Chicago Trip / Day 3: Logansport to Valparaiso, Indiana
I was kind of looking for any excuse I could think of not to go. Quite frankly, I was beat. I was a little sore. I was . . . well, whiny. The “angels” in my head kept coming back with, “Look, you came on this ride to RIDE. Not sit in a hotel and think up excuses.”
But it didn’t stop me from coming up with a bunch of ’em. For one thing, I was a day ahead of schedule. That alone was going to affect my friend who was driving my car from Dayton. She was going to have to leave a day earlier than she’d planned. If I stayed another night in Logansport, I could catch up on laundry. Catch up on the blog entries. Get some more sleep. Let my friend keep to the schedule I’d already worked out with her. Plus, Valpo’s hotels were at least $30 more per night than the Logansport Inn.
Then I came up with a great excuse. Via my Weather.com app:
|The blob that ate Indiana. And Ohio. And Illinois. (Illinois gave it heartburn ‘cuz it was made of 100% Pure Hopeanchange. Or, as it’s known by its generic name in the other 49 states: “Horse Shit.”)|
It’s kind of hard to see Logansport on the map . . . because it’s completely covered by the storm.
“What the hell?” I thought. I’d checked the weather several times and there wasn’t any mention of rain anywhere. Yes, I know summer storms crop up, but a storm that stretches across three states just pops out of the Devil’s Hinder Parts?
The definition of a computer geek is someone who’ll check Weather.com to see what the weather’s like right outside his window. I decided to play against type. I went outside to see for myself. The sky was like something out of a Steven Spielberg movie:
|Wait a minute — the end of the world was slated for next Wednesday.|
The rain was hitting so hard you’d think the clouds had been a prison for ’em and each raindrop had been promised its own sheet of Bounty The Quicker Picker Upper upon release.
Well hell, I’m not riding in that mess, I triumphantly informed the angels-in-my-head. If I were to start riding in storms, then my hair gets messed up. Every time my hair gets a little mussed — every single time — I run across a homeless waif, like the young lady below, who just want to ride on my handlebars.
|Typical homeless waif found on the side of any road in Indiana.|
One look at my unkempt mane and she tells me to keep on pedaling. Happens every time. So, angels, just get word back to Spielberg that I’ll just wait out his storm, thank you very much.
I headed up to the counter to let them know I was going to be staying an additional night. Ahead of me was a little girl with red curly hair who was . . . singing. Something about the sun coming out tomorrow or some such twaddle. “Psssst, hey, kid,” I whispered, “Five bucks if you can push the sun’s appearance to this morning, ‘k? I’ve got a bicycle with itchy tires that only a hot rough road can scratch.” Kid must have been some kind of hungry orphan ‘cuz she snatched Abe right out of my hand, strode outside purposefully, and, err, stormed at the storm. Directly: birds chirping. Sky bluing. Four lane road lying wide open like a three dollar hooker on a two day bender looking for one good time. Math class is now over — let’s go.
(And you think this sort of stuff happens only in the movies. Pffft. It’s ‘cuz you’ve never gone further than 5 miles on a bicycle. This stuff happens all the time when you’re riding bicycles.)
Times are hard all over for just about everyone. Not long after I got out of town I saw this building:
|Did the copywriters leave the door open again? I feel a draft . . .|
Which had obviously seen better days. (I suppose someone who lives in Gary, Indiana would consider this a fine vacation spot.) It was the sign out front that caught my eye:
|We don’t need no stinkin’ Madison Avenue location . . .|
I’m guessing this was Don Draper’s first agency?
Only 90 minutes into the trip I ticked over the 200th mile of the journey. I was in Royal Center, Indiana.
|Nearly every little town’s “symbol” has to do with a carousel horse. I looked it up, but, it obviously didn’t interest me beyond that point. There’s a town that has an old carousel. Big whoop. Go ride it and leave me out of it.|
I stopped at the only place in town that seemed to be open. It was the closest thing to a full service grocery store / deli / gas station anywhere around. It did a booming business, fer shure. I decided I was hungry so I headed back to the deli section. The long-suffering, weary woman behind the counter greeted me with a “Yeah?” but the sandwiches I had her make turned out top notch:
|Elsie gave her life so I could pedal my lard ass to Chicago. Blessings to you, Elsie. Oh, hey, Else’, did you make any ice cream before you checked out . . . ?|
There was a very nice young lady who was working the front cash register. She came over to clean the drink machine. While my mind didn’t reboot all the way as it had with Miss Indiana in Richmond previously, I enjoyed watching her work.
|Dinner and a show.|
To my delighted surprise, I picked up a bicycle trail that I didn’t realize ran through Royal Center. I had read about the bike trail, but I, for some reason, had it in my head that it started about 25 miles from where I was at. It wasn’t going to do me the least bit of good because it took off from there and went northeast. I was heading northwest.
|Abandon Hope (and Change!) all ye who enter!|
As I was taking pictures of the Royal Center and the Panhandle Pathway signs, this lady shot me past me. It startled me because she was the first bicyclist I’d seen since I started the trip.
|Come for the boobs. Stay for the biking.|
I caught up with Sue after a couple of miles of eating her dust. She was booking it, man. I wasn’t really trying to catch up. I wasn’t riding any faster than I do normally. I think the only way I caught up with her was she stopped to drink her Long Island Iced Tea from her water bottle. Ok, I don’t know that she had LIIT in her bottles. Could have been liquid oxygen for all I know. LOX would at least explained her rocket-level speed.
