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We had decided as we made the way out of Cleveland, that our trip to Columbus was going to be a meandering one through the countryside. I was going to see more of this state than I ever had in all the years I’ve been coming back here. My brother Nick, like his mother and mine, loved to go riding through little towns and farms. He knew the bar where they sold fried baloney sandwiches (a family favourite), where there was a hurdy-gurdy to crank up and the best pie in the state.

Sue and I weren’t going to visit every town we passed through looking for that hurdy-gurdy, but we were going to meander but always keeping our end in sight, but without a highway cramping our style and our nerves.

Our first stop was a visit to Malabar Farm famous as the place Louis Bromfield wrote his books and tinkered around with agriculture. For my interest, it’s also where he invited his friends, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall to come-on-over and have their wedding at his house — Bogart was 45, Bacall 20. But no matter what age, I found it hard to imagine that duo driving through this countryside to get to a honeymoon with the goats.

We were ready for the tour, but alas the sweet woman in the museum cum gift shop, was a wealth of information about the place. But interestingly she never mentioned the famous couple who slept there. So we thought we’d take our imaginations and see if there was any trace of them in the house. But alas, she said the last tour had already left but we could come back tomorrow. So we thought we’d satisfy our tour needs by going to scope out some of the spots where they filmed Shawshank Redemption. Nope, that tour was done for the day too. We were left visiting the goats and petting their beautiful, long, brown ears.

Searching for Trader Joe’s not Waldo

Sue had left Toronto with a list of “Please Gets” from her friends knowing we were going to the land of stores that don’t exist in Oh Canada. Her one friend gave her the name of a particular spice that only was sold by TJ’s. Sue asked her how much she wanted, “Clear the shelf!” her friend answered.

She found one in Columbus and I assured her that even I could get us from there to Mary’s without the GPS. No sweat. It was more congested and more built up since I’d been there but it was familiar enough for me to get us crosstown. Hmm Sue still used the GPS.

Bur first, the adventure of Trader Joe’s. I had been to one in DC but I believe you have to be a regular shopper to really appreciate the experience. We split up — Sue to search for “The Spice” and non-dairy yogurt and me to check out the beers. Since it was all new to me I asked a young guy what was good. Of course, he didn’t drink but offered that he heard someone saying that one particular one was good. Hmmm, I bought the ones that had the best labels and a cider for Sue.

Sue did clean the shelf and bought one for herself to see what was so great about this spice. Then we were off on our final leg of the journey.

The GPS took us right through my old neighbourhood but I didn’t register that until we had passed my brother Tom’s house and St James the Less and I’m telling Sue, “That’s where I went to grade school!” The Annie Tour had begun. We arrived at Chez Mary where we were staying. I told Sue, “They’ll be fresh flowers in your room.” “I don’t need that. I don’t want her to go to any trouble. I can sleep on the floor.” I had to laugh, she did not know my sister Mary. But there she was at the door with hugs and help. We were a tad hungry so Sue went off to get us Italian carryout that Mary ordered — trouble was Sue knew neither Mary’s last name nor her phone number. But I guess she looked honest enough — or hungry enough — so they let her have the food. And that’s the end and the beginning of the Sue and Ann Visit to the Family. More tomorrow — ok maybe the next day.

Arriving at Mary’s with the Ohio-Proud Flamingos named Olivia, Harry, Iris, Oscar