Ohio Puts the Fun back in Cycle Touring...
It only takes a few simple pleasures to make me happy. A road with a few curves in it, a tree-lined river to travel along, attractive dog-free farms, a lake lined with stately homes, a bakery stop for a mid-morning cherry turnover, a small town Main Street with several family-run restaurants to choose from. Those things had been missing the last few weeks, but I've had all of that and more during the last few days.
Passing through northwest Ohio, it was interesting to learn that 200 years ago this area was mostly covered in water and was known as the Black Swamp. Over the course of the 1800's, engineers figured out how to drain the land and convert it to farm country. But the rivers can still cause flooding. In the quaint little town of Grand Rapids, with a beautifully restored Main Street, I saw a picture of that same street in 1959 with water running at least 4 feet deep.
In Fremont Ohio, I had a chance to learn a little presidential history. I came across the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center. Hayes practiced law here for a time and maintained a family home here even after moving on to bigger and better things such as Governor of Ohio and 19th President of the United States. The grounds of his home are in a beautiful tree-filled park. I guess you could call Hayes the George W Bush of his time. His election was quite a scandal as he lost the popular vote by 250,000 votes. Twenty electoral votes from four states were contested and a panel of congressmen was formed to determine their fate. Hayes was awarded all 20 which gave him the victory by 1 electoral vote. Hayes was sworn in at the White House in a private ceremony due to fears that the opposition would stage a revolt. Throughout his term as President, Hayes was often called Rutherfraud due to the questionable nature of his election.
The highlight of Ohio, so far, has to be the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. What a great place for a music fan. Six floors filled with memorabilia, instruments, stage clothing, hand written lyrics and music, videos and of course opportunities to listen to the greatest rock and roll musicians of all time. During my visit there were also special exhibits on the 50th Anniversary of Motown, the 40th Anniversary of Woodstock and Bruce Springsteen's career.
I can't imagine any fan of music not finding something at the museum that would make them smile. Some of the things that made me smile included: Les Paul's experiments on building the first solid-body electric guitar (one involved a railroad rail and another a 2x4 and a door hinge), Jim Morrison's childhood Boy Scout uniform (hard to picture him as a Scout!), an Alice Cooper hat (with an authentic Arizona rattlesnake wrapped around the brim), John Lennon's Sgt. Pepper's jacket, Jimi Hendrix' handwritten lyrics to 'Purple Haze' (I couldn't read a single word of it) and an 8-year old telling his younger sister how the Rolling Stones sold out tickets to 90,000 seat stadium in 8 minutes. I could have spent all day at one of the listening kiosks for the '500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll' that included music from the 1920s through the 1990s. And some of the video presentations were fantastic (I especially liked the Woodstock video that included songs by Joe Cocker, Country Joe McDonald and Janis Joplin).
So Ohio has definitely lifted my spirits and got me excited to find what's around the next curve in the road!