Ohio Route 127 to Paloozaville

The rosy fingers of dawn, through a morning fog, provide the salivary stimulant for Jack and his favorite ride, an aging excella groomed for takeoff.  Destination: Alumapaloozadscn4897.JPG

  • Jack, 2005
  • Chevy, 2001
  • Airstream, 1985
  • Barn, 1881
  • Silver maple tree, 1855

The first pass is through Bryan, OH, home to Lester’s Diner, a 13 ounce cup of coffee, where you can still order eggs and toast for $1.99.   It’s noon, however, we are dribbling through town, aimed for Jackson Center, OH, and cheap eats can wait another day.At a stoplight, a pony-tailed motorcyclist on a Harley turns, smiles at us, gives a thumbs up to our vintage Airstream in tow, and above the rumble of his hog, points to the trailer and remarks,” Ya gotta a loose steel ball back there”.My initial reaction is a Frank Romano gasp, of the ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ sit-com, “holy cr@p, what now?”  My fear quickly dissolves when he realizes the white noise and my impaired hearing caused mock despair, and he yelled back,”Have you got Lucille Ball back there ?”I smiled, pleased at his reference to the classic long, long trailer cult flick, and shook my head in the negative.  Really, turning to Lynn, do I resemble a Cuban band leader ?The next town of stately Victorian mansions on South Washington Avenue is VanWert, OH, and a more famous eatery, Balyeats Coffee Shop, where, since 1924, they’ve serve Young Fried Chicken, Day and Night.  Their outdoor sign, the first neon in town, says as much, so it must be true.  We wouldn’t want old fried chicken, but we do stop for a four inch high slice of banana cream pie.As we pass along this truly blue highway Lynn muses, ‘if you lived out here and weren’t exposed to television and the internet, you’d think the world was peaceful’. She’s right.Endless farms, all similar, but different, like hopscotching across a giant board game.  No cookie cutter suburbs to dilute a fading Mail Pouch sign.  Barns with slate roofs that cleverly reveal, however faded by a hundred summer suns, the date they were built by hand.1893.In the rolling fields, summer wheat, knee high, is higher than the corn, but it isn’t yet the fourth of July.  A folly of nature, teasing us in a few brief weeks prior to the solstice, the corn always wins.  America still has, tucked in the edges, tattered remnants of the family farm.  Even in places where wilderness and self sustenance is illusory, it still exists within living memory.  We therefore internalize its existence, act as if it is still there, and behave accordingly.  The seductive and dangerously chaotic and capricious unknown lies just beyond the farmland in many places.But not here, not yet.Turning east on OH-274 headed toward Jackson Center, we pass through New Bremen, OH, home to the Bicycle Museum of America and promise to stop on our return.  Our interest is piqued; wouldn’t Dayton, home to Wilbur and Orville’s bicycle shop, be more logical ?  I’ll learn why and report back.Our destination, Jackson Center, is reached, a most unlikely town discovered by a California dreamer, a modern day Barnum, some fifty + years ago.   A legendary design icon, an aerodynamic escape on wheels, blossomed.  And this week, hundreds of disciples devoted to the coagulation of aluminum are joined at the rivets in a celebratory toast….and having a grand experience.Who could have ever guessed.Only in America.