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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?

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