Out East Road Trip Day 2: Dayton, Ohio to Charlottesville, Virginia

Virginia does not look like Minnesota.  I’ll come back to that.

Our day began, as all productive days surely must, with Mom and I accidentally attempting to force our way on to the Dayton Air Force Base.  We were under the impression–thanks to Bea the British GPS–that the Huffman Prairie Flying Field and Interpretive Center was there.  The nice young man with the green eyes and the machine gun who was responsible for checking IDs at the gate pointed us in the right direction.

DSCN2879

What we also didn’t know was that the HPFFIC (as the locals know it.  Not really.) is a national park.  And that inside the Interpretive Center there is an actual park ranger who will teach you how to fly a circa 1911 plane, via video game simulation.

IMG_1331

The left lever could be pulled back for nose up/altitude gain or pushed forward for nose down/speed gain.  The lever on the right (between my mom and the park ranger) could be pulled back for a right turn or pushed forward for a left turn.  Operating both levers simultaneously, the goal was to stay in the air without incident for three minutes.  You had two chances.  Needless to say, I crashed on my first try, and only lasted for three minutes on my second because the ranger next to me was guiding my altitude subtly.  Nevertheless, I was awarded a certificate that henceforth allows me to pilot any plane.  Any place circa 1911, that is.  As the ranger handed the certificate to me, he said ceremoniously, “If you can find it, you can fly it.”  I pray that I’ll get my chance someday.

Outside, there was the Wright Brothers Memorial which overlooks the Huffman Prairie Flying Field.  Huffman is where Orville and Wilbur perfected their plane (having had the first successful flight in North Carolina).  Huffman is referred to as the “first flying field in the world.”  Imagine that!  No one had flown in such a way until the Wright Brothers decided to dedicate their time and money to figuring out how to make an airplane work.  And the world thought they were nuts.  But that’s usually how it goes, isn’t it?

DSCN2880

After a few hours of driving, I happened to check the map only to discover that we were very near to the turnoff for something called the Leo Petroglyph.  It sounded too intriguing to pass up, so we wound through three miles of back roads and were stared at by dozens of western Ohioans who were sitting on their front porches enjoying the day.  Then we came to this:

IMG_1345

I thought this was clever, to stick my foot in near the footprint carvings.

IMG_1342 IMG_1347 IMG_1351

Carved seven hundred years ago.  They look like they were done yesterday, don’t they?

We spent the rest of the day touring West Virginia via freeway and admiring the scenery.  West Virginia is I think the prettiest state I’ve seen thus far on this trip.  Mountains are something we don’t have in Minnesota, though, so there was a lot of: “Are those mountains?  Or just hills?  They’re tall, but I’m not sure … let’s check the map.”  I think I actually Googled “West Virginia hills vs. mountains” at some point.

We entered Virginia at twilight and entered Charlottesville when it was dark enough that fireflies flashed near the tree line.  Admittedly, I mostly wanted to come to Charlottesville because this is Kath’s stomping ground, and she makes it sound quite idyllic.  Having walked up and down the Mall a few times, having had homemade smoked salmon ravioli from Bizou, and having wrapped up the evening with ice cream, I have to say that I like it here.  I have a feeling I’ll like it even better when it’s light enough for me to rave about the historic buildings and to clomp around Monticello like the Jefferson groupie that I am.

Advertisements

Out East Road Trip Day 1: Minnesota to Ohio

Good morning from scenic Dayton, Ohio.  We got in late last night, so I can’t speak to much of why it’s so “scenic,” but from what I saw of the bluffs and the trees, it is.  I love a city with bluffs and trees.  Probably because I’m partial to my native St. Paul, which has both.  Which leads me (I kid you not) to my next point: isn’t it funny how when we travel (or at least, when I travel) we admire or gape at or disparage sights based on where we’re from?  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said “This or that looks like Minnesota,” often with an air of disappointment, because for heaven sakes I’m driving cross-country!  I want vast scenic differences!  It’s not your fault, Ohio.

This post, by the way, will cover what happened yesterday.  I meant to write it last night, but you know how comfy hotel beds are, and how tempting they are after thirteen hours on the road.

The drive yesterday from Minnesota to Ohio was punctuated by two primary events: 1. I ate a McDonald’s egg McMuffin for breakfast that made me feel, for the next eight hours, like I had a softball-sized ball of grease roiling in my stomach.  It was awful, and the likes of Tums, Coke, and pretzels (to soak up the grease) were of no avail.  I really should know by now that McDonald’s never ceases to have dastardly effects on my innards.  No worries that I’ll forget again: I think yesterday served to build up a strong aversion.  2. The van began to act up whilst we were on the seven-lane freeway in the traffic-y Chicago area.  I pointed out to my Mom that our family, not unlike the Griswolds, never ceases to have car trouble on road trips.  She didn’t think it was very funny.  Anyway, luckily there’s a Chrysler dealer in Dayton that was willing to have a look.  It was a loose battery cable, apparently, which would explain the flickering of gauges and the random bursts of hot air from the vents.

Today, after I shower and clean up the contents of my suitcase–which always seem to end up strewn about the room–we’re heading over to see the Wright Brother’s flying field.  Then it’s off to Virginia, which I feel certain will not “look like Minnesota.”

P.S. I know I’ve neglected to talk about the Killers concert.  I’ll write about that soon.  Right now, I’m under the pressure of a looming check-out time.