Thursday, September 2, 2010

Days 117 & 118, 9/2 & 3/10 - Monroeville, IN to Defiance, OH

Just the Basics: Note, Friday, 9/3/10: We are staying in Defiance today, so are doing one blog for the two days. We've finished our post for the 2nd and may not have anything to add for the 3rd - we're just using it as a day to take care of routine business.

Thursday, 9/2/10: 44 miles, putting us over 3300 total. The day started out wonderfully in Monroeville - see More Monroeville in For Those Who Want More. We then biked on to Payne, OH - see Free Pie in Payne! Next came a lunch stop in Paulding - see Dining at Dannaley's Eats & Treats. Then on to The Cabbage Patch Restaurant on the banks of the Auglaize River and finally into Defiance and across the Maumee River to our motel.

Until we reached The Cabbage Patch (which had good rhubarb pie and a very friendly staff and clientele) the roads were good and lightly traveled. The last 12 miles or so of the day were much tougher.

First: Lots of traffic on a narrow curvy road with sketchy shoulders - so lots of stops to pull off and let traffic pass. At one such stop, at least Riley had a good conversation with a letter carrier - see Rural Postal Delivery, below!

Then: As we got closer to town more and more traffic - but we stayed calm, cool and collected.

Then: A downpour drenched us and we sought shelter under the portico of a building in a cemetery.

Then: Streets were wet, our brakes were wet and traffic was ever thicker, so we did quite a bit of walking and some biking on sidewalks.

Then: The route became less clear, we asked a couple of folks for directions and it became obvious that the motel was a couple of miles farther away than we'd thought.

Then: There was a bunch of major road construction, some of which we avoided by going on a side street for a tiny bit and then through a bunch of mall and parking lot sort of stuff.

Then: We had to slowly make a sort of round-about way across a bridge where the road construction continued, which took a while to figure out.

THEN: On the other side we ended up having to go through no more than 10 feet of mud - and we mean MUD!! Even though we were walking the bikes the wheels got so packed with mud that we could barely move the bikes forward (we have fenders and the mud jammed below them). Riley ended up carrying Becky's bike a few feet at the end - over to a fence.

We leaned the bikes against the fence and picked up sharp rocks and scraped mud off shoes and bikes until it started to rain AGAIN, and, fearing another cloudburst we jumped on the bikes and headed across two parking lots to our motel. We were afraid to use the sides of the pedals that mate with the cleats on our shoes for fear the muddy cleats on the shoe would get stuck in the cleats on the pedals and not de-couple when we stopped - we know someone who broke an ankle under similar circumstances.

We arrived at the motel and were so muddy we had to take our shoes off to go in the lobby.

We got rags and a bucket from the desk clerk. We put our shoes back on outside, wheeled the bikes to the entrance door closest to our room, removed all 8 of our panniers, the tent bag, the sleeping bag bag, and Becky's handlebar bag, again removed our shoes, and stowed our stuff in our room. We filled the bucket with water and got all our water bottles, went outside, put on our shoes, and spent about 30 minutes cleaning mud off our bikes - the shoes we did later in our room!

We left the bikes locked together outside to dry off some more (the rain failed to materialize) - we have now moved them inside but have them on top of trash bags to avoid the risk of hurting the motel rug. WHEW!!

Today's Photos: (1) Speaks for itself; (2) Shirley Flores, Payne, OH's Cycling Avon Lady; (3) Shirley's bike; (4) Marilyn, owner of Dannaley's Eats & Treats, Paulding, OH; and (5) The Maumee River, Defiance, OH

Tomorrow: We will have a layover day here in Defiance.

For Those Who Want More:

More Monroeville: Wednesday morning we loaded up our bikes and locked up the Community Center and headed to town. We returned the CD we'd borrowed at the library - unfortunately, we couldn't listen to it after all; the CD-playing component of the radio didn't work. = ( = ( We then headed for the outside ATM at the bank - as we rolled up to it a bank employee arrived, stopping on her way in to ask if we had spent the night at the Community Center and wishing us a good trip!

We considered ordering the Irish Breakfast at The White Dove - it even included imported baked beans! - but the waitress warned us that the potato dishes start from scratch for each order (we could see a big bowl of unpeeled spuds in the kitchen) so we opted for made-from-scratch blueberry pancakes, instead. YUM!!

Beside us a large group of guys who were probably farmers was having breakfast and joshing with the waitress. They must have heard us talking with her about our bike trip, too, however - the first one to leave stopped by our table and wished us a good journey and God's blessings.

When we got out to the bikes, Lois Ternet, the newspaper editor had come by (the paper is located across the street from the restaurant) and pinned her card with a note on it to our sleeping bag bag, using a Monroeville 150th Anniversary pin (1851-2001)! What a great town!

