traciwentling

Inspiration Day

Monday, July 30 — Smells and Scents — Bad and Good

My first picture of the day

Last night as I entered my tent for the last time, I could smell skunk.  That kind of worried me…but when I woke up the first time in the middle of the night I couldn’t smell him anymore so that was a relief.  I have a great sense of smell…have I ever told you that?  I can smell whether someone is smoking in a car as they pass by.  I can smell the wild marijuana in the ditches of Minnesota.  If a woman wear too much perfume or a man too much cologne, it makes me nauseous.  It seems I can smell fire long before anyone else can.  A dead dear in the ditch is bad news for a long time as I ride by.  One of the smells I hate the most is exhaust from a diesel fueled vehicle.  If I can smell water, then I won’t drink it.  Fish…well don’t even get me started on fish.  I can smell fishiness within a mile.

My favorite scent in the whole wide world is in a box of greenery shipped from Oregon at Christmastime or the scent of rain or the scent coming out of a dryer vent.  I love the scent of log trucks as they go by.  As a kid, I remember coming home from church to the wonderful scent of a roast and potatoes in the oven.   I still remember the wonderfully musty scent of Gram’s basement and a box full of newly printed books.  Fresh bread out of the oven or fresh cut grass…oh my.  Chocolate, even if it’s a bar still intact with wrapper is a wonderful scent.

So…that skunk might have been a half mile away and I worried for nothing.

Flashback to yesterday when I was sitting in front of the antique store.  Another lady came to work in the store.  I think her name was Sue.  So we have Ken and Steve and Sue.  Ken asks Sue, “Did you know Traci is headed to Bar Harbor, Maine?”  Sue says, “Oh yes, I’ve been talking to her and I know all about her trip”.  Ken says to me, “Sue honeymooned in Bar Harbor”.  Sue says, “No, I honeymooned in Paris”.  Ken looks at me and looks at her like he just heard that for the first time, shrugs his shoulders and walks back into the store.  Sue leans in towards me so only I can hear and says, “Actually, I honeymooned at Six-Flags in Texas”.  We both busted out laughing.  It was the most hilarious moment of the week and I’m still chuckling about it.

Today was an easy day of flat roads, no dog chases, I did not get lost or take any wrong turns or miss any right turns.  I arrived in Vermilion, Ohio and found a cute café for lunch.  This is a historical town and it says on a sign in front of the café that it was the first funeral parlor in town in the 1800’s.  I walked to the police station and got permission to camp at the city park.  The next stop was the public library where it’s supposed to be cool but hopefully not so cold that I can’t sit down for any length of time without shivering.  This library though, is stuffy and not cool at all.  I’d probably be more comfortable if I was clean and had on clean clothes, but I haven’t had a real shower for two days.  I wonder what will be offered at the park?  Time to go find out.

No shower facilities here either.  Make that three days with no shower.  I don’t want you to think I’m a walking talking smelling in smelling out machine.  I do take what John calls my “native bath” under a water spigot.  If NOTHING else gets clean, I will always find enough water to brush my teeth a couple of times a day.  I know they are probably still a bit neglected and I have a teeth cleaning scheduled for the first week of September (just in case you were wondering).

So I’m semi-clean and have also washed my clothes under the spigot and they are hanging on my clothes line.  I’ve had supper.  My tent is set up under the pavilion.  I’ve had a series of texts from John, Simrun (one of my goddaughters), Sue (you know, my riding buddy who rode with me to Montana), and one of our friends, Michael who monitors the route pretty closely.

When I talked to John earlier today, he has been invited to supper at the Cammacks.  I am very grateful to our neighbors the Cammacks who are the best neighbors ever in the history of neighbors!  Thank you for thinking of my husband who tends to eat for fuel only rather than taste and companionship.  I, on the other hand, boiled some water and added it to some rice and then had Pop Tarts for dessert.  One day I was texting with Angie and she asked what I was doing.  I meant to tell her I was having a Diet Pepsi and Pop Tarts, but when it was sent, it came out Diet Poopsie and Ooptarts.  How did that happen?  We both had to say we were laughing out loud (LOL) for sure!

Today as I was getting ready to ride the North Coast Inland Trail, I stopped when I heard an unusual train whistle.  I knew I had heard one like that before, but it took a minute to register that I had heard it only in the movies!  It was a steam engine.  I really kind of doubt that it runs all the time?  But in any event, I was in the right place at the right time.  My Grandson, Tristan, is going to love it!

Well, as you know I have reached Lake Erie and it is beautiful.  I rode beside it for about 9 miles before I caught my first glimpse of it because of the fancy houses between the highway and the water.  However now, here in Sherod Park, I have unfettered access to the beauty.  The wind is calm, it’s about 70 degrees, and people are really enjoying the park and the beach.  Not too many people are paying much attention to me here under the pavilion with a lake to gaze at that appears as big as the ocean.

I just decided to go snap a picture of the sun setting over the lake and when I got close I took a look and took off on a dead run trying to get my camera on, in position, and ready.  You would not BELIEVE what I almost missed.  It was simply breathtaking!  I snapped about 20 pictures as the sun went completely out of sight but unfortunately the pictures just do not do justice to seeing it in person.  In the pictures, the sun seems much smaller than what it looked like with the naked eye.  I will see what photo treasures I can take in the morning when the sun rises.  You’ll have to wait another day for those.

While I was down at the beach, I met Jim and Marsha, who were interested in my trip and came up later to get one of my cards.  Nice NICE people.  Marsha crochets caps and scarves for her church clothing giveaways so she also has a heart for Jesus.

I’m feeling pretty good about actually being able to post this tonight using my phone hotspot.  Caught up for now.  Woot Woot!

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Jul 30

Sunday, July 29 — Window Mannequin

Sun rising Sunday morning over the Maumee River

This morning as I was pumping my tires, I pulled the value stem out of my back tube and the tire went instantly  flat.  Two months ago, I would have fretted and worried about how long this was going to take and I’d be looking around to see if there was anybody who could help, etc.  But today, I calmly shrugged my shoulders and got to work.  I had the tire changed and the wheel back on the bike in less than ½ hour.  Of course, it didn’t hurt that I had a picnic table for comfort and convenience; and soft grass to turn my bike upside down on.  It was cool enough and shady and no one watching me to put the pressure on.  I just really couldn’t believe how easy it all was.  I’m doubting myself thinking…this was too easy…what did I do wrong.  So I took it out for a spin before putting my bags on and it shifted fine.  I checked the pressure a half dozen times to make sure I got that right.  Yep, I’m getting good!

