Saturday, June 30, 2007

Erie, Pennsylvania

Just a quick update while we have the chance. It is mid-day on Saturday, and we happen to be at the library in Erie, Pennsylvania.

-We are currently at about 1680 miles on the UGRR route, and about 1835 miles actually ridden.

-Yesterday (Fri. June 29) we spent the day as a rest day in Conneaut, Ohio, and had a great, relaxing day. Got some extra sleep, did some leisurely walking around the marina, out the rock jetty around the marina, and along the beach. Then, in the evening, we went to the town carnival that opened for the weekend, and watched a couple of local talent shows, including one American Idol-styled singing competition. Lot of fun in a true small town Americana setting.

-Today (Saturday, June 30) we crossed over into Pennsylvania, and reached Erie in time for an early lunch. When we left the restaurant to resume riding, Joan found she had a flat tire..... the first flat tire on the trip! We replaced the inner tube with one of the spares we carry, found a bike shop here in town, and bought a new tube to replace the spare we'd used. The tire itself seems to be ok. One flat every 2000 miles..... that is a frequency that we can live with!

-Also notable is that about 30 minutes ago, we passed the intersection in Erie that marks the end of the 4th UGRR map section, and the start of the 5th section. This means we have now made it onto the final map section for the route!

-Now that we are up around the Lake, we are clearly in a different climatic area. The weather here is much cooler than what we've been used to ...... highs in the 70's and low 80's. It is like beautiful fall weather, clear, sunny, but with a crispness in the air. Makes us wonder a bit as to whether we've packed sufficient warm things to wear for further north in Canada. I guess we will find out.

-A note about the Underground Railroad and a learning that we've had on this part of the trip. I'd also thought about the UGRR as being primarily significant in helping people move from the southern states that supported slavery to the northern states that did not .... i.e., across the Ohio River. What we've been learning on our ride through Ohio, particularly northern Ohio, is how critically important the UGRR network was in the north as well. Escaped slaves were still in considerable danger even after they successfully left the "slave states", because slave trackers actively searched for them, and because the Fugitive Slave Act passed by Congress prior to the Civil War compelled people in the north to help return escaped slaves to their masters. This also helps us understand why Canada was such an important part of the equation.... it represented the only really true place of freedom for many of these people. We are finding that there was considerable danger and many serious incidents and confrontations between escapees and those that wanted to turn them in, as far north as the Canadian border. Hence, the safe houses and assistance throughout the north was a very important part of the UGRR.

Ok, that's it for now.... must hit the road again. We intend to make it to the town of North East, Pennsylvania by this evening. More later as we have the opportunity to post.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Next set of Pictures

Here is the next set of pictures that we thought might be of interest..... (Click on any picture to see it enlarged, then click BACK on your browser to return to this Blog.)

Joan is dwarfed by the hill that she is descending. This was just north of Malabar Farm, enroute to Oberlin.

Oberlin, OH. The Underground Railroad memorial on the campus of Oberlin College.

Oberlin, Ohio. This unassuming house served as a safe house during the UGRR days. There were secret crawl spaces in which people were hidden until they could safely continue their travel.

Oberlin, Ohio. We just happened upon this mural pained on the side of a small computer store building.

The Underground Railroad Quilt, made by senior citizens and kept at the Senior Center in Oberlin. Each panel was done by a different woman, and has its own meaning and symbolism.

Riding along a normal rural road, Joan noticed these very odd-looking animals in a field. We think that they are alpacas that have been sheared, but we still are not sure. Looks to me like something out of a Disney movie! (Susan K, what do you think???!)

As we reached the Oberlin area, the hills gave way to very flat expanses. Some roads ran straight as an arrow for 3, 5, even 7 miles. If you are lucky enough to have the wind at your back, you can just fly down these roads.

Covered bridge in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. This is a beautiful park located between Cleveland and Akron, OH.

Now this got our attention. The sign was on what was otherwise a very normal-looking farm. The young bull behind the building got very interested in us as we stopped to admire and photograph the sign, and came over to the fence to say "hi" shortly after this photo was snapped. We declined to come in and visit, though. (Click on this picture to enlarge so as to fully appreciate the sign! Then click your BACK button of your browser to return to the blog.)

