Two or three topped-off cups of coffee peeled open my eyelids enough for me to actually see while riding my bicycle in the exotic sunshine. We set out from Faith and Kevin's east out some country roads and onto Hwy 6. The routes out here lining the cornfields are ideal: slightly rolling, green pouring out ether side, stands of trees every two hundred feet, wide lanes, no cars.
Not 15 miles in, we crossed into the eastern time zone! We're officially on the east coast, less than a thousand miles from New York.
Give me such shows -- give me the streets of Manhattan!
- a quote by Walt Whitman I looked up online by searching "quotes about New York City" because I'm not really that well read
We've reached an area of the country with deep history, classic downtowns, old stately houses, their Queen Anne and Prairie architecture beautifully kept up over the years. Towns here are like the towns in my head, although the downtowns are doing about as well as they were back in Wyoming and South Dakota, that is, not so well. A lot of shuttered businesses among the saloons and grocery and hardware stores.
We passed through our first bit of Amish country. I was on the phone with Rachel and rode past a lady in a tight blue bonnet wielding a weed whacker, and a 10-year-old boy with a golden bowl cut and brown coveralls mowing beside his family's orchards. One or two black buggies, with their big wheels and bright orange cation signs tacked to the back, were parked at every farmhouse (which are all painted white, instead of the traditional red, anyone know why?). Shortly down the road, I passed through Amish Acres, in Neppanee, but didn't have time to stop. Anyone know any more history about the area?
One neat plus: shoulders wide enough for a horse and buggy are wide enough for a bicycle. Superb riding for.. three miles or something.
Out of town, after buying threes banana for 50 cents, I talked to a lady in a bonnet on a bicycle outside the Rite Choice, Carol Helmuth, about our trip. "Wow you really have come a ways!" she said, accent emphasizing and rounding the w's. I wish I could have asked her more, but I am shy and kind of awkward and also I was really hungry.
I made it to the Cottonwood campground by 6:30, pretty long after Rachel. She was napping in the tent. No hammockable trees sadly, but it was so pleasant to arrive before dark, to have a few hours to tootle around and write and eat and clean before the sun set. Earlier that week, I had ordered a new sleeping pad to be delivered to La Porte. Unfortunately, it arrived late - five hours after we left the farmhouse. Kevin drove it over even though it was already 8 pm and we were an hour a way. So write him thank you's, shower him with flowers, mail him bottles of artisan balsamic vinegar!
Like every night we camp, the weather report predicted thunderstorms. And it stormed and stormed, starting around midnight, big, blinding flashes of lightning and uncooperative cramps in my right calf keeping me awake. But it's neat to be outside and still dry in weather like that, like you're there in a dream and it's only half real. Eventually I ate a banana, plugged in some ear plugs, threw my pants over my face as a sleep mask, and drifted off.