Monday, July 25, 2016

Intro to Indiana. One mis-step and... stitches!!

How can I put this in the briefest, gentlest way?  Well, on Friday I was making pretty good time towards the Erie-Lackawanna Trail, a route that takes you in a direct line to the town of Crown Point, my destination for that day.  The connecting road, Route 30, does not seem to be a good alternative route for this walk, as far as my short stretch of it would indicate.  A busy interstate highway across the northern U.S., it felt a bit like Route 6 -  not a nationally designated Interstate like Highway 80, but a heavily traveled secondary commercial route inhospitable for any sort of bicycle or pedestrian traffic.

There were no shoulders, no sidewalks, and no crosswalks east of the town of Dyer.  After hurrying crossing the wide intersection with Route 41 in the town of Schererville a piece of road trash caught me by the ankle, and, momentum being what it is, I was 'down' before I could correct, landing mostly on my chin in the grit...  Although I was bleeding profusely at at that moment, no one stopped to see if I was OK.  I was not OK.  But there was a Walgreens close by where I went to clean up and assess the damage. Before the day was out, I'd been to a hospital ED in Crown Point (thank you, Uber!!), had my chin stitched up and an Xray taken of my jaw. Friday afternoon none of my teeth would meet at all - talk about your serious 'malocclusion'! Today is Monday and I am situated in the home of the American Discovery Trail coordinator for the northern Indiana route (there is also a southern ADT route through the state.)  He has generously offered his hospitality until I can get back on track! Based upon the past few days of recovery, that should be possible in the coming week.

Bottom line(s) will be to avoid infection and learn to be more creative with 'soft food' options, as this trek requires calories. Have gained a lot of ground already with tooth alignment; however the imaging suggests that I have small fractures on both sides of the lower jaw at the TMJ points (right in front of the ears), which means no actual chewing for 4-6 weeks(!) Of course the rest of my body has to recover from its shock, sore muscles and whatnot.  I won't show you a photo of my face.  It's not too bad - just a mess of blooming bruises on the lower half.  I shudder to think how much worse that mis-step could have been!

The historic city hall in the town of Crown Point

More wildflowers I can't identify

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Indiana, and thoughts about the American Discovery Trail

In another couple of days I will be in Indiana!  Temperatures are soaring; humidity is, too. The whole northeast seems to be sweltering in the same high-pressure zone just now.

OK - time to make a decision that I have been anticipating for a while.  It has been really nice to be off of the highways, on the American Discovery Trail for part of the time through Illinois. And that trail has run parallel to Rt. 6 through the state.  However, if I am to continue on the ADT (assuming I can find a decent map of the route!), the way will turn pretty radically southeast for a while at this point.  Since Route 6 is heading for Massachusetts I have known that it would be necessary to make a 'directional adjustment' right about now, in order to aim for the latitude of Washington DC, or thereabouts.  I will be meeting with the Indiana head of ADT tourism in a few days, and hope to resolve some of my questions about trail conditions, roadway alternatives and routing...

An unrelated question - why can't we have cardinals in California?  (Right, the conditions are different...)  I am so enjoying their varied, but always distinctive and entertaining songs, as well as the occasional flashes of bright red, that it makes me wish we could 'import' them to the west coast!

Below are some photos of the couple who 'adopted' me in the town of Ottawa, Illinois.  Lou stopped to talk to me on the way home after his shift.  I am not usually in the habit of 'naming names' when talking about the 'road angels' I'm meeting, but this is a case like mine(!), of 'going public for the cause' -- in their case, the public relations cause!

Ottawa hosts Lou and Karri Riva

Check out this cool big bug that was on my tent in the AM the other day...
Frankfort, Illinois

The 'Plank Road Trail' cuts throught the center of Frankfort

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

'Dotted line' trekking.

Walking, stopping to wait for better weather, skipping ahead, and detouring on business...  is what makes this feel like a walk on a dotted line at times. Still I continue to chalk up mileage in spite of myself.  No longer keeping track; at the end it will just be a rough estimate of miles walked.  I know - there is an app for that.  But it involves keeping the phone switched on all the time, and it is more important to save power for the times when charging is not an option.  Last year I netted between 1000 and 1100 miles.  This year it looks like about 700 good miles so far, and many more to go.

Illinois has miles of trail following two different historic canals, the Hennepin and the I&M (Illinois and Michigan).  These were built in the 19th century for commercial barge traffic; I think that both waterways were closed to commercial traffic around the 1950's. Where they are still passable, pleasure boats can use the waterways for touring and fishing. The pathways are in various states of repair; some of it is paved and kept mowed along the edges and in some places the path is dirt (sometimes muddy) and single track, and looking as if it could disappear around the next curve.  Information about access and amenities (where applicable!) is not so easy to come by.  I saw that there are actual camping places intermittently, but too late to factor them into my planning. One keeps hearing that the state of Illinois is broke and much of the trail maintenance bears that out. 

There was a great private campground in Geneseo.  I have also been blessing with more hospitality from randomly encountered folks (road angels!): cyclists who took me and my cart(!) to lunch and then delivered me to a stopping place close to an AT&T office, where I needed to take care of some vital 'communications business'; an overnight invitation from a couple in the next town, who live on 5 tree-full acres in a wonderful Victorian era farm house; and now I am visiting a city police officer and his family, and sitting out a day of occasional downpour. The next three days look walkable, though I may have to revert to a parallel roadway if the trail is to be inundated this evening and overnight.  Which would be too bad as it is ever so nice to have some shade along the canal route.  The heat and humidity can be very enervating! 

Hennepin Canal

Would these be considered an invasive species? 

Beautiful, though...

Campground with all the amenities

Building in Geneseo

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Home for the holiday. That would the the July 4th holiday...

A keen interest in taking better care of myself than I did last year has prompted a week long walk-break which, in this case, has meant a return to SF for the R&R and a couple of physical 'tune-up' issues.  It's such a blessing to be able to make the trip home.  And it's probably better than spending the red, white and blue holiday in the mid-west where American flags engender a near-religious fervor all year long.

On Thursday, the 7th I head back to my stopping point in Moline, Illinois.  Some recent research supports a shift in route, to a walking path across Illinios that is part of the relatively newAmerican Discovery Trail, a semi-coordinated project connecting walking and biking pathways across the US.  The piece I hope to intersect with in a few miles follows a couple of canal routes and a  road formerly made of wooden planks(!)  I am hoping that the way is adequately navigable for a cart like mine.  Much as I appreciate the 2-lane highway, it isn't always so hospitable for my purposes, what with the unusable or absent shoulders.  This has been more apparent as I have come further east.

While in San Francisco my intention is to spend as much time as possible near the Bay and/or Ocean Beach.  For the sea breeze, negative ions and to watch the seabirds, especially my avian heroes, the brown pelicans!