Wednesday. Napoleon, Ohio. I wanted to get on the road early today as the winds are lighter in the morning and were expected to ramp up to a steady 15-25 knots as the sun got higher. Touring Cyclists are notoriously superstitious. Certain things we carry are only on the ride because we believe they are lucky. For example, I am carrying a road-found pair of 3-D glasses. I somehow KNOW they are filled with good fortune and must be on the ride. Out on the road luck is a friend. Other friends exist on the ride of a bicycle tourist. In my world, I refer to them as the 'Road Gods'. There are quite a few of them. One of them is the 'Road Sign God'. I'm not talking about regular road signs we ignore every day, I'm referring to signs he/she chooses to show you. An example. This morning I shovelled down a Denny's Grand Slam and as I walked out to my bike, a new red pick-up was parked very near. The hand lettering on the door said, "Bob's Masonry". Hmmm...masonry? A sign? So it was going to be a day filled with cool Mason stuff. I pedalled off at 7:00am in search of the Masonic adventures. Lots of other cool things happened today, but allow me to begin with the Mason stories. Riding along the Maumee River, (into the freaking wind), I came to the town of Tontoganty. Something told me I was near something special, so I snapped a picture of the town's sign. Rolling out of town, I glance over at a railroad crossing sign and notice a small brown sign, on the ground half covered by weeds. And the sign says, "Ohio Historical Masonic Site, 1 1/4 mile" with an arrow pointing north. Well, I'm heading west, but I understand the zen of the, 'Road Sign God', so off route I go to the site. Very cool to stand at the site of the first Masonic Lodge founded in Wood County, 1831. (Nice photos which I may not be able to post until I get home and get some computer guidance. Sorry folks. I'll keep trying. ) Couldn't tarry too long at the site as the mosquitos were swarming. Pulling into the town of Grand Rapids, I knew I was in for fun adventures since I had begun my journey from the Village of Grand River four days and 200 miles ago. Grand Rapids/Grand River? Oh it gets better. It is said that timing is everything, and how could it be that I am pushing my bicycle along Main Street and as I pass a pizza shop, a woman is asking her little brother if he is going to Columbus? I glance over and see the young boy is special. I stop, and just ask the young man, "Are you going to the Special Olympics in Columbus?" Beaming, he replies, "Yes, I am." I tell him that I have something for him and reach into my panniers and produce a Special Olympic t-shirt. I introduce myself as the Bicycling Ambassador for the Special Olympics. His sister introduces me to Ben Snyder. He works at the pizza store and he's going to participate in volleyball and baseball. His sister snaps a picture and smiling broadly Ben states, "If you are going to be in Columbus, you can be my room-mate and I can wear my shirt." Happiest kid you'd ever meet. Yes my friends, they ARE special. Support these kids. Consider coming down to Columbus for the games, June 27-29.
What next in enchanted town of Grand Rapids? Try this. Pushing my bike further down the main drag, two older gentlemen take note of my loaded machine and we begin to chat. Turns out I was in the company of a 55 year Mason, W.L. Hampton. W.L. asked me to spread the word to my fellow Masons that an editorial in Monday's N.Y. Times should be read by all and discussed at the next meeting. Sounds important, let's heed the advice of a 55 year man. Still more...located the Grand Rapids Lodge and left a card and t-shirt. O.K., for those of you keeping score, that's four Mason things out on the road today. Very cool. Visit Grand Rapids. And ask me about the Red Hat Ladies from Grand Rapids sometime.
Lots more to write when I can use words to help illustrate my road photos, but I will close today with a couple interesting tidbits. I spent 25 miles on Route 6 travelling west from Fremont and found that the road had recently been designated a "Wide Load Detour." Semis hauling double wide trailers caused me to go 'bushwhacking' on five occasions. Always, better safe than dead.
The Wind Gods frowned in my direction again today. How so did I offend them? I was reaching dead tired with miles to go when I stopped for a rest on a cement guard rail under a railroad underpass when a State Trooper went by. He obviously saw me as two minutes later, he had turned around and pulled up to check on me. The trooper in car #1918 wanted to know if I needed help. Great gesture and good work by a person who holds one of the toughest jobs imaginable. God bless the troopers. God bless the professional truck drivers who respect my efforts and give me fair clearance. And God Bless the artist who painted the 30 foot high Campbell Soup Can just outside Napoleon. I have the pics...really. Indiana tomorrow. Peace.