I grew up in the Northwestern Ohio city of Defiance, in the flat, farming area of the state. I can identify soybean fields and corn fields with ease. The phrase knee high by the 4th of July was burned into my brain! (Farmers want their corn to be that high if it’s going to be a good crop.) Thanks to a huge glacier thousands of years ago, riding bikes and hiking in this part of the state are an easy hobby to attempt for the outdoor enthusiasts; no hills, not much anyhow, anywhere.
I like to take some time in the summer to visit my roots. To visit my parents, my brother and his wife and their kids and the relatives that still live in Ohio. Dear husband’s mom and brother, and his wife and a married niece and a nephew also live in Ohio. With our oldest having received his honorable discharge from his 4 year commitment to the United States Marine Corps and his moving to Athens, Ohio to attend Ohio University, this past week was the perfect time to take our homeschooled youngest with me( youngest is 11 years old) for a week-long visit to Ohio.
We left Rolla on Monday morning at 8:30. My quest to leave earlier was thwarted by a recalcitrant car battery in my chosen vehicle, husband’s go to work Cadillac. After he charged and worked on the car, it started right up and we were off. Driving past St. Louis’s downtown and the Arch, my Ohioan relatives and friends all asked me about the troubles in Ferguson, MO. Some knew we had lived near there in a neighboring suburb. One person joked that I had to drive through smoke as all of St. Louis was burning. Thanks national media for making many across the country think that all of St. Louis was rioting and burning.
Across Illinois farm country we drove east. Living in South Central Missouri, where the Ozark Mountains begin, I tend to forget how flat the flat lands are! It’s sort of nice to be able to see so far around one in all directions when driving cross country. When we reached Terre Haute, Indiana(High Land in French, I informed the 11 year old) we had a lunch break and then on we drove, past Indianopolis and then, finally, we crossed the state line into Ohio.
The longest part of this drive was getting to Columbus, the state capital, and getting to Highway 33 which would lead us to our destination, Athens, Ohio. Athens is near West Virginia and the land is very hilly as it’s along part of the Appalachian Mountains. Husband and I are pleased that our son has chosen Ohio University. It’s nice that our son has relatives right there and he has it already set up with Grandma to do his laundry at her place;she’s been stocking up on the microwave popcorn!
My parents drove to Athens from Defiance on Tuesday, to give my oldest a lounge chair that they didn’t want anymore and he was glad to put it in his new apartment. After a nice tour of Ohio University’s campus, a steak dinner with my parents, 2 of my sons, and my husband’s family, it was on to Defiance on Wednesday morning.
My dad, who does woodworking and house remodeling, wanted to drive north to communities near Wooster, Ohio to pick up wood stain he needed for a woodworking project, and he also wanted to take my sons and I to a restaurant, Mrs. Yoder’s Kitchen, which is popular with Amish and non-Amish customers. We programmed our GPS machines for Wooster and off we went…my parents in their car, the 11 year old and I in the Cadillac, and my oldest in his Malibu. We were puzzled at first because the GPS’s all had us head south into West Virginia! My oldest son explained that in order to pick up Interstate 77 when leaving Athens, OH, the closest point to pick it up is in West Virginia, then take it north to your destination. We stopped to get gas and then headed out, 3 cars caravanning to the Wooster, Ohio area.
25 minutes into our drive north, I asked my 11 year old a question. I glanced back and assumed he was asleep under his sleeping bag. He had been stretched out on the back seat with the sleeping bag over him when we stopped for gas in West Virginia. I asked him another question and still got no response. I decided to move the sleeping bag and when I did, I discovered that there was no one in the back seat of the car!!!
Oh did I feel awful! I knew that he must have gotten out of the car at the gas station back in West Virginia!! I took the very next exit and using my cell phone, was able to relay to my parents and oldest son that I had accidentally left the 11 year old at the gas station!! My parents agreed to wait at that exit, as there were some small stores nearby that they could explore, and my oldest son followed me back to the gas station. I was able to use google on my cell phone and get the gas station’s phone number and call them. They assured me that my son was in their store. I told them I was on my way back to get him.
As I parked the car and ran into the store, I was expecting my son to be in tears or to be in an angry mood, but he had a big smile on his face! He gave me a tight hug and said, ” I knew you’d be back for me, Mom! Don’t feel bad!” I thanked the store employees for watching my son and asked my son if he wanted a treat. “Beef Jerky” was his request and I bought him some. Then we got back into our cars and drove back to the exit where my parents were waiting for us. My Dad told my 11 year old that from now on when traveling with me, he should always hold my car keys at all rest stops, restaurants, gas stations, etc.!!
We made it to Wooster and the Amish area of Ohio. We ate a delicious lunch at Mrs. Yoder’s. We also stopped at a general store popular in the area, The Ashery, where my son picked out salt water taffy for a midweek treat. He did manage to bring some of it back to Missouri for his older siblings to enjoy! After a sudden thunderstorm and Amish buggies slowing our trip down a bit, we made it to Defiance by 7:00 that evening.
The rest of our visit was very nice and it was good to see relatives. I even was able to meet with some former highschool classmates for lunch one day-a very fun, and very talkative visit!
Sunday came and that meant it was time to drive back to Rolla, Missouri. Our oldest drove back to Athens for his college classes would begin on Monday. The youngest son and I listened to a radio preacher, Pastor Bucus Sterling III at Kettering Baptist Church in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. Pastor Sterling preached an excellent sermon from the book of Exodus about Moses being on the mountain, the Israelites getting doubtful that Moses would ever return, and their turning to Aaron for an idol to worship. That sermon helped set the tone for a great day of travel; good weather, good roads, no accidents to slow us down. We were able to return to Rolla at 5:45 that Sunday evening.
Lessons I learned from this trip are that family is so important. Keep the lines of communication open via the phone, skype, facebook, but especially try to make the efforts to see loved ones in person, even if it can only be once a year. When traveling with a child, make sure he or she hangs on to your car keys when stopping for gas, food, restroom breaks, sightseeing trips, etc.!!