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Journey to the East: 20 July 2012

Saturday, July 21st, 2012




Hot this morning, long before sunrise
All my bones ache and Rilke’s ghost
Titters in the closet, Frailing
His clanky lyre. The summer grasshopper plague
May now be over.
-Philip Whalen

We’re finally on our own
This day dawned drizzly, grey and cool – it was like the PNW in later October. Though of course already warmer at 8 am then those days would ever get. However I found this most welcome and it was the first cool mornings ride in a long, long time. I did however miss the first turn and turned onto a road of the same name heading the wrong way. It happens to the best of us over such a long tour but this was the worst failure of my sense of direction ever. Normally if I miss a turn (only a few times really) I quickly figure it out and never ride more then a couple miles off route. This time it was closer to 6 miles and even with using Google maps to work out the shortest way back on route I ended up riding an extra 11 miles or so. This was quite unwelcome as this was a long day to the next campground, I wanted to get to a bicycle shop for the wheel repair and there was the most brutal headwind since East Montana. So one of those mornings.

Back on route i immediately crossed into Ohio. The terrain was of course just like Indiana at first with soy and cornfields but soon I was following rivers and canals and there was more trees. The wind really slowed me down but by mid afternoon I made it to the decent sized town of Defiance where I went to “R” Bike Shop. They immediately got to work and I had my wheel fixed and trued in less than half an hour. Great shop; they told me they prioritize bicycle tourists when they come in as they understand the situation. These people get it; very highly recommended. Oh and that repair: US$13.30! From Defiance the route was pretty excellent following the old canel system along the Maumee River, there was still the wind but it was often blocked by trees. Running late with all of this I ended up just having dinner in the town of Napoleon before riding the final 13 miles, which were more in the open and windy, to Mary Jane Thurston State Park. There I camped right on the Maumee River among a cacophoney of insect and bird songs. A really nice state park.

like a hand,
the wind presses me against the road –
a crimson bird

a soft green cricket
hops onto my shirt –
summer morning

Journey to the East: 19 July 2012

Friday, July 20th, 2012


George Rickey, Twenty-Four Lines, 1968

How Zen Masters Are Like Mature Herring
So few become full grown
And how necessary all the others;
    Gifts to the food chain
    feeding another universe.
These big ones feed sharks.
-Gary Snyder

Fast moves in Fort Wayne
This was the second of the short days that I partially spent with my parents in Fort Wayne. We did a combo of resupplying for the tour and activities in Fort Wayne. First we went to the very excellent co-op where I was able to get all my bulk foods refreshed and such vital items as refilling my bottle of Doctor Bronners 18 in 1 soap. Following that we went to the Fort Wayne Art Museum where we didn’t have too much time but there wasn’t too much to my taste anyway (lots of regionalism). A very small contemporary gallery whose highlight was the kinetic sculpture pictured above. Also there was some nice photos by Dayne Bonta, the best of which were trees in winter printed out on a rough paper. After lunch it was time to get back on the road. My parents dropped me off near the route and soon enough I was back on it. It was only twenty miles to Monroeville where I was going to stay on this short day. I had to go to the library to call regarding staying at the city park and there the librarian helped me out and made the call for me. Such friendly people. In Monroeville you can stay inside the park pavilion which is a big room with a kitchen, shower and laundry. All free though you can leave a donation. A great little town with nice people who’ve been helping cross country cyclists since the Bike-Centennial.

It was a real treat to get to see the parents who made the long drive from Nashville to see me enroute. Once I knew they were coming I had some supplies sent to them which they then brought to me. A new tire to replace my worn rear (over ten thousand miles on it and probably could have stretched it another thousand: Schalwbe Marathon Plus’ are the best touring tire hands down), a new seersucker shirt and replacement gloves as my last pair had deteriorated. So huge thanks Mom and Dad and it was wonderful to see you.

behind a stand of trees
a hidden field of gold –

a green and purple field
with a lovely scent –

Journey to the East: 18 July 2012

Thursday, July 19th, 2012


metal giants
stride across the cornfields
dealing electricity with both hands

When Giants roamed the earth
My night at Kil-So-Quah was pretty rough as the temperatures stayed pretty much in the 80s until near dawn. I also kept being disturbed by a little raccoon that kept going for my food bag. I’d put a lock on the zipper after a raccoon had gotten a previous food bag so it wasn’t able to get in, but it kept trying. I’d chase it off but then it’d be back an hour or so later. After about four attempts it finally gave it up. I lingered in camp for a bit but when I finally hit the road the I rode back through the woods to the main route and once again was back in farmland. Still a bit of rolling hills and of course the occasional tiny town. But I only rode about 20 miles on the route and before noon had left the route on a spur into Fort Wayne. My parents had decided to drive up from the Nashaville area and see me while touring and we were meeting in the city. So while not taking a full rest day I ended up with a couple of very short days. On this day I got laundry done even before I met my parents and we checked into our hotel and explored Fort Wayne a bit.


