Wandering in Ohio

I spent a good deal of my adolescence believing that I wasn’t meant to be in Ohio. I was born to travel, born to live in a bigger city, born to see more than could be found in the midwest. I believed I’d blossom and my life would change the day I graduated from high school.

But I didn’t make it out of Ohio until I was 25. I moved to live with my boyfriend who had accepted a job on the East Coast. I started grad school, worked as a bank teller, and was more alone and homesick than I ever thought I could be. I made it eight months. Finally, I left the boy, school, and the job behind, returning home.

Looking back, I had hesitated to leave Ohio because things were so comfortable. I have a good relationship with my parents. I have a few close friends that are much more like the sisters I always wished I had. And I like knowing where things are. It’s this last point that’s closer to the truth in why I had always hesitated to leave. I was afraid to be uncomfortable. I never could seem to force myself to take that first step and put myself out there. And, reflecting back, this trait has proven crippling. I’ve let opportunities go by and relationships fail before they begin.

When I returned to Ohio, I would send pictures of our hometown or interesting things I came across to the boyfriend I had left behind. This was the beginning of my exploration of and adventures in Ohio. I started to enjoy heading out to explore small towns and back roads without a plan.  Two and a half years later our lives have moved in different directions.  And I have developed a fondness for exploring the unexplored and capturing the often overlooked beauty that can be found all around us. 

Luckily, I grew up with parents who had two ways of getting to wherever we were going, the regular way, and “the back way”. The regular way would entail highway driving, while “the back way” was largely on county roads, through smaller towns, and on back roads. These drives have become my biggest source inspiration. Taking the back way you find small towns and their local shops, abandoned buildings, and that old neglected sign. It is here that you can capture trees reflected in the water of a stream or a long forgotten cemetery on the side of the road.

These days I no longer am afraid. Instead, I'll choose a destination, find the back roads, and just go. 

About the author:

Rachel Black is an invaluable member of The Campfire Experience team. In addition, she curates a beautiful visual blog capturing her travels and inspiration found along Ohio's back roads and in parts of the midwest. To follow her adventures, visit her blog at http://littlegirllittleadventures.tumblr.com/