Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Home Ain't What It Used To Be

We spent five days in Ohio visiting with Re's parents and extended family, servicing the bikes, visiting old haunts, and...eating (of course). Re's parents have a nice home on a great piece of property. They live on approximately 100 acres of woodlands about 30 miles north of Youngstown. Her father recently purchased a small pontoon boat powered by an electric motor to make getting around their 10 acre lake easier. After a good night's sleep, we spent Tuesday silently gliding around the lake, doing a little fishing, and generally recovering from the previous day's ride. Wednesday we borrowed a car and went out to pick up a few last-minute supplies and to tour some of our old stomping grounds. 

Both Re and I grew up in northeast Ohio but left for the greener pastures of North Carolina in 1988. The area never really recovered from the loss of all the steel mills in the early 1980s, and it looks more grim each time we visit. With every passing year we see more peeling paint and rusty cars, more shuttered storefronts and more empty lots where homes used to stand. We headed to Hubbard, Ohio for our still favorite pizza at Pizza Works (which is still as delicious as we remember). After lunch, we drove past my family's last home in Ohio and were sad to see the roof adorned with blue tarps. On our last visit, we discovered the now empty yard where Re's childhood home used to be. It may have been a reflection of the gray and rainy days that made up our visit to the region, but a majority of the people seemed equally gloomy. We finished the day with a trip to one of our favorite Italian restaurants for waaaayyy too much delicious pasta, bread, and salad. 

5600 miles, I think we got our money's worth
We spent the first half of Thursday doing bike maintenance. We installed a new rear tire on Re's bike, removed my rear tire (in preparation for a replacement spoke), adjusted the valves and changed the oil in both bikes. Later in the afternoon, the sun made a brief appearance, so we grabbed our binoculars and fired up the boat for a bird-watching cruise. Friday we headed into town to pick up groceries for my belated birthday dinner. We also took the opportunity to stop for lunch at the Sharon Hotdog Shop. I have no idea how long this place has been in business, but it's an institution for the local lunch crowd. It's a great little place where the waitresses not only know the regulars by name, but also know their customers' usual orders. I had the gyro lunch special, and Re had beer-battered fish, and both were delicious. While we sat at the lunch counter, we eavesdropped on the conversations going on around us. Most seemed to revolve around the lack of work, people's chronic under-employment, and families leaving the area. As we got in the car we noted all the empty storefronts around the restaurant and hope it will still be there the next time we're in town. 

Hmm, something doesn't look right here...
Back at home, Re started working on dinner while I anxiously waited for the UPS man to arrive with my spokes. Chris at Ooty'sScooters came through for us big time. When Alliance Powersports was unable to get me the spokes in time, Chris tripsavingly stepped in and shipped us four spokes gratis. A very big thanks to Chris- without his generosity, we would be headed to Africa with an empty hole where my spoke should be! After the UPS man arrived, we installed the replacement spoke, put on the new rear tire, and began to install the rear wheel. As we fitted the rear wheel to the bike, a nut fell out and onto the floor. “Where the hell did that come from?” Further examination showed that, of the four bolts holding the rear sprocket to the drive hub, one was slightly loose, two were very loose, and the nut on the floor belonged to the last one. We disassembled the rear hub, tightened all the bolts, and put it all back together. After reinstalling the rear tire, the bikes were pronounced Africa ready (I really hope). We finished the day with a delicious dinner of roast chicken, roasted potatoes, stuffing, and mashed carrots and turnips, and finished it off with a Blizzard from the DQ. Saturday we met several members of Re's extended family for lunch and spent the afternoon catching up on life and talking about our travel plans. It was nice to see everyone who could make it. We spent the remainder of the evening packing for our ride to Toronto.

No comments:

Post a Comment