Friday, June 20, 2008

June 20, Special Olympics Bike Ride

Friday, Huntington, IN. I have a confession. Last night I spent $145 including my Triple A and AARP discounts for a room at the Holiday Inn Express in New Haven. Those of you who know me will be aghast at how I spent such a princely sum due to my history of "thriftiness". Truth is it had a jacuzzi in the room and my back had been tightening up for the last two days. I spent an hour bubbling while enriching myself in Trey Parker's biting cartoon satire. And this morning I felt like a thousand million bucks. Rain that had been forecast for the morning had disappeared and I made the command decision to push one more day of wind and get to my westernmost waypoint, Huntington, Indiana. Why Huntington? Answer, Bucket List. Yes, on my list was some strangely driven desire to visit the Dan Quayle Vice-Presidential Museum located in Huntington, IN. I figured as long as my bike trip was taking me close, I would jump into Indiana and knock one of those things off my bucket list. More on the Museum later.

Rolled west toward Fort Wayne around 9:00am. Nasty gravel in the bike gutter and I flatted out for the first time. Took me my usual three minutes to break the bike down and get the tube changed and now I faced a pump decision. My old frame pump was dependable but took a lot of strokes to bring the tire up to 95 pounds. But I had packed a fancy new mini-pump that supposedly did twice the work in half the strokes. As I was about to administer the final blast of air, the new pump snapped the valve clean off the tube. I had to start all over with another tube. I opted for my old pump and cursed the new one. Rode through downtown Fort Wayne. Very pretty city. Wished I had had more time to linger, but I was working on my bucket list and the Museum would close at 4:00pm. Things that happen on the road are often inexplicable. Dig this. Riding just south of Fort Wayne, still peeved about my bike pump, there...laying in the road at the entrance to a fancy shopping center is a brand new bicycle pump. I am not making this up. It is hanging off my bags right now and I am looking at it. Gets better. I wear an old pair of prescription Ray-Ban Aviators. I train in them, ride in them and marathon in them. Over the years the sweat from my face has pitted the underside of the frames and when they bounce up and down for a long time as I ride, they give me raccoon marks under my eyes. It was really starting to annoy me today and I thought about the fact that I wasn't carrying any fine grit sandpaper on my bike which I could use to smooth the frames. Ten miles north of Huntington, the Road Find Gods answered again...I am not kidding...laying on the road...a full pack of GatorGrit Power Plus black zirconium fine sandpaper. Made in Fairborn, Ohio. Freaky, eh?

Gets even better. Arrive in Huntington to find they are in the midst of their 'Heritage Days' Festival, a street fair covering many blocks Downtown. Locate the Vice Presidential Museum and am greeted by the curator, Dan Johns who mentions he was in receipt of my e-mail and had been expecting me. It is Friday afternoon, we are the only ones in the Museum and I am granted a VIP tour. This Museum is about the Vice-Presidents, it just happens to be located in Dan Quayle's hometown. His collection includes an artifact from every American Vice-President. The collection itself is impressive, but Dan Johns' grasp of the history of the Vice-Presidency is awesome. We have had some very interesting men fill the number two position in our Country over the years. Granted the upstairs is mostly about our 44th Vice-President, but overall, I give the Vice Presidential Museum in Huntington two giant thumbs up.

Left the Museum around 4:00pm, and went across the street to a local bank to cash some Traveller's Checks as I had spent $46.00 on Quayle souveniers. How's this...American Express Traveller's Checks ARE NOT WELCOME. They wouldn't cash them. Too much chance of fraud. Even though I had proper I.D. and don't think that I appear overtly nefarious. And how fast am I going to flee the scene of the crime on my Pigbike? (At 10 miles an hour.) Demanded to see the manager, and after a call to American Express, they cashed a few checks. What a pile of horse poop. Why bother getting American Express Traveller's Checks if you can't cash them on the road? Isn't that the concept behind travelling checks? O.K., it worked out, but American Express has got some "splainin' to do," (Apologies to Ricky Ricardo), when I get home.

Bummed around the festival, looked at some amazing vintage cars, dunked a couple of dollies and as I was leaving met an artist lady who informed me that the local Masons were holding a fish fry on the other side of town. It was within easy bike pushing distance so I choogled on over. A gentleman with the square and compass on his breastpocket was walking out so I introduced myself, told my story, and presented him with a card and commemerative t-shirt. His name is Roger Dimond, and he is Past Master of Amity Lodge 483. We exchanged handshakes and he told me to wait right there. He returned moments later and introduced me to the Lodge's Worshipful Master, Jeff Baumgartner. Jeff escorted me into the fish fry, waved me past the pay-here table and got me set up with a delicious meal. And in recognition of my efforts, he next presented me with a check for Ohio' s Special Olympians that he asked I deliver in person on behalf of Amity 483. Amazing day. Amazing band of Brothers. They want me to join them on their float in tomorrow's parade. Think I'll do it? Stay tuned. Rest day tomorrow. Laundry and more adventure. Peace


CAT said...

Parade around town~? you have a schedule to keep! Besides, I've got a nickle that says you hit the road early while it's still cool. There are miles to go before you sleep~
As for the Museum visit~ One more Bucket List Item crossed off! That was a strange one but I'm glad it worked out so well! Nice going!
I am amazed at the gifts of the Road Gods you got yesterday. I must remember to speak aloud my wishes and prayers so that they may be heard and granted so easily.
At least the wind has gotten out of your face... one less thing. Right?
I laughed at the AM Traveler's checks story~ you gave ME a hard time about it at Sammy's~ what did I know? The question is now~ paper or plastic? And the debit card wins~ hands down.
Welcome to the 21st century!
2008 June 21~ Enjoy the longest day of the year!
Waiting for Sunrise, CAT

Andrew Jarvi said...

Bro. Jim,

I am glad the adventure has provided you some excellent experiences. I've got your blog linked up to both the lodge site and the 25th Districts site. Hopefully plenty of our brethren are following your ride.

Hope you have safe travels the rest of the way.

Bro. Jarvi

CAT said...

From the Holiday Inn to a backyard shed? That's a major comedown! Yet you sound like you're having fun and the adventure continues~
I've got folks looking up your blog and I continue to encourage postings to you as well. So now we wait with baited breath for your next installment... with appropriate cliffhanger ending, dunh, dunh, DANNNNNN! Where's Waldospudd??? Everyone asks me, so~ where is he now>? What can I say? I knew the way to Huntington and why~ but how many days to Columbus now?

Good luck and good pedaling. Stay off the big roads... there's an Rt 84 over a Rt. 20 out there too! Find it and relax~

You've done so well with your road find gods~ just ask for a quiet route. Well rested from the Labyrinth here~ check your messages. Happily, CAT

Capster said...

I just found your link on the 25th District site, am wishing you a safe ride, fair skies, and tail winds. Don't let the big rigs scare you, just remember they are out there because they are working and try not to slow them down.
Cool breezes, Cap