As usual, more and higher res shots of this trip can be found here.
On Wednesday I rode along with Sam to downtown where she dropped me off at the LAX flyaway in Union Station. In a few hours I was in the air on a cushy new Delta Jet that was highly reminiscent of Virgin America’s planes. Going with the wind, the direct flight to Columbus was barely over four hours. I’d brought entertainment on my Galaxy Tablet, so the flight went surprisingly quick. Having a half-full flight helped too.
When leaving the Columbus airport a traveler is gradually introduced to the frigid cold of the upper midwestern United States. There are several passageways leaving the building, each culminating in an increasingly colder blast of air, until you’re left outside shivering and sorting through your luggage for that extra coat you hoped you wouldn’t actually need.
After getting my coat, hat and gloves on I picked up my rental and headed to Mark Pi’s for the best Chinese fast food. After letting the sugar soak in I went to nearby Ohio State campus, parking by Ohio Stadium and walking around to the new (main) recreation center.
I’d seen pictures of the new rec center and read about it, but in person it’s massive and amazing. The last time I was on that spot I would have been leaving a racquetball match in the old (now long since demolished) Larkins Center that didn’t even have air conditioning. Now students can be seen doing everything from water polo to boxing to anything and everything physical fitness related behind massive glass multi-story windows.
I turned left and headed up the walking path that used to be a parking lot to the rebuilt main library, now with a legitimate and impressive entrance on the west side. Both the East and West sides of the Library have been completely gutted and rebuilt, with the East side keeping only the traditional old facade of the original building.
Inside, both sides around the central tower feature a large open atrium and lots of redesigned spaces for studying. I went up in the tower to take photos out of the old windows just like I did as a student over a decade ago. Some of the old book shelves were still there, as were the concrete floors, but everything else had been redone, including a swanky studying lounge on the top floor. The last time I’d been up there was when I worked for the Library system and we were tasked with boxing up all the old books in the old stacks and hauling them off to the book depository. As with Larkins, there was no AC at that time.
Walking around campus I saw new and improved things everywhere. Student Union? Totally redone. South Campus Dorm row? New futuristic construction looms over and into the old brick high rises. Art buildings (Denny and Hopkins)? Remodeled (in places) and actually clean inside.
I didn’t have time to visit all of campus, that’s how it goes when you’re an alum of the largest single college campus in America. I also had to get to my airbnb to check in for the night. When I arrived at the house, in south central (is “south central” a bad area for every city?), I found “several” roommates that I hadn’t expected. The house was one of those old homes built at least sixty years ago, now in a constant state of repair. As it turns out there was one tiny bathroom for a house filled with roommates (and even a mom). However, the airbnb host gave me a tour and showed me a toilet in the basement, with a clothesline in front for privacy, that was supposedly from Dave Thomas’ old house. (Dave Thomas started Wendy’s in Dublin Ohio and the corporate headquarters are still there)
Up a set of narrow steep turning stairs was a single attic room with a non-locking door. The room itself had no heat, so a space heater was provided that was more than adequate to heat the room, albeit also providing lots of noise and red light at it’s highest setting. I ended up wearing my hat over my eyes to go to sleep, feeling like Kramer in the infamous red chicken sign episode. The placement of the room over the front porch also became problematic. The host had listed the house as non smoking, but this really meant that guests could smoke outside (which, to his credit, is listed in the details), letting their smoke drift directly up into the little collection chamber where airbnb guests would sleep. The bed was actually comfortable, but the set-up could help but remind me of a slasher movie set, complete with a weird message scribbled on the room door that I swear only appeared on the second night.
I could not keep the rotating roommates straight, but wasn’t there enough for it to matter.