Ohio is kind of a misfit, geographically. It touches the South, the Midwest, New England, and the Great Lakes through to Canada, but it doesn’t seem to quite fit in with any of them– one of the welcome signs called it the Heart of America but it seems instead to be the connective tissue joining its more easily-defined neighbors.
I was in neighboring Indiana for work and drove here for a quick trip to the highpoint as storm clouds gathered ominously in the grey sky. The wind was raw and cold. Any time I ventured outside or even rolled down the window to snap a photo, that tight dry cold sliced through to my core. I’m familiar with cold– I grew up in subzero Wisconsin, I hike frigid mountain ridges– but this bitter icy wind caught me by surprise in mid-March. Unprepared and unacclimated, I cranked up the heat in my little rental Hyundai and hid from the wind, gnawing gas-station jerky for lunch instead of braving the elements outside a diner. My pride stung when I passed a bank sign declaring it to be 28 degrees– I would have guessed it was half that. No, a third.
Ohio respects its humble high point. On the way through moderately charming Bellefontaine I passed a Hi-Point Church, Hi-Point Restaurant, Hi-Point Market. Eventually I turned through the metal gates of Hi-Point Career Center / Joint Vocational School, found a parking spot, wrapped my scarf securely around my face and ducked down into a flurry of sharp snow to climb the low paved hill to the storied high point itself.
Again, respect: with shivering hands tucked into my armpits I inspected a giant plaque that described the site’s previous use as a Cold War NORAD base, and collected a certificate(!) commemorating my visit. Overhead snow whirled and an American flag snapped tight in the wind, pointing my way back to the warmth of my rental car down below.
About the beer:
Today I needed a hearty stout to warm me up. I found it in the remarkably rich Hoppin’ Frog “B.O.R.I.S. the Crusher”– a fittingly named Bodacious Oatmeal Russian Imperial Stout that was like a meal in a bottle. Dark roasted oats, bitter chocolate, touches of plum and licorice and molasses with a rich espresso chaser, all melded together into a silky smooth toasty warming brew. One of the best stouts I’ve ever tasted.