The Hubbard House in Ashtabula, OH. Code named "Mother Hubbard", it served as a terminus point on the UGRR. You cannot see it in this picture, but the house backs up to the shore of Lake Erie, where transfers of escapees to boats took place for their passage to Canada. The house now contains a museum which I expect is very interesting, but unfortunately is open only certain days of the week, and not the day we passed by.

And so here we are, on the shore of Lake Erie. We stopped here, somewhere between Ashtabula and Conneaut, to take stock, remembering dipping our rear wheels in Mobile Bay, and thinking about the full breadth of the country that we have covered to get to this point.

Conneaut, Ohio -- One week after Resuming our Trip

We are now in Conneaut, Ohio. We arrived here yesterday after the 64-mile trip from Burton. We've now done 1650 miles of the UGRR route, and about 1800 miles of actual biking.

Conneaut is a very pleasant resort town on the shore of Lake Erie, and right on the Ohio / Pennsylvania state line. After 7 days of travel, we are choosing to make this our first rest stop since being back on the road. So today will be a day off, and we will resume traveling tomorrow (Saturday).

Yesterday, (Thu June 28), we left Burton early (after a very comfortable night in Annette's RV!), and rode some fabulous country roads through some extensive Amish communities. It threatened rain most of the morning, and by late morning we hit several bands of rain as the air turned perceptably colder. Later though, the clouds passed and the sun came out.

We then hit the Western Reserve Greenway Bike Trail -- a nice rail-to-trail path much like those in the Cincinnati area. This path took us to Ashtabula, Ohio, which has quite an UGRR history to it. A number of markers commemorating the UGRR events were placed along the bike path, and then our route took us near the "Hubbard House". This home was a terminus point for a number of the UGRR routes. It sits on the shoreline of Lake Erie, and would be used to stage fleeing people from where they would get transportation from sympathetic boat captains across the lake to Canada. The final part of the day we rode along the shore of the Lake to Conneaut.

The hotel we are staying at is called the Lakefront Motel. It is basic but clean, and has a great location, sitting atop a small hill overlooking the Conneaut marina and the Lake beyond. The proprietor arranged for us to have an extra large room with a kitchenette so that we would have room for our bikes. I think we will enjoy spending the extra day here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Some photos after resuming our trip

We left our house in Cincinnati very early in the morning of June 22 to begin the 2nd portion of our trip. An hour after leaving, having just made the bike trail near Newtown, the skies turned very threatening, and a storm was obviously bearing down on us.

As luck would have it, we found ourselves at Avoca Park, and took shelter in the bathroom building.

The worst of the storm passed, we were left with a morning-long steady rain. Here we model the rain gear we've brought with us..... the first time on the entire trip we've needed the full set of garb.

A short distance up the bike trail, we see unintended symbolism for the Underground Railroad Route! The bike path is part of the "Rail to Trail" network, in which old, unused railroad lines have been paved over to create the trails. (An outstanding concept and program, by the way.) Here the road has developed potholes which expose the railroad track that still lies beneath the asphalt.

Leaving Delaware, Ohio, we find unexpected construction along the route. But no mere road closure is going to stop us!! We were able to ride past the barricade, under the idle construction equipment's arm, over the semi-paved portion of road that had been worked on, but not yet completed, and on to the other side, where we were again on our way. (The alternative would have been a detour of about 10 miles!)

We spent Tuesday night, June 24, at Malabar Farm, near Butler, Ohio. This is a very innovative farm created by author Louis Bromfield in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, which introduced radical-at-the-time concepts of organic produce and environmental sustainability on the farm. It was publicized and quite famous at the time, to the extent that Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall chose it as their wedding / honeymoon spot! It is now a state park, and is operated as a continued working farm by the Ohio Dept of Natural Resources. This is the livestock area that is open to the public.

This is the hostel on the grounds of the farm, where we stayed the night.

Near the entrance to the farm, there is a produce stand, where veggies grown on the farm are displayed for sale. The stand is unattended. The produce is kept cool and fresh by cold spring water, and sales are done on the honor system.

Mike, filling his water bottle from the spring.

Throughout central Ohio, we passed many places in which there were significant populations of Amish people. Here, a horse and buggy is parked near the center of town in Jeromesville, OH.

