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Southern Ohio, Mid-October
From the very heart of downtown Cleveland, running southward through the state, to the eastern fringe of Marietta — Ohio's oldest city — the winding expressway ribbons of Interstate Highway 77 bend and roll through the foothills of Appalachia. This highway route provides direct access from Cleveland to such southern destinations as Charleston, WV, Charlotte, NC, Atlanta, GA, and Jacksonville, FL.
Begin this journey beneath the big sign of Progressive Field, Home of the Cleveland Indians, and enter the snakes' nest of on- and off-ramps, merge and exit lanes to move toward Cleveland's southern suburbs. After a short while, Cleveland, Brooklyn, Garfield Heights, Macedonia, Independence, Bath, and eventually Akron fade in the rear-view mirror. Akron-Canton Regional Airport whizzes past and the city of Canton approaches. Soon, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, with it's iconic and distinctive football-shaped memorial hall passes on the right. One then reaches Navarre, and urbanized Northeastern Ohio fades.
Continuing along this route, one next traverses the remaining agricultural fields and dairy farms of exurban and rural Ohio. The terrain increasingly trades its flatness for gentle rising swells and broad valleys. You are now paralleling much of the Ohio and Erie Canalway of the 1800s, long since abandoned for rail and doubled bands of asphalt. Slopes and peaks are peppered with family farms, tending varied crops and scatterings of livestock, as they have since settlement in the first decades of the 19th Century.
Slowly the blanketed hills of dun and ochre and rust and viridian give way to ever-encroaching stands of timber. Steeper terrain fosters dense stands of deciduous and evergreen, fighting the farmers' efforts to clear the land. These regions are much more likely to foster coal or gas extraction or timber farming or syrup production than livestock, dairy or crops.
As one moves farther and farther south, one passes the turn-offs west toward Columbus and east toward the casinos of West Virginia's northernmost cusp. Steel and coal country lies to the east and increasingly to the south. There are no large cities along this stretch of road. Dover and Cambridge and Athens lie this way and that, close enough to sense but not necessarily to see. One is left to enjoy the colorful changing and relatively unbroken scenery of Southern Ohio's wooded rolling hills in mid-October, from New Philadelphia to Marietta.
Each arcing bend of the highway presents another vista, another hillock or mound or rising slope layered in multi-colored trees running to the horizon. Reds and purples and oranges and limes and browns and deep dark greens compete for attention, dazzling the eyes. Yes, it is prime leaf-peeping season, when each unfolding panorama is every bit as interesting as the last.
Presented here for you is a selection of views of the striking fall raiment of the Buckeye State's southerly reaches.
- Charming Marietta, Ohio
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