…eating dinner alone at an Indiana Cracker Barrel, questioning my life.
Also, friendly reminder: if your nice smooth pavement suddenly turns to a dirt road, it might behoove you to check in with that little Internet thing you got goin’ on there and make sure it’s just a blip in your route, lest you find yourself walking your bike over five miles of sand and dust pocked with tire-poppingly sharp rocks in the blistering August sun, surrounded by impossibly tall stalks of corn offering precisely fuck-all in the form of shade.
You know, not that I’d know or anything.
Why’d I ever find the Midwest appealing again?
Oh, right. Because I’d only been in Milwaukee, in Chicago, or in a car.
There were definitely some beautiful places, of course, but holy mother of God I am so fucking sick of corn.
Also had to beg water from strangers several times, which is not an easy thing for me to do. I’m an introvert to begin with, and I also have a ridiculously hard time asking anybody for anything at all. Like, when I was a little kid, if I wanted to ask my mom if we could go get ice cream or something, I would write a note, hand it to her, then flee back to my room and wait for her to slip her reply under the door. No exaggeration. I have no idea why; I don’t think I was ever in my life yelled at for asking for something like that.
However, turns out having only a few fingers of water left in your thermoses (thermii? thermoi?) while you’re wandering through fucking Egypt or something in the baking heat is a good way to get the fuck over yourself right quick.
Some nice old couple loaded me up with water and ice, and sat me down in front of the fan for a few minutes while they discussed the best way for me to get the hell off the aforementioned totally hypothetical dirt road. The employees of some furniture store inexplicably set among the endless corn told me to come in and cool off on one of their dining room chairs that probably cost more than everything I own put together.
It was interesting, in a way. Usually I interact with the world as an observer: I chronicle the seasons; I write poetry to the ocean and the lake; I take photographs of ice and flowers and emptiness. It’s strange to encounter these tiny blips of human connection in the middle of nowhere, these little sparks of kindnesses.
40 miles today, 130 miles over the last three days, a bit over 300 miles biked total. My right leg is beginning to resemble a piece of modern art, with the discoloration and scratches and bizarre tan lines and ever-changing swellings, but so far both body and bike are holding up, though my knees voice their cracks of protest basically every time I move.
Tomorrow I’m aiming for a 30 mile trek to Brownsdkfhalkdsomething, leaving only 20 between there and Indianapolis, and I think I can do that, unless I can’t fucking get out of bed in the morning.
Now it is attempting to storm again. The last 15-odd miles were brutal today, but let me tell you, seeing lightning begin to snake through the gathering clouds in the distance was a damn fine motivation to knock out those last five.