A little later, we caught sight of this huge load of hay being drawn by horse, as two men work atop the load to distribute the hay.

Burton, OH

We are now in Burton, OH. This is at about the 1590 mile point in the UGRR route, and our bike mileage totals are now at about 1735 miles.

A quick recap of the last two days:

Yesterday (Tuesday, June 26), we started out by taking some time to see the sights around Oberlin. We spent the morning seeing the UGRR memorial on the Oberlin College campus, a private residence that had been used as a safe house in the days of the UGRR operation, and an absolutely fantastic quilt at the local senior center that was made in tribute to the UGRR and Oberlin's role in it in 1983. Well worth the time seeing these UGRR-related items, and just enjoying the feel of this nice little college town. We finally hit the road at about 1:30 pm, and made it only to Medina, OH by the end of the day..... about 34 miles. But that was ok. The morning was well-spent, and getting 30 miles behind us in the afternoon was good.

Today (Wednesday, June 27), we set out from Medina, heading toward the Burton area, actual destination unknown, but expecting to camp somewhere in the area. We planned to make fast time today, but our journey was interrupted (very pleasantly) numerous times by people we met along the way.....
-a group of workers at a high school, doing summertime maintenance;
-2 women on horses riding through Cuyahoga Valley National Park;
-a couple of bikers at a fruit stand in that park who had a great story: She just celebrated her 5th anniversary free of breast cancer, and she has just quit smoking. The two of them have now started biking to reduce weight. They were still going through the transition pains of all this, but were quite proud of their progress, as well they should be!
-a couple who have family in the area of Canada we will be biking through near Owen Sound, who looked at our route and said that it is a beautiful route to take, worth the hills of the Niagara Escarpment that we will have to deal with!
-a couple of park volunteers who travel up and down the Erie Canal Tow Path Trail on bike with bike repair and medical kits..... a nice service that we are happy exists, but which we are also happy to not need!

So, lots of fun and interesting interactions along the way.

Then, as we were just about to make our way up the big hill to Burton, tired after our 50+ miles and not certain still about where we would stay, a man (Don) in a pickup coming the opposite direction stopped when he saw us, and offered us a place to stay at a house he has in the area. However it was 3 miles in the opposite direction, and so we thanked him, but declined. We did not want to backtrack, and wanted to get the Burton hill behind us today. He then suggested a friend of his in Burton who has a yard we could use. He called her, and she said "sure, send the cyclists over". We made our way up the hill to the town, in advance of what appeared to be a threatening thunderstorm, found this woman's house, and she (Annette) could not have been nicer! Turns out that both Don and Annette are cyclists, marathon runners, and kayakers, and so had more than a little empathy for us on our current trip. Annette made the two of us, dropping in on her in such a peculiar way, feel so very welcome. We stowed our bikes in the protection of her garage. She has an RV in her driveway which she has made available to us, and we will have great accomodations in there tonight. Then she allowed us to use her bathroom to take showers. And it was fun just chatting and getting to know her a bit. Don and Annette, we really appreciate your thoughtfulness and hospitality!!!! Thank you!!!!

OK, that brings things up to date on the last 2 eventful and really positive days. Tomorrow we plan to bike about 60 miles to Conneaut, which is a town on the shore of Lake Erie, and right on the Ohio/Pennsylvania state line. Current thinking is that we will make that be the place for our first rest day since being on the road again. Will decide for sure when we get there.

More updates as we have the opportunity to make them.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Oberlin, Ohio

Yes, we are back on the road now, and are doing fine. This is the first day since leaving Cincinnati that we have had effective internet access. We are in Oberlin, Ohio, and have just completed 4 very good days since resuming our trip. We are 1505 miles into the UGRR route now, and have logged about 1640 miles of actual riding on the trip. We've gone through some startup pains again in our first couple of days, with some sore muscles, seats, and knees, but now we are back in the groove, and feeling strong.

One interesting point we just noted this evening.... in addition to having hit the 1500 mile point today, we also see that Oberlin is just about 10 or 15 miles from the shore of Lake Erie. Therefore, if our objective had been simply to ride across the country, south to north, we would be 10-15 miles from completing that now!

Here are a few snippets of interest to catch up on the last 4 days.

