Our bus to Columbus was due to leave at 1:15 but it was over half an hour late leaving. The bus station served lousy food too in a really depressing cafe so not the best start to our trip leaving Pittsburgh. The driver was quite a grumpy man too and our trip didn’t improve when we got to the town of Wheeling and a lady hadn’t paid for her oversized bag. Can you believe it took them over an hour to sort it out. So much for hoping we could make some time up!
Eventually though we arrived at Columbus. John was waiting at the bus station to meet us and made us feel so welcome.
John and Bryan had met on a swimming training programme in Majorca in 2013, where they were both trying to gain their 6 hour swim certificate in order to swim the channel. John was part of a 6 man relay team swimming the channel and when one of the team members unfortunately had to drop out, Bryan stepped in so the swim could still go ahead
. And so they swam in the same Channel relay team too and have kept in touch ever since.
This was the first time Jody had met him though and also his wife Maryline but they made us both so welcome into their beautiful home it was like we had known each other for years. Our room was beautiful and we had our own bathroom too – just like a hotel. The first night we had dinner in their conservatory and chatted until it was so dark we couldn’t see each other.
John & Maryline were both still working whilst we were staying with them so unfortunately we didn’t get to see much of Maryline but John had a bit more flexibility in his job as a lawyer and was able to take a fair bit of time off to spend with us which was great.
The first morning he was looking forward to showing Bryan the local pool at the University. So they were up and out before 6am. Bryan did say it was a great pool it’s just a problem having to turn around every 50 metres!
Some of the artwork at John & Maryline’s is very interesting.
There is a photo of a group of swimmers taken just after they had completed the Channel Swim Relay in 2014 – one of them was Bryan! Then we noticed there was a statue on the dresser. It was of the same group of swimmers – there’s Bryan again – this time immortalised in clay!
John was really keen to show us his city and so later he took us there. Columbus is a fairly small but perfectly formed city and so very clean. First we went to his office – way underdressed in our shorts and flip flops as usual. We took lunch across the street before continuing the tour and going to the State Building. Columbus is the Capital of Ohio and the State Building in right here in the centre. John took us into the building and even into the Chamber where the Senate meet. It was very imposing!
It was such a beautiful sunny day too it was really nice to walk around the park in the centre and we even met Christopher – the man who gave his name to Columbus!
Something we really had to do whilst we were here was to buy a vehicle. Our plan A was to buy a motor home so later that first day, we hit the internet and started looking. We phoned a few too but to be honest, the amount of money we had available was not going to buy us anything very comfortable or reliable so plan B was formed – a pick-up with a camper trailer (not a caravan – similar principal but quite different)
We gave the search another hit on Wednesday morning and hit a stumbling block
. Whatever we buy, we would not be able to drive as we needed a residential address to get insurance. And you have to have insurance to register the car. As foreigners we would not be able to buy here at all it seems. Umm can we find a way around it? We shall keep looking.
Wednesday afternoon saw us driving off to Zanesville, south east of Columbus and out to the Wilds. We were pretty excited about this as John had told us all about the concept of the Wilds (which is linked to Columbus Zoo) and how you could zip wire above the wild animals.
We were in a group of 9 with Katie (Cat-eye as she liked to refer to herself as) and Dan leading the way for us. Cat-eye was a real character and kept us entertained throughout the afternoon. We had a great time zipping around on the wires and at some stopping points there were binoculars to spot Rhinos and the other animals. We had some amazing views from up there. Afterwards we took some time to wander around a bit and enjoy being in the great outdoors.
You can see how we got on here (if you want to)
Bryan & John went swimming again the following morning – this time to the old quarry which meant Bryan could just keep going around and around instead of having to turn
The rest of the day was devoted to searching for a way we could travel across the USA without renting a vehicle. The problem is we need a vehicle for almost 3 months in the states which is phenomenally expensive but also we won’t be bringing it back. We want to go on through Mexico and further. No rental company in their right minds would let us leave a camper van there!
