Monday, August 26, 2013

Day 51- Avery to Cleveland- 63 miles

We are in Cleveland. This place is RITZY. 
Today's ride was good. We are all looking forward to 4 days in Erie, PA, where Jamie's family lives. So we were all a little tired. 
We are in a home in Cleveland heights. I have never seen a house so neatly packed with color and character. 

Day 50- Bowling Green to Avery- 69 miles

Delicious breakfast.
 Homemade donuts at a small town bakery with Jamie and Jeremy's friend. A nice, flat ride with a tailwind. It was a good day.
$6 food

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Day 49(?)- Paulding to Bowling Green- 66 miles

I'm way behind on this whole blogging thing. Don't judge. 
Today was weird. Got a bit of a late start. Had some headwinds. 
We went to an ice cream shop (oh, excuse me, it was an Olde Fashioned Ice Cream Shoppe), where a nice lady gingerly balanced a few tablespoons of ice cream atop a plain old cake cone and charged us $2.25 for it. 
^this is after exactly 2 licks 

Plans to meet a friend of Jamie and Jeremy fell through, after we booked it to Bowling Green.
But our very hospitable hosts got us pizza, tomato bread, and stuffed breadsticks for dinner. 
I'm really tired. 
$8 groceries
$2.25 ice cream

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Day 44- Wales to Grand Rapids- 70 miles

I am so done with Wisconsin bike paths. They're great, but WHERE ARE THEY? AND WHERE THE HECK AM I?
Fortunately, a guardian angel on a recumbent met me at a crossroads (as I stared in disbelief at an unlabeled map trying to figure out where I was) and rode with me 10 miles to the ferry terminal. He even got a flat tire a few hundred yards before we got there, the dear heart. 
Thanks, Chuck! 
I was at the terminal at 10:30- plenty of time to spare. Checked in at 11, my bike was cleared, and rolled through the terminal in all its dirty glory. I was loaded up by 12:10, and we were off by 12:30. 
It was pretty cool, but I had been waiting for the ferry to eat lunch, and that was a mistake. A greasy hamburger from a package served on a white roll with a slice of American cheese dripping down the sides was going to cost me $9. I was starving, though, so I paid a ridiculous amount for a banana, a cup of yogurt, peanut M&M'S, and a chocolate milk. At least it didn't make me puke. I'm used to Washington ferries, where there are nice refrigerator cases full of snacks, and soups and salads and awesome sandwiches... Also, there was no wifi. I could swear I read somewhere there was going to be wifi. 
On the other side of the lake, in Muskegon, I checked in with my mom, who had said we had connections there. But Jamie and Jeremy, my old riding buddies, texted me and said they were in Grand Rapids, with dinner and a place to sleep. I double-checked my map to find I was only 40 miles away. It was 4:30, and I was hungry. But I decided to go for it. I raced through Muskegon, hoping to a. find the bike path that went from Muskegon to Marne (near Grand Rapids) and b. find something to eat. Well, I soon learned that when you are in Muskegon, you do not stop. For anything. Finally I got to a patch of grass not on the edge of the 'hood (okay, it wasn't that bad),  ripped open a package of fruit snacks with hungry-shaking hands, and shoved them all into my mouth. I followed this up by eating some peanut butter with my finger. Don't judge, cars. 
Then Google maps said there was a grocery store three miles away, so I kept on trucking, ran inside, grabbed a yogurt, bananas, and Raisin Bran, checked out (the checker was definitely checking me out, if you know what I mean), and scarfed down in the parking lot. 
I was in beast mode for those last 30 miles. I was a little worried about it getting dark, and so far, Google maps hadn't done a great job of taking me through neighborhoods I'd want to live in. So I was Wild Woman, Racer of Daylight. I actually growled a few times, to get my adrenaline pumped up. 
I arrived just as dusk began, was fed dinner, enjoyed s'mores around the fire, and ESPECIALLY WAS REUNITED WITH MY PRECIOUS CHUMS; JAMIE AND JEREMY. 
Trail pass $4
Food $12