Just prior to rolling out, an elderly Vietnamese woman came walking up to me in her house dress or perhaps bathrobe carrying a bouquet of Queen’s Anne Lace that she had just picked.  She invited me to her house for breakfast and for a shower.  She was extremely hard to understand between her heavy accent and I think she may have had a stroke because one side of her mouth didn’t seem to move.  She pointed out her house to me and it was just across the highway.  She was so so sweet and I hated to turn her down, but I really thought I should get on the road and besides that…I had just eaten a double portion of oatmeal.  She went on to tell me that she needed to get home to make lunch for her boyfriend.  I asked her what she was going to cook and she said Walleye.  I think she told me she had caught it yesterday.  The flowers were for the kitchen table.

I finally rolled out of town at 8:10.  I rode a whole 10 miles when a gentleman yelled something friendly to me from a roadside rest stop and I turned around and rolled in to talk to him.  He was interested in my bike and what I was doing.  He was on his 1995 Honda Gold Wing out for a Sunday spin.  He offered me a bottle of water and I put it in my bag for later.  He took my picture and we said our goodbyes.  The day was going to be a good one, I could tell 😎

My next stop was Grand Rapids, population 1002. Some Civil War history took place there and I stopped to read the signs.  I looked down the street to the downtown area and there were some cars parked in front of what looked like a café.  Oh my…I’m not hungry, but can I possibly not stop for breakfast at a small town café?  So I went for a look.  Turns out it was kind of a fancy place serving a buffet only and I don’t like breakfast buffets so I turned around and left.  The downtown area was so inviting and I walked my bike the two blocks to look it all over.  There was a raised bench (kind of on a pedestal?) in front of an antique store and I immediately decided to pull out my computer and finish up yesterday’s blog.  Once I got it ready to post, I used my phone for a hot spot and started downloading pictures.  About that time, it was 11:30 and I noticed the town had come alive.  The two guys who owned the antique store arrived and they were so nice to offer me a cinnamon roll and banana.  They asked me if I wanted to get more comfortable in a canvas chair, but I was fine.  In a few minutes several other people had come over and asked me what I was doing.  Then two women riding bicycles stopped on their way out of town for the same reason.  They told me that their Toledo Bike Club was doing a ride there today and they’d all be back about 1:00 if I would like to join them for lunch.  I thanked them, but told them I needed to hit the road just as soon as I finished my blog.  They left and more people came over to chit chat.  I almost felt like a mannequin in a window getting so much attention.

Turns out all the stores were opening at Noon and there were people everywhere!  At 12:30, I was just finishing up finally with my blog and the two ladies on the bikes came back and asked me to join them for coffee.  Oh ya…real coffee.  I was still there when the pizza was delivered and I had two pieces and some watermelon.  The rest of the bike club came in from their ride and I visited with many of them for another 30 minutes or so and then was just about ready to leave when Janet asked me if I’d like to stay with her at her house.    Now…I had to give this some serious consideration.  She lived 20 miles from this town and if I was to ride to her house today, I’d have to ride about 75 tomorrow to stay on track.   After much discussion, I decided I had better stay on my schedule and I left very reluctantly.

I rode another 15 or so and arrived at Bowling Green where I found a grocery store and pulled in to restock my pantry.  I spent some big bucks on instant Starbucks coffee at $1.00 per cup.  It had better be worth it!  I’ll let you know.

I arrived at my final destination of Gibsonville at 6:30.  I’m staying at the county campground.  There is an older gentleman on the corner lot with a large camper and another family way further back that I can’t see, but certainly can hear.  Then there is little ‘ol me.

The nice guy on the motorcycle took this. That is grease on my leg…not a bruise.

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Jul 29

Saturday, July 28 — Happy Birthday Angie!

Flower of the Day for the Birthday Girl

Today is our daughter’s birthday and I hate that I’m not in Arkansas to bake her a birthday cake, but I heard that someone baked her one, so that’s good.  She is planning on coming home in August and I’m so looking forward to that.  Cody, Mechell and Tristan will also come home that weekend.  It’ll be a family reunion!  Woot Woot!

I warned Flavia and the young German man that I’d be up early and they were good sports about it.  I didn’t actually turn on any lights until their alarm went off at 5:30.  The young man from Germany called 5:30: a half past five.  I haven’t heard that said in a long time.

I was the first one out of camp and immediately left town on the wrong road.  I really think the Adventure Cycling map has it wrong, but I’m not absolutely positive so I won’t say anything to them about it.  I asked two different people for directions to get me back on track.  The first lady was as confused as I was.  The man in the golf cart knew what he was talking about, but he made himself sound doubtful and therefore, I felt uneasy using his directions until it all worked out and I got back on the right road.

What I want people to do is say, “may I have your map please?”  They will take a highlighter out of their pocket and mark the way I should go.  They will give concise, easy to follow instructions and add, “this is the easiest, shortest, fastest, flattest way to get you back on track.  You will have a 10 mph tail wind and you will be very happy that you originally took a wrong road out of town.  There is a perfect café in 20 miles with wifi where  you can update your blog while you have breakfast.  I recommend the waffles with strawberries.  Their coffee is wonderful and their orange juice is freshly squeezed.  They bring the warm syrup to the table BEFORE the waffle arrives and oh…by the way…they always serve their bacon very very crisp.  Oh, and the waitresses are morning people and very very friendly”.  Is this too much to ask?  I think not.

I rode by my first Nazarene Church today in Payne, Ohio.  I got there before any staff, so I just left one of my cards on the front door with a little message.

I took a picture of a barn with the square windows set at an angle so they almost look like diamonds.  I thought that was unique.  What is not unique is that most of the barns that I’ve seen in the past two days have the farmer’s name in extra big letters painted on the side.  I also started running into pink trash dumpsters.  I’m assuming the trash company is donating a certain sum to the Susan Coleman Foundation??

I stopped for breakfast in Paulding and found a café with wifi so I was all set to have some French toast and post the last two day’s blogs.  The townspeople were not very friendly and I certainly had to ignore the feeling that I was an alien on their planet.  The young man who was the owner of the café was very nice though and after paying my ticket he came outside with me to help me get out of town on the right road since my map said I was to turn right on “unsigned Jackson Street”.  Turns out Jackson Street WAS signed afterall.

After breakfast, I started following the Maumee River.  Until yesterday, I had not even heard of the Maumee River.  In the town of Florida, there is a small church that has been converted into the library.  I would have loved to have been able to get inside to see what they did to it, but on the outside, other than the library sign, it still very much looks like a church.  I took some pictures and then sat down to rest and took a picture of my map because I want to show you how much water I’m going to be seeing very soon which is so exciting for me.  But then…about that time… some ugly fighting voices started coming from the house next door and so I decided my break was over.

