Sun Jul 13 14:30:50 CDT 2003
Central Time, and the Livin' is Easy -- Nappanee, IN
Wednesday evening (July 9th), we camped out behind a Jehovah's Witness Kingdom Hall. There was a path into some woods out back, and a perfect clearing. We were a bit nervous when some folks drove up for their meeting, but then we realized they probably didn't care if we camped back there.
Thursday the 10th we started out to overcast skies and rode into a heavy downpour. I caught up with Emily after the first leg, waiting under the canopy of an empty farmstand. We agreed to wait there for the rain to stop. We also resolved to get a motel that night, since we were not only miserable and wet, but also dirty. We needed showers and warmth. The prospect of watching a movie on HBO was a bonus. We ate lunch and waited for the rain to abate enough to bike to the motel, where we stayed the rest of the day. Naturally, the sky cleared up after we'd paid for our room. We weren't disappointed, though. We popped over to the grill across the street for some greasy food and a beer, then lounged around the motel all afternoon.
Friday the 11th was even worse weather than Thursday, and yet it was completely dry. The terrible thing was the wind. I believe I mentioned the frustration of a headwind before, but that was nothing compared to the wind on Friday. The wind was so strong that if I stopped the bike and wasn't holding the brakes, I would be blown backwards. It was like riding up a steep hill all day. Emily and I both experienced being so enraged by the wind that we wanted to punch something. But of course, wind is ephemeral and there was nothing we could do that would be even remotely satisfying, short of turning backwards and making the headwind into a tailwind. But I don't think my bicycle works in reverse (I've never tried it).
At one point I took a wrong turn onto Route 2, which is a limited-access highway out here. I got pulled over by a police car shortly afterwards, and she told me I couldn't bike there. She said "Just go back to the exit over there and get on Route 6, it goes parallel." "Isn't this Route 6?" "Nope." So it's a good thing I got busted; otherwise I might have gotten rather lost! She ran my ID through the system but didn't give me a ticket.
Later in the day, back on Route 6, I found myself so tired I was nearly falling asleep on my bike. I hadn't slept well the night before because the bed was too soft. I decided the prudent thing to do would be to pull over and take a short nap. I rested nicely for about fifteen minutes, and then two people in a row pulled over to make sure I was okay. I assured them nothing was wrong and decided it was time to move along.
The wind hardly let up until late in the evening, just as we were getting ready to camp. We camped in a small meadow behind a tractor company. Again, it was a somewhat iffy place to camp -- what if someone came in early and didn't want us there? But the owner of the place came in to open up shop while we were packing up our tent, and he came over and offered us some coffee! He told us his son had biked cross-country too, but had only made it three hundred miles or so.
Saturday the wind had mostly let up and we got a ton of biking done. We did our biggest day yet, totalling 84.4 miles. Then after dinner we were still hungry so we biked three miles back to the truckstop we had just passed for some ice cream. We crossed into Indiana shortly before we stopped for the night. Eight states now!
Today the weather is simply amazing. We're cruising, and have actually realized we have to slow down a little bit to arrive in Chicago on schedule. We are planning a swim in a river shortly.
Now that we've finished Ohio, I am at the furthest point West that I've ever been. Every morning I can get up and say "This is the furthest West I've ever been. Now I'm going to get up and bike a little further West." At least until I get to Chicago, and fly to the SF Bay area. Then I'll have to get up and say "This is the furthest West I've ever been, except for San Francisco. Now I'm going to get up and bike a little further West."
BTW, the latest news is that I am still flying from Chicago on the 17th for my Google interview in Mountain View on the 18th. Also I got an email from a fellow at Brightmail in San Francisco who wants to speak with me while I'm in town. Very exciting! I'm getting a little nervous about these interviews. But mostly excited about staying in a hotel and eating good food.