Monday, August 19, 2013

Day 43- Blue Mounds State Park to Wales- 90 miles

Man, today was hard. The last 20 miles were rough. All my ride today was on the bike trail, which was pretty cool. 
Arrived at my host's by 6:20, showered, was fed Farmer's Market Stew and ice cream, and had an awesome time chatting with Mary Jo, and Pat, who plays the tuba and invented and patented a tuba stand. It's awesome! We got along just fine. 
Saw these crazy big heron-like birds with red bands on their beaks. 
Ahh, my bedroom. 
$4 trail pass
$13 food

Day 42- Boscobel to Blue Mounds State Park

The ride today was INSANE. It was so beautiful. I can't even believe it. 

Pictures can't even touch it. I was in Switzerland. I was in The Sound of Music. I was in heaven. 
$4 trail pass
$8 food
$14 camp

Day 41- Decorah to Boscobel- 70 miles

Was off in the morning early. Thanks for everything, Jeff!

My ride today was so beautiful!
I got really hungry halfway through the day, sat down for a snack, and promptly ate everything on my bike that could be dipped in peanut butter and chocolate.
Needless to say, I was then very full for my gorgeous ride down "Pleasant Ridge Rd.". 
Neapolitan barn.
Arrived in Marquette, got an Iowa sticker, and crossed the bridge.

Woohoo! In Wisconsin! 
The lady at the visitor's center in Prairie du Chien looked at me like I was crazy when I asked for a traffic volume map. But then a guy gave me a banana, so all was well. 
Camped in an RV Park- got a free spot! 
Had a veggie-ful dinner. 
With cheese curds that had NOTHING on Appel Farms cheese curds, but... When in Wisconsin... 
$10 food

Day 40- Grafton to Decorah- 70 miles

My stay with Brian and Diana was awesome. BLT's, a burger, sweet corn, fruit, and THE BEST ice cream sundae were had for dinner. I slept in a feather bed and was fed breakfast. They loaded me up with snacks, and Brian rode out with me to Osage, where he works. 
Scenery was beautiful today. 
Church in the middle of nowhere.
Stopped at the bike shop in Decorah, where they trued my wheel for free!
I found the food co-op in Decorah kind of like a metal detector finds a piece of metal (come on, that was a good one)... Aaand promptly splurged on kombucha, magic peanut butter I'd heard rumors of, and other goodies. 

Went for ice cream, arrived at my host's, showered, ate another dinner, and chilled out until bedtime.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Day 39- Britt to Grafton- 71 miles

That bed was the comfiest of comfy beds I have EVER slept in. In my life. I woke up fantastically refreshed, loaded up on breakfast, said goodbyes, and was off to who-knows-where. Thank you, DeBoers, for everything!

I zig-zagged all over the country roads, and even backtracked a few miles once... the roads in the eastern part of Iowa are not as perfectly gridded as the ones in the west. I stopped after 50 miles at the gas station in Manly (yes, Manly) 

and scarfed a footlong sub sandwich and an ice cream cone. Not too shabby for a gas station. Then I was headed to Orchard, but 7 miles outside of Manly, an unloaded cyclist was riding towards me and stopped beside me to ask about my trip. Her name is Diana, and she invited me to stay at her house, which was about 10 miles away. She rode with me, and the 10 miles flew by as we chatted. It was good to ride with somebody again. Pacing yourself is so easy!
I'm now at Diana and her husband, Bryan's beautiful remodeled farm house. Seriously, this house is gorgeous. I've been promised beer and BLT's for supper.
Oh, and apparently Orchard is where all the sex offenders live. Thank you, Lord!

Day 38- Gillett Grove to Britt- 86 miles

No, Gillett Grove to Britt shouldn't have been 86 miles...
I started the day off right with an egg, oatmeal, and an apple for breakfast at Jim and Carol's. They sent me off with hugs and well wishes. They were so much fun.

