Sunday, June 14, 2009

National Park stamping after Founders Feast

Sunday morning...but not too early....Mike and I checked out, packed our bikes and headed north toward Ohio to collect some national park stamps.

First on my list of stops was Howard Taft home in Cincinnati, so I led the way off the interstate and followed GPS Jill's directions onto local streets. I think she was lost. She sent me up a hill, then had me turn left, go one block, then turn right and continue to the top of the hill. At the stop sign, the directions stopped coming and I had no idea where I was. I had scouted this using Google maps (satellite view) but that was little help as I sat here in the midst of an old residential area of the city. There seemed no hope of finding it since there weren't any brown signs, either.


Back onto the interstate, we continued on to Dayton where we had better luck finding what we were after.

Huffman Prairie Field is the site of the Wright brothers' refinements to their glider that first saw "air" at Kitty Hawk, or today, Kill Devil Hill. This site is on what is now Wright-Patterson Air Force Base where flight research continues today.

We talked to the park ranger here, a retired Air Force officer, and he shared a wealth of information about the field, about the history of Wright field, and how the name Patterson came to be added to the name of this base. He sent us on our way, but not before making book recommendations and Mike and I each bought books to bring home with us. The ranger sent us on surface streets over to the other visitor center, which took us past the enormous Air Force museum. Definitely worth a return trip some day.

We skipped the movie at Huffman, choosing to see the same movie at the visitor center at the Bicycle Shop site on 3rd and Williams Streets. So much to see and so little time to see it all!! But it was really well done, as was the movie about the Wright Brothers' development of motorized flight.
The visitor center at the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center is nearly new, and is attached to the old Hoover block of historic buildings and the interior is restored to resemble a turn-of-the-century corner grocer's.
The old original cycle shop sits right behind the visitor center, on Williams Street, looking just as it did when Wilbur and Orville worked in the shop, designing and selling bicycles, making a successful business on the wave of popularity of these relatively new modes of transportation.

After spending a little time walking through the exhibits and watching the excellent movie, we got ready to depart and get on the road south toward Kentucky.

As we were leaving Dayton, thick black clouds were beginning to form all around us and we flirted with rain until we reached Cincinnati, where it finally caught up with us. And how!! Visibility was nearly zero and the water was rapidly accumulating on the roadway. Traffic slowed to a crawl as we crossed the bridge and up the bluffs that overlook the city from the south.

Our destination for the night would be Lexington KY where I had a "bead" on a Best Western with a Cracker Barrel right across the street. It proved to be an excellent hotel, with large new rooms, comfortable beds and...can't beat Cracker Barrel for dinner!
Tomorrow, we'll head for Memphis and spend the evening with Mike's mom before getting back on the road the next day and riding straight home to Houston.

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