Invited to attend a wedding in southeastern Ohio, we left Columbia this morning and drove east on Interstate 70. For most of our trip, we crossed the Glaciated Plain of the American Midwest, a relatively flat landscape quilted with farms and broken by wooded stream valleys, all draining southward to the Missouri, Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.
Just beyond Columbus, Ohio, we turned onto Route 33, angling southeastward. Once we reached Lancaster, we could see the westernmost hills of the Appalachian Plateau, rising above the Central Lowlands. While this topographic transition has been obscured by glacial erosion in northeast Ohio, the western edge of the Plateau is more distinct south of Columbus and remains evident through eastern Kentucky, central Tennessee and northern Alabama. Capped by Pennsylvanian sandstone, the Appalachian Plateau reaches its highest elevations along its eastern edge, where it towers above the Ridge and Valley Province as the Allegheny Front.
Snaking into the Plateau east of Lancaster, Route 33 soon reaches the Black Hand Sandstone region of Ohio, among the most scenic areas in the Midwest. Having explored that natural wonderland in the past, our sights were set on Athens, the home of Ohio University and the location of tomorrow's celebration.