8/17/20 – Three state sweep

By now, after two months on the road, Judy has gotten quite good at plotting an efficient course for us. She booked us into a KOA Campground in Angola, Indiana, twelve miles from the Ohio border to the east, and ten miles from the Michigan border to the north. Early this morning I hopped on Sunride and buzzed over to Ohio.

Ohio welcome sign

The day before we’d driven parallel to Lake Erie all the way across Ohio, paid $23.50 in tolls, so I didn’t feel the need to bike more than three or four miles back into the State. I did pass an unattended vegetable stand selling corn, squash, and peppers on the honor system. I took a sampling of the fresh produce, put $2 in the box, and kept riding. Back into Angola, I rode into the roundabout, took the first exit to the north, and ten miles later I was in Michigan.

Michigan welcome sign

There was a really nice bike trail – wide, smooth, and scenic – that went most of the way alongside Route 127, crossing the road occasionally, and taking me through pleasant treed sections. One thing I’ve learned about riding through America is that the dominant color in the country is green. The trees are green, the brush is green, the grass is green, the cornfields are green, and even the poison ivy is green. Of course, everything green is green because of the sun. Ubiquitous sunshine is marvelous reality. It propelled me a total of 55 miles this day, sunshine from Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana. Back in town I had a protein shake for $8.05. I like supporting local businesses. I’m guessing this business received an 800% profit on that shake. A man driving around the circle with his window down yelled, “You gonna ride that thing in the circus?” Some of the comments people make are curious to say the least. What did he mean by that? The day before, a woman at the campground in Erie, PA. asked, “What is that?” I told her it’s a solar powered electric bike. “Did you make it?” Yes, I told her. “Well, aren’t you the cat’s ass!” Did she mean the cat’s meow or is the cat’s ass regarded as the cleverest thing in this part of the world? Maybe she mixed her metaphors ill-combining cat’s meow with badass. So many comments are clearly positive, like people yelling from their car window, “I love your bike,” something I hear fairly often, and “that’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen” in Vermont, and “that is so awesome” in Tennessee. Ride in the circus? The cat’s ass?

With constant, clear sunshine, I could have ridden a lot more, but I wanted to save some seat time for the next day. My plan was to continue across northern Indiana all the way to South Bend. That would be a 70-mile jaunt, which, added to the 30 miles I’d already done, would put Indiana in the 100-mile state grouping along with Oregon, Washington, California, Idaho, Utah, New Mexico, Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia, New York, Maine, and Vermont. Circus indeed!

Indiana welcome sign

Highway 20 between Angola and South Bend was great fun. Near Shipshewana I started encountering black horse-drawn buggies carrying Amish people about. I tried to flag a couple down unsuccessfully. I don’t know if they were in a hurry and didn’t want to break the horse’s elegant trotting gate, if they were shy, or if they thought I had escaped from the circus. I didn’t want to frighten the horses, so I slowed down considerably when I passed by. Once before on a gravel trail in Acadia National Park an oncoming horse was spooked and took off suddenly, alarming the rider. I stopped and joked, “I guess that horse has never seen a solar powered electric bike before.” I certainly didn’t want to spook a horse pulling a carriage. I actually know of an instance where someone died from that. One horse’s ears read, “What the _ _ _ _ ?” at the site of Sunride but of the dozen or so I encountered none were bothered. Unsuccessful at waving down an Amish person, I stopped at an Amish furniture store near Middlebury, Indiana. The furniture was gorgeous. The craftsmanship unexcelled. I spoke with a woman in the office about Sunride. I told her I wanted to know if Amish people would be interested in the concept of a solar powered bicycle. To me, it seemed to fit with their philosophy of low carbon footprint natural living and would certainly be cheaper than keeping all those hay burners (sorry horses). I gave her my card with the Sunride website and asked if the Amish use the internet. She said her boss, the owner of the store, was Amish and he does. Good, I said, he can check it out and call me if he wants to talk about it. 

Some Amish people don’t like to be photographed, but in this case, the horse didn’t mind. In Indiana.
Some Amish people don’t like to be photographed, but in this case, the horse didn’t mind.

Back out on the highway headed in the opposite direction I passed three lovely bonneted Amish ladies sitting side by side in a horse drawn open carriage. I threw up my left hand to wave at them and they, all three, simultaneously threw up theirs. The spontaneous expression of friendship, the kindred spirit of people passing on the street was happily uplifting and made my day.

I was half way to South Bend. Judy had waited back at the campground before leaving in the truck and trailer. By the time she overtook me, there was still 25 miles to our destination on the campus of Notre Dame University. We had looked up and plugged into our phone the exact location of “Touchdown Jesus,” a tall building next to the football stadium with a mural of Christ’s uplifted hands similar to how referees signal a touchdown. It was good Judy arrived early, she was able to guide me through the streets of South Bend directly to campus where we parked within walking distance of the mural and took photos.

This was not just the destination for the day but a destination for the whole trip. The Notre Dame campus has the feel of a cathedral, and being in front of “Touchdown Jesus” was like being in Church. I was there to thank the Lord for giving us safe travels and for watching over me all through Sunride.

John and Sunride in front of Notre Dame University reflecting pool and mural of Christ on the Hesburgh Library, commonly known as "Touchdown Jesus."

When I pray, which is pretty much every day, I pray to this guy. Later that evening Judy asked me what I thought would happen at the moment of death. I told her I thought I would be face to face with my Maker who would ask me what I had done with my life. I would know in that instant that I had lived selfishly, that there was so much I could have done and didn’t, that people suffered the world over while I lived well, and I would stand guilty of wasting my life. Then Jesus would step forward and say, “Father, he’s one of mine. I suffered and died for him.” Then I would go with Jesus who would take me to see my little sister Joanie, my Mom in her new body and mind, friends, family and saints like Mother Theresa and Joan of Arc. I would soar on the clouds with Roberto Clemente and the joy I felt waving at the Amish ladies I would feel with everyone I met.

8/17/20 – Three state sweep

4 thoughts on “8/17/20 – Three state sweep

  • August 20, 2020 at 5:41 pm

    This is one of your best posts – the “cat’s ass” comment is funny, and the paragraph about you praying is very touching. You’re not only a solar ambassador and tireless bicycling enthusiast, you’re a fine writer, too. We’ve had a good time following along on your journey.

  • August 22, 2020 at 1:12 pm

    Thank you Suzanne. That’s quite a compliment from one who is also a fine writer.

  • August 27, 2020 at 5:39 am

    What a big question is in the last paragraph. The words are serious and touching enough to make readers believe that John are young like the sun at the high noon!

  • September 14, 2020 at 2:55 am

    Thank you Christina. I do still feel young and I love the image of the sun at high noon.


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