Sunday, May 28, 2017

Xenia, OH -- Routing is more complicated, and 'flatness' will soon be a relative term...

Crossed into Ohio about a week ago.  And as expected, route planning in this state is a little more challenging than it was in Illinois or Indiana, thanks to my trail-mapping coordinator/friends from those states! There are many good bike paths in Ohio; the trick is to find the ones that run in the right direction!   As I'd also heard, there wasn't any assistance to be had from the Ohio ADT trail coordinator; sorry to say so, but there it is!  So I am plotting an (approximate) west to east path, walking on bike paths where they exist, and roads when they don't, or I fail to discover them. Have been visiting Yellow Springs and Xenia - interesting 'happening' towns, and may rejoin the ADT in Chillicothe in a few days.

Richmond, IN was a major site on the Underground Railroad route, before and during the Civil War era.  The town has many really old homes, some dating from the early 1800's and beautifully restored.  There are many more that are (sadly) falling to rubble. (It is easy to forget, having lived in the west for so many years, that buildings are, for the most part, older in the east.)  Richmond is about half the size of Muncie and appears somewhat depressed economically.

Stayed with 'rustically' loving host-angels (and a couple of enormous dogs) on the way to Richmond, after a random, serendipitous meeting, and with an interesting Couchsurfing contact once I got into town.  My trailer towbelt arrived at the Post Office there. (Great relief!) And not for the first time, I sat out some storm days before crossing into Ohio. (What a wimp, right? Am doing the same thing here!)  I am equipped to walk in the rain, as long as I have a dry destination at the end of the day.  Also can tolerate some rain while camping, if it's not too prolonged or severe.  Which is the problem.  There have been waves of weather (serious rain and thunder/lightening storms) coming at intervals.  Makes the walk strategy that much more tricky...  The other night there was a tornado warning; I had to ask a neighbor for advise on procedure, but the weather was not moving in our direction.  In 1974 this town (Xenia) was all but wiped out by an unusually large twister, and I've spoken with several people who remember!

First stop in Ohio was in a small town with a lovely, generous Lutheran pastor and his family.  I was billeted in the church building, and got to hang out with the family.  Also had a great, if brief visit with a Couchsurfing host a few days ago, who happened to be a recent pilgrim on the Spanish Camino Santiago , She, too, is surrounded by a large, hospitable family and extended family with whom I spent an enjoyable evening over meal prep, and general efforts to make myself useful!

Heading for Chillicothe tomorrow, a 3-4 day walk,  I understand that much of the way will be along bike paths and that the weather outlook is better (fewer ominous-looking blips!)

In Old Richmond, IN

Mural commemorating Underground Railroad towns

Pastor Cavendish and family

Monday, May 15, 2017

About five more walk days to Ohio, but meanwhile I'm having a great time in Muncie, IN!

One of the things I have learned about Hoosiers is that they're serious about their wide expanses of mowed green lawn - acres of it sometimes, in the more rural areas. Of course one must own a riding mower to cope with so many hours of lawn care.  This also means that the elderly folks can still get out there and mow!  I have seen lots of elders, (presumably) happily engaged in this sport.  Sort of an eye-opener for someone from a 'drought-state' city with no grass to her name, at least not of the lawn type!

The walk since my last post has been largely pleasant, especially the stretches of bike/ped path called by various names, and stitched together with some back roads to comprise the ADT (American Discovery Trail.)   I'll be on the Cardinal Greenway for about the rest of Indiana.  Only one day was particularly challenging; this was spent almost entirely on narrow county roads, the pavement along the edges crumbling, shoulders nonexistent, and traffic surprisingly heavy.  This is part of the recommended route and I think it would be equally hazardous for a bicycle! Not everyone wants to 'Share the Road'...

My replacement towbelt might be expected in Richmond, IN by the end of this week, if I am lucky.  It will be about 2-3 days walk from here (Muncie), and I elected to spend a few days in this town rather then hurrying to Richmond and then waiting.  Muncie is the home of Ball State Univerisity, the bequest of the Ball family of Ball Glass fame. There is a lot of interesting stuff going on on campus; today I visited the Owsley Museum of Art, the Rinard Orchid Greenhouse, and also got to look in on a demo happening at the Glick Center for glass.

Have also met several wonderful hosts/trail angels, both via random connections and through the Couchsurfing app. Much lively and interesting conversation has ensued.  Abundant causes for gratitude. There have also been some rainy nights in motels, as well as the most noisy camping place I've ever experienced (a tidy campground right alongside the Interstate!)  Off again tomorrow, and hoping for merciful weather!

Bridges through the town of Marion

Met another cross-country walker - with a very tiny backpack!  He was headed west.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Many blessings, and a dash of disaster!

In the early 20th century the land within 30-50 miles of the Kankakee River in northern Indiana was one of the most visited wetlands recreation areas in the U.S. However, its agricultural potential won out in the end, and gradually the river course was altered, wetlands drained, and now cornfields prevail. The soil still looks amazingly rich, much of it nearly black when it is wet. It's been wet most of the time this season!  Springtime planting is still waiting for warmer, drier weather.

A day's walk from LaCrosse I stayed with the last of my prearranged and generous host-angels in a lovely setting along side of the bike/ pedestrian trail. Most of the people who have taken me in as I start out this year are American Discovery Trail advocates/stewards/promoters. On this visit I had a rest day to wait out the weather.

The first part of the following day's walk was a stretch along the trail after which I followed a highway heading for Tippecanoe River State Park. Rain started after a few miles on the road, and a nice fellow in a truck offered me a ride to the park entrance. As I was preparing for the rest of the walk through the park to my rustic little cabin, I made the horrifying discovery that I no longer had my cart's towbelt(!) And it doesn't seem to be recoverable. Which is rather a problem. I have been variously pushing my load, and pulling via a rigged up rope and bungee system. It is doable but not ideal. So the solution must be to replace the belt whenever I can arrange this... certainly before I tackle any major hills!

After another day's walk I had made it to a tiny lakeside community, with a storm in the forecast and an invitation to stay until it had passed. Another timely and very generous offering! This time I was able to reciprocate with some 'housekeeping' and by baking a batch of cookies!

Am camping tonight near the town of Denver, IN, and hear that it may freeze overnight!

This little rusty silo went down a few weeks ago in a 50mph windstorm!