I grew up in a family that was accustomed to taking spontaneous trips. I can remember one Friday morning in the summer of 1973, when my grandparents joined our family for breakfast and someone mentioned that they would love to go to Holland Michigan. Within 30 minutes, small bags were packed, snacks and food gathered, the car loaded and the entire family settled in for a weekend trip to Holland Michigan.
All through college, and long into my adult life, I still maintained this practice of spontaneity. Fortunately, my college friends were always game, as was my friend, Susan Cook, who actually urged me to be more spontaneous with road trips.
One early evening in June 2000, I was eating supper with several teacher friends and Debbie McCutcheon. After the waiter took our order I announced to the group that I was going to travel to the Outer Banks for a quick trip. The first question was, “when?” I smiled and explained that I would be taking off the minute I finished supper and paid my bill.
And travel to the Outer Banks I did! It was a three-day trip, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Ah! Those days before sons and dogs.
My sons quickly became use to this spontaneity, and adapted. In fact, it was nothing but a great adventure.
This morning, I quickly embarked on a little trip about 45 minutes southeast of Kettering. For quite a while I’ve wanted to visit the old Native American earth works and burial mounds located in Fort Ancient near Lebanon Ohio. For some reason, the trip ended up being one that bombed in interest and enthusiasm. I found the museum to be cumbersome with the tons and tons of placards – way too much reading for me in a museum. I only settled down to watch one of the videos so the sweet ladies in admissions wouldn’t wonder why I sped through the museum in record time.
I returned home and ended up taking a two hour nap. While napping, tremendous thunderstorms tore through the Miami Valley, and the one glimpse of Shroyer Road looked like a raging river. Upon waking, my spontaneous wanderlust was still kicking around. Within seconds I knew exactly what I wanted to do.
At 4:45 PM, after feeding The Kids, I loaded Flyer into the van, and we were headed down I–75 toward Okeana, Ohio. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Okeana,_Ohio. Okeana is located in southwestern Butler County, just a few miles from the Indiana State line. I’ve visited here several times before, and love traveling through the rolling hills of southern Ohio, which is filled with some of the most beautiful scenery.
In the early 1800s, my Jolliffe ancestors moved from the Kanawah Valley of what is now Charleston West Virginia to Southestern Butler County in Ohio. My fourth great grandparents are buried in George Cemetery just outside of Okeana. I’ve been to the grave-sites of Thomas and Jemima Jolliffe before, but for some reason cannot locate my photographs of the quickly fading information on the tombstones. Their son, my third great-grandfather, moved to Decatur County, Indiana in the 1840s. Ironically, his farm was very near a neighboring farm that belonged to my mother’s side of the family. Quite possibly, this 3rd great-grandfather on the Jolliff side knew my 3rd great-grandmother, Mary Jane Cline, on my Barmes side.
Flyer and I explored the burial hill of George Cemetary, and sadly, many of the grave stones have lost their engravings, entirely. I am sure that being located on a high, round hill with full exposure to the elements has played its toll. I could no longer identify the stones for my 4th great-grandparents. I kind of felt like the character from book/stage/screen, Mary Lenox, in THE SECRET GARDEN when she tells Dickon, “The garden is dead.” At least I know they rest there.
By 6:30 PM, the unpleasant lady on my iPhone’s GPS was guiding me toward Oxford, Ohio, and the gorgeous campus of Miami University. Flyer and I walked the formal gardens before turning back toward Kettering.
As we neared Austin Pike exit, I noticed a beautiful sunset. There are people who are storm chasers. I am a sunset chaser. I turned off Austin Pike and followed the orange rays into the country where I quickly snapped some shots.
This was an incredibly enjoyable day. No business attended, no house or yard work (tomorrow, unfortunately). Just wonderful scenery, a touch to the past with my ancestors, a gorgeous college campus, spending time with my favorite girl (Flyer), and a sunset that capped off this refreshing day!
And that was MY DAY!