Friday, June 22: We left our house at about 6:30 am, with the objective to get through all the roads and onto the bike trail before the morning rush hour started. It was very strange to lock the door to our house, climb back on our bikes, and ride away!

Friday proved interesting because we encountered more rain on this day than we did during the entire month traveling from Mobile to Cincinnati. We were 7 miles from home, just onto the bike trail, when the skies turned dark and ugly, lightning and thunder and winds started, and it was obvious we were in for a storm. At that point we were just passing a small park, and so we found a cinderblock restroom building, and took shelter there. We moved the bikes into the bathrooms, pulled out our rain jackets, and sat under the overhang and watch as the storm hit in all its fury. After about an hour, the worst of the storm had passed, but we were left with a steady rain, so we donned our full rain suits (jackets and pants) and started riding. The rain lasted for about 4 hours, and we were able to continue through it without much problem. It was pretty chilly, but as long as we kept moving, we were able to stay warm enough. We made it all the way up the bike trail to Xenia, OH, where we stayed the night. Total distance for the day was about 65 miles.

The other point to make about this day is that the bike trail north of Cincinnati is familiar territory for us, so this was traveling in a well-known area for us. It was a bit weird, we felt sort of like locals, and sort of like transitory travelers.

Saturday, June 23: Because we were still on bike trails and things were pretty flat, we decided to make this a long day. We traveled 81 miles, and ended in Delaware, OH for the night. On the way, we came across a local bike club conducting a bike ride event. We got to talking with some of the organizers, and they became kind of excited when they heard we were doing the UGRR trip. One of them had been tapped as a local expert rider by Adventure Cycling and had provided consulting when they were constructing the route, and then again helped conduct the Inaugural riders through the area when they came through. He actually gave us a few alternate route suggestions which we took.... not sure it was any shorter, but it was on some really nice, quiet, picturesque back roads. Lots of fun.

On this day, we also encountered two sets of cyclists on the bike paths who rode with us and talked with us at length about the trip. One was a single guy who wants to do long distance touring at some point. The other was a couple on a tandem bike who were on vacation and biking the paths of Ohio. Interesting conversations!

Once we arrived in Delaware, we called our son, Dave. We were about 30 miles north of where he lives in Columbus, so he drove up to see us and have dinner with us.

Sunday, June 24: When we left Delaware, it was again quite cold with some light rain. It never really rained much this day, but it kept starting and stopping, and we were never really sure what to expect. We put on and took off our rain jackets several times..... it was as if the rain czar was playing games with us!

We had reserved a room for this evening at Malabar Farm, which was originally (in the 1940s and 1950s) a very environmentally innovative, sustainable farm, and which is today a state park. VERY interesting place. To get there, though, we had to negotiate some serious hills.... the first we had encountered since the end of our Mobile to Cincinnati leg a couple of weeks ago. We've been spoiled by bike paths and flat land! But it came back to us, and we made it up and over ok. Total mileage for the day was 56 miles.

We spent the night at the farm in a hostel that is operated there. The person who runs it is Barbara Dolezal, and she could not have been more hospitable! It was a great place to stay, with lots of history and items of interest all around, and we'd like to come back some time and spend more time.

Monday June 25 (today): Left the Farm and immediately had a series of serious hills to deal with. If we were not sure we were back in the groove before, we know it now! Once we passed those large hills, we spent the rest of the day going through rolling hillsides, and traveling through Amish country. We saw many signs of the Amish lifestyle in the areas we rode through: horse & buggies, Amish men in their traditional dress out working in their fields, children playing in their front yards, laundry hanging out on lines to dry. Vegetable stands with organic produce and brown eggs for sale, and Amish-made furniture for sale. While stopped on the side of the road for a lunch break, we met a young Amish man who was walking by, and had a nice conversation with him.

So that brings us up to date. We are in Oberlin tonight, having done about 58 miles today. We are staying in a hotel across the street from Oberlin College. There are a number of UGRR related sites and points of interest here in this town that we have started reading about. But at this point, the major story is that we have been able to put some 260 miles behind us over the last four days, and feel like we are hitting our stride again, moving along in this second phase of our trip.

