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My Journey - September 2010

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My Journey - September 2010

Post  ChasingSanity on Mon Sep 27, 2010 1:19 pm

I've been on the road a year. I am amazed.

Sunday, September 12, 2010
I went over to Ambrosia, the housing co-op Kevin lives at almost every day. I got to cook for them several times. Once, someone said to make enough for 28 people! They had a square dance they called a Contra Dance. It was great fun romping and bouncing around the room. Smile

Tuesday, September 21, 2010
I am in Chicago now. I rode my bicycle on the “Ride the Drive” bicycling event. I got almost as much airtime on the radio as Lance Armstrong! Yep, he was there, very laid back guy. I expected his physique to be amazing but no, he looks quite human. I am sure he would be sooo relieved at my opinion if he knew. Wink

While I was in Madison, I looked up and went to the Baha'i Center. I met several people, one of which has a son living in Chicago. He gave me contact info and I called, even talked with, but never met his son.

Before I even rolled into Madison, I could smell this Indian buffet in my mind. I fulfilled that fantasy before I left. Everybody I met in Madison got invited to Maharani's and I told them to invite anybody they wanted - everybody was paying for their own meal. It was a going away party but mostly a party.

I said goodbye to the people at Ambrosia's and rode out. I stopped on the way in Waterford, WI. Did you know Waterford chromoly bikes are supposed to be some of the best in the world? I never heard of them until I did a web search for bike manufacturers. Waterford bikes are pretty; very clean, well-made and the bossing is a nice touch. I said hello, got the grand tour, did not expect sponsorship and did not get it. But, a mile before I got there my bike chain broke. That's what that creaky noise it was making was about. I thought it was rust. I walked the rest of the way. They had the tool to separate the links and get me down the road. I could get another chain in a Chicago community bike shop.

I rode on. I found a forest preserve with an orchard and winery next to it. AeppelTreow Winery is located at Brightonwoods Orchard. Free tasting and maybe even work in exchange?! The lady working the cash register said come back in the morning to work. I slept in the woods. In the morning, I lost my beloved backpack in the woods. It's a tiny place, there's not enough 'woods' to lose my pack, let alone the whole area I was sleeping in!! Anyways, I went to work. I worked for a day, did more work in less time than the hired help, got paid, went back to looking for my pack, found it and tried to get some sleep. They were wonderful people, good memories.

I gave up at one in the morning and was on the road by two. I was too excited, too close to Chicago, my hometown. It was eerie, beautiful and a bit scary riding through the countryside in the dark. I rolled into Kenosha looking for a WIFI hotspot. There was McDonald's. I rolled into the parking lot, my chain broke... again. It was 5 in the morning, 3 hours after I got on the road.

I did not have the 'chainbreaker' tool to fix the chain a breaking a second time in less than 50 miles meant I needed another chain. I was stuck. I tried hitchhiking to Chicago but Kenosha does not have a small town mentality. All I got was glared at suspiciously. I moved to the gas station nearby and made a sign out of a piece of cardboard. “Chicago, Dead Bike, Got chain?” I kept falling asleep. A guy gave me the change from his purchase. I said, “I need a bike chain, not change.” He took my phone number and said he would be back. He and his lady companion drove around looking for a bike chain for me! I told them I could pay. He called me, the chain cost $20 and a Park Tools multi-tool with a chain-breaker on it cost $25. I got to hold that money close to my heart for less than a day. But, I had a new chain and a tool vital to fixing my bike. It was just after noon. It was only 50 miles, I could still get into Chicago, couldn't I?

I called Dave Hodges, a guy I met in Madison at Ambrosia who was visiting from Chicago. In Madison, he said he would have to talk with his house-mates but he was 85% certain I could stay at their place for a few days. “85% certain”? :/ Anyways, I called him asking if he could give me a ride on his way in from Madison to Chicago, but no help there, he was taking a bus. I called again when I got back on the road with my new chain. I called the Baha'i Center near Chicago, in Wilmette and told them I was coming. (There was a Star Trek show in which Warf howls or shrieks when another Klingon dies. Klingons warn the rest of the dead that one of theirs is coming. Was I warning them of my arrival? You decide. Wink ) Bridgette answered the phone and said they looked forward to meeting me.

Thursday, the 9th of September, I took bicycle paths to get to Chicago. Bike paths are very scenic, they have lots or swerves and curves, they are generally flat and cooler, without cars BUT, they are not a straight, fast route. I did not remember that part when I thought I could get to Chicago on the bike paths. Nor could I have traveled quickly through city traffic. My goals were unrealistic. But, riding the bike paths from Kenosha to Chicago was an exciting race to remember.

Dave Hodges lived at Chicago Avenue and Kedzie. That is about 4 miles west of downtown. I rolled up, called Dave and got help dragging my bike up the door steps into his apartment. It was a two flat (2 story, 2 apartment building) his roommates rented the entire building as a single unit. They had to move by the end of the month. They had piles of... stuff... littered all over the building. I made a nest and tried to keep my wits and possessions about me.

