Friday, October 20, 2006

Cambridge to Mt. Orab, Ohio

In Somerset, Ohio I met up with Tim Spires. A 2004 R1150GS rider, Tim had followed my travels over the past year.

Up with the alarm at 8:00. Outside, it was still raining. I was relieved to see checkout time is noon. (In many hotels, it's 11:00.) Had some breakfast, then returned to the computer and tried to utilize the time remaining, and the good connection, to post some more photos, add notes and captions, etc.

"Blogger" has become such a hassle lately. Each photo takes at least half an hour to download, post, re-format, caption.

Arranged to meet Tim Spires in Somerset at 1:00. He said it was a 45 minute drive from Cambridge.

I stretched out my departure as long as possible, then raced out at 12:30, quickly loading the bike. I thought I could use the interstate to shave some time off that 45 minute estimate. Drove well over the speed limit. In Zanesville, I had to leave the interstate and find U.S. 22. From the map, I thought Zanesville would be just another small town. But it's a large city, with plenty of traffic, and crossing town, I must have hit EVERY possible red light! I was extremely frustrated as 1:00 arrived and I was still in the city, 17 miles from Somerset. Used a pay phone to call Tim.

He was unperturbed. "No problem," he said. We met up at "Anthony’s Italian Restaurant" in Somerset, which I easily spotted, with his black 2004 BMW R1150GS parked out front. A 25-year-old redhead, I had come to know Tim through my blog. He followed my travels in Latin America. We sat down for some lunch - I ordered fettuccine Alfredo and a soda.

Tim's hoping to become a Columbus firefighter. As if he had done research before our meeting, he recalled different events from my travels and asked about them in more detail. I almost felt like a celebrity! I enjoyed the attention, but was also curious about his own explorations. His fiance, Kim is in the Army and travels the nation with promotional exhibits. Tim accompanies her when he's able.

Coming out of the restaurant, it was frigid. (That's the trouble with getting all warm and comfy!) Tim would ride with me about 40 miles down Ohio route 13, to Athens before turning homeward to Lancaster.

Tim is hoping to become a firefighter with the Columbus Fire Department

Riding Ohio backroads with Tim Spires

He led as we wandered the countryside, rich with autumn foliage. I was trying to take photos from the bike, and more than once, nearly ran off the road. Besides these minor incidents, it's quite soothing along these backroads. It was a shock, in this pristine landscape, to occasionally come to huge black piles of coal. Somewhere out in those forests are the coal mines, discreetly kept from view.

Coal mining in the Ohio countryside

At the U.S. 33 junction, we posed for a couple of photos, then parted. Though brief, it was a delight to meet one of my "readers" and share a tiny glimpse of his world.

Continuing my southwesterly track, I skirted around Athens then joined Ohio route 32, "The Appalachian Highway". A 60 mph speed limit, but no problem. There was nothing out here pushing me to go faster.

Solid overcast and cold. Occasionally, a shaft of sunlight would angle down through the clouds, somewhere out near the horizon. Simply teasing me! After 6:00, I reached the edge of the cloud cover, but the sun only offered psychological warmth. The air temperature didn't change.

A billboard advertised a Best Western at Mt. Orab. I was ready to get warm again, and this would be perfect - far enough from Cincinnati that the rates should be a bit lower.

But I worried it would be full, since I had seen few motels along this highway. On the contrary, though, it was nearly empty. An Indian woman was on duty in reception. “Where is everyone?” She said it was a slow time. But the quiet was fine with me. Just over $80 total. Quickly moved my things inside and turned up the heat.

I wasn't packing any food, so I had to go out for a look around. Very little in the way of services in Mt. Orab. Most businesses seemed to close early. I found a Wendy’s across the highway. It took the staff about 30 seconds to “prepare” my chicken sandwich and fries. I wondered how long they had been sitting around. Barely passable as food.

A frigid ride to and from the restaurant a mile away. About 35 degrees at 9:00 p.m.

Tried calling Jess, but had to leave a message.

1 comment:

Scott Lanter said...

I just came across your post about your travel to Mt. Orab. As a hometown boy, I took issue with your comment regarding the lack of services in my hometown.

If it was 9 o'clock at night when you were searching for food, and had you traveled one extra mile into the main part of town, you would have found there were more than 10 restaurants open at that time...and 4 of them offered home-style cooking.

If you're ever in Mt. Orab again, please consider venturing more than a mile off the 4-lane pavement. There's a lot more than blacktop in Mt. Orab. ;)