More to follow as we have other opportunities to update.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

From Joan’s Perspective (or “bringing up the rear”)

We are now more than halfway through our bicycle odyssey and I thought that some people might be wondering “Where’s Joan?” Well, bringing up the rear! And a nice vantage point it is, too! Seriously! While Mike is busy up front reading the map, watching out for dogs, doing his mental math exercises, and on the lookout for the best bathroom and food stops, I meanwhile, get to daydream a bit more. Sure, I occasionally call out directions to him from my own map so that he thinks that I am focused on the tasks at hand but then my mind wanders to other things….Who lives in that amazing little house with the garden down by the river? What would life be like living here in the Deep South? WHERE is home for us and WHAT will be my next passion in life? It really is a huge gift having this opportunity to reflect on such simple and complex subjects in such a beautiful and ever changing setting. Not that I now have answers to my most important questions but the thought process has been growthful and therapeutic.

I don’t think that I would have written such positive words at the beginning of this journey! Our first 1-2 weeks were tough and I wasn’t so sure that this was going to be a good experience. Traffic, heat, hills, and the daily grind took its toll – especially on me. In addition, I struggled with the discrepancy between Mike and me. Mike was stronger, could carry more weight on his bike and still pull the hills. Mike was braver and sped down the hills and past trucks as quickly as a carefree child. I, meanwhile, made my way down steep hills in a more cautious manner, braking carefully and thinking all the time about my children, who still needed me, I was sure! I quaked when large semi trucks blew by us as the force of their air would literally shift my bike sideways. Mike had the energy at night to check over the bikes, capture his mileage statistics, and write in this blog. Some nights, all that I could do was take a shower, check in with my clients/friends/family through email or phone calls and collapse into bed. As a rather independent and physically fit woman, these differences rattled me a bit. But, I pretty quickly came to accept his lead on this journey – and to appreciate his strengths, patience, and willingness to accept the added responsibilities. And to love him even more for it.

For all the challenges incurred on this trip, there have been an even greater number of benefits. We have been able to see a side of Americana that many never have an opportunity to experience. The local people are so interesting to talk with and almost all demonstrated warm small town hospitality – especially those in the South. And I know this because I conducted a very scientific experiment from my bike. When a car would pass me on a back country road going in the opposite direction, I would lift my fingers from the handlebar in a “wave”. I “waved” to 10 cars in a row, taking note of how many responded to my sign of friendship with their own return wave. I also distinguished between men and women. In the South (Mississippi), 9 out of 10 drivers responded favorably while further North (Kentucky), only 7 out of 10 drivers showed a positive reaction. More men than women waved in both states. I hope to continue this experiment as we make our way further north. So, you see, I have my own mental games to help pass the time!

And, so, we begin again tomorrow. I am eager now to get back on the road. It feels awkward here in Cincinnati. I can’t be a good friend/mother/daughter/social worker with this trip incomplete and hanging over us. We look forward to the simplicity of road and to the challenges ahead. I no longer feel so much like an imposter as a cyclist. We have earned our stripes and feel comfortable on our bikes (even though I still don’t think that we could repair a chain or true a wheel! Sorry, Tony!). We have a routine now and feel much more confident in our abilities and roles. Neither of us has walked a single hill and our goal is to complete this hilly 2000+ miles riding all the way. When locals ask us where we have come from and where we are going, their amazement and words of “Yer going to Canada on them there bikes?” makes us puff out our chests and ride a bit taller in the saddle (at least until we get around the next bend in the road!). We accept these accolades even though we are fully aware that what we are doing is NOTHING compared to what many others have accomplished in their own physical feats – our friends in the Antarctica marathon group are testimony to that. But it feels good and we feel healthy, and I’m perfectly happy “bringing up the rear”.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Continuing on to Canada

OK, it is official. We plan to continue our trip to Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada, and complete the remainder of the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route.

All has gone well with the myriad of things we needed to take care of here at home this past week. We will be in Washington DC for a day this week to celebrate with Mike's mother as she receives an honor for volunteer work she does (way to go, Mom!), and then will return here to load up our bikes and hit the road again.

We expect to be leaving our house on our bikes on Friday morning, June 22, and will rejoin the northbound UGRR route in Milford, Ohio (approximately 10 miles from home).

