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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

24 States in 27 Days - Day 10:

Oct. 19th, 2012, Friday: Waking, we were dazzled by the brilliant yellow view out the back window of our truck. It’s always a surprise to see where you’ve settled when you arrive and camp in the dark! After climbing out, I noticed we had a neighbor several sites beyond us - far enough away to not infringe on our camp “bubble”. It was sunny with clouds, cool but not cold. 

Brad removed everything up in the roof box to sort & reorganize, and we marveled at all the supplies we’d yet to touch! 

On our way out we stopped at a parking area that overlooked the river valley and were amazed by the view of the colorful trees on the nearby hills. I was giddy with joy - here were some of those east coast autumn colors I’d heard about forever! 

From there we drove back to Loudenville hoping to find a spot with wifi access, and noticed a library just as we arrived in town. We gathered our electronics to charge and went into the teen room where they had a table and lots of plugs for us to borrow, and settled in for a couple of hours. We were surprised it was almost 2:00 when we finally took off. From there we headed east on 39/60/62, stopping in Berlin, which we discovered was a touristy Amish town. The one shop we liked was a German grocery store that seemed to cater to the Amish, since there were lots of horse and carts parked in the lot and most of the store clerks were Amish. We bought more cheese and apples - our favorite foods this trip. 

We drove through Sugarcreek whose claim to fame is it’s the Little Switzerland of Ohio, then onto I-77 for a short bit, taking hwy. 250 after that. We stopped in the town of Cadiz for photos - some signs caught Brad’s eye, so while he shot those I took pics of the courthouse. 

Not too much further we were crossing the Ohio River, into West Virginia, continuing east on 250 which became a crazy, slow, 20-mph-curves highway! 

Our next stop was Cameron WV. Driving through in the dark, we were surprised to see the close-set buildings right next to the road. While in town we tried to send an email to friends in Morgantown WV - our next destination, but couldn’t connect anywhere from the truck by cell phone or internet. We ended up inside the police station where a friendly officer loaned us his computer so we could let them know we were getting close. A woman with blond and pink hair was in the office too, seated behind the desk and we thought she worked there. We had a nice chat with the cop who gave us a map of West Virginia and recommended we take hwy. 7 to Morgantown, watching out for deer. As we left I noticed Ms. pink hair was wearing handcuffs! We found hwy. 7 which on the map looked tinier than curvy 250 but was actually much straighter, but still had enough 20 mph. corners to keep us on a slow pace as we looked for a possible campsite. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

24 States in 27 Days - Day 9:

Oct. 18th, 2012, Thursday: Rain was still falling when we woke. For breakfast we had oatmeal with dried cranberries, fresh fruit and fun family stories. Brad needed to order business cards for a client, but once he’d finished that we packed things up to continue on our way east. We really enjoyed our visit in Michigan, and look forward to seeing my Aunt and Uncle in their new home. I started out driving that day, and Brad was navigator leaving Williamston and turning south to Ohio on hwy. 52. After stopping for gas, somehow we ended up in Jackson Michigan - west of hwy. 52. Navigation fail…! We had to wind our way through Jackson then go south on 127 which was a much busier highway. 

We switched drivers just before the Ohio border, and I mapped out a crazy zig zag route through Ohio, jumping from highway to highway, avoiding all freeways and cities. I had to write down the highway numbers on a cheat sheet to keep track since each turn was a new highway. We went from hwy. 127 to 20 to 66 to 2/34 to 6 to 108 to 281 to 199 to 18 to 224 to 61 to 603 to 96 to 60 to 3! 

Lots of cool towns to see like Napoleon, with amazing buildings & sign opportunities, past Fostoria - home of Fostoria glass, a stop to shoot a gold leaf sign in Plymouth, then in Ashland Ohio we pulled into a park for an early dinner. 

Napoleon Ohio

Below are photos from Ashland Ohio: 

From there we drove to a state park south of Loudon. 

Loving that autumn color! 

Finding it, we were blown away by the number of people and RV’s - it was like everyone in Ohio was camping there that night! After driving through and finding a few spots that might work for us we stopped at the camp store to see what they charged. The woman inside said everything was reserved for a big Halloween celebration this coming weekend. No wonder there were kids everywhere. She cheerily told us about a campground across the river that was more secluded and less commercial, so we headed there next. It was across a covered bridge on the Mohican river. Perfect! In the dark, we pulled into a vacant spot. We’d seen just a few other campers way down at the end of the road, but it was quiet where we settled, ending a truly satisfying day spent exploring the backroads of Ohio.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

24 States in 27 Days - Day 8:

Oct. 17th, 2012, Wednesday: After a rainy night, we woke to sunshine. It was 5:15 Oregon time, but 8:15 Michigan time. An amazing breakfast was prepared and waiting for us as we appeared in our morning glory. Homemade biscuits with cherry jam, sauteed onions, peppers and jalapenos in eggs, fresh hot coffee, delish! Outside a fat groundhog was busy rummaging in the compost pile, enjoying breakfast too. Later we took off with my Aunt and Uncle on a tour of Williamston. Since they were moving soon, this was a chance for them to see some friends and share some of their favorite spots with us. We walked through a park along the Red Cedar river that had been hit by a tornado 2 years prior, leaving broken trees in its wake. These stumps had been carved by different artists and were cool to see. 

