The Ultimate Road Trip

Last January when our friend Christine from Australia was visiting, she mentioned her son Jono (who we met once ten years ago when he was eleven) was playing in an Ultimate Frisbee tournament in Lebanon, Ohio. We immediately said, “We’ll meet you there.”

My very limited knowledge of the sport came from a friend talking about her daughter playing and blogger Mark Baker (Carstairs Considers) posting about it on Facebook. It intrigued me enough that it comes into play (pun intended) during my third Sarah Winston book, All Murders Final. And I just wrote a short story “The Ultimate Bounty Hunter” that includes the sport. It will appear in the next Chesapeake Crimes anthology in 2024.

Two weeks ago today we set off. For once, I convinced my husband to take back roads. Eastern West Virginia is stunningly beautiful. Once we left Virginia we almost had the roads to ourselves. We crossed the Appalachian Mountains, climbing and descending over and over. There were 9% grades and hairpin turns and forests and streams. We passed places called Dismal Hollow, Hopeless Lane, and Cheat River. There were so many towns that ended with either “burg” or “ville.”

Ohio flattens out, but this Iowa-raised girl loves to see a field of corn or soybeans and an old barn, so I was perfectly content. They have their own special kind of beauty.

We rented an AirBnB that said it was a luxury apartment. My husband took one look at the picture of the living room and said it looked like we were all going to donate blood. But the apartment was situated just off the highway in an area of shops, restaurants, and grocery stores. The chairs reclined and were comfortable. Best of all no one came to draw our blood.

Christine arrived and we set about making our first meal. There were four plastic glasses – two of which were so cracked they didn’t hold liquids. The dishware was also flimsy plastic with deep scratch marks that looked disgusting. I said the place was luxury redefined. A quick trip to TJ Maxx and we had suitable glasses and dishware—which are now residing in our basement.

When we said we’d go to the tournament we had no idea what we were getting in to! This wasn’t some small tournament. It was the World Ultimate Club Championships played every four years. There were 40 countries represented and 128 teams. Bob and Christine went to every game—two a day. I was a bit pickier choosing the game where the heat index was less than 100, okay 90. The athleticism of the players was astounding. They dive, leap, throw, and roll. The game is self-regulated meaning there are no referees. The players talk out conflicts. It was so much fun.

Jono making a catch during practice
The Australian (in black) and Colombian team after a hard fought game which the Australians won!

And we learned a lot of Aussie lingo. First and foremost, they don’t say “throw some shrimp on the barbie” because they call shrimp prawns. And they don’t call women “Sheila.” They do however, say “g’day.” Here are some other things we learned:

Whinger – (win jah)   complainer

Sledging – giving someone a hard time in a funny friendly way, banter

Phaffing – taking too long to do something – find keys, etc. wasting time or doing something unproductive

Farnarkling – to waste time, muck around, or phaf about

Sin cupboard – that’s where you keep the nuts, crackers, chips, and sweets

Physio – PT

Coriander is what we call cilantro

Capsicum – bell peppers

Australia – Straya

Indicator is a turn signal

Leaving Christine at the Cincinnati airport (which is in Kentucky) was so hard and involved lots of long hugs.

On the first half of the trip home, we took the fastest route. The second half we went just a bit out of the way so we could end the trip on a high note. Lunch with Barb Goffman and a stop for a glass of wine to see our daughter.

A rest stop in Maryland

Below are some random photos of things that caught my eye. A beautiful house in Springboro, Ohio, a tiny church, a bush that looks like a creature, fun decorations, a tiny house, and a horse on the interstate — I kept worry about its eyes as it sped along at 80 miles an hour.

Readers: Have you ever watched Ultimate Frisbee? Is there another sport you love to watch?

34 Thoughts

  1. We went to see the women amateur golfers at The Master’s in Augusta, GA this past April. Such an amazing golf course and to watch these young women play a sport that they love at the most prestigious golf course in the country was so amazing. I ended up having a front row seat when the winner hit her winning shot at the 18th hole. It was amazing and she was the youngest player there too. She will be going places in the sport. My husband and I are watchers not players as were my parents. I am keeping up their tradition.