Let me briefly recap the route that we will follow. We will begin by largely following the great network of bike trails that exist in Ohio, angling northeast through the state. The route will pass west of Columbus, go between Cleveland and Akron, and will hit the shores of Lake Erie at Ashtabula. It will then follow the lake shore east through Erie, Pennsylvania, to Buffalo, NY. In Buffalo, we will cross over the Peace Bridge into Canada, and will follow the Niagara River on the Canadian side of the border past Niagara Falls to Niagara-on-the-Lake (on the shores of Lake Ontario). The route then heads west, following the shore of Lake Ontario past Hamilton, then turns north and northwest, eventually reaching Owen Sound on the shore of Lake Huron. The total route is about 800 miles (1275 km) long, with about 275 of those miles being above the border in Canada.

Here is the list of all the cities and towns that we will be passing along the way. (Click on the document to enlarge it, then hit your BACK button on your browser to return to the blog.)

We are really looking forward to this, more than we thought we would. We had half-expected to get home, and not even want to look at our bikes again! But instead, we feel like we have left a task only half-completed, we miss the days and the adventures out on the road, and we feel a real energy for continuing. Especially while we have all of our traveling "systems" well-honed now and fresh in our minds, and the callouses on our rear ends still in place!

As before, we will do our best to update this blog with our status as we have the opportunity to do so.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

More Photos from the First Leg

Here is a more extensive selection of photos from the Mobile-to-Cincinnati portion of our trip. (Click on any photo for a larger view, then press BACK on your browser to return to the blog.)


Hubbards Landing Campground -- where we camped on our first night of the trip. The owners were delightful and very supportive. The Inaugural Ride members had told us they were treated very well there, and so were we.
May 13, Day #2 of our trip. On recommendations from the campground owners at Hubbards Landing, we fill our water bottles at Red Hill Spring, north of Stockton, AL. Water flows at the rate of 60 gallons per minute. The plaque is inscribed: "Dedicated to the wayfarers who, for unknown generations, have passed by this way and refreshed themselves with a drink from this spring, and to those yet to follow".
Coffeeville Campground, outside of Coffeeville, AL. Our campsite was on the banks of the Tombigbee River, and we enjoyed watching a few barges work their way past us, leaving artistic-looking ripples in their wake.
Coffeeville Campground, May 15 -- our tent's mosquito netting works! This interesting bug was on our tent screen when we awoke that morning.

Coffeeville Campground, May 15 -- a crow greets the early morning a short distance from our tent, with the mist-covered Tombigbee River in the background.

Through the deep south, we saw all types of houses. Stately mansions, with land still being worked, well-kept remembrances of the old South.....
.....abandoned reminders of by-gone generations and departed families from a different era......

.... and new lake-side dream homes that baby-boom retirees are building in increasing numbers.

Gainesville, AL was a really cute town. It's outskirts were filled with wonderful, well-kept mansions. It's downtown was small -- you can see that City Hall is almost as big as the small grocery store there. But there were many people out on the streets, and the place seemed alive in its own way. Based on the recommendation of the town postmistress here, we tried some local "Hoop Cheese" from this grocery store.

Throughout most of Alabama, one of our biggest fears surrounded sharing the roads with the logging trucks. Logging is a huge industry there, and these trucks, filled with their massive loads, are known to barrel down the highways. We were able to capture a photo of one making its way at low speed through the streets of Aliceville, AL. And later (below), we found a parking lot with a loaded trailer that I posed in front of to convey the size of these things. But nothing can communicate the sensory experience of having one of these things rush by you at high speed while you are biking along the side of the road!

Being a fan of the Beatles, I thoroughly enjoyed this billboard in Aliceville, AL.

Aliceville was the site of a large Prisoner of War camp during World War II, and was "home" to thousands of German prisoners at that time. A fascinating museum chronicles this time period, and has a tremendous amount of memoriabilia, as well as videos of first-hand accounts by towns people and former prisoners. Ann Kirksey, director of the museum, was very nice and informative, and posed with Joan for this photo as we were preparing to leave.

A fascinating old historic cemetery in Aberdeen, Mississippi had grave stones from as early as the 1830s. One Revolutionary War veteran is buried here. This section held Confederate war dead from the Civil War.

