Could we have asked for finer weather? No! The spirits were with us the entire day, they escorted us, and we appreciated them guiding us through what might have been a truly frightening experience. Cherie Antonia, our ride leader, took us out of the Whole Foods parking lot a little after 10 am on this spirited, beautiful, fall morning.
With a mild nip in the air, we meandered through Upper Arlington, Grandview and Marble Cliff. We picked up the lower Scioto Greenway adjacent to Riverside Drive and crossed the bridge over the River into the community of Valley View. We headed southeast towards our first possessed destination, Camp Chase Cemetery. Camp Chase was a military staging and training camp established in Columbus, Ohio in May 1861 after the start of the American Civil War. It also included a section for use as a prison camp for confederate soldiers during the American Civil War. The camp was closed and dismantled after the war, and the site has been redeveloped for residential and commercial use, except for the Confederate States Army cemetery containing 2,260 graves. Tales are told of a lady in grey weeping quietly over the grave of one Benjamin F. Allen, a private in the 50th Tennessee regiment company. While leaving several riders claimed to have witnessed an ethereal, melancholy presence. Some said they could hear a very low and soft moaning as we quietly exited grave side.
Undaunted, we cautiously proceeded to our next ghostly destination. Cherie expertly navigated us through the West Side of Columbus toward the Green Lawn Abbey. This allowed us to approach the Green Lawn Cemetery from its southern end and gave us an uncommon glimpse at what birders around the country know to be premier and sacred land. Along with a vast number of dead people are some ancient and notable trees residing in this cemetery. It is those trees that host those many birds and make Green Lawn the National Geographic and Audubon acclaimed treasure that it is. Arriving at Green Lawn Abbey exposed us to yet another strange and exciting experience. We were greeted by a volunteer docent who shared the remarkable tale of this crypt (Listen Here). Built in 1927 by the Columbus Mausoleum Company, It was the finest and largest in the area with room for 600 interments (aka dead people). The Columbus Mausoleum Company built numerous other mausoleums in the surrounding area but this was was their showpiece. Built to last forever and to inspire awe, it had 1½“ thick granite walls, marble interior and an imported tile roof. Everyone enjoyed occasionally recognizing some of the names of those persons who left their marks on Columbus and its neighborhoods.
As everyone knows, it takes a lot of energy to journey into the world of spirits and ghosts. Although the spirits mentored us throughout as we journeyed, they did not feed our bodies, so we made our way to the Hills Market downtown for physical nourishment. On a ride we did not too long ago, Yay Bikes! member John Bannon shared that the part of long rides he loves the most are the stops. No truer point could be made on this day. We shared camaraderie, and fueled our bellies to take the last of our spirit-world journeys for the day. Pictured above is our executive director, Catherine Girves and her partner in marriage, Jeff Gove. Although you can't tell from the photo, they were both very scared during the ride and it was only after this refueling and much support from other riders that they could once again smile.
It was time for us to move on and Cherie was once again up the task. Not too far from the Market, but deeper into our netherworld travels, our final stop awaited us at James Thurber's House. From 1913-1917, Thurber attended the Ohio State University. It was at this time that his family rented the house we visited. It was dedicated as the Thurber House in 1984. After some of us finished touring the home we were entertained by an enthusiast who began sharing a number of witty Thurber quotes and factoids about the author. We all gained a sense of the celebrity who once lived in this modest home.
Inundated with the spirit, we headed back, sailing off on two wheels to return to the start. A number of us celebrated the culmination of our ghostly meandering with some spirits (the kind that come in a Pilsner glass or snifter) at Whole Foods. We made merry and talked about another delightful Year of Yay! It was an experience that allowed us to celebrate not only joy of cycling, but of just being alive.