Walking around town, in and out of shops, we especially enjoyed visiting a local letterpress business. From there we drove west to East Lansing and through the Michigan State campus - it’s huge! In 2005, Eliza and I had visited, but we only saw part of the campus that time. We were dropped off nearby to explore while my aunt and uncle headed off to an appointment. 

We walked all over, taking sign photos (Brad) and autumn colors or architecture photos (Jana) along with checking out a couple of galleries and shops. 

The sun was out and temperatures climbed into the 70’s, heating us up as we wandered around. After we were picked up we went to the downtown area of Old Lansing. The Grand River flowed nearby and we checked out the fish ladder before walking through the shopping district. 

More signs for Brad to photograph! 

After a snack of gourmet popcorns, we drove past the capitol building where my uncle used to work before starting his own consulting business. 

We offered to fix dinner that night, but they had a gift certificate to a local restaurant they wanted to use and suggested going out to eat there. Our meals were delicious, but soon after we sat down a three piece band started playing and pretty much drowned out any possibility of conversation! Another group at a nearby table ended up leaving, but we’d already ordered, so we stayed, trying to talk during pauses in the music. Back at their house I worked on uploading photos while we visited, sharing pictures of our trip so far, and looking at photos they had. That night we opened the window and slept to the sounds of dripping rain outside. 

Saturday, February 02, 2013

24 States in 27 Days - Day 7:

Oct. 16th, 2012, Tuesday: Climbing out of the back of our truck we could see a group of tents and folks two sites away, no privacy whatsoever! Hello world. While eating breakfast we filtered water and refilled our containers, then had to hunt for Brad’s lost keys. They were found still in the lock on the box on top of the truck - ha! They can’t be removed without locking up the box - a good security measure. The night before I thought I lost my neck warmer after climbing into bed. I searched everywhere in the truck then wiggled around to peer out the back with a flashlight before realizing I had it on... There’s always so much to keep track of while traveling - we were getting loopy! Before leaving I talked to my Uncle in Michigan to let him know we were getting close. 

Wild clouds that morning!

From there we took hwy. 12/18 east until it became just 12 - another back road through lovely green countryside reminiscent of Oregon, but without conifers. 

Over through Deerfield to Whitewater, then east on hwy. 20 to interstate 41 south to Chicago.

We exited north of Chicago on a quest to find the house I lived in for just one year when I was in the first grade. Taking Green Bay Drive we drove through Glenco, Winnetka then into Wilmette, where we turned right onto Wilmette Ave. finding it easily! 

We parked nearby then went for a walk to see if the neighborhood was as I remembered it. The house looked very different from when we lived there - but similar too. I remember the rough concrete walls - altered now with added woodwork and planter boxes giving it a slight tudor style. 

Just two houses away was the park we used to go to and around the corner on the same block was our school. 

It was fun to get out and walk around and see how my memories matched up! We weren’t there long, taking off on Green Bay to Ridge Drive, then Lake Shore - straight through the heart of Chicago. 

I shot drive-by photos while Brad zipped along - all the way through to South Shore Drive where we zigzagged following detour signs, finally making our way, after a couple of wrong turns to I-90 - a toll freeway. That took us into Indiana and I-94. 

In Portage Indiana we stopped for gas and Brad left me in charge of filling the tank - my first time this trip. It also was an opportunity for a peanuts and hard boiled eggs break, plus a chance to buy some more ice for the cooler. It’d been cloudy to start the day but it warmed up quick as the sun came out - temps were probably in the low 60’s. I couldn't believe I was still wearing my Chaco sandals this far into our trip on these surprisingly balmy days! 

We hopped onto I-69 in Marshal going north towards Lansing then east on I-96, soon finding the exit to Williamston where my Aunt and Uncle lived. There we enjoyed a terrific home cooked meal, good conversation and our first indoor bed of the trip. My Aunt and Uncle were moving at the end of the month from the home they had lived in for years, so although there were boxes everywhere, Brad could still see what a nice place it was. That night it was too hot for me inside the spare bedroom, but once I opened a window I was finally able to fall asleep. We just weren’t used to being so warm after a week of sleeping outdoors.