July 23, 1999 - Day 44 - Marysville to Coshocton, Ohio

100 miles - 2995 total miles (Odometer still broken)

43 roadkill

Thanks to Ken Rathje and Tom Foley for the answer to the covered bridge question. The roof protects the planks from the elements. Tom says it also provided a good place to steal a kiss.

Thanks to Lisa Frederick of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma for the answer to the 100th meridian question. It's Cozad, Nebraska. Apparently a military man by that name (Cozad, that is, not Meridian) thought the 100th meridian would be an excellent place for a town. She got the web site from her dad, Don Schaaf, who writes a column in the McCook (Neb.) Gazette. She says he mentioned Route 99 in his column.

No flat tires since Glenwood Springs, Colorado (In unison now, "Thank you, Scratch")

I have been chased by not one single dog. I think it's just too danged hot. I picture them sitting under their porch, lifting the head when the alien object invades their turf, and then just saying, "Naaaaahhh" in dog language.

I have had no other mechanical problem with the bike whatsoever. My pedals will occasionally make scrunching sounds. That's been it. The gearing is flawless. The bike hums.

Maybe even more amazing, the machine that's infinitesimally more complicated than the bike is holding up fantastically. I'm referring to my body. I've taken a total of two ibuprofin on the trip, for a headache at altitude in the Sierras. That's the sum total of medication for almost 3000 grueling miles. I am (seriously) a bit concerned about a caffeine addiction via Diet Coke, and I'm trying to monitor that. But overall, I'm grateful to my Creator for allowing me 44 days of great health.

And safety. For those of you who have been praying daily for my safety, thank you. To this point, I can't say there's been even a close call. I've fallen twice. Once in Grand Junction, Colo.; arriving at my first stop light in weeks, busy intersection, I came to a stop and couldn't get unclipped. I just fell over to the right side in slow motion. Very humorous.
The other fall was today. (WARNING: NEVER do the following). A tractor was going slow, blocking the road, and a semi was following it. I caught up with the semi, hoping to draft. Tractor turned into a field. Semi stopped. I stopped right behind, stayed clipped and just held onto the back of the semi, thinking I'd just let it help me get started, you know. Problem: bike was at a 45 degree angle to the truck, so when it started it just pulled me over. Pretty dumb, huh? I never was good at that angle stuff in math.

Goldwings and Route 99 bike
Bigger than mine
    Start of the day.
    The population of Maryville is about 11,000. The Honda Homecoming brings in12,000 GoldWing owners. They had a whole block downtown cordoned off to all traffic except GoldWings (and bicycles).
    As I was typing out last night's journal at the kitchen table of the B&B in Marysville, one of the Honda Homecoming couples came in and we talked. The guy made fun of one of the other guest's Honda in the driveway, calling it a "GoldWing Wannabe". It became clear that the old "Homecoming" was his opportunity to compare the size of his Goldwing with those of all the other guys.
    As you can see in the picture above, my GoldWing is teeny. I slunk quietly out of town

    Just a final Honda thought. Here I am in the heart of Ohio in the middle of America. The Honda plant is the number one industry in this neck of the woods, and people here seem totally devoted to it. Plus 12,000 devoted fans of the vehicle come from all over the U.S. to worship at this Japanese shrine. It's the New World Order, baby.
    And then to hear them slam Harleys! You know how smart Hitler was? He knew just how E-A-S-Y it was to manipulate the masses. We apparently so need to have an enemy of some kind, ANY kind, as long as we can convince ourselves of our superiority. Ford v. Chevy. Mac v IBM, Cubs v Cardinals, black v white, Catholic v Protestant, Trojan v Mustang (that's school mascots, folks), Serb v Croat, Liverpool v Manchester United. How easy we are to control.
    Think about the difference between the leader who unites people behind the 99 percent of what they have in common, as opposed to the 1 percent differences.

    Ok, ok, let's get to the REAL highlight of the day. That's right, folks, after traveling about 30 miles east of Marysville in the dripping humidity that is Ohio, I thought I must be hallucinating. I couldn't be seeing what I was seeing. It was the tallest water tower I'd ever seen, and emblazoned in block print across it, this single word....

Marengo Water tower
Welcome home, Matt

    This bore investigating, and since my route went right through the heart of downtown, I had to find out, "How did Marengo get its name?" The first few people I asked had no idea. One person said they thought it was from the Marengo Indians.

Old Marengo Residents
Old Marengites
    One thing for sure, these Old Marengites weren't going to be any help in solving the puzzle.

New Marengites
New Marengites
But these guys sure were. Meet (from left to right) Dave, Larry, Kaye, Diane, Phyllis and Erika. I think it's Larry who owns (partly owns?) the YourX Store (yourx@bright.net). After chatting awhile, Kaye made a telephone call and then told me to come with her. We were going over to see Aunt Fannie.

