Thursday, July 24, 2008

Moving Along Through the Midwest

We left off with you in St. Louis, Missouri, with a great stay with Daniel's brother Josh and his college buddies. For dinner on Sunday night, we took a trip down to the popular college hangout "the Loop" for an evening of Thai food and ice cream. We were joined by Jen's friend Marissa, who is a fourth-year medical student at St Louis University - thanks for the ice cream and the ride, Marissa!

Well, it was back to riding on Monday morning, and Jen helped us navigate the streets of St Louis, through the beautiful Forest Park (Dan got a flat tire here), north on the Shoreline bike trail on the banks of the Mississippi, and of course our historic crossing of the great river of North America via the Old Chain of Rocks bridge. It's amazing how vast and wide our country is west of the Mississippi - we know from experience...

Our ride through the state of Illinois was pretty, pretty, pretty good. We had bike trails for the first twenty miles, following the original Route 66. As the temperature rose and the humidity got worse, we started to get tired. But we pushed through to our destination for the day, Altamont, Illinois. When we arrived, we did our usual routine: supermarket, scout out for places to stay, and set up camp - but when we checked out the town park, we realized that the water spigots were not working and local neighbors were skeptical that we were allowed to camp for the night. Luckily, we met up with Mary-Jane at the local supermarket, and she insisted that we stay at her wonderful home just outside town. When we arrived, we met her husband Dave, cooled off in their outdoor pool, and cooked a wonderful meal with them - pasta, garlic bread, iced tea, and wonderful peach pie homemade by Mary-Jane. We had a great visit with them and we appreciated their warm welcome to the state of Illinois.

The next day we had our first cloudy day of the entire trip! We all were proud of Dan, who only reapplied the SPF 50 three times during the day. Under cooler skies, we breezed into Indiana, where a road sign was one of two welcomes we received.

The other welcome was not a warm one: Indiana roads are crap. We got jolted right into Terre Haute, which has the highest concentration of fast food joints in the entire world. Paradoxically, we climbed out of Terre Haute 15 more miles to Brazil.

We noted a sharp contrast between Indiana and the other states we had seen. In Indiana, lots of people yelled at us from their cars. We called the police and sheriff and were strictly verboten from camping within city limits. Over the past few weeks we have been steadily improving at searching out the generous people at supermarkets and even getting invited to camp in back yards. Unfortunately, people at the supermarket in Brazil were wary of us. The nicer shoppers asked us where we were going, but never considered helping us out. Most just avoided us. After seeing us at the supermarket, then again at the church, one family eventually found a family member to let us camp in their yard. Just to give you an idea of what we mean when we say they were "wary" of us, this nice woman let us camp in her yard, but we were told the dogs were "trained to kill" and were not invited into the locked house to use the bathrooms. Regardless, thank you for the use of your yard and garden hose, Marsha!

After that strange evening, we rode the remaining 60 miles into Indianapolis, continuing our "America's Worst Roads" tour over potholes and sunken railroad tracks right into downtown Indy. We were treated with cooler temperatures all day, which again was a trip first. After lunch in the park, we took the Monon bike trail 15 miles to Carmel, north of the city, to stay with Arjun, Alex' high school friend. Arjun has been a great host, and we were all excited to see how Alex spent his high school years, sitting in a semi circle in someone's driveway.
We are off to Ohio withing the next two days, then Pennsylvania, New York, and Connecticut. We are all getting excited as we approach our destination, but we aren't quite ready to leave Carmel: Arjun's sister Priya has been bragging about getting her first tattoo since we arrived, but keeps putting it off when the time comes. We think she's all talk.

Some questions have been posed by our loyal readers, and the best will be answered right now.

  1. We did indeed go to Ted Drewe's frozen custard in St. Louis. After raising money and awareness for Lea's Foundation, our second goal is to try every ice cream place in the country. Today we tried Handel's Ice Cream, which has received numerous national accolades. We were all very impressed. We should note that we have been impressed by every ice cream place so far, though.
  2. We all help write every blog entry, and that is why we don't sign a name. If it's grammatically lacking, it's usually Alex' contribution. If it's boring but well-written, it's usually Jen's. If it is long-winded and documentary-like, it's probably Russ' or Dan's. If it doesn't make sense, it's probably Sarah's.
  3. Some of us have some knee pain, and most of us have issues with our rear ends. Dan has been wearing two pairs of bike shorts for the past two weeks.
  4. We are always tired. We ride a lot, and when we aren't riding, we are either sleeping or eating. There is no time for anything else. For instance, as I am typing this I am also eating. As soon as I hit submit, I'm going to bed.
We will try to answer all questions as they come.

Have a great one!


Matt said...

Russ, I notice mostly-full beards on the Dan and Alex. You must be shaving though?

Sarah said...

let's be honest - russ' lack of beard is not necessarily an indication that he hasn't been shaving.

Sarah said...

also, glad to see that my assessment of who's doing the blog entries has been pretty accurate. the only ones i can't differentiate between are Russ' and Dan's -- the only clue is the level of enthusiasm with which meat is discussed.