We traveled from Kentucky (Mayesville) to Ohio, aiming for Milford, on Friday, October 11. Though a rather routine 62 mile ride starting out, we found ourselves getting lost more than once, resulting in our encountering several dogs early in the day on Kentucky’s back roads. After Jane got nipped on the hip by one of the dogs, and we didn’t seem to be making much progress reaching our destination, a further study of the map revealed that we could get to Milford much more directly via a different route. Carol was in touch with her son David, and his wife, Gina, who live in Cincinnati (near Milford). While we were planning to stay with them the next night, they insisted that we come directly to their house and stay two nights instead of just one. Their gracious hospitality more than made up for the difficulties we had encountered during the day . . . those rude dogs of Kentucky, the lost time figuring out the map, to say nothing of the unkempt roads we had been on. Alas, the hills of Cincinnati are a force to be reckoned with, to say the least. Most challenging of all was the hill that David and Gina live on . . . WHEW! Something like going up the side of a tree! But as I said, their graciousness more than made up for our wanting to just collapse when we reached their doorstep! Another wonderful part of our visit with them was the box of home-made chocolate caramels, made and individually wrapped by Carol’s daughters and granddaughter. They had arranged to have the package arrive in time for our arrival. A definite picker-upper when we needed a boost on our bikes!
We spent Saturday backtracking (by car), to seek out Underground Railroad sights we hadn’t had time to see, including the home of Rev. John Rankin, an abolitionist who with his wife, situated their house atop a 540 foot hill on the Ohio River. They provided a safe house for hundreds of slaves using lantern signals as boats came up the river. The place is undergoing renovation and interestingly, an underground tunnel has been discovered on the grounds linking the house to another edifice on the grounds. Amazing the efforts the committed abolitionists went to in furthering the freedom of runaway slaves.
On Sunday we were given a gracious send-off (e.g., Gina was up at 5 a. m. preparing a hearty breakfast for us!) As well as their hospitality, we so enjoyed hearing all about Cincinnati from David and Gina; their passion for the city was palpable indeed!
Off on our bicycles on the Little Miami Scenic Trail, a fifty mile paved rail-trail, we made our way to Springboro, where my (Mary Jane’s) cousin Louise and her husband, Mark, reside. A few miles prior to arriving in Springboro we encountered a motorcycle event, “Devil’s Staircase”; I have never seen so many motorcycles assembled at once! (See photos) The occasion was a competition to see who could manage their motorcycles up a very steep (non paved) hill. After lingering to enjoy the energy and ambiance of the motorcycle event, we were in for another treat upon arriving at the home of Louise and Mark . . . they couldn’t have been more gracious. And we were in for another surprise: my daughter Julie had arranged to have a package of homemade “breakfast” cookies (packed with oatmeal, Wheaties, nuts and candied fruits) sent to Louise and Mark for us. Another delicious, nutritious pick-me-up while on the trail (or not!).
We used Monday, the 14th to drive to Cincinnati and see its sights, some non-URR related such as the Cincinnati Reds Museum, and we enjoyed sampling Skyline Chili, (see photo). A big disappointment was that museums (apparently in general) are closed on Mondays in Ohio, so we were unable to get into neither the city’s Underground Railroad Museum, nor Harriet Beecher Stowe’s House, both touted as “must sees”. Nonetheless, we found Springboro to be a wealth of well kept history. In addition to a walking tour of historical homes and edifices, we went through the Wright House, now a bed and breakfast, but formerly a safe house for run away slaves. Wright was a wealthy Quaker and abolitionist, who in constructing his home, had a secret area built in the center of the house enabling runaway slaves to access a ladder via a hidden opening in the upstairs floor when the house was being inspected by authorities for runaway slaves. (Most hiding places were in a pantry, or attached building on the grounds.) Again, we were/are so inspired by the efforts the abolitionists went to in effecting the safe travels of the runaway slaves. As well, the resiliency of the runaways cannot be ignored.
For our send-off from Springboro, Mark was up at 5 a. m. filling our ice chest with ice, and Louise was busy making sure we had lunch ingredients. Certainly the visit with our two families were a highlight of our trip!
We again rejoined the LMST, enjoying the beauty of its its ever changing landscape, including its rolling farmlands, picturesque landscapes, river cliffs and hardwood forests. A delightful ride to be sure!