Wed Jul 9 16:08:13 EDT 2003
Lucky State #7 -- Rocky River, Ohio

By the time I left the Warren library after posting my last entry (Monday July 7th), it had already stopped raining again. Life on the web -- the facts are out of date by the time you can post them.

Monday turned out to be a rather nice day, and was filled with neat people. Halfway through the day I came across Pat, a fellow who was walking along Route 6 with a backpack. He said he was headed from Ashtabula to NYC along Route 6, all on foot. He was interested in my bike and trailer because he had done some touring himself. He told me he had biked from Florida to Ohio to Washington D.C. and back down to Florida once. Another time he biked from Phoenix, AZ to Pittsburg, PA. The amazing thing is that he did this all on very cheap bikes. One of his trips was on a dirt bike with no gears, the other was on a cheap Scwhinn mountain bike. He seemed to be in great shape and high spirits.

Later in the day, I caught up with Emily in Union City, PA. She had broken another spoke and was sitting in front of the library. She told me she had asked the librarian (Hi Sandy!) about local bike shops, and the librarian had started making all these calls and was offering to drive Emily to the nearest bike shop, as it was rather far off. It turned out that Sandy knew a nice fellow nearby (Hi Ken!) who was handy with motorcycles and bicycles. She called him and he was eating dinner, but offered to come by afterwards. So we waited around for a little while and talked to Sandy, who was realy friendly.

Ken drove on his motorcycle around 5:00 to save the day. Emily had a spare spoke she'd bought at TrueValue, but it turned out to be the wrong size. Fortunately Ken was thoroughly prepared. He not only had all the tools he needed to change the spoke, he had a spare spoke in his bag that turned out to just barely fit. We watched while he took off the rear cassette, and he told us all about his adventures cycling around Franconia Notch and in Europe. He told us that once on a trip with his wife he had broken a spoke and a mechanic had fixed it for him, free of charge. So he figured this was a good way of paying forward that debt. I tried to pay close enough attention that I could change a spoke if need be, but it turns out I would need some fairly specific tools. Ken really came prepared: He had a cassette removal tool, a chain whip, an adjustable crescent wrench, a spoke wrench, and a truing stand, all of which came into use during the procedure. He even came prepared with a sheet of adhesive address labels, so we could easily mail him postcards.

After fixing the wheel, he asked where we were going to stay. We told him we'd just head west and try to find some camping. He told us that if we wanted to push on for twenty more miles or so, his sister Vicki lived in Edinboro, PA. He gave her a call and she said okay, so we sped on the last twenty miles to her house. Those twenty miles had some pretty serious hills, too -- the last hills we'd see in Pennsylvania -- but we had a destination and it was getting dark. We got to Vicki's place and found a lovely two-story house with six acres of land. She got us situated in a nice sheltered spot in the backyard, with a hose for water, then invited us in for a beer before we went to sleep. She told us all about the area and what to expect going east, as well as a short local history lesson about the oil wells.

The next day, Tuesday the 8th, we had breakfast at a small diner in town. We asked there about a Salvation Army drop box. I haven't mentioned this in the journal yet, but somewhere around the middle of Pennsylvania I found a green blanket in the road. It was obviously recently dropped, and very clean, so I picked it up, thinking I would put it in the next drop box I saw. That was nearly a week ago. I still have not seen a single drop box. It's starting to get ridiculous. Every morning when I pack up I ask myself "Why am I carrying this blanket?"

Around noon we crossed over into Ohio, our seventh state. So far we have picked up Massachussetts, Rhode Island (very briefly), Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. We followed Route 513 along Lake Erie, thinking it would accord us a view and some cooler air. We were only half wrong. There was no view from the road, although we could go up any number of dead-end side roads for a brief view of the lake (what a lake!). We were right about the cooler air, but that air was moving too fast and in the wrong direction. Biking into a headwind is even more frustrating than biking uphill, since you know you won't get the downhill cruise when you're done.

Overall though, we really liked what we saw of Ohio. We had been getting into some very rural areas of Pennsylvania, which is nice in a lot of ways, but can get old. On of the first things we saw as we biked into Ashtabula was an old-time root beer stand, open to the air. All the patrons turned and stared as we went by.

We stopped just outside of the city and went swimming at a public park. The water was amazingly warm ("Lake Erie is the shallow one," Vicki had informed us last night). The beach was full of kids, all of whom were dredging up as much seaweed as they could and throwing it at each other. All except one, who was stockpiling his seaweed on the beach as he picked it up. I think he was trying to clean up the harbor.

Tuesday evening brought us into more rain and some lightning and thunder approaching. This was coincident with the road we were on becoming busier and the sky becoming darker. We became very nervous people. We biked for a short way as it started to rain, trying to find camping, and finally found a nice flat spot in a farmer's field, even with some trees to shelter us. The clouds cleared up a little in the evening and we had a nice view of the sun setting over the cooling towers of the nearby nuclear power plant.

Overnight it rained heavily and there was thunder and lightning.

This morning it was not raining.

This afternoon as we biked into Cleveland, it started raining again, lightly at first, then more and more heavily until I had some trouble seeing through my glasses. We made our way through the downpour for a couple of hours and stopped for a rest at Hot Tamales, a soul food restaurant in Euclid, OH (just outside of Cleveland). The folks there were very interested in our bike trip, and several just didn't believe us. Several folks were especially amazed that the two of us could be on a trip like this for so long without being in a relationship. One guy in particular kept asking us, "For real? You're really not [dating]? No way. You're kidding, right?" His buddy who was hanging around outside came in later and told Emily "Hey, my friend out there has a crush on you."

The woman who brought us our food, Marquita (forgive my if I've gotten your name wrong!) was especially nice. She told us she had been trying out veganism lately. She was also interested in doing a bike trip like ours, so we gave her our contact information.

While we ate, it stopped raining.

As we headed into Cleveland the sun actually came out and it got warm. Cleveland is actually quite a nice city. I expected it to be different somehow, more Ohio-esque maybe. But it turned out to be more or less the same as any other major city I've seen. Now we've passed on through and are headed West on Route 113.