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Ohio Trip—Day 2: another long day Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The "new" Ulysses S. Grant Bridge spans the Ohio River between Portsmouth, Ohio, and South Shore, Ky. Originally built in 1927, the $38-million replacement was opened in 2006.

Saturday morning, after four hours of sleep, I was jolted awake by the alarm on my cell phone, which was charging on the opposite side of the room. I bolted upright, a bit dazed, trying to figure out exactly where I was as I leapt out of bed to silence the "Provincial" tone that was two steps too loud.

Once I had my bearings, I called down to the front desk to see if my suitcase had arrived. Sure enough, it was there and I would have clothes to wear for the day. Pulling on the jeans and t-shirt I'd worn the day before, I went down to the lobby and picked it up.

A quick shave and shower, and it was back to the lobby for the complimentary breakfast. Sausage, biscuits and gravy ... no doubt, we're in the South. (Did I mention that Portsmouth is about as far south as Ohio goes? "Appalachia" rhymes with "latch" here.)

Richard (my room mate, from Seattle) followed me down to the campus of Shawnee State University for the morning's shoot. The university has a very pretty campus right down on the Ohio River, but for whatever reason the campus planners have put the school's back to the river ... shame.

The weather was fantastic for the outdoor shoot, which wrapped up around noon. We got out of there a little before 1, looking for some lunch. Something quick and not too expensive, and I always like to find something a little local—I prefer my food served by a restaurant with revenues smaller than the GDP of a mid-sized nation. Driving around the town of about 20,000 I thought I'd hit the jackpot at a roadside hut called "Dairy Creme," but they didn't take credit cards (Richard was out of cash) so we had to pass. Richard suggested that we get a couple photos of this really cool bridge (see above) and then get something along the way to our next gig. My instincts told me that this was a bad idea, but I went along with it.

Our next destination was Oxford, Ohio, a little north of Cincinnati. Now, as densely populated as Ohio is (compared to Oregon, anyway), the south is a relatively uninhabited section. There are roads everywhere, but they aren't the big, straight freeways you find elsewhere in the state, and eateries along the way are few and far between.

We wound our way west through the very scenic hills of OH-125 for about an hour before reaching West Union, where Google told me to head north on OH-247. We drove through the bulk of the town up to our turn without finding anywhere to eat. Since it was now almost 2:30, we decided to find something—anything—before heading any further. Just as I was about to give up on the town as the only place in the union with no dining establishments whatsoever, I spotted a tourist information booth. With their help, we found "the strip" a bit further down the road after it seems to leave town.

The intersection of Main St. and Cross St. in West Union, Ohio. I like single, four-way traffic light.

Wendy's ... no ... McDonald's ... no ... BK ... no ... Arby's ... yeah, right ... KFC ... no ... Domino's ... not enough time. Then, at the end of the strip I spotted something I'd only heard rumours of: a giant statue of an overly happy kid with a 50's hairdo and crazy checkered overalls. You saw it as Dr. Evil's escape pod in the Austin Powers movie. That's right, it was a Big Boy. A Frisch's Big Boy, to be precise. It may be a popular chain in some parts of the country, but they don't have any franchises anywhere near anywhere I've ever lived, so we pulled in.

I'd always thought it was more like a McDonald's, but they made us wait to be seated, and took our orders from the table. The salad bar was pretty good. The burger ... better than average, but I suppose that doesn't mean much. The fries were alright.

From West Union we drove north to US-52, a near-freeway that went straight to Cininnati. Skirting around the edge of the city, we got to Oxford with about an hour to spare.

Oxford is home to Miami University. Actually, I should say that Miami University is home to the town of Oxford, as the school was there first (1809). The town looks like a good place for a college party for a weekend—say, if your school had a football game there—but I don't know if I'd want to live/study there.

The shoot was pretty uneventful. We got out of there around 9:45, followed by a 45 minute drive back to our hotel in West Chester. After dropping our stuff at the hotel, of course, we were all hungry and looking forward to a beer. One of the guys found an O'Casey's or O'Flannigan's or something like that a couple miles from our digs, so we piled into my car and headed over there.

The door was unlocked, and our watches said 10:53, but the waitress told us it was 11:02, two minutes after closing. Grumbling and protesting, we drove back and ate at the Frisch's Big Boy next door
to the hotel. They don't serve beer.

Back at the hotel, I plugged in all of my batteries, checked my emails for the first time in two days, discovered there was no job bag for me for the next morning's shoot, and hit the sack around 1. The alarm was set for 6.


AudreyLinden said...

Everytime I see the first picture, I think it is a boat!! I can't wait to hear what else happened on your trip.