07 January 2007

The Road is my Favorite Place: Days 11-14

(Days: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten)

27/viii/04 to 30/viii/04: Troy, IL to Richfield, OH
530 miles/853 km

The next week of the journey did not feel as much my own and was largely devoid of photography. I visited some friends along the way, but my timing was mostly poor for them. This was difficult after 10 days beholden to no one but myself. The joys of anonymity were quickly swept away by the eyes of people I'd known for years. The pressure of what to do next with my life resurfaced as they were preoccupied with work and prior commitments.

Days 11-12: A brief visit in Indy, IN with Cathy who I met halfway through her final semester of undergrad. If not for the budding presence of email, the development of our friendship might have arrested after she graduated.

We went out to dinner the night I arrived, and the next day, I tagged along to a birthday party of her friends' one year old. A couple people I'd met briefly previously or had heard of, but mostly it was a view into a life and group of friends that are more settled than most people I know. Maybe not with work and in some cases not with relationships, but with where they want to be for the most part. More settled than me certainly.

She had to work the next morning, so I decided to take off that night to make things easier. Also, I didn't want to miss my all-time favorite sport of the Olympics, summer or winter: 10M platform diving, and her tv antenna had terrible reception for that channel. I checked into a Super 8 in Greenfield, Indiana, soaked in the air conditioning and marveled at the stunning level of difficulty dives the men were performing: 3.5s and 3.6s. So amazing.

Days 13-14: An even briefer visit in Columbus, OH with Marc who I've known since grad school.

Though it was Sunday, he had to work to do for the beginning of the semester the following day, so I had time to kill. I checked out at 11, ate at a Bob Evans full of Sunday brunchers, and then drove to the Easton Town Center, a large indoor/outdoor mall complex in Columbus, OH.

"One for Hero, please."

The guy behind the ticket window huffed, "It's not in English. It's got subtitles."

"I know," I said, gesturing to the sign in the window that stated it was in Mandarin. "That's fine."

He regarded me skeptically but gave me the ticket. Clearly they'd had problems with this before.

7:08 p Eastern time. Columbus, OH @ mall. Just saw Hero which was amazingly beautiful & heartbreaking.

After the matinee, I went to check on my car in the parking garage since it was still full of nearly all my possessions. Everything was still there and my cell got reception, so I leaned back in the driver's seat for a bit. Marc had left me a message that he'd be there by 7:30 and would call again once he was at the mall. At quarter after my phone vibrated; we agreed on a landmark we could both find, and then there we were.

Of all the people I went to grad school with, he was among the least likely I ever expected to see again, but he's become the one I most expect to cross paths with no matter where either of us happens to live, and I'm so grateful for that.

We scoped out some restaurants at the mall but ended up driving over to Logan's Roadhouse for steaks and catch-up. He still had some work to do that evening, but he gave me the grand tour of the new house he and his wife had purchased earlier that summer before getting me settled in their guest room. It's a cool house of a size, scale, and layout I'd like for myself... some day.

His wife was out of town, so I got up early the next day to leave when he did so he could lock up.

30/viii/04 12:15 p Easton Town Center's Loop. Just killing a bit of time before driving to Cleveland. Impressed w/restrooms in AMC part of mall (not AMC's but main mall). Large stalls. Nearly every stall has its own sink, dryer, a shelf for your stuff in an alcove, mirror. It was about 5' wide by 4' deep maybe even 6' w. Big & not a handicapped stall. Anthropologie store was neat but $. And I'm allergic to something here- probably pollen & fresh cut grass.

Along the highway, I saw a sign for Grandpa's Cheesebarn which I felt compelled to check out. It took me a couple U-turns to find the driveway, but it was well worth it.
Grandpa's Cheesebarn Sign Grandpa's Cheesebarn Mouse
Amish shedsTasty cheese samples. They also sell meats, sandwiches, figurines, xmas stuff, bears, windchimes, and all sorts of jarred preserves and pickled things. And Amish built sheds. I picked up a few smaller souvenir items for the fam and took some shots before getting back on the road.

After scoping out the lodging options around Richfield, OH, I went on the hunt for dinner. There were no mid-range restaurants forever, and I had become very hungry. Finally, I saw a shopping plaza with a restaurant draped with reasonably priced daily specials. Pazzo's sounded promising-- all I'd really been looking for was something like a Pizza Hut, casual with a restroom. But when I walked into Pazzo's, there was an elegant, well-stocked wine bar across from the entrance with men and women in suits having drinks, people just off work I assumed. A couple people glanced over when I walked in and then dismissively turned back to their drinks and conversation. I was so clearly underdressed that I backed out before the hostess turned up even though I really needed to pee.

The BoneyardAcross the parking lot, I saw an establishment called "The Boneyard" with skeletons hanging on it and figured I couldn't be underdressed for that. I moved my car and was glad to see the "To Go" parking signs because I hadn't even been sure it was a restaurant. Boneyard doorI breezed past the hostess stand and a couple other customers following the restrooms sign. When I returned, I took in the decor more fully: skeletons everywhere, like haunted house rejects getting work in the off-season. Why a food venue would choose skeletons for its decor was beyond me, but I was so hungry I didn't much care.

The food was all right, but I kept thinking someone was approaching because there was a moving skeleton just on the edge of my peripheral vision.

I was beat by the time I got back to the hotel. The Olympics, my tv mainstay for the trip, were over, but miraculously there was a movie I hadn't seen playing on HBO, so I stretched out on yet another strange bed and watched Seabiscuit.


One year ago at TTaT: Made infiltrates my dreams
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  1. OMG! Grandpa's Cheese Barn! I've been there!

    Grandpa rules. I stopped there on the way back on a trip from Columbus to Cleveland. Sadly, grandpa himself was nowhere to be found. I wonder if there actually IS a grandpa?

  2. I had a feeling someone out there would know it. :) Grandpa's is pretty cool. I didn't see him either, but I bet the middle-aged+ women working there would give up the scoop. If you end up back there before me, be sure to ask!