Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Amish Country

Currently in Defiance Ohio, 5243 miles into the trip. Today, marked the completion of the North Lakes portion of the ride which took me approximately 1100 miles from Minneapolis through Northern Wisconsin, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Western and Central Michigan and Northeastern Indiana. I am now back on the Northern Tier route which will take me through Northern Ohio, Northwestern Pennsylvania and Upstate New York, basically along the Southern shore of Lake Erie.

Spent the last two days riding through Amish country in Southern Michigan, Northeastern Indiana and Northwestern Ohio. Stayed in Shipshewana Indiana yesterday. Shipshewana is nestled in the heart of the third largest Amish community in the U.S. It is renowned for it's flea market and 100+ shops. It has become a tourist and shopping destination with Life magazine listing it as one of the top 100 places to visit in the U.S. Had a wonderful home cooked style Amish dinner last night, complete with fresh baked bread, apple butter, all the fresh lemonade one could drink and homemade desert. No wine or beer, Shipshewana is a "dry community" :).

Caught a great sunrise early this morning while riding on back country roads through Amish farm country. The setting was surreal and somewhat idyllic. One could smell the fresh baked goods from farm kitchens, people were riding bicycles to work, working mothers were taking children to to be cared for by others in buggies, children were working in gardens, fresh fruit and vegetables were for sale at roadside stands, men were milking cows, tending to hay in the fields or working numerous cottage furniture shops that dot the countryside. And, everyone was friendly, calm and content, eager to smile and wave at the unusual sight of a cross-country bicyclist. For several hours I saw more buggies than cars. The roads were great to ride as the shoulders are wide for the horse and buggies, although one has to deal with the horse droppings!

Defiance is named after Fort Defiance, a Fort constructed by General Mad Anthony Wayne in 1794. Upon completion of the Fort, the General defied the Indians and British to take his fort, something they didn't accomplish. Later, Defiance was a stopping point on the Miami-Erie Canal making it possible for people and goods to travel by boat to Toledo, Fort Wayne, Dayton or Cincinnati.

Many have asked that I let everyone know the various communities I am riding through. Tomorrow I will begin by riding U.S. Route 424 from Defiance to Napoleon Ohio, an 18 mile stretch through Independence Dam State Park that the follows the Maumee River and uses the old tow path of the Miami-Erie and Wabash Canal systems for its road bed. Harley Davidson has named this roadway one of the ten best touring roads in the U.S. I also plan to ride through Grand Rapids (Ohio), Tontogany, Bowling Green, Pemberville, Gibsonburg and Fremont. Conditioning permitting, I will be riding through Cleveland on Thursday or Friday, my first major city since Minneapolis. Looking forward to touring the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!


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