On The Road: 5 Great Stops Along I-75

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"Behind us lay the whole of America and everything Dean and I had previously known about life, and life on the road. We had finally found the magic land at the end of the road and we never dreamed the extent of the magic." - Jack Kerouac.

There is indeed something magical about road trips.  Something modernly, yet mythic about jumping into a car with friends and lovers and speeding toward a destination, music sweeping out of car speakers as a soundtrack to quickly changing landscape.  In celebration of taking to the highways this summer, we are highlighting specific cities and the hidden gems that can be found in between, just off the beaten path.  We start with I-75 between the Motor and Queen Cities: Detroit and Cincinnati.

1. Glass City Art - Toledo, the glass capital of the world, has a fantastic museum located in Old West End.  Founded by Edward Drummond Libbey, a prominent glassmaker in the early 1900s, it contains several works by classic and modern artists, most notably Peter Paul Rubens' "The Crowning of Saint Catherine."  But the real gem is the glass pavilion which houses a Center For Visual Arts, designed by famed architect Frank Gehry.  This fantastic building is also home to the University of Toledo art department and features several works of art, comprised of (what else?), glass.

2. Flag City (and more patriotism than you can wave a flag at) - Feeling patriotic? 

Make sure you hit up Findlay, OH, Flag City USA.  In the mid-1960s, local businessman John B. Cooke wanted every single residence and business in town to hoist the stars and stripes on Flag Day.  After creating a fund to purchase 14,000 small flags, Cooke's dream was realized and Findlay became known as Flag City, USA.

65th_InvHowever, if you're looking for a bit more historical flavor, be sure and stop at The Flag City Flag Museum in Van Buren, OH, just outside of Findlay.  Vexillologist (vexillology = study of flags) Robert McKee collected more than 1,000 flags in his lifetime and many of them are still on display today, including an American flag employed by the 65th Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War.  It contains five white and four red stripes, 34 randomly scattered blue stars on a white background and a large eagle clutching four arrows with a wide blue ribbon in its beak.

lima3. You'd Be Insane To Miss This - Tucked away in Lima, OH (pronounced like lima bean, not the capital of Peru), you will find the Lima Hospital For The Criminally Insane.  At the time of it's construction it was the largest poured-concrete structure ever created and would only be outdone by the Pentagon in the 1940s.  It was eventually shut down in the late 1970s after a judge ruled that the conditions there were inhumane.  It was replaced by a medium-security prison, which has also since been shuttered.

Oh one other thing: it's haunted.  There are numerous reports and documents from hospital workers, visitors, committed individuals, prison guards and prison inmates that the ghosts of previously abused "guests" at the insane asylum show up from time to time to terrorize the living.

If you're interested in ghost hunting, you can also check out the Lima tuberculosis Hospital (although it's abandoned now), another site where spooks roam the halls.  Must be something they're putting in the water.

Neil4. Wapakoneta And The Stars - The first man to ever flub a line on the moon, Neil Armstrong calls Wapakoneta, OH, his hometown.  Sitting along I-75 you can stop at the Neil Armstrong Air and Space Museum, which features, among other things, the Gemini VIII spacecraft Armstrong commanded in 1966 as a precursor to the moon landing.  Also there, you can see an actual moon rock...an object so rare and priceless that it is normally guarded with the same measures as national treasures.  To give you an idea, NASA keeps all it's collected moon rocks at Building 31 at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.  This building is built to Class 100 standards, meaning it can, among meeting other incredible durability metrics, withstand 1000 years of water submersion.  Seriously, go check out the moon rock.

sunwatch5. Who Loves The Sun? - The SunWatch Indian Village is located in Dayton, OH along the banks of the Great Miami River.  Excavated in 1971-1988, the site has been recreated to provide a glimpse at what life was like 800 years ago when it was inhabited by the Fort Ancient native americans.  Scholars believe that a series of engraved posts at the site were a way of making astronomical measurements and that the inhabitants planned rituals and events around the solar calendar.  The site has revealed an incredible amount about the day-to-day lives of the Fort Ancient tribes and it was named a National Historic Landmark in 1990.

Bonus - What would a great road trip be without at least one fantastic culinary endeavor?  Make sure you check out Le Crepe Boheme in Dayton, OH, Located in the Second Street Market, open Thursday - Sunday every week.  You can chat with the owner, Sabine, and discuss everything from culture to the French countryside as she makes delicious crepes.  Definitely a treat!

OK, now it's your turn. Have you traveled between Detroit and Cincinnati? What sights do you recommend?

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August 20, 2009 - 3:45am
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