Motorcycling on a beautiful November day

“The weather looks good. So are we on?”

“Yes. I’ll meet you in Brookville about noon. We’ll find some lunch and enjoy a ride.”

“See you then.”

And with that brief conversation with my brother, Brian, the meet-up and motorcycling adventure was about to begin. Well, what’s an adventure? Any successful ride that ends safely back at home can be an adventure.

Although I have been living in the Cincinnati, Ohio, area for about five years, my first encounter with riding in southeastern Indiana came six years ago when I received my first assignment writing a feature tour article for RoadRunner magazine. The article was published almost a year later.

How does one describe the joy of motorcycling while riding such joyous roads? My route to Brookville? Avoid the interstates. Take the back roads through the countryside, and so it was as I motored west on Ohio SR 129 through Hamilton and the rural area of southwestern Ohio until I reached the Ohio-Indiana state line at a merging of routes at Scipio. On 129, you can’t see the historical buildings of this hamlet. They are better seen on SR 126, and when 129 and 126 meet at the line, you are now on Indiana SR 252 and diving deeper into the hills and curves made by glaciers millions of years ago forming the valleys and tributaries on either side of the Whitewater River.

About 18 miles from the state line, I have scooted through the hills and down into Brookville. As I cross the bridge over the tail waters from Brookville Lake, I quickly look up and down stream. Fly fishers are in the water pursuing the elusive brown trout that populate the waters. Brian claims this stretch of water is the best trout fishing in Indiana.

I am early. Brian will not be here for maybe 30 minutes, so I decide to scout out a place to eat. Apparently he did not like the biker bar where we ate some time ago, so we needed to find a new restaurant or sandwich shop. First south on US 52, Main Street, and then north. I spy a couple of places but decide to ride west on US 52 to meet him on the highway. Nearly eight miles away, and at the historical village of Metamora, we pass each other. Turning around quickly, we pull over and decide to eat there in Metamora at the Hearth Stone Restaurant.

After lunch, and a good one at that, Brian decides he needs to return home for other scheduled activities. I scan the map and decide to follow Brian west on US 52 to Indiana SR 121 and north to Connersville. On the map, it’s just a line on paper, but as I approached the junction, and waved goodbye to my brother who continued on US 52, I realized this road was one I traveled in that first RoadRunner article. It is far from a straight road. Identified as the Whitewater Canal Scenic Road, it twists and turns along the edge of the hillsides through several small towns. Pushing north, I turn east on SR 44 at Connersville and turn towards home—I have reached the halfway mark on this ride.

The ride towards home is uneventful, and yet wonderful. SR 44, east to the state line where it becomes Ohio SR 725, is rural. Farmers are in the field taking in the last of the corn with those giant harvesters. Tractors with huge dually wheels pull the grain trailers to the side of the road and await the trucks to take the grain to the elevators. Yes, autumn is in the air, still, in November.

At Germantown, I turn south to catch SR 123 which will angle southeast through Carlisle, Franklin, the crossroads known as Red Lion, to Lebanon and then south on SR 48 to home—about 150 miles of joy.

These are some of my favorite roads—the best two-lane highways, blue highways as William Least Heat Moon would call them. These roads are not for making time. If you want speedy travels, get on the interstate. If you want to see the small towns, white-steeple chapels on the hillside, farmers working the fields, and neighbors enjoying the day outside, then the back roads are for you, for they are a joy to motorcycle.

See you on the highway.

Brent

Taking time for renewal

Caesar Creek Reservoir, Waynesville, OH

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Inspired by an old friend from Granger, IN,
I wandered the back roads to Caesar Creek Reservoir
where I took time to reflect and meditate.

The world is spinning too fast.
Not physically, but the speed at which information
is flowing through the vast number of outlets.

Social media is anything but social.
Cable has too many channels, many not worth watching.
The global news says we’re on the precipice of economic tragedy.

What I need, what the world needs, is a little time out.
Disconnect for a few minutes.
Find your true self and proceed from there.

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See you on the highway.

Brent

These ladies know how to keep cool with a pool party

It’s the July 4th weekend, and the weather is hot and steamy. The community swimming pools are crowded, boats are out on the rivers and lakes. Everyone is enjoying the recreation and leisure activities for the holidays. Everyone is trying to stay cool.

Even though these ladies don’t know or give a darn about a man-made holiday, they do know how to keep cool in their own version of a pool party.

See you on the highway.

Brent

Clover Cemetery on SR 133

I have passed this place on several occasions but have never noticed the sign in front of the Clover Cemetery on Ohio SR 133, north of Bethel. It caught my eye and haunted me to turn around and stop.

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Civil War Medal of Honor recipient John H. Wageman, of Clermont County is buried in the Clover Cemetery. I searched for his grave, but could not find it. Many markers are not legible due to weathering. I may have stood at or walked past his final resting spot without knowing it.

The US Military keeps a record of all recipients. Here is Wageman’s:

WAGEMAN, JOHN H.

Rank and organization: Private, Company I, 60th Ohio Infantry. Place and date: At Petersburg, Va., 17 June 1864. Entered service at: Amelia, Ohio. Birth: Clermont County, Ohio. Date of issue: 27 July 1896. Citation: Remained with the command after being severely wounded until he had fired all the cartridges in his possession, when he had to be carried from the field.

http://www.history.army.mil/html/moh/civwarmz.html

It must have been quite a battle on the field, and later in the halls of Congress, for according to this record, it took 32 years for John H. Wageman of Clermont County to receive his Congressional Medal of Honor. R.I.P. Private Wageman.

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See you on the highway.

Brent

Touring aviation history with a passport

Dayton-Aero-NHS-33I knew the National Historic Site was there, but I had never visited. And, I can’t explain why. But, with a day available for motorcycling, I decided it was time. Armed with my National Parks Passport, I headed to Dayton, Ohio, to the Wright Brothers Visitor’s Center to see where aviation as we know it all started.

Officially, it is the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center, just one of five sites in the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historic Park. That’s how it is listed in the Passport and accompanying map of all parks and historic sites.

Most people know about Orville and Wilbur Wright and their efforts towards the first powered flight at Kitty Hawk in North Carolina. The Dunbar of the interpretive center is Paul Laurence Dunbar, an African American writer and poet known to the Wright Brothers. Dunbar and Orville Wright were in the same graduating class of Dayton Central High School, 1891, and the Wright Brothers published Dunbar’s newspaper in their print shop.

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The complex is in the historic section of Dayton on 3rd Street at South Williams. A 30-minute film provides a lot of information as a docu-drama detailing the efforts to build an airplane and then learn how to fly it.

The Wright Brothers operated several businesses, including a printing business and the bicycle shop. A park ranger said the restored Wright Cycle Co. building is the actual location and building number four of five locations they occupied. The Wright family home was just down the street on South Williams. The ranger also verified that the Wright family home and bicycle shop #5 are at the Greenfield Village, Henry Ford Museum in Michigan. Ford bought the buildings and moved them to his museum for preservation.

After touring the bicycle shop, I motorcycled to the Wright Brothers National Memorial near the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Also at the site is the Huffman Prairie interpretive site. The Wrights perfected their airplane using Huffman Prairie as their test site, and hence, it is officially the first airport.

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It was a great day for motorcycling. Get your own NPS Passport and start planning your adventures and destinations. Passports can be ordered online, or you can buy one at the many National Parks and get it stamped while you’re there.

See you on the highway.

Brent