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June 2 - June 30 - Indiana & Ohio

On Wednesday June 2, we hooked up and headed north from Park City KY (16) to the Ceraland Campground outside Columbus IN (17), and settled in for a week. When we started staying here several years ago, Ceraland was a private recreation facility for employees of the Cummins Corporation, headquartered in Columbus. But the last couple years, it's been transitioning into a public facility, bringing with it a presumed need to be more self-supporting. Thus the costs to camp have increased by about a third. But it's still the nicest and most convenient place for us to park when visiting Columbus.

Our reason for visiting was the high school graduation of Brian Pierson. Hard to believe it's been 18 years since Luther and Linda invited us into Brian's life. Living in Oregon half a continent away from any other relatives, they figured they needed some surrogate grandparents (and probably babysitters) in Brian's life. And now he's all grown up and headed for college. We're feeling both proud and old.

It was a busy time what with pre- and post-graduation commitments. We managed a couple of dinners together, tagged along on Friday night as graduation photos were taken at several locations, went to graduation on Saturday morning and Brian's graduation party on Sunday afternoon. Lots of warm fuzzies.


It was in Columbus that we finally decided to do something about Al's pulled muscles. After some discussion we decided that professional medical help was in order. (Euthanasia didn't even generate a quorum.) So on Sunday morning, after a lot of discomfort sitting in high school bleachers for a few hours the day before, we headed to an excellent walk-in clinic, where appropriate and effective drugs were duly prescribed. Within a few hours, the pains were gone and presumably the healing began. A week later when the prescriptions ran out, the pains didn't return.

On Tuesday morning, Luther and Laura headed for South Dakota on a church-related mission trip. We had dinner that night with Linda and Brian, and the next morning hooked up and headed about 125 miles east to the 1000 Trails Resort at Wilmington OH (18), where we checked in for a three-week stay. While essentially killing time until Al's family reunion in Michigan over the July 4th weekend, we managed to see a few interesting sights (or sites, depending).



In two previous visits to this area, we'd always gone to the excellent US Air Force Museum in Dayton OH. This trip we determined to broaden our scope a little. Dayton is probably best known as the town where Wilbur and Orville Wright developed the first powered airplane. They first flew it in Dec. 1903 at Kitty Hawk NC, where they had a suitable slope and enough headwinds to actually get into the air. Back in Dayton, they figured out that a catapult would give them enough momentum to launch in Ohio, and most of the subsequent flights and improvements were done in the Dayton area.

The National Park Service operates two information centers about the Wrights, plus has recreated their cycle shop. We vastly underestimated the time needed to see all the Wright Bros sites, but we did tour the cycle shop and the main information center. Among other things, we learned that it was older brother Wilbur who first got the flying bug, and convinced his brother to join in his quest. We learned that neither of the brothers ever received high school diplomas. We learned that Dayton itself was a hotbed of inventors and inventions in the late 1800's - at one point Dayton had more US patents per capita than any other US city. The brothers had already invented and patented a paper folding machine for their print shop, and they had also patented improvements to bicycle braking systems. Other folks in Dayton are credited with inventing the cash register and an "improved yo-yo", among other things.

The Wright Bros Information Center also houses a fascinating parachute museum. Once the Wrights were showing off their airplanes, it became evident that the existing parachutes developed for hot air balloons didn't cut it for airplanes. Chutes for balloons were tethered to the balloon - you jump out, the tether opens the chute, and down you float. Tethered chutes tended to get all tangled up in the plane's rigging when jumping out,  After the first world war, the US Air Corps, based in Dayton, began exploring ways to resolve that problem. The result was the free-fall parachute, where the wearer exits the aircraft and pulls his/her own rip cord. All of that and more is documented in the American Parachute Museum.

