Thursday 25th September. Orrville, Ohio, USA
If I went to sleep disappointed, I woke up downright demoralized. As if to add insult to injury, the fitted sheet had come loose and curled up. I was lying on the plastic mattress protector. I checked out, collecting my $2.12 key deposit without uttering a word, and walked north. My spirits lifted a bit when I realized that last night's cab ride *at 25 mph despite the fact there was no other traffic* had got me within a mile of Highway 75, one of the main highways to the north. Just a few minutes after taking up position on the on-ramp with Judith's 'World Tour 2003' sign stuck to my pack, a semi trailer came to a halt and I climbed in. He took me as far as Dayton, about an hour's drive. By then it was lunchtime; I'd not woken up till after ten. I just wasn't in the mood for standing by the road today, and budgeting seemed pointless after last night. I walked to the Greyhound station and bought a ticket to Wooster, the closest stop to Orrville, where my hosts Kerry and Pat live.
The Greyhound bus trip was as you'd expect. I tried to sleep, in between the loud ringing of mobile phones. Even Greyhound passengers can afford mobile phones these days, it seems. Somewhere along the way, I phoned Kerry from a payphone while the bus was stopped. She was happy to pick me up from Wooster, she said.
Kerry and Pat work for a plastics company in nearby Rittman. They've lived in Orville- the hometown of Smuckers Jelly- for a few years, but are plannng a move to California soon. I guess they're looking to give their seven year old son Zach the opportunity to pursue his acting career. Zach has already worked in a few films, and said he loves the dressing up and role playing. He's a bright little spark. On the way back to their home, he asked me what a Vegemite sandwich was. I guess he'd heard the term in the Men At Work song, 'Down Under'. Well, Zach was in luck because I happened to have an unopened jar of the black gold in my backpack, courtesy of Jungle Jim's International foodstore just outside Cincinnati.
When we got back to their home, Kerry busied herself with the task of fixing supper. They'd already eaten their evening meal, and Pat insisted he wasn't hungry. Even so, Kerry served Pat and myself with a generous portion of pork chops with apple sauce, mashed potato and green beans. I was starving, and went back for more...and more. Pat ate most of his without too much protest. Zach was excited by the strange black spread from the southern hemisphere, and when he tried a bite of my toast and Vegemite, it was obvious he'd never tasted anything like it. In fact he liked it so much that I decided to leave the whole jar there for him. So anyone else who wants to try some Vegemite will have to visit Jungle Jim's.