Moonrise Kingdom

I also finally got a chance to see the latest Wes Anderson film, Moonrise Kingdom which I thoroughly enjoyed. It has the usual excellent design and attention to detail that one has come to expect from a Wes Anderson production but seem really different camerawork and a more gauzy overall look. Definitely heavily referencing a specific set of films, French New Wave of course but also some 50/60s Americana (think those faux historical Disney pictures). As usual the music was very creative and absolutely apropos. I’d need to see it again before really trying to review it but I gotta say I definitely dug it and was glad I got a chance to see it while on the tour.

Journey to the East: 17 July 2012

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012


on Salamonie River Dam

The nature of the Mind when understood,
No human speech can compass or disclose.
Enlightenment is naught to be attained,
And he that gains it does not say he knows.


Don’t pass me by
This was one of these days that had a bit of about everything. Right as I rode away from Lake Fletcher my rear shifter cable broke. I’d been expecting this as it was badly frayed at the shifter lever but I have say this was particularly good timing. This is why you carry a spare cable my friends. I quickly replaced this and set back off. Things began just as they had the day before: hot, humid riding through farmland. But there was now more hills; mostly short little rollers but sometimes with a short, sharp grade. The trees increased a bit and there was a wider variety of crops being grown than soy and corn. With the time zone change I’d left camp late and it was already pretty hot. So it was with relief that I was able to ride on the Nickel Plate Trail, a new-ish (not on the official route guide, but listed in the addenda) rail trail through a corridor of trees. I was only on it for about 3.5 miles but it was a nice break. And when I was done I’d reached Denver where I took a break for lunch.


Stacks of clouds

After lunch it was stiflingly hot and the route mostly dead east on flat farmland. But big fluffy clouds began to appear and occasionally provide relief from the intense sun. The clouds to the south were black and menacing and another thunderstorm seemed likely. It hadn’t broke when I reached the two-bit town of Lagro and crossed the Wabash River. But the wind picked up and the sun was well blocked now by an almost completely overcast sky. After the river was the longest steepest climb since I was riding along the Missisippi in Wisconsin and then the route turned into the Salamonie River State Forest. A nice looking state park, this would have been a great place to stay, if it wasn’t only mid-day. More climbing through the park and then I descended to the dam and crossed the Salamomie Lake.


Detritus from the storm

Thunder was now audible in the distance, but I was riding away from the storm and was never englifed by it. I felt a few drops of rain now and again and most vitally the wind brought much cooler air. So it wasn’t a bad final leg though the farms and then woods to the Kil-So-Quah State Campground. Another nice campground right on the J. Edward Roush Lake and clearly a recreation destination. The wind began to blow really hard as I set up and I could see lightning across the lake, but the storm never crossed it. It died down fairly shortly and then it was a pleasant evening (if back to being too hot).

As if from no-where
cotton ball like clouds
form in the hazy blue sky

Thunderstorm rumbles in the distance –
I only felt a few drops!

Mounds of clouds
stacked upon clouds –
flap of the butterfly wings

Journey to the East: 16 July 2012

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012


Sunset over Lake Fletcher

No matter what, you are lonely, my shadow: I move it to see
-Hōsai Ozaki

Chasing shadows
The temperatures have been rising and this day was clear and blue and would get to the upper 90s (f). Riding away from Iroquois, back among the fields, I soon crossed the border into Indiana – no sign to indicate my crossing, just the road number changed. Little else changed though, it was all still corn and soy fields cut through by little numbered farm roads with the occasional highway crossing. The road quality deteriorated and there did seem to be more trees – not quite every square inch given over to the factory farms. The route through Indiana is really on the back roads with few towns and most of them having a population in the hundreds. So with the heat today it was tough – I wasn’t able to stop very often to recover. There was one very welcome Ice Cream shop outside of the one horse town Buffalo which had served many a Northern Tier cyclotourist. I was able to recharge a bit and do the final leg of a long hot day. At this point too the time zone changed – I’m now on eastern time, the final zone change of the tour. I arrived at the Fletcher Lake Fishing Access where the route guide said you could camp. The info sign indicated otherwise, plus there was no water beyond the lake and not even a picnic table. However it turns out that just around the corner is the Fletcher Lake Campground which actively welcomes cyclists.

My clothes a little tattered;
myself a bit too –
traveling still

Chasing the shadows of the clouds –
seeking respite from the sun