Hike Ohio: Infirmary Mound Park

Yesterday the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon took over the downtown Columbus area. The road closures, crowds whooping and shouting encouragement, police sirens, and general commotion spurred us to hop in the car, find a way out of downtown, and head due east. Our goal was the Infirmary Mound Park in Licking County, near Granville.

The Infirmary Mound Park is part of the Licking County park system. It has lots of trail choices, as well as other amenities, including a number of shelter houses, open fields, and kid spaces. Some of the trails even permit riders on horseback. We chose a trail winding around a wildflower meadow for our initial hike. We didn’t see any equine friends, but we did see some happy dogs romping around with their human pals. The meadow trail was wide and made for an easygoing morning hike and an enjoyable ramble through the countryside on a cool, cloudy morning, with lots of interesting and colorful plants to examine.

And speaking of color, the trees were doing their part to remind us it is indeed fall. The classic autumnal palette of rust, tan, orange, and yellow had been liberally applied to the trees at the Infirmary Mound Park, as well as to the trees lining both sides of Route 161 as we drove east from Columbus and then headed west to return after our hikes were over. Yesterday was probably close to the peak fall foliage point in central Ohio, and there was beautiful color to enjoy everywhere you looked.

After we finished our stroll through the wildflower meadow loop, breathing in hearty gulps of fresh country air, we explored other parts of the park. The cloud cover started to break up, some blue skies contributed to the day’s color, and the temperature got warmer. We got a glimpse of Ohio’s agricultural heritage when we came across an old woodshed with a classic split-rail fence in the background.

We wandered along another trail that wound through some woodland and a small ravine. It was quiet and peaceful as we walked along, enjoyably shuffling through the leaves and smelling that high, somewhat spicy scent of leaves that have fallen to the ground and are just starting to crumble to dust. Our feet got another workout when we came across an area where the trail was covered with Osage oranges (technically, maclura pomifera, and also known as horse apples), which look like round green brains and weigh a few pounds. We booted them off to the side of the trail to clear the way for the walkers to follow, variously choosing the soccer-style and straight-on Lou Groza approaches to our kicking. It’s fun to kick Osage oranges–and toss them, too, if they’ve just fallen and you can do so without getting your hands sticky.

By the end of our hike the blue skies had appeared in earnest. As we walked back to our car, we passed an area where the grasses were permitted to grow to prairie length and were adding their subtle hues to the autumnal color fest. It was time to head back, but we enjoyed our visit to this pretty park and a chance to experience some more of the best season central Ohio has to offer.

In The “Silicon Heartland”

Ohio generally, and central Ohio specifically, got some good news on Friday, when Intel and Ohio governmental leaders announced that Intel will be building a semiconductor manufacturing “megasite” in southwestern Licking County, just across the Franklin County line. Intel will be investing $20 billion initially to construct two new factories on a nearly 1,000-acre site, but the project could ultimately house up to eight factories and become “the largest semiconductor manufacturing location on the planet.”

That’s why some people have started calling central Ohio the “Silicon Heartland.”

Local and state officials are thrilled because the project will create jobs. The project will be the largest private-sector investment in Ohio history. The Intel megasite is expected to create 7,000 construction jobs as the first factories are built, 3,000 jobs during its initial phase, and more than 10,000 long-term jobs. The average salary for the long-term jobs is expected to be around $135,000.

Obviously, the combination of Intel’s investment and the creation of high-paying jobs will be a boon for the local and state economy. Intel also is expected to invest in local community colleges and universities. And state officials anticipate that additional companies will locate in Ohio to do business with the Intel facilities–which is what happened when Honda built its motorcycle, automobile, and engine plants in Ohio and suppliers moved into the area to provide the parts and other services Honda needed.

Virtually every electronic gizmo we use in the modern world has a semiconductor, and there is currently a semiconductor shortage that has caused manufacturing delays for many products and devices. The initial Intel plants won’t solve the short-term supply issue–the goal is for them to be fully functional by 2025–but they will help to provide a long-term solution. And there is strategic value in maintaining significant semiconductor production in the United States.

Welcome to the “Silicon Heartland,” Intel! We’re glad you have come, and we think you’ll like it here.