So I don’t know what the deal is with this day. I’ve now rewritten this post three times and accidentally deleted it each time. The only conclusion I can come to is that I need to remind myself of how awesome a day it was, given that today (Day 18) is so hard. I’m in Ashtabula, OH at an awesome coffee shop called Harbor Perk. If it weren’t for the comfy couch-chair I’m sitting in and the delicious (seriously tasty, not like gas station coffee) coffee I’m sipping, I think I’d be having a little moment of tribulation. But this post (attempt #4) is about day 17.
I think the best way to do this is to upload pictures, and then as time allows write in the details/captions. Here goes:
Much of Day 17 was on Route 5 or 5A. It went on forever, all along the shore of the Lake. It was gorgeous, but the headwinds were awful and not helping me at all. (Litotes).
Dunkirk, the town I had been planning on staying in, had awesome animal-themed street names, including Eagle, Beagle, Zebra… and Plover! This image is particularly for Clemens. 🙂
I met some awesome touring cyclists today. Here are Rod, his cycling companion (so sorry! I’ve spaced on your name!) and the two awesome Dutch cyclists who were doing the Underground Railroad route. Rod is from Washington, and leads a cycling group out west. As if I didn’t have big enough reasons to be excited about going home, now I have the potential of a cycling escort to Seattle to look forward to! On top of that, I got some awesome route advice from Rod and his friend – from where to stay (and where not to) to how to save time out West. The conversation was a welcome break from the monotony of the headwinds!
Yay another state! Unfortunately, PA doesn’t keep it’s rural roads up as well as NY. Bump… bump… bump…
In version 2 of this post (or was it 3?) I wrote a long big thing about roadkill, my seemingly constant companion. Suffice it to say, the bigger the animal, the harder it is for me to stomach. This poor little guy, for instance. I’ve seen sooo many different animals at this point, from little snakes and mice, to squirrels, skunks (they still smell after the fact, poor guys), porcupines, birds (blackbirds, goldfinches, robins, crows, warblers, sparrows… lots of birds.), and even fish (presumably dropped by birds, and not trying to cross the road?). No fun. They make you realize how, despite our seeming disconnect from our environment, we still really do cohabitate with furry and not-so-furry creatures. They are rather elusive perhaps, but they are most certainly out there, even if you don’t see them much in Boston. Anyway, much more on this later.
This is Jim, and Jim is awesome. He’s a Mainer, cycling the Northern Tier alone and nearly home! We had a great talk. He had some good advice for me as well, much like Rod. Jim also outfitted me with a handlebar bag and a rear-view mirror! I enjoyed talking to him because he had a calm energy about him. Cycling the Northern Tier isn’t even his greatest adventure to date; last year he hiked the Appalachian Trail. We talked about the camaraderie of hikers versus bikers, and we agreed that finding good people to chat with occasionally is a big benefit of such undertakings. He’s got a blog going as well, and I’ll post the link to it when I have it handy.
Mmm… So Erie, PA was a hike against the headwinds, and I was famished when I finally arrived at my Warm Showers house. I made quick work of cooking dinner – cous cous, garlic (Buffalo Farmer’s Market!), zucchini (farm stand along the way, $1), and fresh tomatoes from Peggy back in Point Breeze. It was delicious. My host, Leo, wasn’t home till around 10, but he was kind enough to let me get settled early. His brother even came over to check in on me and Buddy the beautiful pup. Leo is a big dog fan, as evidenced by the cartoon posted on his fridge. I agree with the sentiment entirely. 🙂
And here is the star of the show, Buddy.
I got to chat a bit with Leo when he got home, but we had an even better (and more awake) conversation this morning over breakfast. If you ever cycle through Erie, PA, you must must must say hi to Leo. He and Buddy are awesome!
Well… this couch is super comfortable, but my coffee is gone, my muffin (apple cranberry) is gone, and it is almost 5pm and I still have about 3 hours (if I’m lucky) of cycling left tonight. I’m heading for Grand River. I don’t know whether I’ll have internet to update on today’s ride… quickly though, Day 18 has been definitely the most mentally challenging to date. The headwinds have been relentless, and the road just goes on and on and on. Time to refill my water bottles and get back at it. Mental hugs from Harbor Perk!