Ohio

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Journey to the East: 23 July 2012

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

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State number twelve

HOW POETRY COMES TO ME
 
It comes blundering over the
Boulders at night, it stays
Frightened outside the
Range of my campfire
I go to meet it at the
Edge of the light
 
-Gary Snyder

A change in the air
This morning dawned overcast and later began to drizzle – reminded me a bit of the Pacific Northwest especially with the endless grey lake stretching out like the ocean. It did clear up though and the day once again reached the low 90s – too hot. But there was a feel of a thunderstorm brewing and with strong northward blowing winds I was propelled right along. The route once again was along the lake but would duck inland at various times, usually to get around something on the lake edge – a nuclear power plant for instance. After not seeing any other tourons since Illinois I talked to two eastbound riders today (and yesterday I saw a ‘bent rider I’m pretty sure was touring). The first, J__ was an older gent pulling a BOB and he greeted me by asking “I’m old enough to know better, what’s your excuse?” No excuse needed,I replied, just touring to tour. He was going cross country in stages and was focusing on seeing, as he put it, “America’s industry before it returns to nature”. So he’s off to Detroit of course and ending this section in Chicago. The second touron I met was a solo girl whose name I didn’t get. She was riding Boston to Seattle to do graduate work at the UW. I ran into her just past the small port town of Ashtabula which had an excellent coffeehouse and roaster: the Harbor Perk. Not long after this I rode through the decrepit town of Conneaut and the route turned inland and I was in Pennsylvania. The route angled back to the lake but spent many miles going though farmland in the now beating sun. Finally back on the lake in increasingly more urban areas I turned off route toward Presque Isle which is a big state park and this week happens to be Presque Isle Week meaning its packed. I stayed at Sara’s Campground a private ‘ground fit on the edge of the state park. It was jam packed and they had the tenters check by jowl.

traveling day after day –
forgetting what I used to do

Journey to the East: 22 July 2012

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

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Lake Erie

IS
 
Here’s a dragonfly
               (T OTA L LY)
Where it was,
          that place no longer exists.
 
-Philip Whalen

This summer I hear the drumming
This was the third long day in a row, driven primarily by the spacing of the campgrounds. Today was much improved though, with the addition of a decent tailwind most of the day. The route gave up all pretense of staying rural as it reached Lake Erie and went through increasingly larger towns. Plenty of traffic too. I really enjoyed this section of the ride though with its views of the lake though the trees; kind of like riding along on the ocean back home. It all culminated in the city of Cleveland which is of course a good sized city. The route was quite through the city, first going through neighborhoods, then a nice park with trail and finally over a bridge into the downtown core. From there it dropped fit to the waterfront by the Indians Stadium and then the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame. Staying on the waterfront most of the rest of this now hot day the towns began to decrease in size. Finally I made it to the quite small (but still part of a larger region) town of Perry where I left the route and rode to its park right on the Great Lake. Here they have a little campground that once again seems to be mostly seasonal RV-ers. However they are fully up on bicycle tourists and allow them them to stay for free. Nearby to me was a group celebrating a birthday and after plying me with questions w/r/t the tour gave me cake and ice cream. Nice and definitely needed on a day, the first ever on tour, that I rode more than a 100 miles.

grey drizzly morning
and just like that,
pining for autumn

Journey to the East: 21 July 2012

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

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The Backatcha Bandit strikes again

Develop a mind which rests on no thing whatever.
 
-The Diamond Sutra

Should have been done long ago
The wind continued to be against me on this day but instead of the ~18mph it was instead a sedate ~6mph. There was however none of the morning clouds so it got pretty warm as the day wore on. The route was a mix of riverside, farmland and cities. Ohio is definitely a much more developed state and the route really worked to wend its way out in the countryside. One great stretch of road was Scotch Ridge Road which followed the Portage River. All along it people, were having garage sales and as I approached the small burg of Pemberville it seemed nearly every other house was having one. Turned out to be a community wide garage sale this weekend. The mid-sized town of Fremont was little reminder of home (though clearly there is only one Center of the Universe) where I joined the North Coast Inland Trail. I was on this for about 9 miles and after an initial river crossing it was quite flat and straight. From there it was a hot and almost perfectly dead east ride to Avery, where just a quarter mile off route I found the Milan Mobile Park where I’d stay this night. An expensive private place, right near the Ohio Turnpike, an active train track and some light industry I can’t call this my favorite local. But the tenting sites were in the trees away from the RV bits and the showers were top drawer. So it worked out all right.

A trip update: I crossed the four thousand mile threshold on this day. There is just over a thousand miles left on the Northern Tier.

The monarch of butterflies
deigns to fly ‘longside
– thin crescent day moon

*

shifting
shadows
of
twin
windmills
under
a
pale
sky

Journey to the East: 20 July 2012

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

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Ohio

NEVER AGAIN

 
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