At one point today, I laid my bike down to go off into the grass and... pop a squat. Seven miles later, I stopped to take a picture and... my phone was gone. When I had laid my bike down, my phone had slipped out of my handlebar bag and was laying in the grass where I'd stopped. So. That tacked on an extra 15 miles.
Then I was getting hungry. I had planned on stopping in Rodman, but there was nothing there, and the next town looked a little more promising, so I pushed on an extra 8 miles to Whittemore, where there was... a Cenex. So I supplemented my oatmeal and chia seeds and cereal with peanut butter cheese crackers and an ice cream sandwich. Needless to say, I was still kinda hungry when I left. But Debbie, and old friend and my host for the night, was promising a meal in Britt, so I pushed on the last 30 miles and arrived a little after six.
Joel and Debbie used to pastor at the church we used to attend! They were awesome hosts. I had a divine shower, relaxed for a bit, and filled up on pork tacos for dinner.
...that was my attempt at capturing a fantastic green caterpillar I saw today.

Day 37- Sioux Center to Gillett Grove- 76 miles

Today was awesome!
My stomach was graced with another delicious breakfast at the Goedharts'- thank you, Chris and Rin for everything! They were awesome. They let me stay two nights with them, and fed me, and let me play their piano, and took me to church with them... Ahh. It was a fantastic two days.
I left at about 7, and got on County Road B40. The first six miles or so were ICKY. It was foggy, the sun was lighting up the fog, and the route was well-trafficked at 7 in the morning. Once I passed the major crossroad, though, traffic eased up dramatically, and so did the fog. Death averted, once again.
 I stopped in Primghar to use a bathroom. When I came back out to my bike leaned up against the wall, I took out my map, studied it for a few minutes, and KATWANG! Another. Spoke. Broken. I turned the bike upside-down and fixed it (hey, I'm gettin' pretty good at this, folks!). And then I called my dad. And I cried. In public. I didn't weep. I didn't moan or wail. I just shed a few tremble-chin-hopeless-despair tears. I called the bike shop in Spencer about him taking a look at it. He was pretty busy, but said he'd take a look at it if I brought it in. So on I rode.
In Spencer, I hit up the bike shop first, and decided to just buy some more spokes and be on my way. I was feeling good, the bike shop was pretty busy, I wasn't exactly impressed with them, and it wasn't very windy out. First, I went to the Hy-Vee, where I indulged in another all-you-can-eat-soup-and-salad-bar, and downed three plates of fruits and vegetables. Hy-Vee is saving me. 

An older guy there asked me about my trip, and after we'd been through the "whats" and "hows", and it was time for the "whos", he deduced I was Dutch because of my hair, I told him my last name, and he asked if I was part of a CRC out in Washington. This is all before he knows I'm from Lynden...
And then I rode some more. It was a beautiful day. I arrived in Gillett Grove in desperate need of a restroom. The only business in town was a motorcycle repair shop. I went in, used the restroom, looked at my map, and deduced I should call it quits for the day. I'd gone about 75 miles, and my next destination was about 75 miles away. So I went back in to the repair shop and asked where the nearest place to camp was.
First he gave me directions to his hay field, saying nobody'd bother me up there, "but if you keep going on up that hill, we're the last house on the left- you'll see it. You just go on up there, and my wife is there. She's got gray hair and her name is Carol. I'm serious now! You go on up there." So I went up there, and met the vivacious "Carol", who showed me the shower, the fridge, the swimming pool, and my bed for the night before leaving to bring her granddaughters to 4-H.
I had such a fun time! I put on my shorts and jumped in the pool, which was c-c-c-coooool, jumped on the trampoline to dry off a little, and had myself a fantastic shower. When Carol and Jim came home, we had smoked pork steaks, mashed potatoes, potato salad, and peas for dinner.
...I slept very well that night.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Well, I took another rest day.

I know. It's only been a week since my last. 
A CRC service, just like the good ol' days, and other Dutch Sabbath things, like 3 o' clock apple pie and tea with the grandparents.
No regrets.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Every day, someone says/I say.

