Saturday, September 16

Checked into a Super8 motel somewhere in the vicinity of Bellefontaine, OH, off route 33.

View from my hip

I took this video yesterday. The camera was not on its mount as it usually is, but rather by my hip, tied by its shoulder strap. I moved it a few times while recording, but the perspective is interesting. (Note: The blue hose is a drinking straw connected to my camelbak "bladder" in the tank bag.) Press Play.

For Colin


What a change a caramel coffee and an apple cinnamon pastry can do. I'm at the Perk's cafe in Athens, OH. Ohio University is here, so it's a college town, and a pretty sweet one at that. It has its requisite college town elements: bicycle shop, book store, college, students, and most importantly, a very chill wifi cafe. It's never hard to find the cafe: just walk down the main street until you see chillness coming out of one of the doors, and you know you're there. The bad aura from all the shit last night and this morning is washed away in a river of caffeine and sugar, as most blues are. I'd stay here a few days but I need to move on in a few hours towards Chicago.

On the bathroom wall:

It's been a rough couple of hours. The bike slipped on some mud by the campsite last night while I was parking it, and by the time I got it back up there was no light. Then it wouldn't start - the carbs were flooded - but I wasn't sure if it was just that or worse. For the first time on the trip, it was frightening to be so alone. I eventually got the bike started, and with the headlight was able to get my stove going, to make some dinner. Then I spilled hot cocoa in my tent, and getting that cleaned up was quite a mess. Hoping there were no bears around, I eventually got to sleep.
The morning was nice, I continued north on route 124, until I pulled over at a junction to check my map, slid on some gravel and went down again. A guy named Jake rode by on a golf cart and helped me get it back up. (Luckily the carbs didn't flood that time.) But I discovered as I put the bags back on, that one of the nalgenes hadn't been closed properly, and my backpack (with my laptop) was soaking wet. It turned on, so I thought it was ok...then I got to a rest stop off route 33 (where I am now) and it wouldn't boot up, telling me there was no hard drive. So I pulled out my screwdriver and proceeded to dismantle the entire machine, let it air out, and then it finally worked. Fingers crossed that it'll stay working...
I'm headed to Athens, OH. My phone battery is dead and one of my laptop batteries is about to die, so I'll try to find a place there to charge up. Then I'll see how much further I want to ride today. A cold beer and a warm bed would be nice tonight.

Forked Run State Park, OH

The park when I got in last night; my Whisperlite stove; the view from my tent this morning.


(I did not have phone or internet reception last night, so I'm posting this now from a rest stop off route 33 west in Ohio.)

From Grafton I rode down to Tygart Lake, where I had originally planned to camp, to see the dam. Then I got back on route 50, which continued to be a windy 2-lane road for a while, but then became a major highway. Many roads and rivers later, I crossed the Ohio river and
reached Forked Run state park, where I am now. (The internet signal keeps going on and off so hopefully I'll be able to publish this.)

A fork in the road: left back to the highway, in the wrong direction, or right onto an unmarked road circling a small mountain town. Turn right. Up the hill, past homes and barns, past cows and kids playing. The road is barely wide enough for a truck. At the top of one hill are a dozen school buses parked; I wonder how they get up there in the winter. A deer runs across the road up ahead. The pavement ends and the road becomes a trail, then back to pavement. A counter-clockwise circle around the town, neither the town nor the road on the map.
Then the road ends, the town is behind me and I come upon a fair, closed for the day it seems, then a church, and then, the highway I was looking for, in the right direction.

Route 50 ends abruptly. There is a warning - "Freeway Ends" - but it goes on several miles after that so I figured "freeway" refers to the jurisdiction or something like that. Then suddenly the highway is gone - or rather, not there yet, because a huge stretch as far as the eye can see is under construction - with one final exit to escape.

From there I don't remember the order of events, but at some point I got groceries in Pennsboro, WV. A couple with a dog in an RV (with a motorcycle hoisted on back) that I had passed earlier on the road saw me looking at my map and asked if I needed any help. At a gas station, after filling up, I tied my gloves to the back, intending to park nearby and use the bathroom; a man there filling his car, not knowing I wasn't leaving the station, noticed the gloves and warned that they'd blow away like that. Travellers help other travellers.

I eventually got to Ravenswood, where (after asking directions) I got on the bridge and crossed the river into Ohio. Then a few more roads and turns and I got on state route 124 East (although really north). 124 ran parallel to the river for a few miles, and then I arrived at my destination, Forked Run State Park. The park office was closed, asking people to register and pay by themselves - how and where I'm not sure - and the campground is almost entirely empty. Down the road from the campsites is a lake with boats tied to
the dock, but they're locked and there are no paddles. I had an internet signal here for a short time but then it went off, so I'll probably have to wait until tomorrow to post this and all the photos I took today.