I got maps of Chicago – bike maps, public transportation maps and city street maps. I went to bike shops asking for sponsorship, Smart Bike Parts on Armitage said Yes! Erik, the owner of Smart Bike Parts, only had a little support he could offer but having ONE sponsor opens many doors. I went to a Baha'i social gathering in Highland Park, on Friday, the 10th, services on Sunday (in Wilmette) and a Devotional on Thursday, the 16th. I met a homeless guy, Phil, in Evanston, he was planning to ride his bike to Key West. Like me? We could travel together? We traded cell phone numbers. Later on that day, (which day?) I was going into a grocery store in Evanston, when this guy, Steve, saw my bike and backpack and asked me if I was on a bike tour. We talked for a while, he was planning a bike trip to Key West. He asked if I needed a place to stay. Things were getting better and better, mighty quickly!

I stayed with Steve for several days until Wednesday, the 22nd. I talked with Phil Tuesday evening to coordinate our departure. He backed out talking about making some money before he left, not looking like a bum when he rode out.

Monday, September 27th, 2010
Steve and I went to Panera Bread downtown Evanston to say goodbye to Phil Wednesday morning. I hoped he changed his mind. No luck. Steve and I first rode west to skirt Chicago. We rode south on Harlem to highway 30 and stopped for the night in Merrillville, IN at a La Quinta motel. The employees there played well together – always a good sign; a well-run work place. We traveled over 70 miles from the northern edge of Chicago, on the lake to Merrillville and I was still feeling pretty good. Steve's desire to 'ride a century' – 100 miles in a day looked possible.

There was a complimentary breakfast from 6 – 9 in the morning. I was up and out the door at six. The food was already laid out and people were well into their meal! I was late for dinner (“don't call me late for dinner”). We left at 10 in the morning. Steve was not feeling so good, 'a century' got put on the back burner. That made me feel even better.
We only rode to Valparaiso, IN and camped for the night in the far back lot of the Wal-Mart. Steve bought supplies and made dinner at their outdoor break-room. I was amazed they gave us permission. The boss man rode up at the end of his shift and met us. That made the whole day a good memory. I set up my new Marmot Limelight 3 tent for the first time. Woohoo! I had room to stretch out. If... no WHEN I get the opportunity to entertain company, I now had room enough.

The next day we rode to Tippecanoe River State Park. They charged $25 for the night! Steve happily paid. There were a lot of good people camping there. I met several. One guy was roasting acorns, I watched, learned and ate. He also told me Lamb's Quarters or Pig Weed can be eaten just like spinach – raw, cooked, etc.

We rode south but I only got to Winamac before a spoke gave out. My wheel went from wonderfully straight and questionably strong to wobbly and very questionable. I learned several of my spoke nuts or nipples were stripped. The stripped ones were among the ones I needed to adjust. Steve did his best to true my now wheel. We decided to go south to Logansport in search of a bike shop. I really need to learn how to true a wheel. “Truing” is what you call adjusting the spokes so the wheel is not wobbly and is round.

We rode on. I was keeping an eye out for a bike shop. It was Saturday afternoon, fat chance one was open when I found it. I pulled into the gas station in Kewanna and looked in their phone book for a bike repair shop. There was one in Rochester! That was back up the road the way we had originally intended to go. I called Steve to tell him but all I got was his voicemail.

I stopped at the Kroger's grocery store and bought food, went to the Wal-Mart and bought a hair brush and underwear (serious luxuries) with money Doug had deposited into my bank account. What a difference having a little money to spend makes!

I continued onto the bike repair guy, wait what time was it? I called him, too late for him tonight he could help me out tomorrow, Sunday. Time to find a place to camp out. A lady at a corner yard sale got all excited seeing me on my bike get the opportunity “What are you up to, got to be a story there?” and even more excited seeing the sign on my bike. “Need a place to sleep for the night?” Wouldn't it be great if life went this smoothly all the time?

She drove to her mobile home while I followed on my bike. She was 49, my age, and is planning a trip like mine, but in her truck. I tried convincing her of the virtues of seeing the world on a bike. But her two teenage boys mean she has to wait a few years before she goes anywhere. I advised her to start planning.

The way she was talking, I half hoped she and I were sleeping in the same bed and doing more than sleeping that night. But, no such luck. Just as well, there was a lot of chaos and unsettled issues in her life.

The next morning, Sunday, I rode over to Dennis Grossnickle, the bike guy. He works his business, Channels Cycling Service, out of his garage. We worked on my bike together and had a wonderful time getting to know each other. He and his wife, Christy, took me out to eat at a buffet. They hoped to introduce me to their friend, the editor of local newspaper but he was not answering his phone. Gone for the day? No clue but no intro, no interview, no article. Ce la vie.

I left at 3PM with a repaired wheel, replaced brake cables and my brake levers in a much easier to use place. I only got to the south side of Peru, IN where the Sheriff of Miami county told me I could camp free. Not using a tent or fire makes for lots of possibilities. Smile I was a few feet from the Wabash river, in a friendly community, very private campsite and I felt safe.

I rode past Bunker Hill, IN. Since Doug first called me on the phone, we have talked every day over the phone. He is eager to get started with our plans to ride to Key West together and maybe through Europe visiting all the bike part manufacturers. “Worshiping at the bike altars.”

