September 27 (Monday)
The day started out drab and overcast. It might have been the fringes of the fringes of Jeanne. No matter, I had a full day of activities in mind. It didn’t rain, so we were fine.
We got up about 7, which was typical. My inner clock was set to wake up early because of work, which was great for the trip, since we got a good full day in.
We went to Granville first, because I wanted to see the Granville Inn. It’s a Tudor-style building made of sandstone, which is an unusual combination. It works, though, since it’s been there for over 80 years. There was a covered area with chairs out front, so there must’ve been a party or wedding either the day before or later that day.
Next we headed east to Newark. At this point, I know where we went, but not the exact order. So I’ll do it as best I can.
Great Circle Earthworks, part of the Newark Earthworks. As far back as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by the Mound Builders. They were a Native American culture that spanned the middle part of the United States. They built huge earthworks all over the place, shaped like serpents and animals and such. They were the closest thing that North America had to the Mayans and Incans and Egyptians and other ancient large monument creators. Imagine how surprised I was to find out a major creation of theirs was in Newark.
We found it and drove around it once. There wasn’t easy parking I could find. I finally went down a side street next to it and parked by the roadside. Mom sat in the car playing electronic poker while I explored. The Great Circle is about 10 feet high and surrounds an area of over 30 acres. I remember walking inside the Circle and feeling the weight of centuries. It was so quiet and peaceful. I wish I could have stayed there for hours, but places to go, things to do. I soaked it in as long as I could.
Downtown Newark. Some of the highlights were the Licking County Courthouse (very stately), a Mark Twain bronze statue outside the Midland Theater, and the downtown in general. I think I’d have spent more time if it had been sunnier.
Last but certainly not least, Dawes Arboretum. I can recall thinking I didn’t want to leave Mom in the car alone for another stretch while I wandered around. Fortunately, that wasn’t an issue. The Arboretum was over 1,500 acres, and there was a scenic drive path through it. There were a couple of spots where I got out and roamed, but it wasn’t for long. It was great to be able to share that with Mom. It was also another spot where I really felt I wasn’t in Florida, with the fir trees and other northern plants.
And it was free. So was Great Circle. And wandering around downtown Newark. A great day with neat sites, and not a penny spent. Sometimes the best things in life are free.
Last but not least was something we had to pay for, but more than worth it. In the town of Utica to the north of Newark is the Velvet Ice Cream Company at Ye Olde Mill. When I found out how close it was, I couldn’t pass it up. We got there by early afternoon, and the sun had started to come out. What made it even better was that they were celebrating their 90th anniversary, so you know they had to be good. The waitresses kept with the olde tyme vibe, dressed in pioneer/pilgrim type outfits. They didn’t have only ice cream, but sandwiches too. Mom got a Reuben, and I got an Amish bologna sandwich. The only difference from regular bologna was that it was darker. We each only ate half our sandwiches, since we wanted to try the ice cream.
Ah the ice cream. We each chose the sampler, which was 3 scoops. We told them to surprise us, but I didn’t want mine to have any fruits or nuts. When our samplers were brought out, each of them had 5 scoops in a cup instead. Maybe to celebrate their 90th anniversary. Every one was yummy. Vanilla, mint, even pumpkin pie spice. Funniest to me was one of Mom’s, which she couldn’t figure out. I tried a little bit and told her it was strawberry. She argued with me, saying I didn’t like strawberry. I told her that was the point; I know what I don’t like. We asked the waitress, and she confirmed it was strawberry. Mom and I did laugh over it. We saved the half sandwiches that weren’t finished for possible dinner.
We left the Mill and headed east. It was hilly, but gradually so. That was one of the jokes after the Smokies. I would be mock scared at hills and road turns, but all were gradual. The route we took was scenic, and indirect, especially as a road detour took us out of the way. We wound up in Coshocton, and then I had a better idea of where to go. Got to I-77 and headed south until we caught I-70 east again. It was getting late, but in another hour crossed into West Virginia and reached my desired stopping point, Wheeling.
Ah, Wheeling. Definitely mountainy, but the roads were level, so I felt fine. We found a nice hotel and got two separate rooms. We’d been getting one room with two beds in each hotel we stayed at up until now. But I wanted a complete undisturbed night of sleep (Mom going to the bathroom would wake me), so we got two rooms. I’m glad we did, since the next day was grueling, and I needed all the rest I got.