Tarmac ribbons criss-crossing the landscape, dusty back roads twisting between the cool shadows of ancient pines, and less traveled pathways connecting present to past, all I wander, seeking, seeing, with my keyboard and camera capturing scenes and stories to share with you.

Now in its seventh year, this venue has become an important part of my life, a place where I can express my thoughts and feelings about the things I see and do, hoping the process brings me a bit closer to friends and family who enjoy sharing my sometimes chaotic and often nonlinear observations and ideas. A journal, I suppose, but one with which I find pleasure in thinking others are alongside me on my journey.

Comments, thoughts, or just a friendly chat, use the response box below or email me at patrickgroleau@gmail.com.

May 29, 2013

OHIO TO MAINE ON TWO WHEELS - DAY 1

... i'm headed back to maine ... staying at a howard johnson's in new stanton, pennsylvania, tonight ... not very fancy, but the toilet works, sheets're clean, and, most important, tax included it's less than $50 a night ... my kind of motel ...

... it was very windy driving across ohio and west virginia, which was good since at times the temperature was above 90°f ... i lined the underside of my motorcycle's seat with heavy-duty aluminum foil, that and the padding i added seem to have helped quite a bit to keep my butt from cooking ... no more complaining, however, not after i met a canadian couple at the rest stop on i70 ... they were driving "fully accessorized" harley-davidsons, more chrome trim than a 1950's cadillac and giant full-height wind fairings ... both of them were cooked, i mean beet-red flamb√©ed and sizzle-fried well-done ... they looked like they'd been working loading coal into a steam boiler ... ouch ... anyhow, i've decided that i like my motorcycle ...

... my first stop was a bridge in zanesville, one i've been wanting to cross ever since years ago i learned about it in an "architectural oddities" book ... doesn't look all that different, does it ...

   

... here's another shot, taken from a spot mid-river i managed to get to by jumping across some stones and a discarded automobile tire ... still, i'm sure you're remarking, it doesn't look all that impressive ...
   

... from the heights above the city, you might be starting to get an idea of the odd nature of this very unusual bridge ...
   

...  here's a zoomed in shot so you can get a closer look ... this is the the only bridge in the world you can "cross while staying on the same side of the river" (that's what is proclaimed, but i can't figure it that way) ...
   

... it's the famous zanesville "y-bridge" ...
   
 


... all the counties i've visited in ohio have really neat courthouses, and zanesville's was no exception ...
   


... this mystified me a bit ... i mean, i can understand wanting to keep it safe and secure, but does the owner drive it up the stairs to park it ...
   

... one of the most impressive things i've come across in my travels ... the stairs are part of the little park that overlooks zanesville, and i've a feeling that the rocks were the fix for a bit of a soil erosion problem ... but the slide, how cool is that ... it appears to be custom made, not "store bought" ... i'll bet the city workers who installed it probably invested a day's work in a machine shop and no more than a few hours setting it in place, and i'm sure the tin didn't cost all that much ... what a fabulous idea ... while i was packing up my camera and getting ready to leave a couple of mothers came over with their children and they all started making runs down slide ... again, what an absolutely fabulous idea ... (hmmmmm, in waterville, the old "kentucky fried chicken" sleddin' hill in the south end ... there's a thought) ...
   

... the last of my ohio courthouses, this one is in st. clairsville only a few miles from the west virginia border ...
   

... the suspension bridge in wheeling, west virginia ... it was built in 1849, then rebuilt after a windstorm destroyed the the deck of the bridge in 1854* ... i think it is one of the most beautiful suspension bridges in the world, even if, as you can see from the uplift of the roadbed on the eastern side, it is a bit asymmetrical ... it is a very light structure, with an open deck, and only cars are allowed to cross ... even  so there are signs warning drivers to "keep 50 foot spacing while crossing" ... on a motorcycle, of course, the open steel deck is a very slippery ride ...
   

... *the contemporary newspaper accounts of the bridge's structural failure are remarkably similar to what happened to the tocoma narrows bridge in 1940 ... had the designers read these stories they most likely would have known they needed to plan reinforcements for aerodynamic lifting movements of the lightly constructed deck that ended up crashing into the river ... that's one of the reasons the wheeling bridge has an open deck, to keep wind from turning the span into a giant wing ...

... those of you who are keen to such details, you can see washington roebling's hand in the cable stays that were added to the bridge in the 1860s (go back a few entries to his father's bridge in cincinnati) ...
   

... while enjoying the view i met a nice man who as an engineer knew all sorts of interesting things about bridges ... we talked about how suspension bridges were perhaps the purest of all architectural forms, combining elements of the mathematical, geometric and esthetic sublimes ... he made some rather humorous comments about the new east huntington cable-stayed bridge, to which i replied, "yea, they somehow talked maine into putting one of those things up in bucksport" ...

... a nice ride, today, even if it was hot and windy ... tomorrow i'm off to visit a very special place ...