Where you from?/Washington State.
Where you going?/Maine.
That'll take you a while.
You're halfway there!
Are you insane?
Well don 't people bother you?/No.
Do you carry a gun?/...Pepper spray.
How old are you?/19.
What do your parents think of this?/They think I'm crazy.
You know you're giving your mother a heart attack, right?
What possessed you to do such a thing?/When I was 11, I asked my dad, "What's the farthest state from Washington ?" He said, "Probably Maine." So I said, "Let's bicycle there." So I am.
When'dja leave?/July 1.
When you gonna get there?/End of September.
What're you gonna do when you get there?/Fly home.
How do you eat?/Grocery stores.
Where do you sleep?/In a tent. At campgrounds. In city parks. At strangers' houses. 
So are you in college?/No.
Are you single?/...

Play on shuffle and repeat.

Day 36- Hinton to Sioux Center- 36 miles

Alarm woke me up this morning. Within 30 minutes, I was ready to go. That includes camp tear-down, clothes-changing, teeth-brushing, water bottle-filling, shoes-putting-on, and even a few bites of breakfast-eating. Then I was on the road, and oh, what a beautiful morning it was. Mist settled in the rolling corn fields, all lit up in pink and yellow splashes of a cloudy sunrise. Yum. 

Less than three hours, a few raindrops, three bathroom stops, one park sliding
one funny sign,
and a few nice hills later, I arrived in Sioux  Center, which is kind of like Lynden, except that it's in Iowa. Christian Reformed Churches, a tree-lined main street, a farm smell... Upon entering Brothers Bike Shop and introducing myself ("Schripsema" and "Lynden" being key words), I was asked to please specify what exactly the problem was with my bike before striking up a game of Dutch bingo, because "we could be here for hours".
Chris Goedhart, a professor of agriculture at Dordt College, my dad's old best friend, and my host for the night, popped in to see if I'd made it into town, and hauled my stuff and me to his house. I showered, did laundry, and ate some food. He and his wife, Rin, came home from being out, and Chris took me back to the bike shop, where my bike was waiting for me, all freshly adjusted. And they charged me nothing but a picture of me with the bike mechanic! Thanks, guys!
Back at the house after a grocery run, I cooked up a to of broccoli and tapioca pudding, and promptly stuffed myself. I have been relaxing in the basement, laughing at the pitter patter of rain ever since. 
Rin has just offered me a cup of tea and an almond patty. I love the Midwest. 
$18 groceries

Friday, August 9, 2013

Day 35- Plainview to Hinton, IA- 96 miles

Well, last night was wrought with loud motorcycles and rowdy kids, and a house cat trying to be a bobcat woke me up at 5am. 
Upon my grand morning entrance to the bathroom, I was greeted by Mr. Toad.
I love him.

A few miles into my ride, a thick fog settled in, and soon my eyelashes, arms, eyebrows, helmet - everything - was covered in little droplets of water. It scared me to come up on a stand of trees, because I didn't know what that big dome of darkness was. It could have eaten me! 
...Okay, I JUST now got it. I was picturing broccoli and gardenias merging onto the highway.

I stopped in a small town to get some food and wait out some of the fog. I ate about a quarter of a huge box of cereal, some yogurt, and some sad strawberries that were on sale. 
A lot of middle-aged farmer and rancher dudes talk to me in this part of the country. Not in a creepy way. It's just the majority population, I guess. And they're friendlier than the farmers and ranchers out west. I think Western "country boys" have a complex and think that anyone not like them is a liberal or something. 
The fog had cleared up a bit, and I was on my way, having cleared up my route with the help of a guy in a pickup at the gas station. 
Just outside of town, a young man in an ATV pulled up and asked me about my trip. His name was Gabe, and he's done the Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, and now enjoys doing triathlons. It was neat to see a young local involved in farm work and also enjoying the outdoors in ways perhaps thought to be "hoity-toity" by other kids. A mile later, he flagged me down on the side of the road and showed me how he could turn his irrigation sprinklers of with his phone!
Stopped in Laurel for a protein bar, cereal, and a cheese stick to fuel the next stretch - 30 miles with nothing in between! It was HILLY. And hot. And long. It never ended. I wrote an awesome rap song. And then I was in Jackson, where the gas station advertised as "tourist info center" had neither a map of Iowa nor a Nebraska sticker. 
And so I made my way into South Sioux City, and stopped at the Hy-Vee, where I found my Nebraska sticker and a $5.99 all-you-can-eat salad bar. I think we know who got the better end of that deal.