My destination tonight was Napoleon, Ohio and it’s one of those towns that do not have a designated camping spot on the map.  I am always uneasy about that (as you know).  On the outskirts of town there looked to be a park or two on the river side of the road and I kept that in the back of my mind but still thinking I was going to have to find a motel.  Right when I got downtown there was a city police car sitting there so I rolled over and introduced myself and asked the officer if there was some place I could camp.  He got on his phone and called the station to ask.  They told him I could camp at Ritter Park (which is one of the parks I saw coming into town).  I thanked him and then went in search of options.  I had to ride north about a mile to find the interstate and all the fast food restaurants and a Holiday Inn Express.  That is off the route and far too expensive for this trip anyway so I turned around and stopped at the Dairy Queen.

There at the DQ, I had an encounter with such an interesting couple, Steve and Sue, who are stained glass artists and are donating their labor to put in new stained glass windows in their Lutheran Church in another small town.  I would have loved to see them as they have seven of nine completed.  The theme of the windows comes from the Book of John.  Such great people and I’m so glad I met them.

I decided to cross the river going south where I will be heading in the morning to see about motels.  There I found the Maumee Motor Inn.  It looked a bit rough and I asked the clerk if I could see the only room they had left before I committed.  One look at the room and I decided I would be safer at the park.  So here I am.  I have all the basics here that I need anyway.  Nice green soft grass, a bathroom (no shower) and electricity (no wifi).  I sat here for a few minutes and spoke to several people as they were walking their dogs along the path.  Soon, a lady on her evening walk and came over to visit.  I told her my story and she told me that her husband, Tom was a bicycler and she would not be surprised if he didn’t want to come talk to me.  A few minutes later, here came Tom.  What a great couple they are:  Tom and Greta and they live across the street and up the road just a block or two.  They were on their way to a cookout and soon here come Tom back with a wonderful (and I mean WONDERFUL) plate of food: BBQ chicken, potato salad, corn on the cob, salad and a plum for dessert and lemonade to drink.  He left me to go to join his family.  I ate every last morsel.  It’s been awhile since having such a great supper.  When Tom came back later to collect the plate and utensils, we visited some more.  If I had not already been set up here, I could have gone to the cookout with them and also stayed in their yard, but alas, I felt I could not leave my gear here in the park unattended.  What a wonderful surprise and blessing I received tonight just because I decided to stay in Ritter Park in Napoleon, Ohio.  Thank you so very much Tom and Greta!

I went to my tent with the intention of trying to blog, but I couldn’t keep my eyes open and fell into a fast sleep.  The next thing I knew it was 5:00 a.m.  Dark.  So here I am typing at the picnic table and watching the sky turn pink in the east as the sun starts to rise over the river.  Gorgeous!

I’m in need of a care package from John so when I get in tonight, I’ve got to try to determine where I’ll be around next Thursday so that he can mail it on Monday.  It’ll be my last care package as I am on the last leg of this trip.  The good news is that yesterday when I calculated where I am in comparison to where I should be, I am actually 60 miles ahead of schedule.  I have ridden 2,960 miles and I have 1,340 to go so I’m pretty darn happy with those statistics.  I don’t have any way to post this yet, but I have to get going.  It’s going to be a late start for me this beautiful Sunday morning.  I’ll snap a few pictures of the sun rising in Ohio for you.

Flavia. It was great visiting with her!

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Jul 28

Friday, July 27 — Gram’s House

No one bothered me at all last night and I actually slept pretty good in my hideaway place…that is…until a crazy Loon started it’s mating call or something in the middle of the night.  What’s that all about?  Most birds in Kansas don’t sing during the middle of the night.

It is official; I don’t need to be waking up at 4:00 a.m. because it’s not light enough to ride until 6:30.  I had a hard time packing up in the dark so I wasn’t ready to leave camp until 7:00.  The ride today was beautiful and I enjoyed it immensely!  The roads were flat once I left the river and it was cool and it was green and the scenery was lovely.  There were not so many turns today so I didn’t have to keep stopping to look at the map constantly and I made pretty good time.  I stopped in Zanesville at a little store/café and had the best BLT ever.  She made it on a toasted hoagie bun and the bacon was super crisp and even broken up into bits.  A little shredded cheese held the bacon on the lettuce and tomato and it was just delicious!  An A & W Root beer was just the ticket to wash it down.  When I came out of the café, it had gotten hot and it was a little tougher the rest of the way in to Monroeville.

I rode by a Clydesdale Ranch today.  I could hear the horses’ ninny coming out of the fancy barn.  The place was opulent yet tasteful.  It made me think of the movie with Julia Roberts, Dennis Quaid, and Robert Duvall where the main setting is on an equestrian ranch.  I remember who was in it, but I can’t remember the name.  Par for the course.

I have been thinking of my Grandma Barlow’s (Gram) farm house.  My Grandfather, Dad and Uncle Jim built the house in the late 40’s or early 50’s.  It’s the home I remember most as a child because I stayed with “Gram” every weekend for years and years.  It was such a beautiful house which set on a corner of some acreage far into the country surrounded by trees, blue grass, and Gram’s Iris gardens.  The house is gone now, but I still see it in my mind’s eye.  I’m certain the house was built with a set of blueprints so there must be another house out there somewhere built with the same plans.  I’ve looked at every home I’ve ridden by as I’ve criss-crossed the U.S. over the years but have not found it yet.

The yard was as special as the house and I remember my best friend, Judy and I playing in the yard or sitting on the low branches of the cherry tree discussing what we thought we knew about the birds and the bees.  I saw a yard full of fruit trees last week in Odell which reminded me of Gram’s.  It’s amazing what I find that then stirs up old memories.  Good stuff.

Today I stopped to take a picture of a barn that had an unusual name written across it and after I took the picture, I noticed a big dog on the porch.  I grabbed my mace and got the heck out of there.  That particular dog, as mean as he looks, did not even as much as bark at me.  I was having a pretty slow day with dogs and got kind of complacent in my diligence and that’s when two came after me from the same house and were running right beside me one on either side.  I grabbed the mace and got both of them with two quick squirts and they disappeared but not before I turned around and saw one shaking his head.  I wonder if they’ll chase the next bicyclist that comes by.

