I love traveling, but lately, I haven’t traveled the way I used to travel. I have been to 40 of the 50 states with virtually all of my travels on my own, playing the radio or the CD player, and talking to myself – yes, I talk to myself – does that really surprise anyone? Oh, and, by the way, I answer myself, too.
I can’t imagine traveling with anyone. I like not having to answer to another person. I can stop when I want, eat when I want, and do what I want. I can drift off the beaten path and wander if I want. While the interstates certainly make travel fast and easy, they also make one miss so many quaint and beautiful sights.
Last week I took a trip to Cincinnati to attend a corporate meeting – not far – about a three and a half hour drive. I got up at 4:00 a.m. on Wednesday morning, and packed a few things. Not many, though, because I was only going to be gone over night, staying at my son and daughter-in-law’s on the way home to see them and my grand kids.
My route of travel was to take 33 south out of Fort Wayne, through Decatur and into Ohio, pick up Ohio State Road 29 outside St. Marys, Ohio, and then hop onto Interstate 75 at Sydney, Ohio.
As I left my home in the early morning hours, I thought what a wonderful feeling it is to take off in the early morning hours, the balmy summer air stirring slightly with a gentle touch against the face, pulling into the gas station for a cup of freshly-brewed morning coffee, and then on the road with the sun just hinting with its rosy glowing beams of light that it was anxiously awaiting the proper moment to show its rising face in the eastern sky.
I always allow myself about 30 minutes of “get lost” time, and it was a good thing I did. No problem getting to Cincinnati, but I am not very familiar with downtown Cincinnati itself. I had prepared my route beforehand, and, as I deftly wove my way through the inner parts of Cincinnati following my Google map, I thought I had it made. The last direction was to turn on Eden Park Drive – and the instructions showed that it was totally close to my exit from Reading Road.
And, it was – and, I missed it. If you have ever missed a turnoff on these highway mazes, you will understand the panic I felt at that point. It was 9:30 a.m., and my meeting started at 10:00 a.m. – hence my relief that I had my “get lost” time. As I was forced up onto another clover leaf, I started thinking of options. I drove down a street and stopped a pedestrian to see if she knew where to go. No – she didn’t.
I knew that if I could just find Interstate 71, I would probably – I say probably because I had no clue – be okay. I managed to locate the exit I wanted, but as I missed that turnoff also, I saw that it was on my right and lower down. So, unless I wanted to drive over the side of a freeway and nosedive down about 30 feet, I wasn’t going to get onto it. I quickly doubled back and found the right exit. I pulled into the parking lot just on time and made it to my meeting.
On my way back, I stayed all night with my daughter-in-law and my four grand kids. My son was on the road, so I missed seeing him. He travels extensively in his job, and he is a wonderful provider, but I know it has to be hard on him to be gone so much.
I had such a wonderful time. My daughter-in-law is a great cook and mother. They have a home in the country – a huge old brick home that has been restored, lying in the gentle rolling hills of southern Ohio. The windows are open at night with the air wafting through – something I miss here in the city.
I found out how naive and dangerous leaving my windows open at night could be – three years ago this August, I surprised a burgler coming through my screen in my dining room, and, he, ever the macho character he surely was, reacted to my screaming and carrying on by fleeing – thank God because he had cut the screen with a knife. I certainly would have been no match for a burgler with a knife.
My windows haven’t been open at night since, and I now have an alarm system. So, so sad! I miss that trust of people that I used to have.
As I slept at their home that night, I was anxious; I worried that someone would come through the open screen windows. The fear of that happening will never leave me no matter how much time will pass and where I am – I am still scared. But, of course, I worried for no reason – nothing happened; I awoke in the morning with all still asleep in the early morning quiet and the air peaceful and warm. I left quietly without waking anyone.
As I traveled home, I thought about what a great trip I had. I enjoyed my business meeting, but, more than that, I enjoyed seeing my family and spending a few hours with them.
As is the case with every trip I have taken, I couldn’t wait to see the Indiana state line. That sign, that wonderful sign, is what makes coming home so special to me. It is what makes my travels so special to me. My favorite sign through all my travels is this one below. I stopped at the Ohio-Indiana state line to take this picture – one that I had always kept putting off taking.
No matter where I roam, this will be my favorite sign.
And, this is will forever be my favorite song.