The following morning again was spent on the internet looking for a solution to our transport problems. We think we have found a beautiful trailer but it seems very cheap. Ummm – hold that thought for now. We did manage to go and view a 4×4 in our price range but the front seat back was held upright by a very large box wedged on the back seat! Oh dear. They don’t have any sort of MOT type check here to weed out these unsafe cars so we are going to have to raise our budget a bit we think.
We had a wonderful evening on Thursday with some of John & Maryline’s friends; Judy & Don. Bryan had met Don previously as he was the man whom had had to drop out of the Channel Swim Relay. Then we were joined another friend of theirs – Ian. John pointed out something really interesting; he was the only American at the table
! Judy & Don are Canadian, Ian is from New Zealand and Maryline was born in France. What a great international group of people we were, all have travelled and have some great stories to tell between us. John had solo backpacked throughout the whole continent of Africa – top to bottom when he first left university in the 1980s. You can tell how much the memories still mean to him as his face lights up when he talks about it.
The following day was a very special day for us – we went to meet Rosie! – but you can read all about that separately
We also realised that the beautiful trailer we had found was a scam. Another idea hits the deck!
But some good news – we found an insurance company who would be willing to insure us so potentially we are a bit closer to our goal now. One more hiccup had become quite apparent though; we had been hoping to pay cash for the car or whatever we bought but our cards were consistently refused by the ATMs here. A couple of days had passed without us being able to get cash. With there being just a $500 limit per day each, it was going to be touch and go whether we would be able to get enough cash out by Monday to buy a car and leave!
We both spent considerable time on the phone to the Halifax to resolve this one
This afternoon John gave us another special treat. The American Football Team – The Cleveland Browns were holding a ‘scrimmage match’ in Columbus. This is where the Football Managers are finalising their A & B teams and about 90 players will get cut down to about 50. John had managed to get some tickets and so we would see our first American Football game 🙂
Although not a full game as the managers were looking for key specific positions and they had to repeat certain parts of the game, The stadium was packed to about 75% (it holds 106,000 people!) A lot of people all turned out for this Scrimmage Match. And what a great atmosphere. It was very hot though sitting up in the stands but we had a great view and it really helped with our understanding of the rules and how the game is played. We would love to try and get to a full game if we can now. John has whetted our appetite!
Gradually all the brick walls we had hit and the obstacles put in front of us for buying a vehicle were resolved and Saturday morning John drove us to a few car dealerships we had earmarked to view some cars
Because of the Ohio/USA laws on buying a car, it was going to be much more possible for us if we went through a dealer.
The very last dealer we visited we found her. A 2002 Nissan Pathfinder all in black and as sturdy as hell. We paid our deposit and promised to come back monday morning and get her. We could relax now (as long as the bank had fixed the issue preventing us getting cash out that is!)
Sunday 9th August was our last day here.
After another swim at the quarry, this time joined by Don, Ian and Ian’s daughter Lily, we headed into the city again for the Latino Festival.
This is really going to put us in the mood for South America. There were lots and lots of food stalls from every country in South America it seemed. There were stalls selling crafts, clothes, flags and Pina Colada! Yes we enjoyed a Pina Colada served in a whole pineapple.
We watched dancing with foot tapping, hand clapping music, we saw a fabulous band on the stage playing trumpets and we watched people in general just enjoying themselves
The kids got wet in the fountains the same as kids do everywhere else in the world.
It was a really great atmosphere.
Finally on our last evening, we had our last meal in their pretty little conservatory and toasted our firm friendship with Prosecco. We discussed names for our new vehicle and of course there was only one name really – Rosie after the beautiful rhino we met at the zoo. Very fitting really.
John & Maryline have been absolutely fabulous hosts. They have welcomed us into their home, fed us, entertained us and all in all made us feel so relaxed and comfortable. We have been bowled over by their kindness. We hope one day they will come to England and let us return their wonderful hospitality (and we are dying to get John to Go Ape).
Thank you John & Maryline – Cheers!