My first stop when I got into town was the local ice cream drive-in.  I had just sat down when a couple walked in.  They asked me my story and then with a father’s heart, he asked me why I would do such a thing.  He softened up and told me his story about how he had gone to Russia several times because of the calling of God.  Before they left, they gave me a nice donation for New Hope.  I’m always grateful when I meet people who want to visit in general, but when this happens, I am reminded of my mission and I get a renewed sense of energy.  (The ice cream helps too).

I’m sitting in Monroeville at a great Community Park where the townspeople have built an air-conditioned building for special events.  They offer a wonderful service just for cross-country cyclists where we can come in out of the heat and get a good night’s sleep.  It has two bathrooms which include showers (they even provide towels) and a washer and dryer; a kitchen to use as well as plenty of floor space for sleeping bags.  No internet though so another night of no blog.  I arrived about 2:00 and washed my clothes and showered.  About that time another woman, in her 20’s, Flavia, came riding in from the East.  She’s been on the road three weeks and we sat down with our maps and shared where we’ve stayed and if those stays were recommended, etc.  It’s been really nice to have a woman to visit with today.  This evening a young man from Germany came riding in.  He’s also going west so I think he and Flavia might ride together for a few days.  I, on the other hand, will be solo…

Flavia passed along to me a Powerbar that has been traveling with cross-country bicyclists since 1994.  Someone gave it to her five days ago and now she has given it to me.  It will be my responsibility to pass it off to someone else down the road.  It’s pretty funny because there is a piece of masking tape across it that says “Don’t Eat”.  Good advice I’d say!

Low ground fog leaving the river valley

Eight miles to Ohio.

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Jul 28

Thursday, July 26 — A new Godbaby to love!

Flower of the Day is for Sunita. Congratulations!

It was a super night for me sleeping in the cool dark sanctuary of the Buffalo Christian Church.  I’m very glad I still had my sleeping bag because it was just the right temp to sleep very comfortably, warm and safe.  I woke up at 4:00 when my alarm went off, but laid there for a bit trying to grasp where I was.  This happens every morning though so that’s nothing new.  I was warned that trash trucks start rolling by at 5:00 a.m. and sure enough…  The church building vibrates and it’s loud.  I’m not too happy about the fact that I’m going to be sharing the road with those same trash trucks in about an hour.  Now that I’m in the Eastern Time Zone, it may be that I could have slept in a bit longer because it’s still pitch black outside at 5:10.  I’m sitting here typing and drinking some real drip coffee and having my oatmeal.  It will be hard to leave here this morning.  To be continued…

Well my goodness, the next time I looked at my watch it was 7:00 and I still hadn’t left the church.  That’s an hour later start that I had been getting.  I looked outside and realized why it still looked dark: rain clouds surrounding Buffalo.  I dug back out my computer and turned it on to check the weather only to find out it really wouldn’t start raining till about 9:00 so I rushed out of there as fast as I could hoping to get ahead of it (which I did).

I was happy to find out that the landfill was only two miles up the road so after that I didn’t have to deal with the trash trucks any longer.  Buffalo is a small town of only about 600 people, so the trash company must be handling more trash than just Buffalo’s.  Actually though, the drivers of those trucks were very courteous and I had no problem with any of them (other than tolerating the awful smell).

I had a trace of a tailwind so I tried to take advantage of it and pedaled for all I was worth right up until I hit road construction again.  The sign said the road was closed up ahead and to take the detour.  I sat there for quite awhile studying my maps to see if there was some alternative where I could ride south rather than north which would then hook me up to the road I was supposed to be on in the first place.  About that time a FedX driver pulled up and told me to turn right on 500S and then to….and then to….and then to cross over Highway 31…and make a left or a right at……  ANYWAY, the only thing I remembered was to turn right at 500S and to cross over Highway 31.  I made the first turn and then soon realized that not only do I not have a photographic memory…I basically have no memory at all.  I went a mile south and then turned around and came back to where I started and took the darn detour like I should have done in the first place (no public servants to help out my cause this time).  I very quickly learned that the road I had been on for the last two days was the flattest road around because now I had hills again.  And…did I mention dogs?  What’s worse than hills and dogs?  Nothing at that crucial moment.  Yes, Mike, I got in some interval training this morning.  The whole detour only added an additional seven miles, but the hills made it seem like twice that.

I finally arrived at a town that had a small store with things to eat and I sat down for a not so quiet lunch with seven or eight men.  They all were crowded around one table and I sat by myself at a small round one just inches away.  I turned on my cell phone to find out that the mother of our Godchildren had given birth to our fifth Godchild.  Amer text me a picture of the little guy and he is SO SO precious!  Aryan Amer Khokhar 6 lbs, 15 oz. born this morning.  Congratulations Amer and Sunita!  We love you all!

I was sprinkled on several times today, but never got really wet.  I had everything safely tucked away in my waterproof bags (except my camera) so it just didn’t bother me if it wanted to rain.  After all, I had been praying for rain for these folks for days.  My prayer was though…for the rain to come right after I was gone 😎

I was getting ready to descend into the Salamonie River State Campground so I thought before I did that, I would check to see if I had any phone coverage.  I know from experience that down at these rivers, I very rarely have coverage.  I called John and made sure he knew where I was going to be.  I called Angie and we chatted for a bit and then the owner of the property where I was sitting under a tree came rolling up in a golf cart and wanted to know who I was and what I was doing.   He was a sweet old man and invited me to pitch my tent in their yard, but I had already planned on coming down here to a State Campground so I thanked him and made my way to where I am now.  In retrospect, I wish I had taken him up on his generous offer.

First stop was the official campground and I would have been the only one there.  I didn’t like that.  My second stop was the ranger’s office, but no one was in the office.  I decided to sit there to see if anyone came back.  Soon, a young man came out of a door on the side and came over to visit with me where I was sitting on a picnic table.  I told him my situation and he recommended that I come down to where I am now because there are usually people down here.  He had just started working there and, in fact, was leaving because he had a three-day weekend to move from his apartment out to the office here where there is a small efficiency apartment.    Nice young man.

The area  I am now has a large shelter, it’s near the river, there is a water spigot (the water has an odor so I won’t be drinking it) and bathrooms (no shower).  The only problem that I can see is that there is a sign that says “No camping.  Area closes at 11:00 p.m.”  There was a young couple hiking (Andy and Shannon who are getting married in a couple of weeks) and I visited with them several times as they would pass by going down a different trail.  They offered to go into town to bring back anything I might need, but I am fine except for this eerie feeling that someone might try to kick me out of here at 11:00 p.m.  I have decided to camp stealth; quiet and hidden.  After all, it’s not like I was going to make a campfire.  Some people walked by a little while ago with towels, I assume to go down to the falls.  Now I’m wishing they would hurry up and leave so no one will know I’m here.  I’m anxious to set up my tent before it gets dark.  There certainly isn’t going to be a flood light tonight and I see no light bulbs in the shelter.  This is quite the place: two fireplaces and three different areas for separate parties, plenty of picnic tables, benches inside and out, and even playground equipment.  It would be a great place for a family reunion.

