Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Day 9 - Pittsburgh, PA to Lisbon, OH - 70 miles

We're off on the road to Ohio!

Well today it rained 100% of the time. The severity varied anywhere from sheets of rain to drizzle and when the wind blew the trees released what they were holding.

Unfortunately today I ended up stopping 10 miles before my campground destination on account of the onslaught precipitation and chilling temperatures I encountered. I was supposed to mosey on up to the Chapparal Family Campground in Salem, OH, but unfortunately they only had a tent site for me. If the weather had been dry and/or only slightly damp, I would have been there in a second - or at least in another 45 minutes. But the fact that my hands were numb and my bones wet, I stopped at a Days Inn, spread out and basically turned the room into a drying rack. It smells in there now. Sorry.

Courtenay and I started out from her place and she put about 15 miles in with me before we made a first stop to warm up. The chick is brave, heading out in shorts, she was goose-bumped out when we stepped into a Starbucks for a warm beverage. We laughed a lot, shared a hug and parted ways.

I rode and rode and rode, going through periods of warm and cold spells, my feet swimming in rain water. I didn't even have to drink out of my water bottle - just had to open my mouth. I rode my way through desolate back-country roads, busy neighborhood streets as well as a short bit on a highway, which I hated - glad to be alive right now. It's amazing that I can take one road 30 miles and it will change from a single, lonely lane to a 3 lane commuting monster and all within a couple miles. Civilization is one crazy machine.

After my brief highway ride, I pulled over as soon as I could to map out a safer route and grub down on a steak sandwich. I sat in a smokey bar and chowed down, chatted with locals about the ride and discovered that I there wasn't a roof at the campground. That's when I decided a hotel was in order. So I altered my route a bit, going a bit out of the way to avoid heavy traffic areas, and thinking the whole time that I'd just find a motel and post up as needed. That's the thing about riding in the rain - it's all fine as long as you know you have a dry place to retire. If that luxury can't be afforded or just isn't available, my mind just starts to think hypothermia and misery. Perhaps I'm weak. Meh.

As I rode on I came upon a make-shift stoplight, you know, one of those lights that is set-up when construction has turned the highway into one lane. Well, I was parked behind a silver mini-van when the driver of said van opened her door and turned to me. "You traveling?" she asked. I replied, "yes ma'am." "Where from?" "New York City." "You want a free dinner?" I looked her with a perplexed but eager smile. "I own a restaurant just down the way, so feel free to stop in if you'd like to eat." " Thank you." I said. She drove off, and even though I had just eaten 2 hours ago, I knew I couldn't pass up a free meal.

I rolled into the town of Rogers, OH and headed over to the only restaurant/bar within miles. The Y-Inn it is called. As I walked in, all the locals turned towards the door to spot me, a soaking wet hippie looking dude wearing dripping clothes, a helmet and a smile. The waitress came to me and said, "My mom said you'd be coming in. Here's a menu. Have whatever you'd like, on us." Damn, I love traveling. If I were traveling with another person, who knows if I would have been invited in like this and received such a warm welcome.

As I pondered my order, the locals came up to discuss what I was doing. Even the waitress, Lori, was going around and telling everyone in the joint what I was doing. What a chance this was to tell my story, so I did to anyone that was interested. I took photos with folks and of folks and one woman was snapping photos of me from a distance.

I ordered the fish, fries, green beans, a roll, six hot-wings, and 2 bud diesels - all on the house. I couldn't have been happier. Those country folks are great and so friendly. As I sat there eating, a young woman came up to me and asked "What is it you're riding for?" "Lymphoma" I replied. She handed me a $20 bill and said "that is wonderful. Here, take this. It's from me and well, that man over there." She pointed to what must have been her husband or boyfriend. She then smiled and said "Next time, ride for MS. That's what I have." Naturally I felt a bit saddened by this but she had a grin on her face like she had come to terms with her MS and accepts it.

Once again I met two more people that have been touched by lymphoma. Lori, the waitress, her daughter was diagnosed with lymphoma in her early 20s and was able to battle it and win. Jan, the owner of the Y-Inn and the woman who invited me in, she lost her sister in law to lymphoma. I'm seeing more and more why this ride is important and how truly necessary it is to give to those who can help these people.

I sat in that place for nearly 2 hours just talking and hanging out with some stright-up country folk. Nicest folks around if you ask me. Also, very very interesting. Makes me wonder why people head out to the country in the first place. Either they're born there, run there to get away, or escape there. Either way, it's all good to me.

I finished up the day with another 8 miles during dusk. The glowing light of the Days Inn was the warmest thing I ever could have seen.


  1. If you come to Lander WY we can put you up in a cabin or a tent site. Chris at Sleeping Bear RV Park Lander. Wy

  2. is lander between rawlins and yellowstone by chance?