[This is my column in the Oct. 23 issue of The Commercial Review.]
There are many telltale signs the seasons are changing.
Temperatures drop, nightfall comes earlier and the leaves start to change — just to name a few.
Another less common and far less noticeable way to tell the calendar is moving deeper into fall is by glancing at the odometer on my vehicle.
In just 15 days, Jay County, Fort Recovery and South Adams sports have taken me to seven different cities covering a total of 933 miles.
That’s just in October.
And it doesn’t include trips to Fort Wayne tonight and Saturday, or Marion Friday.
My travels in the last two weeks have taken me to Monroe, Yorktown (three times), Monroeville, Muncie (twice), Logansport, Kokomo and Ottawa, Ohio, all the while crossing paths with a zombie raccoon.
I had the unfortunate displeasure of hitting the creature with my vehicle while returning Oct. 15 (my 29th birthday) from Logansport. It was the first time I had ever hit an animal with a vehicle.
I traveled the same stretch of road the following day, and there was no evidence of such an encounter (though the plastic part on my front bumper suggests otherwise).
But as the odometer climbs on my 2006 Grand Prix, my tour of the northern part of the state has been worth every mile.
In that stretch, I’ve seen the South Adams boys and girls cross country teams sweep the Allen County Athletic Conference meet, the Jay County boys and girls soccer teams sweep Yorktown to win sectional titles, three JCHS cross country runners reach semi-state, the Patriot volleyball team play in the ACAC tournament semifinal and the Fort Recovery spikers compete for a sectional championship.
And if given the chance, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
Why? Because it means the local teams are having successful runs in the postseason.
Two weeks ago, I had driven 312 miles back and forth to Yorktown, Muncie and Monroeville, during which I spent 12 hours on a Saturday — 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. — in Delaware County covering three different events.
Then I followed it up with a four-day period in which I traveled 576 miles, six more than my previous one-week high set in May during the week of the baseball and softball sectional tournaments.
The long drives recently resulted in days that seemed like they lasted forever, which can be taxing on the body, both mentally and physically. During those times I’ve consumed enough coffee and energy drinks to rival that of a college student cramming for finals (been there, done that).
These road trips are just one of the many things that make my job fun.
Plus, with the leaves changing colors and beginning to fall, it makes for some pretty beautiful scenery. Autumn has always been my favorite of the four seasons.
I enjoy getting to experience new places and see what every city or town has to offer. That enjoyment led to me moving to Indiana in the first place.
Then it spawned a “Gym Tour” blog series in which I wrote about the number of different gyms I got to experience during wrestling and basketball seasons. It’s something I plan to continue this year, as the ACAC schedule will take me to an array of venues.
Just this season, the soccer, cross country, volleyball and football teams have taken me to places I had never been before.
And, I look forward to seeing where sports will take me as the calendar keeps rolling over.
My car, my wallet and I just hope rodents stay out of the way.