Oh, and did I mention, that sure enough, my cell phone has no coverage here?

Tomorrow I will get up as soon as I can see and take off heading for Monroeville where I will be staying at a city park designated for cyclists only.  They have a special indoor shelter with showers and washers and dryers and supposedly it’s free.   I hope to get there fairly early to get settled in because I need all those resources badly!  It should be about 60 miles.  The next day I will enter Ohio.  Okay…one day at a time.

Oh no! Not again!

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Jul 26

Wednesday, July 25 — My first stay in a church

Buffalo Christian Church, Buffalo, Indiana

Last night’s stay in Iroquois, Illinois will be one I put in the “great night” category.  Their city park had everything a regular campground has (except a washer and dryer).  I was able to put my bike and bags under lock and key while I slept in my tent on some soft grass.  The night was cooler than the past several nights.  No critters and very little in the way of ants and mosquitoes and a café and small grocery store within walking distance.  I mean, what more could a girl want or need?

I had promised the café owner that I would bring him the key to the community building before I left town and I was there by a few minutes after 6:00.  Every customer who was there yesterday evening was back this morning having coffee and waiting for John (the owner and cook) to show up.  He was late, but someone had the means to open the building and make coffee so they were all sitting around with the weather on the television and drinking coffee and having their tenth cigarette of the day.

I was not anxious to run into a couple of the customers again, but it happened anyway.  One was an older guy who yesterday asked me in no uncertain terms why I would want to ride across this dirty country.  I took great exception to that and told him that I thought the country was beautiful and was enjoying it immensely!  I wanted to add that perhaps he should move to France where he might be happier, but I held my tongue.  The other customer was probably in his 40’s.  A very big guy whose every other word was cursing.  Yesterday I was having a cheeseburger and was trying to type my blog and could not help but hear his every word.  I got very tired of his bad language and looked over at him with a look of disgust, but he looked back like perhaps I wanted to talk politics with him.  It’s obvious he talks that way all the time and doesn’t even realize it.  Well, both these men were back in the café this morning.  Oh joy.

I left the key sitting on a $5 bill by the cash register.  I’m sure John is not going to realize what the $5.00 is for, but it was for some bottled water that I used over at the community building to fill my camelbak this morning.  I also emptied all the pennies out of my coin purse (it was getting too full and heavy) and put them in the desk drawer.  Somebody’s going to wonder how those got there 😎

I did stay long enough to watch the weather report for this area and it said we would have record heat and that the wind would be out of the southwest at 25 to 30 mph.  That would be mostly a tail-wind for me.  As an update, it is now 1:00 p.m. and the wind is out of the southeast.  Those meteorologists got me all excited for nothing and in fact, I rolled into town hot and exhausted and in desperate need of a long break.

The other day when I met the couple from Boston, they told me to be careful of dogs in Indiana.  I have been thinking about that ever since.  This morning when I entered Indiana, sure enough…I was chased by a fast one for about a half-mile.  Once I got a couple of miles away from any houses, I went to find my mace and it was not where I thought I had left it in my seat pack.  I know it’s in my bags somewhere and I will find it tonight so it’s handy, but I didn’t want to dig for it and mess up my bags now.  So…I figured that since today’s route was to continue on very lightly traveled country roads where houses are just 50 feet off the road, this is where I would get the most dogs.  When the houses are that close to the road, I have little chance of out running them.  So…I took a road that would be more traveled and the houses are further away and that way when I hear the dogs coming, I have time to gear up and out run them.  This plan has worked so far.

At the Jasper – White County Line, I moved into the Eastern Time Zone.  Another milestone.

Today I came to a sign which read “road closed in one mile”.  What to do…what to do…  Do I just take the detour and hope I’m not riding an extra 30 miles? Or do I ride to where the road is actually blocked off to see if there is some way I can get through?  I did the later to find there was no way to get through as they were completely peeling away the asphalt for three miles with big machinery everywhere.  So, I went back to the road closed sign and studied the map and tried to determine what to do…what to do…  Now…I have an added dilemma because taking the detour is going to require riding on an Indiana State Highway which, if you remember from yesterday, is a definite no no.  The other choice is to go back the way I came two miles and take it north for two miles and bla bla bla.  I really didn’t want to put in those extra miles either.  So…I can’t tell you what actually happened because I don’t want to get these people in trouble.  But…let me just say they are public servants and they gave me a wonderful intangible gift which got me out of my predicament.   If these people are reading this…THANK YOU AGAIN!

I’m sitting in the Monon (population 1,700) Public Library.  Wow, this is one nice Library!  It’s in a very old building built in the early 1900’s that has been completely restored and somewhat remodeled and is just beautiful.  If I was a librarian, I would want to work here.  It’s a two-story and it’s huge!  Next door is a convenience store and I had a very different experience with the counter clerk (probably the manager) than yesterday’s clerk that I told you about.  This guy was friendly and helpful and even gave me my coke for the price of a refill.  I really appreciated his kindness after my hot and windy trip here this afternoon.  I still have some miles to go, so this will be continued…

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As I finish up this blog, I’m sitting in the entryway of the Buffalo Christian Church.  My original plan was to stay at the Tall Oaks Campground which is three miles away.  When I got out there, it was not a campground in the traditional sense and I would not have felt safe there.  I turned around and came back to town looking for the city park.  There isn’t a park or any motels in town so I rode around a bit till I found this beautiful church and went to what I believed to be the parsonage.  No one answered the door so I went back to the front door of the church and found a phone number for Steve (perhaps an elder) who came right over.  I would have been very happy to just be allowed to tent in the shade outside but he let me in and told me to make myself at home.  I will be very comfortable and very safe and I am very grateful.

Leaving town this morning

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Jul 25

Tuesday, July 24 — My Illinois Blessing

Guess who was at my tent at 4:00 a.m. with a thermos of French Roast Coffee?  Yep, my new best friend, Bobbi.  OMGosh, I was so happy to see her and the smell of real coffee just about took my breath away.  We visited over a couple of cups each and then she went home to get ready to ride with me.  I was SO excited that she was going to ride with me that I skipped my oatmeal and just rushed around to get ready.

