Monday, August 26, 2013

Minnesota.. to Rochester

So, another week.. time for another blog post.. I'd best get this done quickly, as I need to get to sleep ASAP.

On Monday, after taking forever to finally get ready, Duane Forde, my host, gave me a 35 mile ride down the road to get me started, after which I rode another 18 miles. 
A descriptive sign
So far I've gotten about 460 miles cut off the distance of my trip from rides from people, while the time allotment remains constant. I know, it seems heretical to some for me to say that I'm riding across the US, and yet accept rides from people, in a couple cases longer than I could go in a day or two. Well, if someone else wants to ride across the US, and ride every single mile, good for them. That just doesn't seem relevant to me. And at any rate, I'll end up crossing this country twice before the trip is over (West-East, North-South), so who's complaining about mileage?

I must say, the ability to fold up my bike and stick it in the trunk of someone's car or something certainly has been a plus..
Corn.
So people out here are definitely nice.. One day I had camped in the park for the night, and in the morning as I was about to eat breakfast, I got into a conversation with a grandpa there with his grandson, who had lived his whole live within half an hour of the town. He spent longer in college than I did, but never got a degree either (becoming a heavy equipment operator), and went on telling me about how I could make a decent wage even without college, through various vocations, and also about how good it was that I was getting to see the country, and do something different. 

For the most part, nothing extremely noteworthy happened this week, but a few things stand out. Tuesday, the heat and humidity were up enough that suddenly allergies were running wild. It was a downright miserable day for me, as my nose was running faster than I could peddle. I ended up spending a couple hours in a city park, using up all the tissue I had with me. A bunch of young kids came by towards the end, fascinated by my bike.. Apparently school out here started up this last week..
Not exactly sure where the town is, that this town hall belongs to...
That evening was one of few times that I was really hoping for a shower. Alas, showers are not always something easy to come by in the middle of nowhere, and I couldn't bear to ask anyone directly. Ah, well, I've survived alright for the most part thus far with only a shower a week.. 

I made it to a small town of Darfur, with around 100 residents, two churches, two cemeteries, a bank, a store, and... nothing opened at 7:30 in the afternoon. Well, I saw a group of people out in front of their garage, so stopped in and asked for water, as I was running low. Instead of just giving me water, I was sent to the shower, then given a meal, and finally a place to sleep in their RV/ice fishing house. They'd have let me sleep in the house, but both were leaving before I'd even be up in the morning.
The lady on the right, Diane Reed, was the one who fed me and gave me a place to sleep.
Wednesday I had the first tail wind in a month, meaning I was finally able to reverse the trend of a steadily dropping average speed, cruise at 18 miles an hour for an extended time and hit 30 miles per hour for the first time in a while, and tie for the second longest ride of the month so far. It was a little warm and humid, but I had to take advantage of the tail wind as much as I could. 
I've been trying to figure out significant number sequences to take pictures of when they come around. By the way, this is 1333.33 miles. Right now I've ridden over 1400.
One thing I find interesting is how hard it can be to find water at city parks in some towns. Two nights in a row I virtually or almost slept under the shadow of the city water tower, and yet had to go to the nearest gas station for water. 
Some river.
By the way, Claremont, Minnesota, is giving away housing development lots to qualifying buyers, in case you were looking for somewhere... it's about half an hour from Rochester.

While I was in Claremont, Thursday night, I was awoken at 4 am by rain. Heavy rain. And thunder. I wasn't in my sleeping bag - too warm. I couldn't get back to sleep, so I just laid there, as close to sleeping as I could get. A puddle formed in a dip in my bivy, between my legs. Humidity was high inside as well. 
The only dry spot in my shelter..
My gear all got wetter than I realized. The cardboard case for my mandolin, though under cover, still got damp enough to now have a few more bulges and wrinkles than when I started.. My clothes, that I wasn't wearing, became completely soaked, and, as I discovered today, my spare pair of shoes developed a layer of mold. Little damage was done though.. In the future I'll be better prepared..

On Friday I rode 30 miles into Rochester, in under 4 hours - a bit of an accomplishment, really, especially for the end of the week. I was hoping to pick up a package at the Post Office, but, after checking both main post offices, determined that it must not have arrived yet. My next stop was at the Olive Garden. Having otherwise made it a week on $20, I thought I could splurge a little and spend $7 on unlimited bread and soup (and nothing else). I purposefully ate less that morning so I'd be more hungry.

My next stop was at Salvation Army, looking for colder weather pants - something I decided won't be needed for a while yet.. I failed to find any, but I met some interesting guys outside when I came out. As with most people I've met, they found my trip fascinating, and warned me to be careful of less safe people.

My last stop was at the Rochester Adventist Church. There was a Friday evening program, so I went there, in hopes of being invited to someone's house for the night/weekend. It worked. I've spent the last couple days with Sheldon Seemann, at 23 one of the youngest guys I've had prolonged interactions with, and truly an interesting person - a tall, gentle, easy going nurse, living in his own house, who drives a purple mini-van, uses a simple flip phone, has a land line home phone, and owns no hand held personal electronics.
The evening talk was by Justin McNeilus, former president of GYC, on leadership. 
More food than I've seen in one place for a while..
The Rochester Adventist Church was the largest church I've been in since leaving Walla Walla. After potluck, I went out and helped distribute copies of "The Great Controversy" to people in a few neighborhoods - a project done by Sheldon, his friend Eric, and whoever else happens to join them.
An experiment showing that, with a little fire, an egg (boiled, peeled) can be put into a jar with a mouth smaller than the egg.
The idea was that one candle would be lit, then everyone would light the candle next to them around the circle. With the wind, the process was slightly complicated.
Sheldon
I had some definitely worthwhile conversations with several people over the weekend, but really that's all the more I can say, which leaves me at the end of the post for this week.
Someone's dog, who simply would not sit still long enough to let me take a better picture.
Until next time. :)
A fire