My crossing of the Missouri was epic only in my brain- there are no pictures to document it, nor was there a "Welcome to Iowa" board- just a sorry postage stamp of a sign that said "state line". Nonetheless, it happened, and I am in Iowa. Wanting to get out of the city, I booked it into Hinton and arrived at the Hillview Rec Area in the dark. I was quite a sight to see, pushing my bike up a ridiculously steep gravel hill in the dark. my feet threatening to slide out from under me (that's how steep it was, and how heavy my bike is). 
It was $15 to camp, and there weren't even flush toilets, not to mention showers. BUT the park ranger was nice (okay, and handsome), and LIGHTNING BUGS YAY. It was a happy time. I almost-ashamedly-but-not-quite set my tent up directly next to the electric hookup so I could charge my phone and Facebook from bed. Muahaha. 

^my oops picture

$10 groceries
$4 Nebraska sticker
$6 salad
$15 camp

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Day 34- Bassett to Plainview- 106 miles

Today was awesome. 
Woke up with the sun, and started pedaling at 6:45. An awesome sunrise streaked across the sky for the next hour due to the clouds. Passed through several very cool small towns before reaching Atkinson at mile 30. It was 9:30, and I bought apples and cheese sticks. Yum. After breakfast, a few miles down the road, the smell of yeast nearly blew me over, and it started sprinkling. I didn't mind either, really. When it really started raining, I pulled the handy dandy fluorescent yellow rain cover over my "new" back panniers. It worked like a charm. I stopped a few miles later in O' Neill, a pretty steady rain pitter-pattering the blacktop. I burned time up I the library, where they set me up with a laptop, the "good Internet" password, and specially printed and laminated a teeny little map of the US with the emergency numbers of every state! Thank you!
After a while, the sun peaked out, and I rolled out of O' Neill. Several miles out of town, I had to take a detour due to road construction, but I didn't mind because a. I got the 10 foot wide shoulder and b. it allowed for the perfect space between towns to make a century ride! 
I loved the stretch between Link 45B and Plainview. Orchard, NE was one of my favorite towns so far, and I can't quite place why. It was just... IT. 
Oh, part of the reason might have been having a moment of euphoria while simultaneously listening to Beautiful Eulogy, realizing I was going to make a century ride today, and passing an old Amish/Hutterite lady smiling and waving in a horse drawn buggy.

I finally reached Plainview, Klown Doll capital of the world, and camped in the city park. Oatmeal and canned vegetables for dinner. Was strangely not hungry today. Will probably be ravenous tomorrow.

Oh, by the way:
Someone is blasting a stereo next door at the city pool, and switching songs every minute and a half.
...Please let me sleep.
$7 groceries

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Day 33- Valentine to Bassett- 65 miles

Kathy and Darryl, the couple I camped with last night, graciously took me out for breakfast this morning! I had my fill of eggs, hashbrowns, toast, and oatmeal. We had a lot of awesome conversations before parting ways. They are a really neat couple. 
Those crosswinds. They're big as life.
Really, the wind wasn't terrible today. However, my tush had several things to say about my saddle. Mainly, "STOP $:35?"& GETTING UP IN MY GRILL RAAAAWRRRR!" ...It hurts. 
It Johnstown, I stopped at the post office, laid on the ground for a few minutes, and mailed a post card. The postmaster came out and gave me a cookie. Life is good. Also, I'm in love. 
...With this bank. Isn't it awesome? It hasn't even been converted into a tourist attraction. 
I had hoped to possibly make it to Atkinson, but I shamelessly gave up here in Bassett, where I've happily pitched my tent under some trees in the fairgrounds, and am looking forward to a free shower and being lulled to sleep by the sounds of a cattle-roping show. Hopefully I'll be  up and on my way early tomorrow morning.

