Today I was up and out early again – at least early for camping, it takes longer to get packed and go with the tent, and stove etc… I was looking forward to getting out of “Hidden Valley Bug Ranch” as soon as practical. I wish I had brought my rod though – the bass were slapping the water so hard you’d think they were dropped from planes.
I was just outside of Kent so my first stop was to run by the campus. I was looking for the memorial, with they refer to as the “May 4th Memorial”, which, frankly seems a little sterile for what happened there. Very unoppionated – too much so in my mind.
If you don’t know the story you can actually take the audio tour remotely; just dial 330-672-6294. It’s narrated by appropriate activists from that time, like Julian Bond.
The memorial itself is not much more than a granite bench overlooking the field where the tragedy occurred. They do have a good audio tour and descriptions in detail of the events that led up to the protests. Trivia question; do you know what the students did to protest Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia? A: They symbolically buried the constitution which they said he had killed by overstepping his authority as President. The shootings happened after the governor declared that these students needed to learn the meaning of “law and order”. It’s a little hard to imagine how real that struggle seemed at the time. The authorities seemed to really believe that the students were going to take over, and perhaps destroy the school (although that seems like utter paranoia now). But clearly they felt threatened beyond any measure that the students intended. One of the victims was quoted saying something along the lines that they had no idea that the national guard would ever consider using real bullets. The protesters had no idea what danger they were in until it happened. Given the polarized state of affairs we have now, it seems like a particularly good time to look at Kent State, and make sure that the mistakes made there are not made again.
After looking around Kent State, I hit the trail for real and quickly found my self crossing Akron. Akron is clearly another Ohio City that hasn’t weathered the recession well. I saw a lot of poor neighborhoods and closed factories again.
One bright spot was meeting Steve and his protégés Javon and Nathan (sorry guy from Alliance – I missed your name). They were working in an urban garden (practically in the shadow of an old Firestone plant) where Steve grows veggies for a local vegan restaurant – Miss Julie’s Kitchen. Steve has bike toured before and recognized my setup as I went by as not a casual loaded-up bike. I really admire what he’s doing – quietly improving the world around him doing something that he’s passionate about. We spoke a bit about gardening and Steve was very knowledgeable about how the soil responds to different crops over time.
After I left them I struggled with the route. Seems my nifty gps app didn’t get the “reverse route” so that it matched the one going the other way. So I ended up climbing some steep hills, avoiding roads closed for construction, and generally taking forever to get anywhere. Eventually I found the right route, on the “Towpath” of the Ohio Erie Canal (OMG how wide is the Erie’s influence?). That led me out of Akron and into Amish Country again.
Into Amish Country Again
This settlement (near Fredericksburg and Millersburg) is supposed to be the biggest Amish community in the world. This group seemed to be more progressive than the settlement I came across yesterday – I even saw a couple of guys on bikes and a woman riding a gas powered lawn mower (oh god, that’s not progress!). What is it with the Amish and trampolines, though? Everywhere.
Right after this I was passed by another buggy moving really quickly – a single guy with a very minimalist buggy. Sort of buggy sports car – one seater. Anyway, the horse had a totally different gait where both front and back legs seemed to “walk” (L, R, L, R) but in opposition (Front right moves and Rear Left does). I think. It’s hard to get a bead on it going by quickly. Anyway it looked odd. Lynda is that a foxtrot? Or some other weird gait?
Then I got on another bike path/trail and the miles flew by. It rained some but that just cooled things off. Oh and got me absolutely filthy with road grime. I had to hose me and my bike off before I could check in to my hotel. Yay, hotel! It’s a cool one too and was built in 1847. Grover Cleveland slept here! I haven’t checked out anything but the shower yet but soon.