Saturday, April 05, 2008

Lower Ohio

Yesterday we visited Athens, Ohio, and Ohio University.
We noticed lots of picturesque old buildings in town and in the towns on the way there -- consistent with the founding date of the university over 200 years ago. A covered bridge was almost at the parking lot of our hotel not far from the university. Near the restaurant where we ate dinner was this Victorian building.

The modern Italian and continental style restaurant was decorated with murals copying the works of famous artists, and with paper mache sculptures of more modern tendencies.

The sculpture below is the most extreme of them, and quite amusing, I thought. It hangs from the ceiling, so there's no other angle from which it can be photographed except this one:
The food followed American patterns for interpreting imported food. Here are a few examples: the menu listed several items with Oriental touches that I have never seen in Italy, such as an option for salmon with a hoisin-sauce glaze amidst the more Italian pasta items. And the descriptions of the pastas all began with the sauce, such as "Alfredo sauce with linguini" instead of the other way around, as I'm accustomed to. When we asked what the day's vegetable was, the server said "asiago cheese sauce with cauliflower."

The dinner was fair; dessert was good.

This is one of the founders' houses on campus, and very old. All this reminded me of Johnny Appleseed: wide, muddy rivers, rich bottom land, old settlements.

Spring is a little more advanced than in Michigan, though the trees were very bare.
A muddy river runs through the Ohio University campus: the Hocking River. The road to and from Athens is in the Hocking River valley. The valley is several times as wide as the river, with steep hills rising from the sides of the valley.
While driving, we saw many decaying factories, remnants of pottery and glass industries that once enriched this now-poor area. The home of the Anchor-Hocking glass company was Lancaster, Ohio, up further on the river than this decrepit old factory:

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