead to dilation of the blood vessels and help with circulation.
While the aroma helps to reduce stress and refreshes the body and mind”. While waiting, I spent some
time in the dry sauna, where the temp. hit 110 degrees. Two hours down the road, I realized that my
wedding band had been left in the locker. A few phone calls later and I was pleased to learn that the
ring had been found and would be mailed to me the next week.
I drive back to Bedford and stop for the early bird special at a Golden Corral. That took care of
lunch and supper. Hwy. 50 takes me east towards North Vernon. I had lived there a few weeks earlier in
the summer of 1976. A few hours later I cross into Ohio.
I have been a Cincinnati Reds baseball fan since 1962. Tonight I'll watch the Reds play in Cincy for
time this decade. The parking lot near the Cincinnati Bengals football stadium only charges
$5.00. And there is a shuttle to catch that brings us right to the Great American Ballpark. There is a
scalper selling tickets and I buy one for $15.00.
This game is not going as we planned it. The St. Louis Cardinals are winning 12-0, before the Reds
finally scored. The Cardinals won rather easily tonight 13-4. Outside the stadium, a stage was set up on
the pedestrian walk. The Welsh band Celtic Fire, wearing traditional kilts, entertained a large crowd.
And fireworks went off after the game. My GPS suggested driving across the river into Kentucky
before returning to east Cincy. After driving around kinda lost, I followed its advice and found my
Days Inn before midnight.
August 17, 2019 (Saturday)
At 4:00 a.m. a car alarm goes off. Got up at 7:30 and had a small breakfast. I noticed a tee-shirt on
a teenage girl in the lobby: “Perfect boys only exist in books”. The swimming pool opened at 9:00 and
I have the place to myself. I check-out and drive up I-71. Saw a sign advertising the Golden Lamb in
Lebanon. It is the oldest hotel in Ohio, opened in 1803. Twelve U.S. Presidents have stayed there. Last
summer I stayed in the Ronald Reagan room.
I arrive in Fairfield, OH at the Sabor Peruano restaurant. This place was closed for remodeling when
I came by last August. I'm first in line when it opened at 10:30. I've got a tight schedule and need to
leave by 11:15. I ordered an Inca Kola then check the menu. I'll go for the Sancochado soup. There's
beef, corn, cabbage, yucca, celery, and carrots in a rice broth. Yum!
When I was planning this trip, I decided to wear my Machu Picchu tee-shirt for today. That was a
souvenir from my Peru trip two years ago. I counted 18 in the restaurant as I was leaving. And I was
the only one of the caucasian persuasion. These Hispanics know where to find some delicious food.
The rental car was equipped with Sirius XM radio. I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to music
from the 60s, 70s and 80s. A song by the Carpenters “Yesterday Once More” came on. That sure
seemed appropriate as I've been going back on this “memory lane” trip. Driving back to Columbus, I
pick up a broadcast from the Casey Kasem American Top 40 Countdown. It is a replay from Sunday
August 13, 1977. There's a very good chance I listened to this broadcast 42 years ago, when I sold
books in the Port Huron, Michigan area. The song that really got my attention was # 31 “Way Down”
by Elvis Presley. Who would have known that Elvis would die three days later?
In east Columbus I fill up the gas tank, before returning the Ford Fiesta to the Dollar car rental slot.
And in 20 minutes I'm boarding the plane. It leaves right on time at 2:37. Looking out my window on a
cloudless day, I see the football field with Ohio State in one endzone and Buckeyes in the other. It was
an uneventful flight to Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX. After a 100 minute layover, we're finally heading for AL.
Our American Airlines flight lands just after 7 p.m. and Janet is waiting for me. My suitcase makes
the trip back, too! We're home by 7:30. It's good to be back home... but what a fun trip. Life is good!
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