Big Ride Update: Days 35, 36 & 37
–Sunday we rode 86 miles from Coal City, Illinois to Valparaiso, Indiana, entering our ninth state and enjoying an easy ride except for construction detours and reroutes as well as some rough roads and rough motorists. We saw the suburban side of the Hoosier state with many homes, both grand and modest, decked with the American flag and basketball hoops. We stayed in dorms at Valaparaiso University and some us went to see The Dark Knight Rises at the local cinema.
–Monday we rode 110 miles from Valparaiso to Kendalville, Indiana and savored the farm roads, horse farms, corn and soy fields and cattle, including longhorns, of Indiana. We also saw more Amish and Menonite in horses and buggies. We camped in Bixler Lake Park.
–Tuesday we rode 70 miles from Kendalville, Indiana to Napoleon, Ohio, entering our tenth state and riding through a steady, soggy but cooling drizzle. We had a check point in Butler, Indiana, then crossed railroad tracks and followed the signs for Christian Faith Ministries on Country Road 28 until we crossed the Indiana/Ohio state line. We rode through small Ohio towns like Williams, Bryan and Evansport, then took long,flat farm roads to Napoleon before crossing the Maumee River to the Henry County Fairground, where we are camping.
Another Big Rider birthday. This time it’s Heather who gets the cake with candles from Lynn.
Coal City at dawn looks empty
Passing the Sand Ridge Savannah Nature Reserve
Crossing the Kankakee River which flows through northern Indiana and separates the suburban northwest from the rest of the state
Big Riders stand down at a construction detour and wait for reroute instructions. It was one of the few times all 18 of us gathered in one place during the ride because we tend to bike in groups or ride solo.
Wire storage bin in a field
A white farm, still on the Illinois side
Riding along the State Line Road into Indiana from Illinois
Lakeshore Drive in Indiana
Indiana horse in an Indiana field
Many large homes with grand, sprawling lawns
Big Riders head to Valparaiso along a rough road. Valparaiso, a crossroads with 31,000 people, has a distinguished cultural, religious and educational history.
On US 30 as we approach Valparaiso University, where we stayed. With 5 undergraduate colleges, one graduate school, a nursing school and a law school, Valparaiso is the largest independent Lutheran university in the US.
Riding from Valparaiso to La Porte under a lowering sky.
Typical suburban house with basketball hoop and American flag
Salem chapel. Houses of worship are ubiquitous.
On the way to Fish Lake
Cattle lying down in a field. Most of the corn is feed-lot and goes to fatten the hogs and the cattle
State of the art athletic field in Newton Park, shortly before North Liberty, Indiana where we lost another hour and joined Eastern Standard Time
Sunflowers in Lakeville
Crashed plane and quixotic figure brandishing a frayed flag near Dogwood Road, Indiana. It appeared to be an installation by a local (and talented) farmer-artist, possibly related to 9/11, but this is pure speculation as there was no signage or any visible identifiers
Another quixotic figure, easier to identify
Entering Wakarusa, a small farming and manufacturing town where in 2009 President
Obama announced a major stimulus package to revive the state economy. There are two grain mills in town while recreational vehicle manufacturing, modular home manufacturing and custom truck production are the main industries.
A horse pulling two wagons, one open and one closed, near Wakarusa. Either Amish or Menonite.
A local farm in Elkhart County
The Elkhart River, a 48 mile tributary of St. Joseph’s River which connects Lake Michigan with the Mississippi River watershed.
The drought has really damaged the corn crop this year all across the Midwest
Big Riders stop at Humpty Dumpty ice cream store in Wolcottville to cool down as they near the 100 mile mark during near-100 degree heat (from left tonight: Mike, Sarah, Doron; Tod took the photo)
Haley works at Humpty Dumpty Ice Cream, one of the few businesses that has survived more than a year in Wolcottville. Haley is studying for a nursing degree at Fort Wayne.
Plain View Farms which boasts beautiful longhorn cattle
Entering Kendalville, a town of nearly 10,000 residents in Wayne Township, Noble County Indiana. It has a significant media presence and as in several places we visited, local reporters came to interview us.
Bixler Lake at night. We camped in the park and I took a late dip to cool down.
Leaving Kendalville and riding along Country Road 28 in the rain.
Soggy and sodden but still lots to see–when the camera lens is not too smudged from the rain.
Entering Butler in DeKalb County Indiana, where we had our first checkpoint
Standing on the Ohio state line as we leave Indiana and enter the Buckeye State
Four Big Riders–Rob, Mike, Sarah and Doron– humor a fifth, Tod, and spell out O-H-I-O as they cross the state line and enter their tenth state.
House with street lamp in Bryan, Ohio
A field near Evanston
Riverview Frosty Boy ice cream store, our first stop in Napoleon, Ohio, a town of over 9000 situated along the Maumee River which boasts the world’s largest Campbell’s Soup Company plant and four historically designated buildings.
The Henry County Courthouse in downtown Napolean, one of the town’s four buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. It was built in 1880 in the Empire Style with a fifteen foot goddess of justice topping the clock tower.
The Maumee River, a 137- mile Ohio State Scenic River that flows between northwestern
Ohio and Northeast Indiana.
The Henry County Fairgrounds where we are staying.
The 159-year-old agricultural fair is still going strong.
Unloading the truck and setting up tents for the night