July 22, 1999 - Day 43 - Bluffton, Indiana to Marysville, Ohio

118 miles - 2895 total miles
    (Computer odometer still not working - other data not available)

84 roadkill (a very good day for roadkill)

    The Bluffton Motor Lodge was very good. Privately owned, but all the amenities of the chains, plus extras like a fridge and freezer. Very clean. AND they offered a $2.25 discount on breakfast at the restaurant next door, so I have steak and eggs, hash browns, toast and a big juice for $3.50.

    But that wasn't enough to keep me in Indiana. By the way, can anyone give a definitive answer as to what a "Hoosier" is? I heard one story I like. Back in the old NorthWest territory days, when people visited other people, they would knock on the door and the call would come from inside, "Who's Yer?"

    Well, it was very hot again today, but the tailwind was again straight out of the west. I once again changed my route in order to better use the wind, and headed straight east out of Bluffton and into...

Ohio Welcomes You Sign
Ohio!
    Hey, at least they have a sign! But I'm not sure how I feel about being welcomed by an inanimate object.
    Sorry, Dave, but I never got into Jay County, Indiana.
    But hats off to Becca I (Mercer), Jon L (Auglaize), Dustin Mc (Logan) and Jenn M (Union) for the jobs they did with the Ohio counties I went through today.

    The small town of New Knoxville in Auglaize County is the home of "The Way". For lack of a better term, The Way is a cult. They have a huge campus just a couple of miles south of town. I asked the owner of a restaurant in town about it. Her first question for me was "Why do you want to know?" When I made it clear that I hadn't biked across the country to see my leader, she began to tell me about the place. She said if I went down and rode onto the campus, I would probably be stopped by men in a truck with guns and asked to leave. Cool. Right down my alley. Great journal possibilities.
    She said the campus is immaculate, but that The Way is dying out. Their original leader died, there are several outstanding lawsuits against them, and their numbers are dwindling, although you can live there for free.
    I would have loved to have gone down, but I opted to get miles in, and this would have been a time-consuming detour. Plus there was a risk factor in terms of some of my electronic equipment that I felt I couldn't take.
    But a word about cults. Cults prey especially on college students and most especially college freshmen. Away from home for the first time, unsure of themselves socially, looking to belong to something, the cults come across as confident and very spiritual.
    What to look for? Not that tough. If any religious group isn't totally, completely up front about EVERYTHING they stand for, then get away quick. Go ahead, try to find some information about The Way on the internet. They have a website - but you read it and you don't know anything more (in fact, you know less) than when you started. Run away, quick.
    Groups like this (and tel-evangelists) give religion (especially Christianity) a very bad name.
    I would have loved to have paid them a visit.

Maharg Garbage Service
I wonder if the company owner is Trebor. Probably just goes by Bob
    We all know what our name is backwards, don't we?
    Oh. (the Austin Powers humbled look)
    Well, anyway, I do, and I've got to say this is the first time I've ever seen mine for real. In fact, I've never even thought it could really be a name. But there she is - big as life, right there on the old dumpster. (I wonder if I'm a mirror image of the owner.)

Rockford Store
The Rockford Gang
    A few miles into Ohio I stopped at the grocery store in the town of Rockford, on the St. Mary's River. And ran into the friendliest group of people. This picture is posed and so everybody got "artificial", but I don't think I've ever walked into a new environment and just hit it off so quickly with so many people on this trip.
    I didn't get names, but folks, you were a real bright spot in my day and an uplifting group of people in general. You certainly gave your town an unknowing boost by just being the people you were (are).
    If you're reading this today (and I hope you are), you may be thinking, "Shucks, we're not that special", but when a total stranger can walk into a grocery store in your town and feel that comfortable that quickly, trust me, you're special people.
    Not to sound like Phil Jackson or anything, but there was a lot of positive energy there.

traffic on I-75
I-75 looking south from the overpass
    I crossed Interstate 75, the north-south conduit that runs from Detroit down to... down to where? Down South. Man, look at that traffic.