First thing we had a little tail wind and before we got out of town completely we were chased by two dogs.  Not a good start.  She told me about an incident she had with two Pit Bulls one time soon after they had moved to Odell and so she’s as spooked about what a dog can do to a bicyclist as I am.  I yelled at them in my ugliest voice and they finally gave up the chase.

Bobbi  is a very good rider (did I mention she’s in great shape because she’s a personal trainer)?  We rode the same pace and could visit the whole way.  Soon after we were on the move cruising about 13, the wind changed to the north giving us a side wind.  I told her that I liked to stop for breakfast after I’ve ridden 20 to 30 miles and so we decided that would be a wonderful way to spend our last hour together and we made a plan to stop at the next town.  Once we got there though, the café wasn’t open yet.  Dang it anyway!  A few more miles down the road and then she needed to turn around to head home.  I got off my bike to give her a hug and to thank her one more time for all the blessings she and her family bestowed on me: great conversation, supper and dessert, coffee and a donation, and then company for 16 miles.  I won’t forget my Illinois blessings!

I was stopped at that intersection waiting for a car to pass and was on a hill and needing to turn right.  I know better than to try that little trick ESPECIALLY with sand on the road, but I tried it anyway and promptly went over onto my drive train side.  I almost completely flipped over because I rolled right on over my right pannier.  No worries…bike was okay…  Did I mention I now am the not so proud owner of an egg size contusion on my forearm?  I knew it burned, but I didn’t look at it until I was a little ways down the road.  Just for kicks and giggles I took a picture of my bloody and torn sleeve.  Guess what?  The shirt went in the trash when I got to camp.

I stopped at a convenience store 10 miles up the road and washed my arm in the bathroom and put on a large antibiotic bandaid type covering.  I had breakfast at the Subway that was attached to the store and bought a Indiana road map, Blueberry Frosted Pop-Tarts ( I was feeling a little wild and crazy) and they even charged me for the ice I put in my camelbak.  The gal behind the counter was one of those cranky types that believe bicyclists belong with prisoners in captivity and off the highways and out of her convenience store.  In her defense…I did look a little rough with my stained and torn shirt and tear stains streaked down a dirty face.

One of the roads that I went down today, I just had to stop and take a picture and say out loud to myself, “really Adventure Cycling? This is a road you want me to ride?”  It was paved, but it was certainly not well traveled.  Weeds were grown up on both sides and gave the illusion of one lane.  It reminded me of a road daddy would make through a field just to get to the water well.  Against my better judgment, I went ahead a rode up it and got along fine.  Worried for nothing.

If you’ve looked at the Indiana map that I have posted, it doesn’t show any of the towns that I will be going through.  I was perplexed that absolutely none of the towns was on my Harley Davidson map, but I knew the general area I would be crossing so I highlighted the area with arrows and left it like that.  So as I’m getting ready to cross over into Indiana, I’m thinking I needed a more detailed map.  I sat at a roadside park and called the Indiana State Highway Patrol and asked them if I could ride Highway 24 and was told “no non-motorized vehicles are allowed on Indiana State Highways.  Well that explained why none of the towns I’m going through were on my Harley Davidson map.  It’s because they are dinky villages on county roads only.  That’s okay except I’m not sure about where I’m going to pitch a tent every night???  The one resource I worry about the most.  Again…probably worrying for nothing.

I’m in Iroquois Village, Illinois (population 207) tonight just a stone-throw away from Indiana.  It’s a great little town!  It has a wonderful city park with the community building sitting right in the middle of it where I got to take a shower and park my bike inside.  My bags will be in the building tonight safe and sound so I’m not sure what I’m going to do with all the extra room in my tent.  Roll around a lot, I guess or perhaps I’ll get some sleep because I didn’t get any last night as it was just too hot.  Last night was the hottest so far.

Did I mention, that I left my three-day old washrag and camp soap in the pool shower area last night?  Can’t believe I did that!  The soap was almost gone but the washrag was still white for heaven’s sake!  Who knows when I’ll get an opportunity to buy another one as I pass through villages of populations of 200 or less?

It’s getting dark so will get this posted.

Jeremy and Bobbi

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Jul 25

Monday, July 23 — Odell, Illinois and Route 66

I slept pretty darn well in the city park at Henry, Illinois.  I woke up just before 4:00 when I heard a car drive up.  It was a city policeman using the public restroom about 100 yards from my tent.  It was time to get up anyway.  The good thing about sleeping in a city park is there is no one to disturb and there was plenty of light coming from flood lights nearby.  I left town at 6:00 (noticing a praying mantis on my handle bars) and crossed the Illinois River first thing.  I soon turned off the main road out-of-town and was on county black tops for most of the day.  They had recently been covered in gravel, but it had been worked in fairly well and didn’t cause me too much trouble.

I came upon what I assume is a wholesale nursery that had hundreds of mums growing in pots and the pots were sitting on the ground in rows.  It was really neat looking.  I took a couple of pictures for you.  I’m assuming it was a wholesale nursery because I didn’t see any signs.

My oatmeal didn’t stick with me very long and I started dreaming that I might stop for breakfast somewhere.  The town of Wenona was supposed to have a restaurant of some sort, so about 10 miles out I started chanting “breakfast at Wenona…breakfast at Wenona…breakfast at Wenona”.    When I actually got to Wenona, the route didn’t pass through town and I would have had to go off route quite a ways and then fight the wind on the way back.  So I did NOT have breakfast at Wenona after all.

I was stopped at an intersection and was looking at my map when a gentleman pulled over in an ’85 Dodge Ram 50.  It reminded me of a Ranchero or El Camino.  Ed was the gentleman’s name and he said he normally only drives it on Sundays and it had only 65,000 miles on it.  I’m not a Dodge fan, but this pickup was unusual and caught my attention.  Anyway, he wanted to know my story and I gave him one of my cards and we visited for about 15 or 20 minutes.  His main occupation is farming and he’s a grave-digger on the side.  Again, I found that very interesting.  One of the first things he said to me (after he found out that I’m traveling alone) is that he’d never let his daughters ride across the U.S. alone.  I said, Ed…I’m probably close to your age.  Silence for a moment and then he said “okay, well you don’t look like it”.  We shared our ages and he was only six years older than me.  After the compliment, I cut him some slack for being a possessive father 😎

I ran into three different sets of cross-country cyclists today.  I haven’t seen any in several weeks so this was quite a surprise.  First was a couple from Boston who were traveling west.  The second was a young man (Nick) from Washington State who is traveling east like me, but doing much longer days.  He came by the city park to rest a bit before he left to put in another 35 miles.  About an hour ago, an older man from Germany pulled in.  He’s heading west.  Nick is another rider who took Amtrak across North Dakota.  Cheater.  He was a very nice young man and even gave me a donation for New Hope.  I know he was on a budget so it meant a lot to me that he did that.

