Lockdown Vacation–Our Trip Back Home

Driving back was like driving through a scene from “The Omega Man” played out in small towns across Ohio.

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By Tim Clark

Our lockdown “vacation” over, we drove home. We decided to take the road less traveled. Two-lane highway through rolling farmland.

Things are starting to turn green, the flowers were starting to blossom, calves were frolicking in the field, chasing each other around, a game of bovine tag. You never really think about baby cows playing until you see it, and no matter how many times I’ve seen it I’m always surprised.

There is something beautiful about cultivation. Bands of various shades of green laid in orderly rows across the rolling hills. Of course, it isn’t just laid down, it takes a lot of work, and in some cases a partnership with animals.

We stopped to watch a man plow a field using a team of horses. He sat rock solid on a small seat, bouncing over the broken land. He looked stern, serious, taciturn, he might have been chiseled from one of the enormous glacial rocks scattered across the area. When he looked over and saw us watching he smiled and waved.

Driving back was like driving through a scene from The Omega Man played out in small towns across Ohio. Deserted streets, empty parking lots, closed businesses greeted us everywhere. We stopped in a town that was mentioned prominently on Trip Advisor as a place to visit, just to stretch our legs.

Everyplace was closed except the lumber yard/hardware store. A woman driving a small horse-drawn carriage passed and stopped in the parking lot. She tied her horse to a post and retrieved an infant safety carrier from the passenger seat and walked inside.

We walked over, grateful for something living, and took a few pictures of the horse and the hitching post. Every business in the town had a hitching post. They were as prominent as the little white notices about being closed because of COVID-19.

A man came out of the store and asked if we were interested in photo opportunities. He told us about a scenic road with plenty of opportunities for pictures. He talked about the Amish and warned us about treating them with respect; some of them don’t mind having their picture taken, but it was polite to ask. He owned a small store a couple of blocks away.

He told us about the town when it wasn’t closed for business. About the stores and the owners, the restaurants, and the best things to eat at each one.

He talked for a long time. His store being closed was obviously very hard for him. He just wanted to talk. It was hard to pull ourselves away. One sentence led to another. Entire paragraphs spilled from him, he talked about his time in the Air Force when he was stationed in Florida. He told us about his triple bypass surgery. We heard about the museum they were converting into a motel. There was more than we could possibly remember. More than anything we felt sorry for him. Tourist season should be ramping up, the streets should be starting to fill, but it was a ghost town. And, you could tell it was really twisting him into odd little knots.

Finally, we said our farewells and made our way back to our car. It was an odd drive home, one we never want to repeat. If this is ever over we are going to visit the man from the shop.

We have a bond, we were all lost and probably meant to find each other.

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