Saturday, June 04, 2011

Bike Touring (Gettin' Better) Part 2

 I'm getting the hang of this ride now. I'm liking the trail...

the bridges....

and especially the tunnels on a hot day. This one was dripping cold water and I positioned myself to get wet as I rode through. The day was hotter and this chilly tunnel was just the ticket for cooling down. 

I even figured out how to get all my stuff in two panniers and my 'trunk'. This was my 'bedroom' one night as we had multiple picnic tables at our campsite. 

I did get a bit of knitting time in. We took most of the day to ride, would pull into camp, set up the tent and prepare our meal for the night, which didn't leave much time for knitting. I'm sitting on my inflatable sleep mattress, which saved my tired old bones at night. It's made by a company called 'Big Agnes' so every night, I'd say, "Come on, Big Aggie, I gotta blow ya!"

 One long biking day we had an oh-so-lucky stop at Cathy's Kitchen. It was only open a few days a week and we chanced upon it. We were really hungry and needed some downtime. 
 The food was what you'd expect, sandwiches on white bread and chips, but it was just what the bike doctor ordered. I have to say that we had the crabbiest, drabbiest waiter ever though. He was late 60's and wouldn't crack a smile even though we were charming and cute. There were local folks dining and we got to talking to them. I felt like we were on a movie set really. One older guy at a neighboring table asked us all about where we were going, where we had been, what we'd seen and I could tell, he was wistful with a longing in his eyes wishing he could be riding. He would choose a canal mule though. He used to be the head of the Canal Mule club until cancer took his larnyx. He spoke to us by pressing on the hole in his throat. Every once in awhile he stopped to have a coughing fit but was soon asking us more questions. I failed to get his name, but he looked like a Vince to me, so Vince it is. He told us all about the Erie Canal, how they maintained the trail so they could ride the mules on it. But state agencies came in, bought sections of the canal and forbid mules on the trail. 
I came across these song lyrics and I think of Vince on his mule, Sal, slowly ambling along the Erie Canal.

Low Bridge
By Thomas S. Allen
I've got a mule, her name is Sal
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal
She's a good old worker and a good old pal
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal
We've hauled some barges in our day
Filled with lumber, coal, and hay
And we know every inch of the way
From Albany to Buffalo
Low bridge, everybody down
Low bridge cause we're coming to a town
And you'll always know your neighbor
And you'll always know your pal
If you've ever navigated on the Erie Canal
Get up here Sal, We've past that lock,
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal
And we'll make home before six a-clock
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal
One more trip and back we'll go
Through the rain and sleet and snow
And we know every inch of the way
From Albany to Buffalo
Low bridge, everybody down
Low bridge for we're coming to a town
And you'll always know your neighbor
And you'll always know your pal
If you've ever navigated on the Erie Canal.....

 Coming around a bend in a small backroads town, we saw two grizzled guys working hard over a log splitter. We slowly rode by and I thought how much I would like to get a photo of this scene. Tami turned around and said she'd like to talk to them about the wood and how much a cord of wood costs. Yes! They were wary at first, but as soon as Tami asked about the kind of wood they were splitting, a twinkle sparked in the older guys eyes, they turned off the machine and had a chat.

I commented on their clever cages for wood hauling. We endeared ourselves to them, especially Tami who knows a thing or two about wood splitting. She fills two huge wood sheds at her home in the woods of Alaska, but it's mostly birch and we have oak and maple.  I guessed a cord cost around $120 and they quoted $125. Tami said it would be around $200 in Alaska.

 Taking the 'slow-mo' route, one meets wonderful folks along the way. Two women riding loaded bikes brings attention. The response we got mostly, from old and young alike, was that they wished they could be doing this. A 17-year old girl cashier at a Dollar Store told us how lucky we were to have everything we needed on our bikes, to just ride from campsite to campsite. I found it refreshing to hear their enthusiasm.

I had told Tami that this bike touring reminded me of biking in England and that we would come upon cute little villages with thatched roofs and beautiful gardens. Until this point, we hadn't.

Zoar, Ohio is an historic town established in 1817 by German separatists who were leaving the religious oppression of the Lutheran church. Ten buildings have been restored and the town remains intact, with residences and businesses.

The tinsmith made his way across the stret to chat me up a bit and tell me about the tin business and ask about our trip.

The garden in the center of the villages was laid out based on the Book of Revelation with the center tree representing Christ. 
We made instant friends with Pam, our waitress and Vicki, the owner of the historic restaurant where we had breakfast in the adorable town of Zoar, Ohio. An Amish man was also having breakfast and we got lots of advice on the Erie and Ohio Canal Trail, the level of the river, the towns along the way, along with the history of the valley. After touring the town, Tami and I biked to the next town, 6 miles up the trail and ran into Pam and Vicki again. We hugged like we'd known each other for longer than an hour and stood and chatted a bit more. I found out that Pam's granddaughter's name is Dallis too (spelled with two l's).  Funny, that. Vicki also runs a B&B and I told her that my husband and son would be coming by in a couple days and she promised to give them a fine stay. As it turned out, Houston and Garrett whizzed right by Zoar to make up some time. Too bad, as Pam and Vicki would have taken very good care of them.
Tomorrow: life in the slow lane and hobo camping...


Diane Eskritt said...

Wow. This is nothing short of fabulous.

Tami said...

Slight correction, The guy in MechanicsTown said $125 for a split cord, delivered locally.

ginger said...

And, more fabulous pictures and adventures!! I really am jealous and do admire you both for taking this amazing trek!! What a neat thing to put on your life resume!!