Day 32- Gordon to Valentine- 95 miles

Well, a lot of things happened today, so for the sake of ease, here's a list:
Happy/smiling moments of the day:
Hearing the eruption of giggles after one of about ten pairs of boys' eyes gawking at me dared to say "Hi."
The nice man at the gas station who referred to me as "kiddo", said he was proud of me, and called me nuts when I told him I had friends in Crawford.
The smell of something divine- wheat, nutmeg, sagebrush, pumpkin, corn? wafting over the plains for most of the day.
Drinking sarsaparilla and charging my phone next to three old-ish country dudes who frequently used words like "shit" and "piss", and were very impressed with me. 
Talking to myself, to God, and rather boisterously composing songs and singing them in accents with hand motions. 
Meeting "Robbie", a 60-year-old cyclist headed West, and swapping tips, tricks, and tales of the road with him.
The nice trio of ladies at the grocery store in Cody during my lunner (
who wished me luck, said they'd pray for me, and wondered if I was crazy. 
My first turtle-saving mission! This little guy even peed on my front pannier. I'm never washing it!
Riding into Valentine at sunset, straight into a lovely park, and happening to camp next to a kind retired couple who come to Valentine every year looking for people to help.
Talking to a nice young man who would have shared a beer with me, had I not desperately wanted to go to bed. 
Aaand the challenges of the day:
Breaking another spoke and having only a very vague idea of how to fix it, and a next-to-none know-how as to true-ing a wheel.
Getting stung by a bee.
Accidentally rubbing a bunch of sidewall off my back tire because it wasn't sitting right.
Riding 40 miles with a stomach-ache due to overloading my body with dietary fiber (in particular: ten prunes, 3/4 of a can of refried beans).

...It was challenging, and it was beautiful.

$1.75 sarsaparilla 
$4 groceries

$5.75 total

Day 31- Crawford to Gordon- 70 miles

After another farewell to Kim, Katie, and Trevor, Jeff drove me into town, helped ready my bike, and sent me off. He arranged for me to check out his old panniers from a friend in Chadron. After a flat tire and a few familiar hills, I arrived, tried out his panniers, and WOW folks, I'm spoiled. I had to go to Wal-Mart and buy more stuff to fill them. (But really, I did go to Wal-Mart and grabbed another t-shirt - bright, construction-worker-orange - and so far, it's been my best investment yet.)
After some yogurt and trail mix, I stopped at the cutest combination barber shop/bike shop I've ever seen, where a dandy old man with white hair and red suspenders trued my front wheel and sold me a new tube, for a total of $10. 
Then I was finally on my way.
I'd been warned about Gordon being "not a place I would want my daughter camping out", but I checked it out anyways, and got an offer from some nice folk at the gas station. I was fed spaghetti, and slept in the spare bedroom! I love Midwestern hospitality!

$43 leggings, t-shirt, propane, food, etc. 
$8 groceries
$10 bike repair
$61 total

Last day of rest in Crawford, Nebraska.

Sunday at the Lunds'. One of my favorite things. Sleeping in, lots of food, home church, a well-earned day of rest... They know how to take Sabbaths around here. 
On Wednesday, Trevor, my mongrel little pseudo brother at the ranch, and I went out for a short ride down the White River Trail, which runs between Crawford and Fort Robinson. My bicycle was wobbly and unruly without 50 pounds of gear taming it. I also ran about a mile of hills and did a calisthenics round with him. So much for resting ;)
Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, I went roofing with Jeff ( of my own accord). It is so nice for parts of my body besides my legs to be sore, and to see progress on something other than a map. And it makes this Sunday rest all the more rewarding. 
Friday evening, Katie and I got to see The  Drowsy Chaperone at the playhouse.
Saturday was Katie's birthday, and I got the privilege of horseback riding with her and one of her friends out at Fort Robinson. 

All in all, it has been a full week, smothered in blessings and (mostly) good memories ;)
My dear mother sent me a package that got here yesterday, containing my tennis shoes, new riding gloves, chocolate chip peanut butter oatmeal cookies, Rice Krispie bars, nuts, Emergen-C, and a very healthy amount of dark chocolate. I love her.
My also dear dad has been planning out the last leg of this trip so that he can join me! I'm excited to be meeting up with him somewhere out east for the last 400 miles or so.