Ed. Note: It’s our pleasure to introduce our first-ever guest blogger, Tania Meek, an Athens resident and writer who will occasionally share her experiences on Ohio’s Windy 9. Request a map to start exploring Ohio’s finest riding trails.
By Tania Meek
When your 20th anniversary beach celebration is cancelled due to Hurricane Joaquin, you do the next best thing – hit the open road on your hog. There is no better time of year to see the Southeast Ohio countryside than fall, and this was certainly true for us last week. The colors were just beginning to show themselves, the air was crisp but not cold, and the sky a brilliant blue. We decided to try our 4th Windy 9 route dubbed the “Southern Dip”, taking us down from Athens to Rio Grande and back up along the Ohio River through Gallipolis and Pomeroy.
We set out from Athens mid-morning along State Route 50/32 for a brief period of time before turning off on a lovely country road called 689. We immediately found ourselves immersed in the Ohio countryside, filled with fruit orchards, cornfields, and woodlands. I ride with my husband on the back of his Harley-Davidson Road King Classic. As a hobbyist photographer, it’s hard to drive past such beauty and not stop every five seconds to capture it on camera or not drop the phone as you snap in motion.
We continued to wind our way over rolling hills and around lazy curves past old farmsteads, quaint country churches, and through Amish country. We spotted a few unexpected sites such as a zebra grazing in a fenced farm pasture. Even a large power generating station along the route seemed right at home amongst the surrounding trees. My husband and I agreed that 689 and 160 was the most scenic leg of the trip.
We arrived at the midway point in Rio Grande, the Bob Evans Farm and Homestead, in less than an hour. The Farm, situated on 588, is well worth the stop. It features a restaurant (Bob Evans, of course), the original homestead turned museum, the Adamsville Log Cabin Village, and much more. We were pleasantly surprised by the museum. It contained a considerable amount of information and exhibits not only about the history of the Bob Evans’ family and restaurant but area history as well. I found this far more entertaining than my husband did, who was itching to get back on the road.
We ventured out from the Farm on 588 and joined up with Route 7 in Gallipolis, which runs along the Ohio River and is part of the Ohio Scenic River Byway. Founded by French settlers 1790, it has a rich historical background and a picturesque downtown overlooking the river. As you ride along 7, it winds you through commercial areas of Gallipolis, perfect for filling up the tank, past riverside homes, through tiny river towns, and past the Kyger Creek Power Plant in Cheshire, Ohio.
We chose to stop in the river town of Pomeroy, founded in 1804, to enjoy a late lunch at The Wild Horse Café. A frequent stop for both tourists and locals, we saw several other bikers with the same idea – a great meal overlooking the Ohio River and the Pomeroy-Mason Bridge. Open seven days a week, The Wild Horse Café is the perfect spot for appetizers, lunch, dinner, or drinks – as well as a story or two shared. We enjoyed sitting outside on the covered terrace relishing the gorgeous afternoon and watching a coal barge make its way south down the Ohio River. I could almost envision another time in history when these picturesque small towns were the place to be, full of the hustle and bustle of a booming river trade.
Our afternoon ended with a leisurely ride back up 33 to Athens, getting the bike up to highway speeds and having the wind and countryside flash past us. The day ended perfectly with two church signs that imparted wisdom and gratitude to my day: “Even a small star can shine bright in the darkness.” And “Make a decision every day to be content.” I can truly say that the “Southern Dip” made me intent on being grateful that despite a change in vacation plans, I could still enjoy celebrating 20 years of marriage with my best friend, enjoying both our beautiful location and our hobby of riding the open road.
Tania Meek is a blogger, photographer and freelance writer. She lives in Athens, Ohio, with her husband, two kids, and three pets. In addition to taking in the beauty of Southeastern Ohio, she works to balance the things in life that she loves such as health and wellness coaching, faith and leadership, and travel. Follow Tania Meek on Facebook and Instagram or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.