Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Observations on Ohio

We look forward to visiting with Casey's birth family each year. And we look forward to visiting their home, too. It's pretty different from suburban San Diego. Casey's half brother and sister live in what we would consider a small town-- Jason tells me he remembers hearing it's got a population of around 4,000. Our home town, dubbed "the city in the country," on the other hand, has a population in the neighborhood of 40,000. I bet the geography has similar acreage, though. And that says a lot.

Each time we visit, Jason comments that we should buy a place in their home town. There are plenty of rolling hills and wide open spaces. And generally when we visit, even though it has always rained during our trip, the weather is more or less pleasant. Of course, we've tended to visit in the spring. And apparently it's a tad bit hotter and more humid in August. That doesn't mean we didn't have a blast at the water park and visiting Cosi, the Columbus science museum, where there were plenty of wet activities to keep the kids engaged and cool. And we were pleasantly surprised during our foray up to Cleveland for my good friend's wedding to have even escaped the humidity for a while.

One thing we noticed, the thing that really struck me is this: people actually drive the speed limit. Now, I'm no speed demon or anything. But I don't drive the speed limit either. When we explained that we'd be taking an interstate, people repeatedly commented with statements like, "Oh, that's good. You can drive 60 (or 65) on that road." 60 or 65, huh? I don't remember the last time we drove that slowly on an interstate! And when expressed our surprise at the conformity with the speed limit to my friend's other wedding guests, we were warned to take it easy-- lots of state troopers. We didn't believe it. After all, we'd traveled from Dayton down to south of Chilicothe, up to Columbus, and up to Cleveland and run into exactly one state trooper in two days. And we'd passed two highway patrol stations!

But there we were, driving home around midnight, coming down a hill onto a straight road, about to pass under an overpass when we saw the vehicle, sitting with all his lights out in an unlit area. And though Jason slowed immediately, it wasn't enough to prevent us from attracting the officer's attention. It turns out it wasn't a state trooper, but a local officer. And when we tried to hand him Jason's license and our rental agreement, he told us he knew it was a rental and just wanted to know where we were from. One look at the California license and he sighed a knowing sigh and said, "Well, I'm just gonna give you a warning as long as your license comes back clear. But you were going 75, so take it easy." And he was pretty nice about the whole thing.

On the rest of the four hour drive, we didn't slow down to 60 (except when we got lost downtown-- why are the freeway signs in Ohio so darned confusing?!?--and when we hit construction zones with speed limits of 45mph). And we still rolled in the door around 4:10am. That was after a deer darted across the road in front of us as we took our last hill back to the house. Fortunately, Jason has quick reflexes.

Cleveland was fun-- mainly because my friend was a beautiful bride. By now I think we've seen about all of Ohio you can see from interstates. Of course, there are plenty of fields and other places to explore. And lucky for us, we have family sprawled across the state, and in one small town in particular, which beckons us back to "the country."

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