“Would you like some fresh pineapple?” Jerry asked. “Sure, why not,” Pat and I responded. It was a hot muggy Indiana afternoon and that sounded exquisite. So, how did Jerry come into the picture on this particular afternoon? Would you believe that once again I had a flat tire? This time, it was right in front on his home. With what we have been through we knew what the issue was with the tire. So after we popped the rear wheel off once again, Pat volunteered to take it to a bicycle shop via an Uber ride. That left me hanging out in the front yard of a home and I had no idea whether I would be welcomed or told to hit the pavement.
Indiana hospitality won out. When Jerry eventually came out of his garage and found me in his driveway, with two bicycles and lots of panniers, he brought me a chair and a bottle of chilled water. Jerry, I learned, was a former ironworker who had built many of the Chicago skyscrapers until injuries stopped him cold. So now, he works on several home improvements and enjoys the company of his grown children, grandchildren and the kitties that he calls the Mighty Kitties because of the M on their foreheads.
When Pat returned with the wheel now taped so the spokes would no longer pop through, Jerry invited us for pineapple. After we had eaten in his backyard and had the wheel back on my bicycle we continued on trails and country roads into North Judson. There, we were welcomed by Betty, our Warm Showers host, her husband, Paul, and their golden retriever, Cheddar. Betty and Paul have only lived in their home for a few years and like being closer to the country. Betty makes her own medicines and is setting up an apothecary but some years ago, she was a cage fighter. (I admit that I have no idea what that means)
The next morning, our journey took us on the North Judson Erie Trail. Within the confines of this trail, there are interpretive signs for each of the planets in our solar system. They are also spaced apart in the same proportion as they are separated in outer space.
At the end of this trail we bumped into a trio who had come from Muncie and were heading to Mackinaw Island in Michigan. Unlike us, they were carrying next to nothing (dog spray on their handlebars and very small packs). They always stay indoors.
More back roads and trails filled our day. In the town of Rochester, I noticed that the elementary school parking lot was full and a crossing guard with sign in hand was standing outside. That’s right – they started school this past week. From Rochester, we cycled the Nickel Plate Trail for 21 miles to Peru. Peru is well-known for its homegrown circus and because John Dillinger robbed a bank in Peru. That said, we decided to dine at Dillinger’s restaurant – the whole place was decked out in Dillinger memorabilia.
The following day we were once again on the Nickel Plate Trail and then left it to cycle into Converse and then on trails that had been cleverly created with artistic designs and signage. Lastly, we proceeded onto the Cardinal Greenway Trail – it opened in 1998 and is the longest recreation trail in the state.
Gas City was our evening destination. And yes, Gas City was named as it was because there were once natural gas fields discovered there. Unfortunately, the knowledge as to how to manage these fields came too late and the gas disappeared quickly.
Today we rode 15 miles on roads until we were once again able to pick up the Cardinal Greenway in Gaston. We briefly visited the Cardinal Greenway headquarters in Muncie and then tackled the last 40 miles of the trail, much of which involved some climbing. We arrived in Richmond and quickly found Blair’s home, our Warm Shower’s host. Blair shouted from an upstairs window and came downstairs wearing a Michigan Friend’s t-shirt. That seemed a bit quirky but once he explained that he was a University of Michigan graduate and now in Quaker Seminary, it tied together perfectly. Go Blue. We found commonalities on and off the bicycle buoyed by the gin and ginger beer drinks and the delicious meal of chicken, beets, hummus, cucumbers and lentils he prepared.
Tomorrow we take on Ohio.
Shevonne and Pat
Follow us as we spin our wheels