Episode Seven – The Beginning of the End

Ok, so I am now more than a week behind in my account of my time here in the States. My return from Chicago was last Sunday, and it is now Tuesday, so I’ll probably be spending a large portion of the long journey home catching up in documenting my experiences here, even though I won’t be able to actually post it until later because Grandma doesn’t have Internet access. Wut.

A lot of the time since Chicago has actually been spent doing very little. When we’ve done things, we’ve done them in short bursts, and lazed around in between, so my usual “On Monday we… On Tuesday we…” style – which, let’s face it, was getting old anyway – won’t work for this entry. I saw a few more of the things Zanesville has to offer – Grant’s aunt Susan showed me around her studio downtown, which was really interesting, and then she took us to lunch and showed us around a small art centre-type thing, and the Zanesville Art Museum. They had a giant carved wooden turtle. It was badass. We also went to Tom’s for ice cream, where I probably broke the record for percentage of body mass consumed in dairy produce. Grant took me to Dillon Dam, and Toy Story 3 (epic), and the mall. Blake had his 13th birthday party at the Country Club pool, which was pretty fab. We visited the amusement park near Cincinnati, King’s Island, with Grant’s sister Kara and cousin James. That was super-fun – and I have the photograph to show it. I don’t think I’m a particularly gullible customer in terms of buying those stupid roller-coaster photographs, but in this case, I just couldn’t pass it up. It was worth every cent of the $15 I paid for it.

There were heaps of great roller coasters at King’s Island (go figure…), but I was particularly proud of my bravery in riding the Drop Zone, which was one of those things which lifts you way up high and drops you down to the ground. It was terrifying at the top, waiting to be dropped, but actually speeding towards the ground at x-mph wasn’t too bad. Anyway, we had a lot of fun at King’s Island, and we’re thinking next time I’m in Ohio we’ll check out Cedar Point, the other amusement park in the area which is supposed to be even better!

Grant also took me to The Wilds, which is a sort of safari/conservation park. It was really cool – we took an open-air coach through the land, which housed rhinos, giraffes, various types of deer, a cheetah, hyenas, catfish… Basically, a whole bunch of cool animals. The weather was insanely hot – again – but once the coach was actually moving it was fairly bearable. Then later, when the drive was just finishing and we were up in the hills maybe fifteen minutes from the end of the tour, out of nowhere we were caught in a thunderstorm and there was lightning striking left and right, crazy wind blowing dust in our eyes, driving rain and general unpleasantness. We made it to the car without too much of a soaking, though, and fled home for more relaxation before we faced any more trauma.

See that flap of skin at their throats? When a predator grabs it in its teeth, it detaches and the deer has it away on its toes, unscathed! I thought this was cool.

Finally, I couldn’t leave this entry without paying tribute to last night’s trip to the Stemm farm. You know how since I was a little kid I’ve said that diggers were my best friends? Well, Grant’s friend Pat offered to let me come out to his farm and have a spin on his digger (or “backhoe”, as they call them in America). Grant drove me over there after dinner, we all hopped on and Pat drove us out a little ways to a wooded area where he proceeded to show me the controls and let me dig a small hole in the soil and fill it back in again before we all piled in and headed back to the main farm. And the fun didn’t stop there! When we took a short tour of the barn I spotted a Massey Ferguson and he said I could have a go on that too if I wanted. I wasn’t too sure about this, as I was beginning to worry I’d break something – but I was assured that if I managed to break the tractor, the guys would be more impressed than anything, and I agreed. At this point, while I was still getting over the huge-ness and scariness of the tractor, which was as tall as I was, Pat asked “Do you want to try this one, or a really big one?”

I was like, o_O

So we headed to the other barn and he booted up the REALLY BIG TRACTOR and let me drive around on it for a while (closely supervised, of course). I finally had the complete Ohio experience! – well, almost. Right after I reversed the Massive Ferguson back into the barn and escaped unscathed, we checked out the farmhouse, which was really old and dusty and hardcore. You know those doors in the movies that go down directly into the basement from outside, with the doors that open up the way and the scary staircase descending ominously into darkness? Yeah, the farmhouse had one of those. So we bashed aside the cobwebs and boldly went forth into the creepy old house (some more boldly than others :S ). Then we got the tour, which included several dead birds and bats, and several thousand dead bugs. Needless to say, the farmhouse is otherwise uninhabited, and uninhabitable – unlike the other farmhouse, at the other farm. Pat has a big farm and a wee farm, and the wee farm has a farmhouse that the guys use as a retreat – it has a fridge with a keg, a beer pong table, an old vintage cigarette vending machine, a bigass TV, a row of cinema seats, several “liberated” road signs, UV paint all over the walls… pretty much everything a group of young men could look for in a hangout. Oh, and there’s a quad bike in the shed that Grant and I hopped on, and he drove me out to the woods to show me where the paintball arena used to be. Pat also has a garden out at the small farm – and by “garden”, I mean in the American sense of the word: not a “yard” but a vegetable patch, where Pat grows zucchinis (courgettes), sugarsnap peas, green peppers, cabbages (red and regular), tomatoes and various other delights. I would’ve asked to bring a zucchini home for Mum but they don’t like it when you transport fruits and vegetables internationally. And by “they don’t like it”, I mean “I’m pretty sure it’s illegal”.

The Massey Ferguson 1130 dwarfed me.

After all these years, my dreams have finally come true!

So yeah, that was my last night in Ohio. I don’t want to be all soppy and gross… but I’m going to do it anyway. : P Bear with me. It had been pretty cloudy that day, so the sky had been a slatey grey, but when the sun set it turned all orange and pink and it was really pretty. Pat’s small farm has a fantastic view of the countryside, too, and the road there is really scenic, and for some reason there were more fireflies than I’ve ever seen in one place in all my life. So basically, what I’m saying is that driving through the countryside in Ohio with my boyfriend and All About Windmills by the Peatbog Faeries and fireflies and sunsets and quad bikes… well, it amounted to a very, very nice Last Evening in Zanesville. Just thought my loyal followers might like to know how much I enjoyed it, and how very gutted I am to be leaving. But leaving I am, so we dropped in to Grant’s Aunt Di’s house to say cheerio, and then all the Stubbins clan was there when we got home, so I bid them all farewell too. Grant and I were in the basement watching The Office over a glass of wine when Blake came down to give me a hug, and then Kara came down and finally Amanda, and every time I gave Grant my wine and stood up for a hug and thought about how weird the whole situation was. I haven’t spent a great deal of time with any of the “other” Stubbinses, because we’ve been gallivanting off all over the country; but I mean, they welcomed me into their house and made me feel totally at home, and they’re all really cool people – and somehow I liked them all a lot more than I can really justify, considering that I haven’t spent THAT much time with them. I have expressed to the Stubbinses my firm intentions to return to Zanesville and visit again, and although the future is the future and everything and you never know for certain, I don’t think I’ve seen the last of them. Which is a very comforting thought.

Wishing you all well,



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