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Made it to Youngstown in time to see the eclipse, almost perfect timing there, came up through the city on US-62 till I hit 304 – which is the street my grandmother lived on. The ride from Saint Clairesville to here was lovely, for a brief stretch I was in something akin to prairie country – just surrounded by green fields and little hills for as far as the eye could see in all directions. I was extremely happy to hit that bit of country, I’d been missing that, haven’t made it this far west since 2008 – so to see, even briefly, was glorious.

I feel a bit bad, I’m not going to be able to see the Benson’s, I’m planning to get back on the road tomorrow and the skies are getting ready to open up in the next hour or so – listening to thunder as I sit out on George’s back deck and write. There’s this beautiful batch of trees dead across from where I’m sitting and I’ve got the sun coming down from my right keeping me warm. I’m really loving just being outside, there’s even a dog out here keeping me company, though the cat is still afraid of me – don’t think that’ll change before I leave here. But if you remember, being outside as much as possible for a few weeks is a very big part of this trip, and so this – right now – is perfection.

One of the things I love about visiting George & Cindy is the fact that we all go off an do our own things, then visit for a bit, then go off again. The last several years I’ve gotten incredibly used to long stretches of being by myself – and on this trip because I’m riding alone – I’m not used to being around people.

The rain has started, coming down extremely hard now, but this is supposed to be done with by tomorrow – tomorrow it’s supposed to be beautiful – thus why I’m going to get back on the road. Also, starting to run low on some of the meds that I can’t run out of, that’s because of the delays I hit with other meds before I could leave. I’d had it set up so that the pain meds would be filled on the 1st as I intended to leave that day – and thus be good for the full length, but then I got delayed by the refill of the testosterone for a solid week, and as such I only have a weeks supply of my pain meds left. I can make it home in that stretch – and should even be good if I have to take an extra day. Otherwise I think I would stay here an extra couple days, and would have got to see the Bensons, but it is what it is.

Aside from the obvious reasons why I’m happy to be here at George & Cindy’s – I also love this house. In the living room where I’m sitting now there’s a beautiful brick fireplace that’s built up aside the stairs leading into the upstairs, wood paneling running down the one wall with a wooden beam cutting across the ceiling and sort of built in wood bookcases along one of the paneled walls. Across from me down at the opposite end of the house are five tall rectangular windows running across the far wall creating this large picture window (maybe 5’x9′) that looks out across that beautiful yard and the wall of trees. The artwork is great, the architecture is great, the choice of colors is great, the abundant trim & woodwork is great. I really love this house – its in the top five for houses I’ve been in in my lifetime – and more than that, while I’m here I feel like I’m home. That’s exceptionally rare, in my experience, when staying with anyone who’s not immediate family.

During the ride up here yesterday I had a small stretch where I was being rained on while at the same time any direction I looked all I could see was blue skies. The storm cloud above me so small that I couldn’t see it with my helmet on – of course I was riding so I wasn’t trying super hard to look straight upwards – cause that would have been an error in judgement. Reminded me of that time while we were living on Kensington when it rained on my car in the courtyard while the house wasn’t getting wet at all.

The eclipse wasn’t exactly what I expected, I thought it was going to get dark, I would have missed it entirely had I not gotten here when I did and been told by George, Cindy, and Nancy (all out in the back watching it) that it was going on right then. Jon called after it happened to find out where I was and if I’d had better luck seeing it than people back in Massachusetts – and while we were talking we both were relieved to hear that the other remembered seeing one while we were in grade school – everyone is saying that the last time this happened was 38 years ago and Jon & I are 33 and we do remember going out on the front lawn of our respective grade schools and putting on the silly glasses and watching an eclipse. I thought my memory might be faulty, given the number of drugs I’ve been on through the years, but Jon – Jon’s memory is solid. I’m guessing that it’s something like the last time a full eclipse was visible in the US was 38 years ago.

Ridning through Youngstown yesterday on US-62 was eery in places because there was the feeling of being in a city but also being completely alone – which isn’t what being in a city is supposed to feel like. Being on that stretch of 40 the other day when I’d not taken the detour and so was completely by myself – that felt normal because I was in the middle of nowhere – but not in a city, in a city there should be people and traffic. I’d forgotten to some extent what sections of Youngstown are like, I don’t think I’ve been through it by myself since 2005(ish). That being said – there are towns around the outskirts (in one now) that are positively lovely and seem to be doing just fine. I don’t think I can properly describe what I’m trying to describe, the people who have been here or are here reading this know exactly what I’m talking about, folks who are in or near cities that weren’t so dependent on US industry probably can’t imagine what I’m talking about even if they tried. I often hear people from Worcester talk about it like it’s a ghost town or something and I nod and I smile but Worcester is the second largest city in New England – Worcester has tons of beautiful neighborhoods and areas that are always filled with people, downtown isn’t what it used to be, but aside from cities like Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, etc I wonder if any downtown is what it was – if for no other reason than the fact that we as a people have changed how we buy things and where we work from – those are two large impacts that the internet has had besides connections and this (blogs vs journals) sort of thing. Mom & Dad always thought that Worcester was a lot like Youngstown – they’re about the same size, laid out about the same way, both were a big deal during this country’s industrial age, both had about the same populations when they were a going concern – both grew and expanded about the same time so a lot of the architecture & buildings are comparable. The difference is that Worcester has about 5 colleges & 3-4 decent sized hospitals and Youngstown has just the 1 college and maybe 2 hospitals – so when industry began going over seas Worcester still had things to keep it alive where as Youngstown had something like 70,000 people leave between the 70s & 80s as things just began to fall apart. From what I understand (from folks who live here) things are leveling back out – most of the abandoned houses are gone, the abandoned factories are gone, and things are stable again – but you still have a downtown area that was built for three times as many people as there currently are.

Anyway, the rain stopped, so I’m going to step out and poison myself again.

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