Sunday, September 15, 2013

Hospitality.. and more..

So two weeks in a row I've done average weekly ride distances, but in 4 days instead of 5. This upcoming week I'm going to attempt to maintain the same sort of average, but stretch it across 5.5 days.. My last opportunity to comfortably set distance records, as I'll be riding along Lake Erie, and afterwards will be in hills, mountains, and/or heavy traffic till about Florida.
I started out, of course, in Berrien Springs, home of Andrew's University, visiting my cousin. The first day I made 49 miles, stopping at a boat ramp next to a small local lake. I'd underestimated the volume of traffic there would be to such a small lake, and perhaps was a little unambitious on distance, so ended up waiting an hour or so to set up camp, as there were too many people around for comfort. 

Once I got set up, it was a little warm and uncomfortable, but the biggest problem was mosquitoes - the worst I've encountered to date. When I say bad, I've got DEET with me, of the strength that makes your lips go temporarily numb if they make direct contact. Well, I applied it either 2 or 3 times during the night, and the mosquitoes still never left me alone. So rude.. I got half inch welts in places..

The sad thing was, I'd made contact with someone who basically offered to come pick me up and give me a place inside to sleep, but I turned it down because it was already 9, and I thought I'd sleep better by staying put. Well, I didn't get to sleep till about 3:30...

The first of I'm sure many Civil War memorials. Most war memorials I see only memorialize the big 4 - WWI, WWII, Korea, and Viet Nam. 
Well, life goes on. For not getting any sleep I did alright the next day.


Just as I was entering Battle Creek, I was on a trail of sorts next to the road, and an older gentleman was riding down the median of the 4 lane road (one of those turning lane/emergency lane things). He called out, and asked where I was from and such, and I tried answering, but he had difficulty hearing (not because of traffic - there was almost none). So we pulled into the gas station just ahead, and talked a little. When I said I was from Oregon, Bill Bailey, as that was his name, asked if I was headed for Maine. Well, that's a first... When he was my age he said he'd ridden from Oregon to Maine, then took a plane to England, and road across Europe and Africa. He said he was 80 years old, and had ridden (if I remember correctly), 500,000 miles in his life.. Looked like he just had a couple library books in his panniers.

A bit later, I was riding through a neighborhood, and a lady working in her garden asked if I had a minute. A retired Army vet, she is planning a ride some time soon, though wasn't too ambitious (60 miles?), and asked what advice I would give. I gave the first thought to my mind, that most of it's mental rather than physical, but of course with her military experience, she knew all about that already.

Eventually I arrived at the Historic Adventist Village, a place in Battle Creek where a lot of Adventist pioneers used to live back when Battle Creek was like the Salt Lake City of Adventists. ..before everything burned down, and everyone was told to leave.

A toy boat owned by Edson White, and behind it, a picture of his mobile mission station, the Morning Star, with which he traveled up and down the Mississippi.
I arrived at about 2:30, which was enough time to get the full tour before they closed. I was the only visitor that time, so for 3 hours it was just me and my tour guide, in rapid fire fashion telling all the stories of importance on everything there was to see.
The former home of James White's parents. The log cabin to the left was a gift by the city, along with a few other buildings. 
The former home of Ellen White, and at times her 4 sons (while there were 4), and both sets of in-laws. 
The home of J.N. Loughborough was accidentally torn down, as it was mistaken for the one next to it. Eventually they might rebuild the house.
Well, if you want to hear the stories, I encourage you to read books such as Life Sketches, by Ellen White, and The Great Second Advent Movement, by J. N. Loughborough.

As the tour ended, I didn't know where I was going to spend the night yet, but there were storm clouds headed south east - where I would be if I kept going. So, my tour guide offered to let me sleep in the volunteer house, next to the house where he and his wife lived. So, out of that, I got a shower, and ate supper with them, and was told to come back over in the morning for waffles.
One of 5 pump organs in the room of the volunteer house I stayed in. I had fun playing it for a bit.
The rebuilt Battle Creek Sanitarium, built larger, against counsel. Kellogg couldn't pay his loan, and the state got the place, turning it into a Army hospital, and now government buildings. 
This house apparently has had the same family living in it for over 125 years. 
 Battle Creek got basically no storm action, but apparently they were hit hard not far ahead..
Albion, Michigan. Another Christian college town. I've never seen a completely brick Main Street before.
The storm I had evaded by staying in Battle Creek resulted in many trees and branches down, and many roads closed.
Mosquitos were a problem, even in the middle of the day, which was a little annoying. As I was headed out of town, the road my GPS directed me down was blocked by a down power pole, and tree/power trucks, so I had to backtrack and take a different route, adding a couple miles. Closed roads.. so many of them.. I'd have kept going, around the power pole, but I was sent back by the workers, and I didn't want to argue.
Lots of standing water, and a few down trees, in the city park. 
And anyway, I still had to hit my goal of 63 miles that day.. a personal record so far.
Adrian, Michigan - yet another Christian college town in Michigan.. 
Finally I made it to Toledo, Ohio, entering my 13th state, on Friday the 13th. I was warned of the danger of riding through town, by another cyclist, and saw a US flag, upside down, at half mast. If I were superstitious, I'd be worried, as Toledo is the largest city I'll have been through so far, and I've already noticed people are a little less patient on the road...

I'd made contact with the pastor of the Toledo church, who offered me a place to stay on Friday, but he'd be out of town Sabbath evening, so I'd have to find somewhere else. At his house, I met the associate pastor, a lady only a couple years older than myself, and amazingly, also from Oregon. Wow, for once I could talk to someone else who understood what it's like to hear the name of your state mispronounced, who knows about irrigation ditches, the dry side of the state, free range laws, the adventurousness of westerners, people not even knowing where the place is.. I still am having difficulty believing she's not actually from Washington (as most north westerners are..)

Well, the pastor announced up front that I was needing a place to stay, but, while many charged me with the task of being warm and fed, no one offered to take me home. One said he would if he didn't have to work that night. I got the idea that he really meant it. A few minutes later he walked up and handed me some bread.

Finally, at the last minute, a guy came up and offered to take me to his place. John Eaton also rode his bike to church - being epileptic, he couldn't drive, and someone said he probably shouldn't be walking, or riding either, for that matter.. Simply grateful for the offer, I took him up on it, even though though he was obviously "off", being slightly confused/dizzy all the time.

Well, I made it to his house, and really, was glad I did. Alright, it wasn't a house, but a 350 square foot apartment. I ended up sleeping on the 6 foot couch. As I spent the afternoon and evening with him, I gradually came to see John, not as the mentally handicap person I'd first read him as, but a rather intelligent man, quite hampered by a mental condition. Were he not to have had that accident in his last year of high school, nor wasted his mind with drugs, as some in his family, I could imagine him in a 6 digit income career. As it is, he never managed to complete his education, and can barely hold a job..
Reading - one of his favorite pastimes. Gotta keep the mind working. The Great Controversy is one of his favorite books, or maybe he'll be reading a 800 page medical sourcebook on Cancer, or...
I'm learning that while the correlation isn't always direct, there seems to be an inverse relationship between one's economic status and their generosity. More simply, people who don't have much are often the most willing to give what they have. I'm also learning of the strength of the few.. the fewer people there are to help, the morel likely someone is to do so.

One thing I'm learning from this trip - how to be generous..