Chasing A Rooster Down A Rabbit Hole

My friend Nichola and I have similar travel philosophies. In fact, I trust her judgment so much that I happily stepped aside as she and her husband planned the entire DC trip. They gave me some choices here and there but I more less asked when to arrive and how much money to bring.

We both are of a mind that you can sleep when you’re dead and that you never know what the next bend in the road may bring. As long as you’re already there, you may as well find out.

Her husband asked me if I’m a destination person or a journey person.

Regular readers here likely know the answer to that question. While I’m capable of going straight to a destination I’m much happier when the journey IS the destination. It’s far more fun when you’re free to go off chasing rabbits as opportunities present themselves.

I think he was appalled when I explained this. “Jesus, Mary and Joseph! You two will never get there,” he exclaimed.

We did make it with a few stops here and there and I don’t regret a single one. That’s how I got to experience the dappled light of a late summer morning as I emerged from tree cover and onto an overlook created by the Civilian Conservation Corps. That’s how I got to buy juicy, fresh peaches from a farm stand and see a geological wonder while the rest of the world zoomed by on the interstate below.

Stories on these and other rabbit hunts to come soon.

Meanwhile, here’s a picture of another fun experience – a giant blue rooster. It’s by German born artist Katharina Fritsch. You can see it from the street as you pass by the National Gallery of Art on the East Building’s rooftop terrace.

It was a gift to the museum earlier this year after being created for a project in London in 2013.

The rooster is often associated with awakening, resilience and strength. For this reason, the 14-foot tall piece was donated to the national museum by Glenstone Museum. It’s to honor the American people as a symbol of hope and resilience during the darkness of the pandemic.

I like to ask employees about something they like in their museum. From ticket takers to security guards and docents, most people have something they like to mention to visitors. I befriended an employee who recommended seeing the only Da Vinci painting in America as well as this crazy blue rooster.

Nichola and I were all in for both pieces even though they literally could not be more different.

Seriously, friends: a 550 year old Florentine girl portrayed by one of the world’s masters versus a giant acrylic and steel blue rooster not even a decade old. They are vastly different.

Visiting the rooster gave access to two more things of note- an installation of giant numbers and a fabulous view of the Capitol building grounds.

So, yeah, having a destination is great. Just remember that some of the greatest finds and most fabulous experiences come as you chase that rabbit, or in this case a rooster, around the next bend.

Click here to read about that Da Vinci painting.

Bicentennial Barn In Spring

The Bicentennial Barn in Athens County is looking a bit shabby but I couldn’t resist swinging by for a quick picture this weekend.

Each of Ohio’s 88 counties received the gift of a specially painted barn as part of Ohio’s bicentennial celebration back in 2003. I have written about this barn a couple of times – once as a young newspaper reporter and once on this blog. In fact, I hope you’ll go read the blog story by clicking here.

The sky was a rich blue on Saturday and the bend in the road is such that it always makes me want to drive new roads. Instead, I drove home and cleaned my house but at least I had a moment to enjoy this day and place.

Sometimes we need that, even those brief moments, to recharge and be ready for whatever lies ahead.

I Ran Away From Home

blog IMG_6123_edited.jpgI ran away from home last Wednesday. With a week of vacation and no desire to be home but no place in particular to be, I did something that this overplanner wouldn’t normally do. I drove away without a real plan.

I had some maps, my phone, some supplies ( in case I couldn’t find a hotel) and my passport in case I went rogue and headed for the border. The plan was to pick up the National Road in Ohio and drive as far west as I wanted. The journey was the destination. That meant no hotel reservations, no goals and no stress.

It was amazing. 

I followed the National Road to Terra Haute, antiquing along the way, eating mostly in mom and pop restaurants, and stopping to rest wherever I got tired. The weather was beautiful the first day, horrible on day two and mediocre the rest so this wasn’t a great picture trip. But I did get a few photos I’ll eventually share here with some thoughts on special places along the way.

I’ve never done a vacation like this where I had nowhere to be and all week to get there but would absolutely do it again. In fact, it seems like something everyone should try at least once.

There are so many things that make me want to go back. Main Street America, with all its idiosyncrasies, is fascinating and I have several small research projects to answer questions from the road.  Also, I was driving the modern National Road and would love to go hunting for some of the old alignments just to see what’s what. In Indiana, the road has been expanded to four lanes most of the way and I suspect there’s a lot of interesting stuff to see off the beaten path.

Stay tuned. I want to tell you about a cool old diner, a Model T Museum, my favorite antique stores (guys, there are more antique stores than you can count out there) and several other nifty sights from along the way. Look for more soon!