Friday, June 25, 2010

Back on the Trail

Well it's a small start, but it's a start.  We're now on day 7 of our latest adventure, but only the last two have been on our tandem, and we've done a modest 55 miles.  But they were good miles.

We started, of course, with Amtrak.  Two blog entries down you can read about the experience.  This one was different only in being smoother than usual -- we've got the routine down pat, and Amtrak did too.  After about 50 hours on the train interrupted by 3 hours in Chicago where we did little more than catch dinner, we found ourselves in Toledo OH.  We followed that with a 3-day car rental to visit Michigan.

Our original plan was to start 125 miles west of here in South Bend IN, bike up to Michigan, and visit Louise's college roommate Cheryl and her husband Art in Lansing, then swing through her alma mater U. of Michigan in Ann Arbor before hitting Toledo.  Then Jeff did his FOOSH thing changing a light bulb (see last blog entry).  Funny thing, "FOOSH" sort of sounds like what he said as he fell from the 2-step stepladder.  It's almost as if he knew ('gadzooks, I'm about to have a FOOSH injury!').  Or maybe the thinking was less elaborate.  In any event, we decided to start a week later and a bit further east to give his distal radius more time to strengthen and heal.  The common wisdom is that it takes 6 weeks for a fracture like this to heal enough to remove the cast, another 6 for the bone to get reasonably close to pre-fracture strength, another 12 for the soft tissue injury to resolve.  In other words, about the time this bike trip is over . . .

To provide a few more days of healing and to rescue some of our Michigan plans, we rented that car and drove up to Ann Arbor, which Louise had not seen since graduation 43 years ago.  We walked down one of the streets where Louise once lived in a cooperative, but the place was sufficiently un-memorable that she couldn't pin down which building it was.  We walked about campus and took a few shots that look quite collegiate, then headed on up to Lansing.

It was almost as long since Louise had seen Cheryl, and she'd not yet met Arthur.  Wait that many years and the kids are no longer available for live demonstrations, so we compared notes on children and grandchildren with photos.  We also got out on Lansing's excellent River Walk past this Charles Scheeleresque electric power plant, followed by some relaxing at their comfortable home and finished off with Cheryl's cooking and Art's barbequeing.  It was a good visit!

Back in Toledo we checked out the Toledo Art Museum and were flabbergasted by the quality of the collection.  For the type of art we enjoy -- mostly 19th century European and American -- we thought it much better than the glitzy new Seattle Art Museum.  Toledo can largely thank the Libbey family of glassware and later food product fame (the museum was built 2 blocks from their home, in fact!).  Here are a few of the items than caught our eyes, including a Degas etching of Mary Cassat and friend; another Degas of -- what else -- dancers preparting to go on stage;  an Edward Hopper called "Two on the Aisle;" a statue collection of the 12 zodiac figures in Mao suits by Zhang Hongtu; and Jasper Cropsey's "Starrucca Viaduct Pennsylvania."

At last it was time to get bikin' !  The Mansion View B&B provided us with a memorable breakfast to start us off, as you can see.  We had another memorable breakfast in Toledo a few days earlier when we picked up our rental car.  The lady in the car rental office recommended Charlie's Bar and Grill nearby.  It did serve a tasty breakfast, the first one we've ever had where the breakfast menu had the tag line on the bottom: "Be sure to check out our extensive selection of domestic and imported beer and wine."  We passed on the offer.

Jeff had scouted out with Google maps a pleasant route out of town, including 11 miles down the Cannonball Trail, named after the famed Wabash Cannonball train that went down a track "straight as a cannonball flies."  And for 11 miles, it lived up to its name, plus went past an old Wabash caboose at a rest area.  Our next discovery was a section of the old Miami and Erie Canal that is kept filled with water and with canalboats in the summer.  These folks locked through in about 5 minutes, faster than we've ever seen even the small lock in Ballard lock through!

Well we're in farm country now, although we hadn't realized how changed the crops are in farm country here in Ohio.  Unfortunately for us, these four fellows were having a good day as they faced northeast into the wind, alongside the road we were travelling east on.  But with the low mileage we planned for this first week while we make sure Jeff's wrist is up to the task, we did fine despite the headwind.

We're now headed east through northern Ohio, staying about 20 miles south of Lake Erie until we're almost in Pennsylvania.  That avoids the more congested roads along the lake and the exhorbitant motel costs around Sandusky, thanks to a large amusement park there.  We'll skirt Cleveland through the southern suburbs on our way to Ashtabula County, where we hope to see a dozen of their several-dozen covered bridges.  Check back in about a week and a half!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Back on the Road

Welcome back readers, it's time to crank up our travel blog once more as we head back on the road. This year's trip is a 6 1/2 month extravaganza divided into 4 main parts: the "TTB," biking from Toledo To Boston, then the "BosWash" down to Washington, followed by 5 weeks in an efficiency apartment near DuPont Circle exploring Washington on foot and by tandem. After a brief but important stop in Austin TX to spend Thanksgiving with Jeff's daughter Rebecca and son-in-law Sean, we continue our Amtrak journey westward to Santa Monica CA, where we have another efficiency all lined up, and only 3 1/2 miles from Louise's son Brian and daughter-in-law Ardith, who will have a 4-month-old grandson ready for us to play with by then!

Here's the map of the major bicycling portions, with a few spots highlighted: Cooperstown, where we have a lakefront cabin rented for a week, part of that to be shared with Louise's daughter Lisa and her family; Lake Willoughby in northern Vermont, where we'll spend another week, this time with our tandem friends Steve and Janet Sisson joining us;  and various islands off the coast of New England.

We're getting a slightly delayed start thanks to Jeff going FOOSH in April  - that stands for a Fall On OutStretched Hands.  He had a cast over the distal radius fracture in his left wrist for 6 weeks, but it's been 3 weeks since the cast came off and it's healed enough for us to have taken a few test rides with only mild discomfort.  We have some easy miles the first two weeks, so we figure we'll do fine, all things considered.

So stay tuned for more photos and stories.  We'll try to write two or three times a month.