Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Notes From My Knapsack 2-4-07
Jeff Gill

A View Is Worth a Thousand…

"A picture is worth a thousand words" is the old saying.

True, but sometimes you need a thousand (well, 700 in this space) to find a pretty picture for your eyes.As Booster Snapshots gets rolling, we’ll be looking for your photos, of kids in action, schooners built in garages, and the necessary white horse on a green hillside.

Landscape shots are notoriously hard to transfer from the eyeball to the page. Few actually have the visual composition built into the natural scene that allows them to leap off of print (think Grand Canyon). Odds are, unless you’re a well-trained, long-practiced photographer, it will be hard to get a landscape shot that works for these pages.

Which is where text comes back into play! Licking County has quite a few beautiful views, and they play well on the heart if not in ink.

I’ve been out on a couple rambles lately which had me thinking about this, which were, unfortunately, on private property where access has to be very limited.So I can’t tell you about ‘em.There are plenty though, that you can see, and this is a great time of year for the long view. Leaves are off the trees, branches are thin, and a bit of snow accents all the terrain.

Easy and obvious, but missed by many, is Dawes Arboretum. You don’t have to be a demon hiker to enjoy either the overlook behind the Visitor’s Center, the tower along the south drive at the end of the hedge letters, or my favorite: past the Holly, park in the pulloff, and walk through the beeches to the Oak Overlook. An interpretive sign tells you about the ancient Teays River Valley, pre-glacial, and the Groveport fossil river running north to south before you.

When you look northwest, you are seeing a little way up the side valley of Raccoon Creek. To have the bookend view for Oak Overlook to the southwest, drive west on Newark-Granville Road to Bryn Du Woods, and drive back, and back, and back, tending left, and left, and left, until you hit the keyhole surrounding Alligator Mound.

I’ve written about that 1000 year old effigy mound before (and will again), but to see the sunrise over the ridges of Dawes at this time of year from that perspective is awesome.

Plus the sunrise isn’t too painfully early, yet. Park by the state historical marker and wander up.There are a number of automotive views, best seen from the passenger seat for safety’s sake, but the driver gets a peek or two.

Coming north on Rt. 13 past WCLT, as night falls, gives you a scattering of gems also known as Newark & Heath, rarely looking prettier. The same is true going north on Canyon as you approach Seminary Road. If you pause, watch your mirrors, as there are little in the way of shoulders. There is, of course, a quick glimpse of Newark and the Courthouse in a couple of the drives out of Morgan Manor, behind State Farm and Damon’s.

When I am going to Mount Vernon or Mansfield or Cleveland, I look forward to the point on Rt. 661 north of Granville as you hit a high point, with all the land sloping away. The highest point in Licking County is west of you, but there’s no view there to match the spot heading for Lundy’s Lane beyond Highwater.

Golfers already know that the Links at Echo Springs, just southwest of the county high spot, has a gorgeous view to the south in all seasons. I’m partial to most of the drive from Cedar Hill Cemetery out to Camp Falling Rock and Camp Ohio and Camp Wakatomica, but Rain Rock Road out there has a strange beauty all its own.

There are some vistas at Black Hand Gorge that take a little hiking, but are worth the effort. On south, the views along Brownsville Road to Flint Ridge, and the quick look down the valley of Dutch Run at Priest Hill on Flint Ridge Road, as you (almost) literally drop off the ridge is dramatic, if a wee bit dangerous.

And you can go just about anywhere and be impressed on the Licking Valley schools campus, which ironically is mostly up on a high point. Forget the irony, and enjoy the view.

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; tell him about a view special to you at knapsack77@gmail.com.