Fannie McClain
Fannie Chase McClain
    Aunt Fannie was born in Marengo 95 years ago and everybody in town knows she knows the town history better than anyone. And they are right. She had it all. She is holding a typed manuscript history of the town that was written by her cousin. I skimmed it. It's great.
    Isaac Freeman built the first cabin there in 1843, followed two years later by a store, which basically made it the commerce magnet for that entire part of the county. It came to be known as Freeman's Corners.
    But several years later when they were trying to attract a post office to the town (a major step toward respectability), Isaac's wife felt that 'Freeman's Corners' sounded, well, less than sophisticated.
    She had been doing some reading about the Napoleonic Wars and ran across Napoleon's victory at the Battle of Marengo in northwestern Italy in 1800. For no other reason than she thought the name sounded elegant in the history book, Freeman Corners became Marengo, Ohio. (By the way, Lois, Napoleon named his horse.... Marengo).
    And now you know The Rest of the Story.
    And what did I get out of this? Well, I found out how Marengo got its name, but much more. I got to meet Fannie Chase McClain, sharp mind, sharp eyes, good sense of humor. She doesn't get out of that chair too much anymore, but she makes the town of Marengo, Ohio a richer place, and she is respected and cared for by her neighbors.
    Marengo, Ohio, I like you. Before today you were a dot on the map to me. Thanks.

The Karpinskis of Morrow County
    From left to right, Tod, Joey, Terry and Craig. Joey is a cousin from up by Akron. Mr. Karpinski is an architect and commutes to Columbus. Their farmhouse is lovely and has beautiful shade trees and a wonderful perennial garden.
    They live several miles east of Marengo, and they were trying to get a riding mower out of the ditch when I rode past, so I stopped to lend a hand. We got it.
    Mrs. Karpinski offered me a glass of ice water, which I could not refuse, and I got to sit in the breezy shade and talk with this nice family for 15 or 20 minutes. Tod and Joey are going to be sophomores and Craig is going to be a freshman in high school. Tod is a swimmer and he filled me in a little bit on the legendary Kenyon College swimming teams (Kenyon is just up the road a piece).

    I left the Karpinskis and hit the road for a whole mile, or maybe two, when I saw this...

Lauren and Mickey
Lauren and Mickey
    Lauren Hollis w as leading Mickey across the yard. It was just so fetching, I stopped and asked if I could take a picture. Turns out she is getting Mickey ready to enter the Knox County Fair this weekend in the Market Lamb category. Mickey is a Suffolk Cross. (I believe if you read the Knox County web page in the Informational Maps section, it mentions that Knox is known for its sheep.)

Shearing Mickey
Mickey gets a trim
    Professional sheep shearer Chris Scott is doing the honors here, and he knows what he's doing. I had a nice chat with Lauren's mom and the others there while Chris was taking care of Mickey.
    Lauren, good luck at the fair. Will you please write me an email message or leave a message on the Message Board as to how your sheep did? My untrained eye says that's one fine-looking specimen.

It's Time for another Tea PartyTea Party?
    This bumper sticker was plastered on a route sign somewhere in Coshocton County. I just thought it was interesting in light of today's national headline about Congress passing a record tax cut. We'll see.

Amish Farm
Amish farm
    Route 229 goes through the Ohio Amish area. How can you tell an Amish farm? Well, the buggies are a give-away, but there's another sure-fire way. (See answer at end - no, it's not a punchline)

Spooky house
The Haunting
    I don't know if this will translate to the picture or not, but in my almost-3000 miles of travel on this trip, I've not felt so creeped-out by any building. Everything was right about it, or wrong about it, depending on viewpoint. If I remember, it's just east of Warsaw on Rte. 36. Man, it was spooky.
    ("N-n-now, Mary, why would you want to live in an old broken-down place like the old __ place?" - George Bailey)

Downward Slope
Long time
    I can't even remember when I last saw a sign like this, but I include it to indicate a very important change in the terrain. I guess I'll call it the "foothills" of the Appalachians. From gently rolling, to quite steep in places, I used gears and muscles I haven't touched in weeks. We're starting the ascent of the ancient spine.

    The biggest news of this day, however, will have to wait until tomorrow's journal. Suffice it to say that I was kept waiting for a wonderful surprise, so now you'll have to wait, too.

Amish answer: You can always tell an Amish farm because it will have no electric wires leading to it.

    And if you have the time for a little more, a tall tale from Fannie McClain's history of Marengo. It seems a Marengo farmer cleared three acres of brush and timber in order to plant squash*, but the mice ate every one of his seeds except for three. In order to say he at least tried, he went out into the middle of his large field and mounded his three measly seeds. That evening there was a light shower and the farmer was awakened by a crashing sound that he was positive was his cattle breaking out of the barnyard. He threw on his clothes, grabbed the lantern and rushed out... to find all his cattle safely penned. Perplexed, he went back to bed, only to wake the next day to find huge squash plants completely filling his three acres and pushing out through the surrounding underbrush, causing that crashing sound he had heard the night before.
    The journal also talks of a dance held at one man's log cabin in which there were 700 dancers and 150 fiddlers, and when the dancers promenaded the floor of the cabin sprung up 7 feet in the air.
*Sorry, Fannie, I know it wasn't squash, but I just can't remember what it WAS.

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