While I have been based out of Athens, Ohio for the last week and a half and have slept in the same campsite the whole time, I have been out and about exploring Athens County which has been really awesome. While it is time for me to get moving again as I want to see the rest of Ohio and Michigan before summer turns to fall, it has been nice to spend some time here and get caught up a little bit before pressing on. While I am leap-frogging over Kentucky to get here, I hope to return there in the fall when the leaves are changing and I can have a really good look around.
Coming into Athens County, with its rolling hills and coal mining history, it is definitely good to be back in Appalachia. I've spent a lot of time in Appalachia over the last few months, so this makes for a nice transition into the Midwest. Having seen dramatic differences between the Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee and the Mississippi River floodplains in West Tennessee and between coastal South Carolina and the Upcountry, I am prepared for the differences I expect to see between this Ohio and the Ohio on Lake Erie. And I'm looking forward to it.
My plan is to make my way west along the Ohio River from here and spend a few days in Cincinnati. Then I'm going to head north to Dayton and back east across the middle of the state. When I've made it back to my maternal grandfather's hometown of Dillonvale, I will head north to the lake and then back west again along the lake to Toledo and on into Michigan. So basically my route will resemble a big reverse "S" as I find my way around the state. I've gotten some great suggestions from people on some places to check out, but please feel free to add to my list in the comments below.
I'm not sure what to expect as I make my way around Ohio. I know a lot of people who are from the Buckeye State and all of them are good people who are fiercely proud of their home state. I consider that a very good start. I have some Midwestern roots myself, in Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin and I'm looking forward to getting in touch with that side of my background. If this entire journey is one of self-discovery, then this is the section where I learn about the parts of my family I am less familiar with. I think that is really exciting.
Over the last week, I've been able to do some content creation work for the Athens County Visitor's Bureau, and while it's the same post that appears on my blog below, you can also see it on their site HERE. While I had blogged for my tour company for years before starting Miles2Go, and have published photos in brochures, magazines and books, it was still exciting to be able to work with such wonderful people and produce content about their beautiful county. They gave me a lot of freedom to do what I wanted to do, so they could see Athens County through my eyes. I really respected that and tried to produce something which I would be proud of and which would fall in line with my own mission. I'm pretty happy with the result and really hope I can work with other counties and visitor's bureaus in the future. It really is what I want to do, and is the way I would prefer to be making a living out here.
This project took me out deep into the county to explore the history through several of the locations listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This is a great resource which I love using because it can take something like a city or a county and draw my attention to some of the buildings and areas that people felt strongly enough about to petition for this recognition. That's what led me to Sunday Creek Mine #6, site of the worst mine disaster in Ohio history and to The Dew House in Nelsonville, where Teddy Roosevelt gave a campaign speech in 1912. While sometimes I like to just wander, this week it was important to have a plan and the National Register helped me come up with one. This is just one of the many tricks I have up my sleeve, but it was a good one to use in this instance
Athens Brew Week has been going on during my stay here, and it has been great to try craft beers from all over the state. There have been some fun events around town, and I have been able to get out to some of them. I really enjoyed the grand finale or "Last Call" as they refer to it. The weather was threatening, but it held out long enough to get all of the activities in for the day. On the main stage, I enjoyed the spinning of local legend DJ Barticus, followed by Rage Against The Machine cover band Bulls on Parade and Pink Floyd cover band Any Color. It was a great way to close out the week.
This coming week I'm headed towards Cincinnati. I'm going to be working on my first Ohio podcast, but it would be wishful thinking to believe it will be done by this time next week. I'm really excited to see what southwest Ohio has in store for me.
I'm feeling good out here. It is nice to get some work and feel some worth in what I've been doing. It was nice to spend some time with an old friend. Even though we've both been busy at work, it's been nice to catch up at night and have a drink together. Mostly it's just exciting to see what the future of this project might hold. I'm very grateful for it all, and for you for following along with the ride.
Until next week then, thanks for being here. Have a great week and enjoy these long days while they last. You know I will.