Day 19: Perry, OH – Columbia Station, OH

Today was a well needed moving-rest day, for which I am very very very grateful. I started off the morning (after snoozing a bit past my intended wake-up) with a cup of coffee with my wonderful firemen friends in Perry. After thanking them profusely one more time, I headed down the road toward Grand River, my intended destination. About 8 miles into my journey, I realized I was still mighty hungry and pulled over at a little diner that looked nice.

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Inside I found maybe 8 locals and one waitress, and everybody chipper. I was told to find whichever seat I wanted, so I sat down near a table with two elderly men. I ordered an egg and some potato and coffee. I really felt like a trucker. While I was drinking my coffee and pondering the day ahead, the two men next to me asked where I was off to. We got into a good conversation, and when I said I’d left from Boston, the older man said, “Say what!? I don’t think I heard you right. Boston!?” Everyone in the restaurant was part of the conversation at this point, and it was an awesome continuation to an awesome morning. I asked what they were up to for the rest of the day, and the waitress chimed in, “Whatever they’re up to, they’ll be back here for lunch!” I had a wonderful time at Sammy’s and one of my new local friends quietly told the waitress my breakfast was on him. I was really humbled, and I thanked him. I showed them my maps, and they where excited for the trip, and agreed that bicycling would be a good way to see the country. I tried to give my friend money for the tip for the waitress, and he said, “Nope, you keep that. You’ll need that as you head west.” He was really sweet. His other great line was in relation to breakfast as fuel. He said, “You’ve got to fill that combustion engine.” I liked that. I really did feel well fueled as I made the turn into Grand River.

My next stop was a mere 150 or so feet away to take a picture of Bob’s house. I met Bob when he was leaving Niagara, and I was heading towards the falls. We chatted for a while, and he gave me his route to the falls and suggested them over the ACA route. I took his route and was thankful I did, though it was still a really long day. As we were talking, he asked my route, and when I told him I was passing through Grand River, he told me I could stay at his house if I wanted, even though he’d still be on his way to Maine. He wrote his address and phone number on my maps. While I didn’t really think I would stay there – I thought Cleveland was a lot closer than it actually was – it was kind of him to trust me on such short notice. When I realized a few days ago that I would actually be needing a place in Grand River, I gave him a call, and the offer still stood. I was all set to stay there last night when I ran out of “fuel for my combustion engine” in Perry. I am still very grateful to Bob, so I stopped by to take a picture of his place. Thank you, Bob!

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Further down the road I came to an awesome memorial to Rescue Service Dogs, Police Service Dogs, and the Smoky War Memorial.

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Here’s to Smoky and all service dogs and dogs in general. Woof! 🙂

After a rather short day (about 26 miles) I rolled into Euclid, where I met Beth, one half of the awesome biking duo of Marty and Beth I’d met a few days earlier on the Erie Canal Trail. She’d driven out from their home base in Columbia Station, OH to get me! We swung quickly into Cleveland for me to photograph a key Hungarian statue. There’s quite a big Hungarian-American population in Cleveland, and the statue to Kossuth Lajos is one example of their influence.

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Hajra Magyarok!

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After seeing Kossuth Lajos, Beth and I headed over to the Cleveland Zoo. This really was the beginning of some awesome serendipitous adventures together. She packed a picnic lunch (!!!) that we ate upon arrival while discussing our animal viewing options. Beth didn’t know prior to today’s adventure exactly how much I love animals, but she took me to the zoo. (Vij would say she was taking me to drop me off…) She didn’t know how much I’ve been craving watermelon, but had amazingly delicious watermelon cut up and waiting in the fridge when we arrived to their house. And she didn’t know how interested Mama is in composting, but we just kept finding great topics to talk about all day!

My highlights from the zoo:

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Beautiful elephants taking dust baths!

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And wagging their tails like happy puppies…

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… And the Koalas!!! I LOVE LOVE LOVE koalas. I really associate with them. They eat their leafy greens and they really enjoy their sleep. Sounds like me! This picture is a bit fuzzy (because Koalas are fuzzy, not because they are out of focus…) but there are actually two little koalas here – one little baby and the mother hugging him tight. Seriously melted my heart!

The zoo was a great diversion for me. After spending so many hours pedaling pedaling pedaling, it was awesome to see families out with their kids enjoying summer vacation. I’m really grateful that Marty and Beth took me in and gave me the opportunity to recharge my mental batteries for the day!

I spent the afternoon relaxing and looking over upcoming maps, eating dinner, and playing with Marty and Beth’s two puppies (adult dogs, but puppies to me!). Marty came home after work and helped me tune up my bike a bit. All (or much of) the grit from the Erie Canal Trail has been washed off dear Guffy, and his chain is all set for more riding tomorrow.

So what’s in store net? Tomorrow I’m headed to Gibsonburg, OH and a campground there, followed shortly thereafter by Monroeville, IN. I told Marty and Beth this evening, I think it is a testament to how relaxed I feel when staying with hosts that when the reality sets in that I’m leaving in the morning I get nervous. It means I’ve had a great time in their company!

I’m a bit nervous about how towns become more and more scarce over the next two weeks. I’m very much looking forward to Minnesota, to seeing Rosie and getting in touch with Ben’s family in Stillwater. Unfortunately it looks like Warm Showers hosts are much more scarce out this way, but this is all part of the adventure. I will definitely keep posting with pictures whenever I can find Wifi, and posting just text as long as I have cell service.

In case someone knows someone who knows someone, estimated stopping places over the next few days:

Fremont or Gibsonburg, OH

Defiance, OH

Monroeville, IN

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3 Responses to Day 19: Perry, OH – Columbia Station, OH

  1. Barbara Sancken says:

    Dearest Flavia!
    It warms my heart to hear how many strangers have touched your life and how you have touched theirs in return. I don’t think there are any headwinds strong enough to deter you from your destination, and with your magical way of finding the best resources, I just know that you will continue to find ways to fill that “combustion engine” so that you are never completely “running on empty”.
    I am sending you hugs and prayers as I ride along with you.
    With much love,
    Your Godmother

  2. Georges Nicolaou says:

    Flavia dear!
    We are following your trip from the island of Spetses in Greece and are very impressed.
    We wanted to send you our love and encouragements and to wish you a great continuation of this wonderful experience.
    With our love and affection,
    Rania, Georges, Nancy & Maria

  3. Joanne says:

    The elephants look so composed and peaceful. I start to understand why many people take it as a symbol of wisdom.

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