When I got to town today, I had lunch at the local café and then went in search of the library.  There was a lot of construction going on in town and I didn’t pay much attention, but it turns out the new high-speed rail they are building the tracks for is going to come right through this small town of Odell.  So they are widening the tracks and putting up fences along both sides to keep people from walking across the tracks except in at designated intersections.  Supposedly this train will travel 100 mph and will go from Chicago to Springfield (the Capitol of Illinois).  The locals hate it because it won’t bring any new business to their community since the train won’t even stop here.  There were a few construction workers that ate lunch at the café though.

This town (Odell) sits on the old Route 66 highway and there is an original gas station that they’ve restored.  I went by and took some pictures.  On the way back to the park, there was a house with a bunch of old pumps in their front yard.  I wonder what the neighbors think about that.  I just imagine that Odell was quite the town back in the 50’s.

The library opened at 1:00 and was a bustling place right from the get go.  It’s in the grade school building and is quite nice.  It was cool and they even had wifi.  I didn’t get any blogging done though because it turned out to be a social visit with the locals. You know me though…I’m not complaining one bit about THAT!   One gal (Bobbi) came in and was very interested in my bike and my story.  We talked for a good 20 minutes and then she left and came back 30 minutes later and invited me for supper with her family.  I, of course, accepted in a flash because my momma didn’t raise no dummy.  What is really funny is that she asked me if there was anything that I didn’t like to eat and I told her fish.  She doesn’t like fish either so that solidified our bonding 😎  We made arrangements that she would come by the park and pick me up at 6:00.  I was so blessed to have supper with her family (including ice cream for dessert).  I asked her if she would like to join me for part of my trip out-of-town in the morning and I do believe she’s thinking seriously about it.   But just in case she doesn’t make it, she drove me around the town a bit to make sure I would know how to get to the right county road on my own.

Back to the park and I tried to type a little bit, but the German bicyclist wanted to visit so I gave up and tried to listen to him.  His English was only slightly better than my German (which is non-existent) so we didn’t get much communicated.   Besides that, my voice was getting froggy from so much chit chat today and my throat was a little sore.   He pulled a quart of milk out of his bags and had a bowl of cereal and I wondered about that milk, but I went to bed.

A barge carrying sand perhaps? down the Illinois River

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Jul 23

Sunday, July 22 — I promise

Okay Okay Okay.  I promise to not go into any more homes with strange men…no matter how harmless and sick they appear.

Very little sleep for me last night after I tweaked my back moving my bags around in my tent.  Never never never, lift something heavy at arms length.  I know better than that and did it anyway and I am really paying for it today.  I finally got up at 4:00 and started packing up (much to the chagrin of my tenting neighbors).  I took my coffee making supplies to the bathroom and fired up my Jetboil there to at least give them all an extra 15 minutes of sleep.  Soon after I got up a baby started crying  across the way and at that point, I was not so worried about how much noise I was making.  15 minutes later, the Harley Davidson couple started packing up and when they fired up the motorcycles, that must have been the last straw for the young couple next to me and they were out packing up too.  I walked over and apologized and they said “it’s okay”, but their cranky expressions did not match their words.

Since I was five miles off my route, I decided to take the road I was on to Kewanee rather than backtracking to the correct route.  It started sprinkling pretty heavily and it actually felt good and it smelled WONDERFUL.  I stopped to put my camera and purse in a plastic bag and headed on into town to find a breakfast place.  I was hoping to be able to post yesterday’s blog, but there was no wifi at the restaurant.  Since it was raining pretty good at that point, my bike was up under the canopy and I didn’t want to disturb my bags to get out my computer anyway.  I ate some of the best French toast of the trip at this restaurant called the “Red Apple”.  There were several customers who asked if I brought the rain and I did take credit for it since bad weather seems to follow me wherever I go.  They asked me if I would please just ride around the block all day.  We all had a good chuckle.  As I was paying for my meal, I asked the man behind the counter if it was supposed to rain all day and he said with his India accent “I pray to God it does because my cow has no grass to eat”.

It had stopped raining as I was leaving, but the parking lot was still very wet.  I clipped in and rolled to the exit and a car was turning in so I clipped out and put my foot down and my cleat slipped on the wet concrete and I started to fall.  I caught myself just in time and got my foot back under me and it happened again.  My foot went right out from under me.  I recovered again, but this time I had pulled that sore muscle in my back as well as my hamstring.  Jeemanee!  Well, at least I saved face and did not fall in front of God and everybody.

When the clouds burned off, it got extremely humid but never got really hot.  The roads were hillier today, but still manageable.  Whenever the road had no hills, the ditches were quite dry and ugly with no wild flowers and only weeds.  They really are suffering from drought around here.  Back in Cascade, Marci told me they haven’t been this dry since 1988.  The crops look good from the road, but Marci said that the heads aren’t forming like they should.  There is no irrigation that I’ve seen for days and days so the farmers depend on a normal rainfall for their crops.  As I pedal along, I pray for rain for these folks.

I had stopped in Bradford to fill my camelbak with ice.  The best and easiest way to do this is to just open it up and put it under the ice drop.  However, this time, I accidently also hit the Mr. Pib and Seven Up on both sides of the drop.  Mr. Pib went on the floor and some of  the Seven Up went in my camelback.  Good grief, I was so so sorry for the mess, but the young gal behind the counter was not amused with having to clean up a mess.  More apologies from me and I bought a cookie and left feeling bad.  I was riding out of town and saw a house with a flower garden and stopped to see if anything was suitable for Flower of the Day.  As I was taking a picture, an older gentleman drove up and wanted to know my story.  I told him and he gave me a very nice sizable donation right out of his billfold.  We talked for probably 20 minutes and when I left, my mood had lightened considerably.

