Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Goodby Lancaster; hello Somerset

I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist.

-- Jack London

The Adventure continues - Getting ‘misplaced’ in

I had printed a map of Lancaster (Ohio) from MapQuest and carefully planned and marked my route to get to Highway 22 for the 18-mile drive to Somerset. So far, so good. Then, following my plan, next thing I knew I was driving in the wrong direction down a narrow two-lane country road! I managed to turn around (not easy) and head back, trying to figure out where I went wrong. After a few such incidents – and 16 miles of driving – I discovered that I was holding my map up-side-down! I guess that is just part of the adventure.

I finally arrived in Somerset from the west and after negotiating the traffic around a huge statue in the middle of the intersection, headed west and saw the two silos of the Young’s farm.

Young’s Century Dairy Farm

Three days became five days on the Young’s Dairy Farm in the town of Somerset, Ohio. This farm is a “Century Farm” because it has been in the same family for more than 100 years.

Young’s Farm is now operated by Gwen and Jim’s son Denny, and it’s a life that requires hard work and long hours. The Young’s adopted daughter, Sandy, lives in the farmhouse and her nephew is a valued farmhand. According to Jim there are about 70 “production” cows – that’s a lot of milking twice a day. Then there are all the calves.

My friends, Gwen and Jim Young, spend their summers here and their winters as camp hosts at various RV parks in the Southwest. I met them when I volunteered at Pancho Villa State Park in southern New Mexico.

I learned that calves are taken from the mother right after birth. They are taken to the “nursery” (indoor stalls with slat-board floors) where they stay until about three months old. At that point they go into their “training” pasture – their first experience walking in a field – where they learn to graze and to stay away from the electric wire fence. This training pasture was practically alongside Jeremiah and when I arrived home one afternoon, eight of these calves had been delivered. They were standing alongside the fence, moo-ing and bawling. By the second day, they had settled down and were grazing.

The RV parking was delightful and each day ended with Happy Hour where we planned the next day’s activities.

Somerset is an historic town first settled by Pennsylvania Germans in the early 1800s. Many original buildings are still in use. Both Gwen and Jim have been town mayors in past years and can identify every building and home by past and present occupants. And I think they know everyone.

Gwen, Sandy and I traipsed around the area, picking strawberries, having a picnic (my first time having a “garlic bologna” sandwich which was delicious), going through the old jail and Jacob Miller’s Tavern that is being restored, shopping at the Saturday farmers’ market, and making a trip to the “big city” of Zanesville.

Picnic in the park with Sandy (left), new friend Rebecca and Gwen.

Historic highlights include

Jacob Miller’s Tavern: a two story log tavern built in 1807 along the Zane’s Trace

Zane’s Trace: Ohio’s first major thoroughfare that was laid out in 1796-97. This frontier road was financed by the U.S. Congress.

This is the birthplace and childhood home of General Philip Sheridan (1831 – 1888). There is a huge statue of Sheridan on his horse where two major roads intersect in the middle of the town, creating traffic circle. General Sheridan was a Union general in the American Civil War.

On to Salem, Ohio

I’m now in Salem, Ohio, to spend two days taking care of motorhome chores. Tomorrow morning I’ll drive 65 miles northeast to visit friends on their produce farm in Jamestown, Pennsylvania.

My "new traveling friend" has a name
After many suggestions from blog readers, I've settled on Bucky. This is short for Buckeye - state nickname for Ohio. Cat has totally ignored him. He's a great addition to my travels.

Church sign
Today in Salem, I saw this sign: "Sign maker on vacation; Come inside for message."