Another Try at the Serpent Mound

  • Post category:Travel

It's two hours out of the way along small highways, heading directly south of Columbus. Despite growing up in Ohio, and coming back to visit every year, I'd never heard of the town of Peebles. That's not as surprising as it might sound--southern Ohio is a different state than northern Ohio, settled by people coming up from the Ohio River, from the South. I was born and raised in Akron, Ohio, part of the industrial northern part of Ohio, filled with people coming in on the railroads on their way to our factories or headed further west. We are different states in all but law. Our destination is the famed…

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An Ancient Circle In Central Ohio

  • Post category:Travel

It doesn't look like much at first but it is astonishing nonetheless. A rampart of earth, grass-covered with trees here and there rises up before you, a gap in the rampart beckoning you in. And you go in, and it's all flat, mown grass inside, with trees. The earthen rampart continues inside you can now see, you are standing at the edge of a large circle that curves left and right away from you. It's twelve hundred feet to the far side. This is one of the Indian mounds of the Hopewell Culture, the phrase seeming to be the anthropologist's equivalent of "we really have no idea who these people…

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A Wrong Turn to the Flight 93 Memorial

  • Post category:Travel

There's something wrong with the Flight 93 Memorial in Pennsylvania. I had taken a wrong turn and was trapped on the wrong highway through the endless forests of Pennsylvania when I passed a brown sign for the memorial. Oh, that's right! I'm near where the plane crashed on 9-11. I'm always on the lookout for those brown signs. No app is as valuable. You approach the building on the edge of the hill on a perfectly straight sidewalk that feels a little like a runway and it leads you to a gap in the high white walls ahead and then to an overlook so you can stand above a field,…

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The Unexpected Goats

  • Post category:Travel

We're in two cars, my daughter's car ahead of me, when they start to hear a noise from the front right wheel area. They walkie-talkie back to us in my FJ. I tell them to pull over at the next exit. The wheel well barrier--what is the word for that part that separates the wheel well from the engine?--was damaged by a prior owner. We tug on it and it is conceivable that the damaged part is being pushed by the wind far enough back to touch the rubber of the tire. We try again. No luck, still the noise. So we stop again and cut off part of the…

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Four Views of Badlands National Park Plus One Surprise

  • Post category:Travel

A quick tour of Badlands National Park is easy, running roughly parallel to I-90 in South Dakota. We started in Wall and headed straight south into the park, then made our way east along the main road, stopping frequently despite our tight schedule.

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Presidents of Rapid City

  • Post category:Travel

Well, twenty-nine of them, at least. This post is from a series of articles chronicling a 2020 cross-country trip I took with my wife and two daughters, from California to Ohio (to visit family) and Pennsylvania (to drop off my oldest daughter at grad school), and then back. We spent over five weeks on the road during the pandemic.

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Meeting Them at Mount Rushmore

  • Post category:Travel

You don’t see them at the mall because you only go to certain malls, if you go to malls at all. You don’t see them at work, if you go to work, because you do a certain kind of work. You don’t see them at the restaurants, at least not sitting down, because you don’t go to those kinds of restaurants. But you do see them at the gas stations, especially on cross-country trips, because gas stations are all the same, even if the people getting the gas are not. It can be a shock, I know. The bikers and the dude who would be a biker except he is…

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The Trump Shop Bus

  • Post category:Travel

He was all but done for the day when we pulled into the gas station just outside of Spearfish, South Dakota, his "Trump Shop" bus all closed up for the night. Written on the bus were the words "not affiliated with the campaign." Some sort of backdoor PAC-based way to fund Trump's re-election? I couldn't figure it out until I googled it later on. There are a number of buses similar to this all over the United States. The buses have all been wrapped in Trump graphics, all selling MAGA hats, Trump shirts, flags, and all the rest. The Trump campaign has been sending cease and desist letters to some…

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What to think and feel about Devils Tower

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When I was twelve I saw Close Encounters of the Third Kind in a theater and I was amazed by the spaceships and by the musical tones and light display at the end. I was amazed as well afterward when I discovered that weird rocky tower where the aliens meet with the humans was a real place. It rises out of the landscape rather suddenly, a nearly thousand-foot column of hardened lava so different from the surrounding sandstone. Its origins are uncertain. Like all famous national parks and monuments it is overwhelmed by tourists. There are two trails circling the tower, the inside one paved the outside one along a…

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Shell’s Secret

  • Post category:Travel

When we came down out of the mountains in July of 2004 we had no real idea of where we were. This was before the iPhone and navigation systems in cars. We were traveling across country, moving from the Washington, D.C. area to California, my wife and our two grade-school-age daughters, and we came into tiny Shell, Wyoming, to stop for snacks and pop, as we still called it then. Though it was over sixteen years ago I still remember Dirty Annie's Country Store and the "singing cowboy" inside. I thought of him as a singing cowboy only because of his outfit--a sky blue western dress shirt and matching pants,…

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