Sue and her husband live in Texas and vacation in Indiana. Isn’t that the saddest thing you’ve ever heard in your life? That you get four weeks of vacation a year and you spend it in . . . Indiana? Then again, hell, there I was on the first vacation I’d taken in awhile and I was spending it in Indiana. Ya know. Mutually benefiting geese and ganders. Pots saying racial shit to kettles.
Mr. Sue is not pictured because (1) he’s a guy and I prefer taking pictures of women and (2) he wasn’t there on the trail with his wife and I. Ironically, he was spending the night in Columbus! But he and Sue were avid bicyclists who rode that particular trail often. She told me that the trail actually started — or maybe it just ran through — Kokomo. I wish I’d known that when I was in Kokomo. We yammered on about the Bicyclist 3 Rs, Routes, Rides, & Roads. We then bid each other fair winds and no flats.
For the most part I was traveling through farm land. Both of the signs below appeared on a single grain silo right by the bicycle trail:
If only Bruce’s parents had stayed on the farm with Clark’s, that whole nasty business in Gotham City that night with Joe Chill wouldn’t have ever happened. Doctor Wayne would still be a simple old country doctor, Alfred would never have written that tell-all, and those rumors about Bruce and Dick would have been nipped in the bud. They just don’t do that sort of thing on Kansas farms, y’know.
|Kansas Farm Boys|
But, then one wouldn’t have all those “action figures” to keep in one’s attic and go up there every night of the week in one’s superhero Underoos and our capes and our Cheetos and make up stories and pose the action figures and . . . oh, wait. Wrong blog.
After the trail ended, it was back to riding on the roads. You get used to 8 to 10 feet-wide pavement dedicated to bicycles. You can kind of zone out a little bit on a trail. Not so much on a road where cars and trucks are whizzing by at 60 to 70 miles per hour. You need to pay attention to where you’re riding. 8 to 10 feet? More like 8 to 12 inches. (Yes, girls, I know, that’s enough for y’all to be constructive with . . . )
|Great gam, eh?|
The back of my heel was even with the edge of the “bicycle lane.” Contrary to some news reports, I’m not Big Foot. I wear a 9.5 / 10 sized shoe. I have to concentrate on riding the bike in that little sliver of pavement.
When I reached Knox, Indiana, I had a choice of more than one route to take to get to Valpo. Valpo was what the girls at Mikey’s Pizza Pit Stop called Valparaiso. (Mainly because I kept telling them, “Not only can I not spell it, I can’t pronounce it, either.” “We just call it Valpo.” Sold. I’ll call it that, too.
|We unanimously think you’re an idiot for going through Gary.|
My waitress was the one above in pink. She was quite the smart-ass and, having a PhD in smart-assery myself, I appreciate the trait when I discover it in others. She was such a smart-ass that at one point I said, “I’d ask you for directions,” (her eyes rolled upon those words), “but, then, you’re a chick, so that won’t do my any good.” I probably should have waited until I had my food in hand before insulting the staff.
She actually knew the hotel I was going to. I was staying in another Super 8. “Oh yeah. Been there a bunch of times.” Party on, girls, party on.
Both of ’em gave me “the look” when I mentioned going through Gary. “Ya know, what you should do,” said the one in blue, “is there’s this ferry, y’know? Where, y’know, like, you can, like, ride across, like Lake Michigan, with the bike, and y’know, like, you won’t have to ride through, like Gary and shit, y’know?”
Realizing she was being small-town polite and trying to help out someone she thought was retarded, I thanked her and gently said, “Thanks, I’ll consider it.” What I didn’t say was, “I could have strapped my bike to the car and just driven to Chicago, too. Would have saved all the pedaling.” See? Dr. Smart-Ass to the dining room, stat. (Rule of thumb: you have to be smart to pull off being a smart-ass. Else you’re just an ass.)
For the first time since Dayton the wind became a factor. Maybe it’s because I was riding so late in the day or maybe because I was hitting the back end of that storm system that had swept through that morning, but I got my full Sailor-Swearing module strapped on, to curse the son-of-whore headwinds that popped out of nowhere. Made the last 30 miles tough.
I wrote in an earlier post that I don’t know how other bicyclists do it, but I have to lie to my body and tell it we’re going farther than we really are. I had roughly figured the trip to Valpo was going to be 70 miles, so I lied to my body and said 85. Final tally for the day? 84.8.