Now, I am at the BP gas station outside of Bunker Hill, charging my cell phone and adding to my blog on a document I will paste onto my blog later. I am hitchhiking from here to Odessa, TX ASAP. The sooner Doug and I are on the road with all our cool toys... Smile I can't get over it – he is going to teach me to weld. I am going to build my own recumbent trike, tadpole configuration. I am going to learn to weld. I know some carpentry, metalwork, pottery, how to work plastic, sewing, soon welding!

I am out of here! I want my epitaph to be the phonetic version of “I am out of here”; AMATAHEA. People will put a lot of time into trying to figure out what 'that acronym' stands for. Smile

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010
I rolled into Kokomo, Indiana, stopped at a Dollar General in search of vittles. I swept through the store, grab up a jar of crunchy peanut butter (nothing but peanuts and salt for a dollar a pound?!) and fig newtons then breezed on over to the cashier. A woman saw my wide eyed exuberance and said “Kid in a candy shop?” Yep, that's me but that's life. Grab what you can as it passes by and savor each moment.

On the way out I asked her where I could find coffee and free WIFI, preferably in the same place. She started to explain directions, got a map, (we got to talking along the way to getting a map from her car) decided it was easiest to drive there, I follow. Done. Waved goodbye.

I got along well with two guys at The Vault. I remember Andrew is the owner because I got his card. Wink This cool college student looking guy talked about his girlfriend and him wanting to travel the world on a live-in-boat like a house boat. I said dirigible (house dirigible?) would be cool too. He said he would email me, maybe then I can add his name. I hope he jogs my memory about which guy he was and where. 8|

The lady Antoinette, that gave me directions walked in with her mother. She had gone to pick mom up and now they were inviting me to their house for dinner, did I need a place to stay the night? Manna from heaven! She left me their address. I finished up my copy and paste update, got directions and rolled away. Came back for my customized minimalistic baseball cap – I sewed on an elastic chin-strap string to keep it from getting blown away in high winds. Looks very Peewee Herman, works great.

The ladies are Italians, also from Chicago. I knew that when we talked outside Dollar General. But did I tell you? No! The injustice of it all! Smile The daughter is a little older than me and she is a talker. I so enjoy being the listener in a conversation, a relaxing treat. I got my laundry done and a shower before dinner. Pasta and marinated broccoli and tomato salad, enough pasta even for me. Finished off with ice cream. Ahh! Ambrosia.

In the morning, I took another shower just because I could. Then I looked at the time: 4:30 in the morning? I got back in bed. Smile I still woke up earlier than those two. I tried to make coffee but all I made was noise. Antoinette woke up, made coffee and got breakfast started. It all looked so easy when she did it. Then she burnt the muffins and the sausage too. :embarrassed:

I rolled out, reversing my directions most of the way then forked off on my way to Wal-Mart and a thrift store to donate the two bike computers I have been doing nothing with. The thrift store was tempting but I expect to get to Odessa, TX in a few days; what do I really need between now and then?Old habits die hard. At Wal-Mart, I checked out Coleman camp stoves and bought a container to hold eggs in. With a vehicle that vehicle can carry more, a stove becomes possible. Eggs, hot cereal, so many possibilities. My mouth is watering. I took measurements and tried calling Coleman with a suggestion. I can't make my suggestion over the phone? It will have to wait for another WIFI hotspot. I rode south towards Indianapolis. I tried to hitchhike but no luck. I rode further, into Indianapolis and out to Plainfield. It was past dark when I got to Plainfield and saw a Speedway gas station. I walked in, the cashier said “May I help you?” I sheepishly said “I am riding my bicycle across country. Can I camp out behind your store? I got Credentials!” I turned around and showed off my “BikeToAustralia” sign. Management said “Sure, we let truckers park and sleep out there.”

I picked the darkest spot, between two shrubs, with an added benefit of being less likely to get run over by a trucker in the dark. I set up my tent and called Doug. He is paying Google to get live pictures so he can see me. It was work for us to find me on his computer. Where was I really at, exactly? Finally, I waved at him. Google better pay me for all the business I envision will come from this plug.

I rode out in the morning to a nearby on-ramp to Interstate 70. It took a long time to get a ride. I got dropped off at the intersection of I-70 and 59. Two women in a car yelled out the window, “Get a job!” This is one day after I heard Elkhart, Indiana has 85% unemployment. They are my third encounter with this kind of crazy – “get a job” in the worst economy I can remember. This lifestyle I choose does not require steady employment to survive. I feel lucky.

After two hours, I gave up on hitchhiking from there. I rode the few miles on to Terra Haute. Except I rode the wrong way. I was beyond Poland, IN working on my bike when a lady came by and asked if I was OK. I asked for directions to Terra Haute and found then I rode 2 hours away instead of to... She gave me a ride to the west side of Terra Haute. She is a mental health worker looking for employment. Too bad those crazy women yelling “Get a job!” got away.

Now I am at the southern edge of West Terra Haute at the Burger King. When I slid into the booth by the door, the button on the backside of my shorts committed hari kari and gouged a track on the backrest. Leaving my mark... Sad
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