We spent the first half of July in the top two corners of Ohio—the northeast where I was born and raised and the northwest where my adult life began.
Beginning # 1
My aunt and uncle kindly let us “moochdock” at their home near Warren/Cortland for several days. We visited with them and my cousins, celebrating Independence Day in their backyard as well as my cousin’s son’s 13th birthday, toured the neighborhoods where I lived, and drove by the places I went to school and worked. Carl played golf with my uncle and cousins. He beat my cousin’s 13-year-old son by one stroke on one day and my cousin’s 10-year-old son by five strokes on another day, making for some laughter and great family stories to share down the road. We ate Sunrise Inn pizza—a long-time family favorite from when my parents were young. And we had dinner and a nice visit with one of my high school friends and her husband, Brenda and Jeff.
I was born and raised near Warren, a small [what-used-to-be-thriving] city in northeast Ohio, going to high school in Cortland. But the area is frozen in time, giving me a sense of melancholy. Very little has changed since I left nearly 40 years ago, except for the automotive industry vacating the area. Now, although beautiful with Mosquito Lake attracting boaters, fishermen, and campers, it is depressed and declining. I knew when I moved away to attend college that I would not be moving back. It just seemed to no longer be a good fit for me.
Beginning # 2
A 3-hour drive from my hometown, Bowling Green State University (https://www.bgsu.edu/) is where my adult life began. Although I struggled with homesickness the first few months, I finally found my footing with college life, new friends, and a campus job. I haven’t visited the area since I graduated, about 35 years ago, but it was so much fun to see what was still there, what has changed, and what I could remember.
We visited the campus, which was void of students and staff because of the COVID pandemic, and I pointed out my old dorm, buildings where I took classes, and Jerome Library where I worked while attending.
One of the ladies I used to work with, Sara Bushong, is now the Dean of the library. She remembers me because I was one of the people she worked with when she first started working at BGSU. Since the library was closed due to the pandemic, she met us and let us in to the library so I could show Carl the section where I used to work, the Curriculum Resource Center. It is still on the second floor, although it has expanded a little. This was, by far, one of my most favorite jobs ever.
We also found my first apartment, surprisingly still standing (it seemed old way back then!), but it appears to now be housing for lower-income “townies.” Back in the day, it was mostly college students. We found the house I lived in my senior year—a studio apartment on the third floor (attic), with a day care still on the first floor.
Brathaus, a dive bar where I spent most Friday and Saturday nights for over three years, is still standing and open (although it was closed while we were there because of the pandemic). We were sure to order Pisanello’s Pizza (https://bgpisanellos.com/), which was delicious. It has been a staple in Bowling Green since the 60s. I had a lot of this pizza in college, but it was probably because I had a crush on the delivery guy…
While in college, with no car, I pretty much stayed within a few blocks of the campus. So it was fun coming back, camping at the Wood County Fairgrounds (https://www.woodcounty-fair.com/), and seeing other parts of Bowling Green. It is a bustling college town that has grown over the years, and it is slap dab in the middle of flat—and I meant FLAT—farming community. In fact, while there, we had the transmission in our pickup truck rebuilt (subject of a future blog) in Defiance, Ohio. The shop was a 50-minute drive, all on back roads passing corn field after corn field after corn field. You get the picture.
Bowling Green is where I started discovering who I was and living according to what was right for me. This is where I had my first real job where I felt like I was doing something worthwhile. And this is where I lived on my own for the first time and was in charge of my own self.
I’m glad we had a chance to visit Bowling Green. It brought back a lot of fond memories and some wistful feelings of wanting a re-do.
A Respite Between Beginnings
After leaving my uncle’s house and before driving to Bowling Green, We stayed at Kenisee Lake RV Campground (https://www.rvonthego.com/ohio/kenisee-lakes-rv-campground/?utm_source=yext&utm_medium=directory&utm_campaign=Yext%20Directory%20Listing) in Jefferson, Ohio, about one hour north of Warren and about 20 minutes south of Lake Erie. We visited a few covered bridges (Ohio has 125), including the longest and shortest in the U.S. We drove along and kayaked in Lake Erie, and we visited the Ashtabula Elks Lodge and enjoyed a beer with a few of its members.
The northeastern region of Ohio also has some wineries and breweries, but due to pandemic restrictions and the heat wave Ohio was experiencing while we were there (a couple of weeks of 90+ degree days) made it difficult to visit any of them.
The campground was large, the camping spots were comfortable sizes, we had full hook-ups which was important to run our AC during the heat wave, the pool was open (with strict limits to how many could be in it—10), and so was the laundry room ($1.75 to wash, $1.25 to dry, but check your clothes because the dryer runs much longer than it needs to). The restrooms and showers were well maintained. It is a part of the Thousand Trails system and has friendly staff. We would stay there again if every in the area.
It was wonderful to spend quality time with family we don’t see very often, and I really enjoyed our visit to BGSU. One other area in Ohio we’d like to visit at a future time is Jackson Center—the mothership (factory) of Airstream. Once we do that, our visit to Ohio will be complete and checked off our list.[Production notes: We took over 337 pictures while in Ohio, and I could write a much longer blog! What we share are the top highlights out of many others!]