Chew on this: The painted barns on Rt. 40 proved an omen for good to follow.
Mike Devlin and Dreamy, of Florida, heard about the walk in LA. Then spotted us in Ohio.
Somewhere between Zanesville, a town named for a writer (Zane Grey) and New Concord, a town made famous by an astronaut (John Glenn) there lies Spry Road. There in the dark Thursday night, I wasn’t feeling so, well, spry. The weather had turned. The autumn joys of leaf-carpeted paths and light sweater crispness had become hard Fall. Ohio is earth tones and hardened hills, football and roadhouses, leaf burnings and scrap metal drives. The November trees in central Ohio are now bare, its hills mud-caked beneath gray skies. As I stopped to retrieve my headlamp a white pickup truck pulled over. “Do you want to come over for hot soup?”
What empty nest? Sleep tight, Hoggy.
Walking to Zanesville that morning on 40 (“The National Road”), a bike path along the busy four-lane stretch provided a buffer from mostly indifferent drivers. Free to take in the countryside of burgeoning mountains, I was drawn to the rustic barns hanging tough from a century ago. Three had broad painted signs promoting “Mail Pouch Tobacco”, leftovers from a simpler time. I stopped to photograph them over and over. Meanwhile, Barry, was fretting where to park the Jamb Van (Jamboree Winnebego) for the night. The previous night we rolled in behind a bar and plugged into their outside wall outlet. We were tired, cold and a little ripe. Hot showers and electricity sounded nice, but the campground was closed.
Charged up and ready to roll for Cambridge.
Standing at the corner of Spry and 40, Doug waited for my answer. “Soup? I’d love some soup.” Barry and I rolled the Jamber a couple miles around the bend to the Brock estate, where goats roamed the rolling hills. Inside, Doug and Kathy shared their dinner, served up ice cream and offered their shower and washing machine as we swapped travel stories — walking, motorcycles, u-haul trailers on the Crookedest Street in San Francisco. Two hours later, we were watching basketball in the basement, munching on popcorn and beers, perfectly at home in our new friends’ company. Doug admitted he passes walkers all the time and never thinks to stop. But tonight he did. “With our daughter away at college, we’re bringing home strangers,” he joked. His extra bedroom now sleeps his Harley-Davidson over the winter. We said goodnight and retired to our RV in the driveway, since plugged into the Brock electric grid. Studying the picture I had taken of our friends at dinner, there was a painting in the background. It was done by Leslie Cope … of a barn. On the side it reads “Chew Mail Pouch Tobacco.” The road, it knows.
The answers came in the form of Kathy and Doug, and the Leslie Cope painting behind them.