Also at the historic cemetery in Aberdeen, this row of graves were all children of the same parents. They span a period of about 25 years, and each had died at an age that ranged from a few days to perhaps 3 years old. Those were hard days back then, but you wonder what the full story on this was.

Swinging bridge in Tishomingo State Park in Mississippi. Built in 1939. We had taken an off-day at this park, and canoed that day with our friends the Chamberlains on the small river that flowed beneath this bridge.

One of the many turtles we encountered in the middle of the road. We saw this one on May 24 on our departure from Tishomingo State Park in Mississippi.

The Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. We paralleled, and crossed numerous times, the Tombigbee and the Tennessee Rivers throughout most of Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee. These rivers were seen as guiding highways for escaped slaves in the days of the Underground Railroad.

Shiloh Battlefield Park in Tennessee. I've never been one to be particularly interested in Civil War battle histories, but this was a very interesting and moving place.

This sign just struck us as funny. The road ends in a sloping public boat ramp on the Tennessee River.

In the Land Between the Lakes National Park, which straddles Tennessee and Kentucky, there are herds of buffalo in the fields along the road. The next day, in Grand Rivers, we feasted on buffalo steak, a common delicacy here.

North of Grand Rivers, KY, thistle provided bright purple coloration along the road.
Many times along the route, we would just be taken with the picturesque scenery on one side of the road or another. The green, undulating hills here grabbed my attention.

No, this is not a medieval tool of torture. This is a hay rake. We saw many being pulled behind tractors, raking cut hay into long rows so that it could then be gathered into the rolls you see in the fields.

The ferry that operates on the Ohio River between Kentucky and Cave-in-Rock, Illinois is the only means of travel and commerce between the two states at this point along the river. We are standing in Kentucky, looking across at the town of Cave-in-Rock. It was so named for a cave that served as the central point of operation for a band of river pirates here in the late 1700s.

They mean what they say out here!

Mike on the road, surrounded by farm land.

Mike negotiating a hill.....

Water lillies on a small lake, east of Owensboro, KY.

One of the beautiful things about traveling by bike is that you have time to stop and read the roadside historical markers. This was in Northwestern Kentucky, near where Abraham Lincoln lived as a child, before moving to Illinois. Some fascinating stories are captured this way.

Cloverport, KY, June 3. We were invited to camp by the town's mayor on property he owned, right on the banks of the Ohio River. Late afternoon sunlight lit up the surface of the river. It was a beautiful spot.

At the end of each day when we reached our destination, Mike captured the statistics from our bike computers into a log book. Here he is performing the task on June 3 in Cloverport, KY.

Joan on the road, in the rolling countryside near Wolf Creek, KY.

Joan, working her way up a hill. A bend in the road gave me the unusual opportunity to catch her photo from the side.

One of the cattle "stampedes" that the appearance of our bikes caused in the pastures alongside the road. A still photo does not do it justice, but these guys were running at full speed.

New Albany, Indiana, June 5. One of the few times we hit serious rain. We took refuge in this service station. Despite the sign, the manager and clerks here welcomed us to loiter there as long as we needed to so as to wait out the storm.

The bridge over the Ohio River, viewed from our hotel room in Madison, Indiana. A very narrow 2-lane bridge with lots of traffic and no shoulders. We took an off-day in Madison, and so for a day and a half we stared at this bridge in nervous anticipation of it. It had us intimidated right down to the moment we made our move to cross it.

The bathroom in our hotel room in Dry Ridge, KY. Because we only had 2 sets of biking clothes, most evenings we would hand wash our clothes from that day, and let them dry overnight in the bathroom, so they would be ready to wear again the day after next.

During the trip, there were times when allergies bothered Mike, causing some annoying sneezing. Even the road signs seemed to recognize the problem.

Kincaid State Park, preparing to set up camp on June 9. Did all that stuff really fit on those two bikes?

The Harriett Beecher Stowe Museum in Washington, KY. This is the house she visited in 1833 when she witnessed the slave auction of which she would later include a description in "Uncle Tom's Cabin".

Riding down our street toward our home, the end of the long first leg of this journey.

The Welcoming Committee when we arrive home. From right to left, Sue (our neighbor), Dave (our son), and Gary (the man spreading mulch that day at Sue's house!)