  2. Lovely views! I’ve been to West Virginia and it is truly God’s Country. I’ve never heard of ultimate Frisbee, but my stepson plays disk Frisbee, which I think is quite tricky to do! Football is my favorite sport.

  3. Thanks for sharing your adventure with us. Glad you had a good time. We use to toss a frisbee around when I was younger, but never saw Ultimate Frisbee. I use to watch basketball and baseball, but they don’t interest me as much.

  4. What a fun trip – and I love the back roads, too. My younger son played Ultimate at Boston University and attended a tournament in San Diego. But the following year, his bike and he had an unfortunate encounter with a car and he dislocated his shoulder, so that was an end to Ultimate.

  5. Looks and sounds like you had a grand time. Love going to new places, having new experiences and taking detours to go someplace special. How neat to learn terms used in other countries straight from the source.

    I’ve not seen Ultimate Frisbee. Locally they do have a frisbee course sort of like golf that looks like it would be fun.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  6. What a cool trip, Sherry! I played a bit of ultimate frisbee way back in my grad school days. Talk about a workout! These days, I enjoy pro bicycle racing. Watching the Tour de France every July is an annual highlight on the calendar.

  7. What a great trip, Sherry! West Virgina is beautiful, if a bit wild and scary sometimes.

    My son’s high school did Ultimate Frisbee. I tried to get him interested. No dice.

    Oddly enough, after not watching a lot of it when I was younger (except attending college games), I like basketball the most now.

  8. Great photos, Sherry! What a fun trip.

    I’ve not watched ultimate anything, but I spent many happy hours playing Frisbee when I was in college. Don’t think I’ve handled one since. Just farnarkling, I guess! I love that word. It feels so good in the mouth 🙂

  9. I like watching rhythmic gymnastics during the Olympics. And watching ice skating every winter.

    That bush looks like Snuffupagus, and I’m worried about that poor horse too. A rock thrown up on the highway easily could hit and hurt him/her.

    Finally, it was so great to see you! Thanks for taking the roundabout way so we could make that happen.

  10. Thank you for the wonderful photos, Sherry! I’m so glad you had a good road trip. I’ve never seen Ultimate Frisbee–but I do have a vivid memory of a lazy frisbee game in the empty coliseum at Pompeii, where 3 guys, the friend I was travelling with and I had snuck in during a strike. Being the only people in a deserted, dead city was an experience I’ll never forget.

  11. What a wonderful road trip. Thanks for sharing it and all the great pictures with us. I love the back roads, too. I’ve never seen Ultimate Frisbee, but I once went to a pro-tennis tournament in Brookline, MA. It was so long ago, I don’t remember any details, but it was a lot of fun to watch. And, yes, everyone’s heads do swivel back and forth. 🙂

  12. A charming report of an off-beat trip. Wonderful photos. How beautiful our country still is.

  13. I’m so glad you enjoyed the tournament so much. And thanks for the shout out!

    Ultimate Frisbee is one of those sports you either know about and appreciate or have never heard of. It is rare that I find people in between.

    And I do feel compelled to point out that Ultimate Frisbee is very different from disc golf. Both are good sports, but they are very, very different. Most of the time when talking about Ultimate with someone who doesn’t know what it is, they think I mean disc golf.

  14. G’day mate
    From one Sheila to another it was a bloody bonza trip, cruising out in the bush in the Subi with me mates. Shame I couldn’t bring me Ute. Abit of phaffing and farnarkling from old mate but all in all bloody brilliant. I know I’m as mad as a cut snake but youse put up with it good.
    As for frisbee, it’s nearly as unreal as cricket. Which is Aussie as. Always remember she’ll be right mate. See ya later when your legs are straighter.

  15. Thank you for sharing the fabulous pictures. I love West Virginia. I do not watch sports. God bless you.

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