Instant Catastrophe

Saturday began inauspiciously at North Bend SP when, after a decent night’s sleep, I crawled out of the tent and tried to set up the propane grill to make instant coffee.

Knives and nature, no knaves

I then tripped over the ice chest and opened a three-inch-long cut on my left shin. Just like running in the Massanutten mountains.  Slathered it with Neosporin, but still messy, so Sandy took over the coffee duty. We ate some cereal and repacked the van just as a sudden thunderstorm opened up on us. We hit the road about 9:00. Passed through Parkersburg hoping to see some of it, but a half-marathon snarled the downtown traffic.

Court thing

Instead we crossed the Ohio, staying on Route 50 for 30 miles to Athens, home of Ohio University. We picked up some bandages for my leg at Walmart. Found the attractive downtown area, which resembles Old Town Alexandria, but full of newly arrived college kids.  Got some lunch at the Court Street Diner, a fifties-throwback place, and walked part of the lovely OU campus, before heading back to 50.


U.S. 50 starts out of Athens with a nice fast four lanes for about six miles, but then you’re sent on a ramp that narrows into a two-lane country road. That goes on, through leafy but nearly empty countryside for 60 or so miles. Got off course in Chillicothe, a mid-sized industrial town, but after a couple of bad turns righted ourselves and heading back out to farm country. After a drive-through of Hillsdale, pleasant place of stately Victorian homes, we jumped onto a spur, U.S. 62, to U.S. 32 towards Cincinnati.

Nervous about narrow, traffic-choked bridges hundreds of feet above wide rivers

We thought about seeing downtown Cincinnati but, imagining nightmare traffic snarls, dropped that idea and opted for I-275, the beltway that takes you across the Ohio (second time) into Kentucky, then 20 minutes later takes you back across the river into Indiana. Sandy, who’s nervous about narrow, traffic-choked bridges hundreds of feet above wide rivers, had the back luck to be driving and, she’ll admit, went through a couple of near-nervous breakdowns, as I stared down at that broad brown river. But we did make it across to Indiana.

The archetypical depressed, scruffy, down-at-the-heels out-of-the way semi-urban Midwestern town

Unlike West Virginia, we had no clear plan for calling it a day in Indiana. I spotted Versailles State Park on the map, about 25 miles west of the river, but when we arrive, about 7 PM, decided we didn’t want another night of setting up camp. We pressed on to North Vernon, hoping to get a clean room at a chain hotel. North Vernon is not a place to stay: the archetypical depressed, scruffy, down-at-the-heels out-of-the way semi-urban Midwestern town. We didn’t even think about it.

Ended up in Seymour, 20 miles further along, somewhere mid-state, in a Travel Lodge—not fancy, but clean and reasonable. Looked like 350 miles today, as we unpacked ourselves for one night here.


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