Another day, we drove about 60 miles northeast to Columbus OH, where the Ohio State University campus is home to the Billy Ireland Museum of Cartoon Art. It's the repository of over 400,000 cartoons, most of them original art. We went because this summer, they've mounted two special shows - one on the Calvin & Hobbes strips created by Bill Waterston (who donated all of the C&H originals to the museum) and another on the work of Richard Thompson, best known to us as the creator of the strip "Cul-de-Sac". Why at OSU, you may ask? Well, Milton Caniff, a OSU graduate who went on to create and draw both the "Terry and the Pirates" and "Steve Canyon" strips in the 30s, 40's and 50s, donated his life's work to OSU, and the museum was created to house it. And then others did the same.

Since, the museum was renamed in honor of Billy Ireland, who spent his entire cartooning career as Editorial Cartoonist for the Columbus Dispatch newspaper. Among other things, the museum was showing the originals of the first two Dick Tracy comic strips and a copy of the British humor magazine "Punch" which includes what is generally believed to be the very first cartoon ever published, back in the 1840s. Only a fraction of the museum's collection can be displayed at any one time, so return visits will probably be in order.

Our surprise find was just about 10 miles from the RV park - Fort Ancient State Park. It was Ohio's first state park, established to preserve and protect what is the largest concentration of pre-historic Indian Mounds in North America. Starting about 500bc, Native Americans in the area that is now Ohio, Indiana and Illinois developed what is today called the "Mound Culture". Fort Ancient has over 3 linear miles of these mounds. Some were built as trash heaps, some had ceremonial functions, others had purposes so far unknown. Unlike in the American Southwest where archeologists have remnants of the pueblo cultures to ask about what found items were used for, the natives in Ohio, at least, were completely removed by the British and later Americans. There's nobody left to ask about those old traditions and legends. The Fort Ancient museum therefore tells what can be inferred from relics found in and around mounds.

It also tells the disturbing story of how the British first started trying to free the new "Western Territories" of those pesky natives. The "civilized" Brits figured out that lots of natives were dying from smallpox, for which they had no natural immunity. So the Brits started a program of "seeding" smallpox infections into the native settlements. The result was that upwards of 75% died. Made the following military actions so much easier. When the Americans won the War of Independence, they continued trying to get rid of the natives, ultimately rounding up those still alive after military incursions and loading them onto steamboats and hauling them off to newly established reservations in what is now Kansas. Surely, nobody would ever find a use for Kansas. Let the Indians have it. We all know how that worked out.

There was an ongoing archeological dig in progress when we visited, and we were invited to come watch. And then we got to actually go into the dig itself. Seems this site was first discovered in 2002 when a survey for a new road revealed lots of interesting things under what had previously been thought to be just a flat, empty field. What they found were the remains of what they think was a small village. No mound marked it. In fact, there's strong evidence that when the settlement was finally abandoned in the 1500s, the residents took great pains to bury it - in some places, covering things with limestone slabs apparently cut for the purpose. They've been digging now for 12 years, and will keep it up until they think they've found it all. And maybe even figure out what is it that they've found.

While in Indiana we noticed water running down an inside wall of the RV, never a good sign. It was air conditioner runoff, and by tilting the RV slightly, we were able to redirect the water. When we got to Wilmington, we called the only mobile RV service shop we could find, and made an appointment for Thursday afternoon. They finally showed up Saturday afternoon and said they found and resealed the area with the leak. It wasn't until the next rain after we'd left Wilmington that we spotted water running down the inside of the wall. So that story will be continued. Probably won't be able to get it looked at again until we get to Pennsylvania later in July.

Al's plan to lose some weight continued, with a net loss of 20lbs by the end of June. And the weight loss came to a screeching halt when we had a most wonderful dinner. Our last day, Luther called to see if we could get together before we left the area. So on June 30, Luther, Linda and Laura met us for dinner at the Montgomery Inn in Montgomery OH (Brian was in Ireland on a chorale trip). The Montgomery Inn is, according to Luther, a Cincinnati legendary place best known for ribs. So we ordered ribs. Wow. Even without the great company, the meal was outstanding. And after dessert, we all said our goodbyes and headed out in separate directions. It could be a couple of years before we meet up again - Laura graduates in 2016.

Only about 64 pictures in our slide show this time. Check them out here.

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