Saturday, April 1, 2017

Hanging with Bigfoot, and Other Amish Tales

Back home from a trip to the Ohio Amish country with Ms. Brugger, where we went for a few days to spend time with her parents, who enjoy visiting that area. I don't usually hear things like, "I'd like to visit Ohio" or even "Ohio doesn't suck," but I gotta tell you, in central Ohio, we found abundant beautiful scenery, with extensive flatlands that ended abruptly at dark, looming hills, laced with shadowy, winding country roads; numerous quaint, picturesque communities; and plenty of colorful characters, even though they dressed in black. Not to mention Bigfoot. Yes, he was there! Note the photo to the left. I can't say I had ever seriously considered going to visit Amish country, but when the Bruggers invited us to meet them there for a few days, taking them up on it seemed just the ticket.

We headed out at the ass-crack of dawn on Wednesday morning, bound for Zinck's Inn in Berlin, Ohio, where we planned to meet the Bruggers. Things started on a rather ominous note because, not long after we hit the interstate, we found ourselves behind a big old logging truck, whose trailer began swaying perilously in the wind, so that scenes from Final Destination 2 came flying fast and furious. It was quite the relief when we put some distance between that beast and us, and if it took out a slew of obnoxious young adults somewhere on the road, we were not around to bear witness. Or participate.
Oh, shit.
The Inn provided comfortable lodgings, very convenient to the central business district and other places of interest to antique treasure hunters, which comprised the majority of our party. I am hardly what one could call an aficionado of antiques, though I do rather enjoy wandering through antique shops and finding intriguing items from days of yore. And while this was not primarily a geocaching trip, you can bet I set my sights on all kinds of caches, which often kept me occupied during our antiquing trips. Oh, yes — there were a handful of wineries in the area, a couple of which we visited and enjoyed, particularly Silver Moon winery, near Dover.
Don't step too far backward, Ms. B!
Now, even though Ms. Brugger is anything but an avid geocacher, she does appreciate the unusual destinations to which geocaching often takes us. In this area of Ohio, oh, my lord, there are dead people everywhere, going back years and years, even centuries, and thus there are graveyards scattered all over the landscape, and at many of them, yes, caches to hunt. Geographically, this region is not all that far from the setting of the original Night of the Living Dead, so at most of the graveyards we visited, the landscapes appeared eerily (and agreeably) familiar. I didn't exactly see any walking dead at close range, but at one old church graveyard we explored this morning, I did notice a strange, shambling zombie wearing fluorescent tennis shoes and a fleece jacket from our workplace in Greensboro. Funny, that.
I had a hard time restraining myself at Lehman's,
so they did it for me.

Yesterday, we took a little road trip up to Kidron, a few miles north of Berlin, which is home to Lehman's Hardware, a huge, damn-near Lowe's-sized installation stocked mostly with old-fashioned hardware implements appropriate to the Amish way of life, not to mention all kinds of just plain cool specialty items (and caches on the premises). I even found a stock of Kickapoo Joy Juice (based on the moonshine in the old "Lil Abner" comics), actually a citrus soda kind of like Mountain Dew, which I enjoyed when I was a little kid. Apparently, it's still being produced.

And yes, there were Amish folks everywhere, their horses and buggies clip-clopping up and down the country roads, the men farming the land everywhere you looked beyond the limits of the little town, and all going about their lives almost as if the myriad tourists around them didn't even exist. In the darker reaches of Holmes and Stark counties where we ventured, I couldn't help but recall T.E.D. Klein's novella, "The Events at Poroth Farm" (and his novel, The Ceremonies, based on that work), which chronicled some frightening goings-on in a quaint, religion-based community — not Amish but similar enough in aspect that comparisons are inevitable. I doubt any such supernatural horrors simmered beneath the surface of mundane life here, but by God, there was Bigfoot, and that simply cannot be denied. Remember the photographic evidence, people!
Sunset over the Old Berlin Cemetery, March 29, 2017
I did find it amusing that, one night, I haphazardly left a copy of Stephen King's Salem's Lot on top of the Bible in our room at the Inn, and the next morning, after breakfast, I discovered that our housekeeper had moved the King novel elsewhere and placed the Bible prominently on a tabletop. Touché.
Ms. B. goes to church.

The only thing that might have spoiled our enjoyment of the trip was a barrage of physical infirmities — primarily age-related — that befell both Kimberly and I, which in some respects left us in less vigorous condition than her parents, which they no doubt found rather amusing. None of it was really funny, but hopefully all temporary, so that the lady and I will both be back to our typical, young-at-heart selves in the nearest of futures, barring trips to see back specialists, X-ray techs, and other related medical personnel. This getting older crap does get in the way of living sometimes, it really does.

The lot of us are safely back to our respective homes, with all kinds of wonderful memories of great company and experiences, and at least one of us twenty-some geocaches richer. I'm thinking a long soak in a hot bath might help relieve some of these blasted old-people pains.

Doncha just hate it when the older generation runs you ragged?

Click on the photos to enlarge.
There's a geocache in that photo.
Old gravestones in a cemetery off the Winklepleck Road
More graves in the cemetery off the Winklepleck Road
Hans is watching you!
A bridge, leading to nowhere, at which I located a nice little cache
Another bridge, leading to not quite nowhere, at which I also located a nice little cache
One of the most common sights on our trip

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