Tonight I am in Henry at the Waterworks City Park.  I’m sitting under the pavilion with the Illinois River only about 100 feet away.  It’s a big river as barges have been going by quite regularly. From here I can see the bridge that I will cross over first thing in the morning.  I just don’t get tired of seeing so much water!   The Dairy Queen is one block up and there is a steady stream of traffic that goes through the drive-thru and then comes down here to park and watch the boats go by.  It’s quite entertaining.  Of course, I’m getting a lot of attention by these ice cream consumers as my tent is set up under the pavilion just like always.   First came two ladies who had been to church and then out to eat and were now having dessert.  They pulled right up and wanted to know my story.  One lady gave me a donation.  Then a man in uniform came walking up from the dock.  He works for the Army Corp of Engineers and had come up to use the restrooms nearby.  He spent quite a bit talking to me and also gave me a donation.  His job is to patrol the river and was quite sure that I’d be fine here in the park tonight.  I told him that I had called the police department so they knew I was down here also.  I don’t suspect that I’ll sleep worth a hoot though with so much traffic and my back is still killing me.

When I first got here and after setting up my tent, I walked to the city pool and asked one of the young girls running the place if I could pay to take a shower and she let me take one for free.  When I came out, she had all sorts of questions for me and was especially interested in what I eat during the day.  When I handed her my card, she noted that I blog and was interested in starting a blog of her own so I gave her a little advice.  I washed my clothes in the sink and had them draped over the playground equipment.  Just now a group of people have started to gather and I know they had originally planned to use this pavilion.  Sorry, I was here first, but I did go get my wet clothes so I didn’t look like I had moved in for good.

I’m pretty sure the Flower of the Day is some type of Lily but I wouldn’t dare bet the farm on it as I am not too sure of my flowers…obviously.

Big barn surrounded in wild flowers

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Jul 22

Saturday, July 21 — A Mostly Perfect Day

After complaining to the manager about the cigarette smoke last night, I was informed that in Iowa, every motel is allowed at least seven smoking rooms.  Mine was right across from the seven.  However, amazingly, having the air conditioner on and a semi- wet towel under the door seemed to keep it out for the most part and I slept pretty well.  In their defense, they did offer to move me to a different floor, but I was not too keen on carrying my bike up a set of stairs.  Plus, I had already been moved once because no water would come out of the shower.  This may be the last time I stay in a Motel 8.  Just saying.

I woke up at 4:00 and started packing up.  A quick trip to McDonalds for blueberry oatmeal (it’s good), I was on the bike path heading towards the bridge at 6:00.  Four miles to the bridge from my motel and I was crossing the Mississippi one more time.

I am very happy to be riding mostly east again.  I have been asked why the Adventure Cycling route goes so far south and the answer is: to avoid Chicago.

Since I was leaving the river, I was expecting steep and continual hills today.  Not so and pleasantly surprised!  There were a few nasty ones, but nothing I could not handle with a little heavy breathing.  The scenery was beautiful and the roads were mostly flat and in good condition (except for one stretch I’ll tell you about in a minute).  The sun was not exactly shinning, but I could see blue sky here and there so I was happy.  No wind today at all.  Not a breeze from any direction.  It was simply a lovely first day in Illinois.  There were so many photo opportunities that I spent much of the day with the strap of the camera in my mouth rather than in my Bento Bag.

The three to five mile stretch that was so bad…WAS HORRIBLE!  The crew who laid this asphalt did not have mothers who instilled “if you’re going to do it, do it right”.  If I was a judge, I would make them re-do it and then would sentence them all to six months in jail.  I’m not kidding, it was THAT BAD.  With my long chain, if the road is bumpy, I can’t go over six or seven mph or the chain will jump right off the derailleur.  I was so relieved when I rolled off of it back onto smooth asphalt.  Ahhhhh!

At one point I was cruising along about 12 mph and a bicyclist snuck up on me from behind.  He came up on me so fast; I didn’t even see him coming.  He’s one of those “racer types”.  You know…fit, wearing a team kit…shaved legs…nice bike.  You know the type.

His name was Bill Ford and he lives in Illinois, but races for the bike shop in Iowa that worked on my bike yesterday.  We rode along for awhile and then we stopped to talk and I gave him one of my cards and told him my story.  He is the Lock Chief at the Muscatine Lock and Dam.  He is also the Director of Diving Operations for the Rock Island District.  Don’t hear those job titles much in Kansas, huh?  We started riding again and rode for a few miles before he turned left and took off like a flash.  I believe he was on a 50 mile training ride.  One of the things he mentioned was that he has a friend who rides a Bacchetta recumbent on these same roads almost daily, so he thought I was his friend right up until he noticed my panniers.

Bill had warned me about a mean dog up the road and gave me directions to an alternate route to avoid him.  The trade off is that the alternate road is hilly.  I had several miles to make the decision and stopped at a convenience store for ice.  There was an older gentleman standing at the door and opened it for me.  He started off the conversation with a question: “heading to Preemption?”  I told him that yes, that was my next town, but I had been warned about a chasing dog on that road and was thinking of taking the alternate route.  He used some colorful words saying something to the fact that it was dang hilly.  I decided right then and there that I would take my chances with the dog.  I got all prayed up asking the Lord to have the dog pre-occupied or asleep or something.  When I got there the dog was tied to a tree.  I thought he was going to kill himself trying to get at me with that chain around his neck.  He barked like he was rabid and was leaping a foot into the air over and over and over.  OMGosh, I was so thankful my prayers were answered otherwise there may not have been a blog tonight.

All my Aunties, please don’t freak out with this next paragraph.  I am fine.  Nothing bad happened.

When I got to Cambridge this afternoon, I rode around trying to find the city park or somewhere to pitch my tent.  I stopped on Main Street looking for someone to ask and a man walked up to me.  The poor guy obviously had health issues and he asked me about my trip. When I told him I was looking for a place to pitch my tent in town he offered his father’s back yard.  Now, this gentleman had to be at least 70; so how old was his father?  Ninety-six and still living in his own home and even has a girlfriend.  He asked me to walk with him to his dad’s house to meet him.  I wasn’t sure about that, yet, I didn’t want to hurt his feelings (because I suspected he might have Parkinson’s).  It was a small ranch nice-kept home and yard.  When I walked into the house, his father got up out of his chair to shake my hand.  His girlfriend was there and was watching TV with him.  I quickly told them all my story and that I was on a mission to find a campground then left as soon as I politely could.  I pushed my bike to the Baptist Church and there was a lady (Bonnie) across the street doing some gardening.  I walked over and mentioned my predicament and she told me about the campground where I am right now.  It’s about five miles off my route, but I am comfortable here.  It is a real campground with showers!  Yes, I’m a happy camper.

Do I hear Bingo over a loud speaker?  Yes, I just looked out of my tent and they have twinkly lights drooping all over around the pavilion and there are probably 30 people sitting around tables playing Bingo.  Dang…I should be over there playing!  Well, at least I’m going to go take a picture for you 😎

Quick one-handed shot as I passed over the Mississippi one last time

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