Drive In and Drive On

Hocking Hills Drive-In Logan OH 01-24-2013

After we left Athens, Ohio, I wanted to pass through some of my old haunts, so we headed north toward Nelsonville, Logan and Old Man’s Cave. Just past the 595 exit on Rt. 33, I looked to the right and spotted the remains of the Hocking Theater. I was going too fast to stop, so I blew right past it. Knowing that there are a couple of readers who are drive-in nuts, I  drove five miles to the next exit to turn around and head back to it.

I probably should have gotten off at the 595 exit and gone exploring like this guy did in 2003, but we had miles to go, so I made do with a shot from the main road. (You can click on it to make it larger.)

It’s in both better AND worse shape than the drive-in at Bloymeyer.

Bad vibes at No-Tell Motel

I’ll write about some of our other Ohio stops, but I’ll jump ahead to our search for a motel in Louisville, Ky.

Friend and passenger Jan Norris told me before we left on our grand journey that she likes to plan where she’s going to stay. I said that my plans change on a whim, so I drive until I get tired, then start looking for the best place at the lowest price. We agreed to be flexible.

When it became obvious that we weren’t going to make it into Cape before midnight, and because the weather forecasts all called for ugly stuff to start falling out of the sky around midnight and to continue on through the night, I told her to set her sights on Louisville. She pulled out her computer and, with much pecking and pausing, announced that she had found us two inexpensive, highly-reviewed, non-smoking rooms in a chain hotel that had been recently remodeled.

Jan’s going to check it out

When we pulled into the parking lot, I noticed several things: the parking lot was almost empty; the curtains had that “old” look, and the metal-clad doors had an awful lot of dents and dings in them. Jan said she’d ask to look at a room before we committed.

My bad vibes multiplied when a sign on the lobby directed us to another door where we had to talk to the clerk through a slit in what looked like bulletproof glass. She wouldn’t give us a key to inspect a room unless I left my driver’s license as security. I don’t know if she thought we were a couple of AARP members in search of a free spot to unleash our passions or if she was afraid we were going to steal the towels. Given our wrung-out, road-worn looks, I’m going to put my money on the latter.

The room was about half a block away, give or take, and on the third floor reachable by an elevator that had graffiti scratches on the walls. The rooms all opened to the outside, so it was a cold, windy walk. The room itself was clean, but so small you couldn’t have swung a bob-tailed cat in it.

We both reached the same conclusion: it was time to move on. I told Jan I’d get the car and warm it up while she got my license back. I only regret that she didn’t return the key to the desk clerk smoking a cigarette and sporting a glow and a big smile. Maybe then she wouldn’t have been strip-searched for hidden towels.


Two Egg and Pssssssssss-BANG!

About 25 years ago, I did a story about Grand Ridge, a small school system in Florida’s Panhandle that was trying a new reading program. I met the Hollister family and grew to really like them. Charles and Annie had two children – Hobie, who was Son Matt’s age, and Heather, who was a year or two older. I made it a point to stop in on them when we passed through on vacation or when I had an assignment in the area.

But, that’s not the reason for this post.

Two Egg general store

Eleven miles up Hwy 69 from Grand Ridge is Two Egg. You can’t get that close to a place with a name like Two Egg without stopping in. A quarter of a century ago, there was a small general store that sold me a couple of souvenir T-shirts to take back to the kids.

I thought it would be fun to pick up a couple of shirts for Grandsons Malcolm and Graham this trip. A few houses and the city limit signs are about all that’s left of Two Egg. There was no sign of the general store.

Holiday Ranch Motel

I was going to take a picture of one of the three worst motels I had ever stayed in, but it, too, was gone. I’ve stayed in some real dives over the years, but that didn’t bother me much because I usually didn’t spend much time in the rooms.

When I pulled into Grand Ridge for my assignment, I was pleased to see the Holiday Ranch Motel about five minutes from the school where I’d be working. It was the old-fashioned tourist court kind of place and one that had seen much better days. The manager took me to one of the stand-alone rooms and warned me that the door had a tendency to stick. “You have to play with it, but it’ll open.

The weather had turned cold, so I was happy to see that the room had a gas heater against one wall.


After I had snuggled up under the covers, I heard a Psssssssssssssssss sound. That was the gas heater filling the room with natural gas. Just about the time I was wondering if I was going to be gassed to death, there was a loud BANG!!!! as the gas ignited, sending a huge gout of fire out into the room.

Maybe I should check to see just how hard it WAS to get out of that room. “Stick” was an understatement. Visions of bad thriller movies and Alfred Hitchcock kept filling my mind.

All night long, “Psssssssssssss BANG! Flame!” “Psssssssssssss BANG! Flame!” “Psssssssssssss BANG! Flame!”

Several options were possible

  • The Pssssssssssssss could continue until the room filled with gas and extinguished all life in the room except for the cockroaches.
  • The Pssssssssssssss could fill the room with gas and the whole-shebang could go up in a flash of light and thunder.
  • Some combination of the above.

The next morning I checked out and moved to a motel that wasn’t quite as close, but was out of the blast zone of the Holiday Ranch Motel. (I’m pretty sure that was the name of it. The first name was definitely “Holiday,” but I’m positive the second word wasn’t “Inn.”)

Travel update

I’m staying in the same Comfort Suites in Cullman, Ala.,that Mother and I took refuge in on our last road trip. Joy Pannell, the same woman who told us where to go in case of a tornado that night, was working the desk tonight. Nice room, reasonable price, friendly service. I’ll make it a point to stay here whenever I pass through.