Sometimes when you hit the road you have a choice of which route to take. This is the case when I drive from northeast Ohio to my parents' house in Kentucky. The first half of the trip is all on Interstate 77, but when I get to the Ohio/West Virginia border I can choose to stay on 77 until I get to Charleston and then take 64 West. The other possibility is to get off the highway and take Route 7, a smaller road that runs near and sometimes right beside the Ohio River. Unless weather conditions are too poor, I always choose the much more interesting Route 7 option.
There is so much to see that just goes by in a blur on the highway. In the summertime, the flowers and blooming trees add color to the trip. Black-eyed Susans, Queen Anne's Lace and Sweet Peas grow in abundance along the side of the road and as you travel south you begin to see flowers that aren't often found further north. On this trip down Route 7, I saw a huge mimosa tree covered with beautiful, feathery flowers. Even better, it was located on the corner of Honeysuckle Rd. I also saw pale pink, leafless lilies called Naked Ladies, Crepe Myrtle with dark pink blooms, and Hibiscus the size of dinner plates. Very cool.
Route 7 goes through several small towns (Marietta and Gallipolis) and a number of tiny ones like Tuppers Plains, Cheshire and Eureka. Each of these towns offers something unique to see. For example, the slower pace required while passing through allows you to see the historical markers. On this trip, I learned that Gallipolis means "The City of the Gauls" and was settled in 1790 by French aristocrats fleeing France after Bastille Day and Marietta was established on April 7, 1788 as the first permanent settlement in the Northwest Territory.
I also encountered roadside stands selling homegrown vegetables (where I got corn, cucumbers and tomatoes) and dilapidated barns with Mail Pouch Tobacco ads painted on the side. Plus, small towns provide signs that you just don't see in a city. One I saw promoted Chester Shade Days in Chester, Ohio. Among other things, this celebration includes a community picnic (be sure to bring your covered dish and lawn chair), a pretty baby contest, a dulcimer concert, a pie auction, and the Ohio State Harmonica Championship. Further down the road, I passed Alligator Jack's Flea Market, which would make sense if it were in Florida or Louisiana, but not so much in Meigs County, Ohio.
On occasion, what you see along the road is a little more bizarre. Case in point is this "landmark" in Athalia, Ohio...
...which just goes to show that you can see and experience some strange and wonderful things on a road trip, but you only notice if are open to seeing where you are at the moment instead of worrying about where you are going. Sounds like a great metaphor for life, huh?
More to come from my Kentucky road trip in future posts!