Perfect Biking Road
My road
    And this is a 90 degree turn to the east, the road I'm on. This section of biking was some of the very best of the trip. Virtually no traffic, fantastic tailwind, great terrain. Everything just seemed to be in sync. Not to be graphic, but the butt, neck and hands just didn't hurt today. I don't know why, but that has a great deal to do with that 118 mile total. You can just crank the miles.

Graham sweating
No sweat!
    Well, ok, that's a lie. Everybody I saw today said something like, "You got to be crazy to be on a bike today." And yes, it was terribly humid. I just made sure I kept hydrated all day long. I lost track of the amount of liquid and the variety.
    The people I think of today are the people who are doing REAL work. Roofing, anyone?? Let's keep things in perspective here.
    There were so many other positives to the biking today that the humidity was just one negative. OK, an obvious one, but still just one.
    Within five minutes of leaving the motel, I was soaked through for the day. Once that little detail is taken care of, you can just get down and grovel in it.

Miami River Sign
Miami??
    Remember that song from the early 70's called "Indian Lake"? Well, the Great Miami River has its source in Indian Lake. It's really a beautiful lake, but if anything it was more humid here, not less like you'd hope. I'm glad I wasn't paying for one of those lakeside cabins this week.
    And where does the name Miami come from? I know it was an Indian tribe that occupied these parts, but how did the name get used for a city in southern Florida? That's the part that confuses me. Anybody know?

    Well, I had wanted to go straight east from Indian Lake, but the locals told me there were no motels to be had in any town I could reach by nightfall. They said I'd better readjust the route to go southeast to Marysville, where there are plenty of motels.
    Now, I'm embarrassed to say, if I'd read Jen Mazur's Union County web site more carefully I would have figured out my problem. Off I blissfully went with tailwind at my back (is that over-redundant?), down Rte. 33...

Great shoulders for biking
Rte 33: Hey, Illinois, look at the road I can legally ride on in Ohio
    ...until...

Honda Factory
Uh-Oh
    ...with a sick feeling I realized that the Honda owner I spoke with yesterday in Huntington, Indiana wasn't going to the big Honda rally in St. Mary's, Ohio - he was going to the big rally in MARYSVILLE, Ohio. So, I busted my tail to get to Marysville by dark and spent the last hour of my ride in just KNOWING there were no rooms available for a 50 mile radius.
    I thought I'd maybe be able to find a handicapped room available, but every place I checked had already reserved those weeks ago. Nothing. Getting dark.
    Finally, the guy behind the counter at Holiday Inn Express said a Bed and Breakfast had left their number yesterday and said they had rooms. He called. They said they had just had a cancellation and a room was open. I grabbed it. I believe I'm in the last room available anywhere around. Shades of Grand Junction's 'Country Jam'.
    So - what's "Honda Homecoming"? Well, that plant in the picture is the only plant in the country that makes the Honda GoldWing, and every year they hold this festival and Goldwing owners come from all over the country so their GoldWings can see the plant where they were born.
    What a country!!

    Closing thought: At one point today I helped a woman and her daughter at a gas station. They needed to put a quart of oil in and couldn't find the oil cap. I thought about that as I was riding. It's a lesson in the value of education.
    I'm not talking about the fact that I knew where the oil went and they didn't. I'm talking about WHY I knew where the oil cap was.
    Ok, it's because I've been around cars. Yeah, but what ABOUT that? I'd never been under the hood of this model (Mercury Marquis). So how did I know where to look? I knew because I understood the bigger picture of what oil does inside the engine. With that bigger picture, I was able to narrow my focus to the parts of the engine where the oil could have the access it needed. And voila, there it was on a kind of remote part of one of the valve covers.
    Just trying to make the point that when you understand the bigger picture of almost anything (a car, your nation, your life, the universe), you will better understand the parts that make up the bigger picture.

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