Free Pie in Payne! We stopped at The Dog House Diner in Payne for some iced tea and great homemade apple pie. A bike was parked out front. When we went in, the sole customer greeted us as "fellow bikers." Her name was Shirley Flores. She's been the local Avon Lady for 32 years - she'll be 70 next spring, but, like Riley, certainly doesn't look it! She has always biked - she said she never wanted to learn to drive and let several Learner's Permits expire as a teenager until she figured out she just wasn't going to be a driver! She also paid for our pie and iced tea, saying that whenever she met cross-country cyclists in town she bought their meal so they'd remember the Biking Avon Lady in Payne!

The mother and daughter running the diner were great, too. We gulped down our iced tea and the daughter came with more from what she said was the "endless tea pitcher." We said that was great for cyclists - she said that when the local Amish farmers come in from the fields for lunch they, too, are really thirsty! The mom is the pie baker - she said lots of local folks have been bringing in extra apples and she's been cooking up a storm with them.

Dining at Dannaley's Eats & Treats: We hadn't planned to stop for lunch in Paulding - we were going to hold out for Junction, another 11 miles on. But we got a bit confused with the directions in Paulding and wandered around a bit and by the time we saw Dannaley's we were still needing to check our directions and were suddenly hungry. We had hot dogs and lemonade and got our directions straight and the world seemed a bit brighter! We also had a nice time chatting with Marilyn, the owner. We'd noticed a sign in the window that said they'd be closing on 9/4 and said we hoped they weren't going out of business. She laughed and said she was just closing for the season - but, in fact, she did hope to sell the place.
She told us she'd grown up in Paulding but her family had moved to Arizona when she was in high school and she'd ended up spending most of her life there, but always thought about returning. In about 2005, she did - and bought the hamburger stand. She created the name Dannaley's by using the last syllables of the names of her three grandchildren - pretty cool!

Rural Postal Delivery: Since most of our route has been through rural areas we have seen a lot of rural letter carriers delivering mail from cars. It looked like they probably had cars with the steering wheel on the right. The cars look like personal cars, not postal service vans, with a flashing yellow light on the top. Today we saw such a car which was a Prius - which is what we drive. Riley managed to catch up with it at a mailbox and we had to stop at that point anyway, to let traffic pass. Turned out the letter carrier was making her last delivery so had some time to talk. He learned the following:
  • The cars belong to the drivers.
  • Her car did, in fact, not have a right-side steering wheel but some letter-carriers do have them. He gathered that you can't get a Prius w/a steering wheel on the right in the U.S.
  • She also mentioned that you could get a Subaru with one, but that it wasn't approved for driving in the US.
Fire-Fighting Ponds: In the last few days we've noticed that many rural homes have near-by ponds which clearly look man-made. Some have fountains in the middle, all have rocks around the sides, many have a little beach. Some have diving platforms, many have little docks, some have rowboats or little jet skis, etc. We wondered why they were there and guessed that they might serve as reservoirs for firefighting. We have yet to actually ask an owner about this, but did some online research and spoke with a NY firefighter staying at our motel today and think we're on the right track. We even found a book for sale online which includes instructions for building such ponds, with a photo that looks like what we're seeing, and a fact sheet from Ohio State on constructing a "dry hydrant" which fire department water trucks can use to get water from such a pond.

Donuts, Dinner and Beer in Defiance: Donuts: As you may gather from above, it took us forever to get through Defiance, and when we reached the road construction area we weren't even sure if we could get across the overpass to our motel on the other side. We stopped at a gas station to ask directions, then left our bikes there and went and spoke to the construction crew and found we could cross but it would be tricky. Tired and a bit discouraged, we went back to the gas station and had donuts and milk, bought a map and used the restrooms. Much encouraged, we went ahead!

: Regular readers may have gathered that we've had a hard time finding enough vegetables on this trip - it seems lots of small town restaurants don't serve 'em. We eat a lot of bar food (a frequent recourse as many towns don't even have a restaurant). We've eaten a lot of salad (and more iceberg lettuce than you can imagine!), but except for the occasional canned green beans or canned peas and carrots, not much else. Tonight, however, we ate at an Asian buffet and had tons of lovely crisp vegetables and fresh fruit along with decent Asian food and even some nice Sushi. = ) = )

: Later in the evening we walked out to a bar and grill and had a beer - like most restaurants we've patronized in the Midwest, no alcohol at the Asian restaurant. We'd actually planned to eat at the bar and grill, but Ohio State was playing and the bar was overflowing and it was only the first quarter and the hostess told us that no-one was likely to leave until the game ended! (They won.)

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