Tandem, An American Love Story

Things changed when we crossed over into Indiana. The roads have no shoulders, and people drive very fast, as though they are practicing for the Brickyard 400 stock car race, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Claire wishes she had a yellow caution flag to wave.

We got in late to Crawfordsville, first day in the state, and the motels were full because of the race. It was getting dark, and for the first time on the trip we decided to ask someone to let us pitch our tent in their yard. We had asked directions to the motels from a nice little old lady sitting on her porch. She seemed happy to help. We rode back to her, with the news that the motels were full, and asked if we could put our tent up in her yard. She said no and went into her house.

West of here, we’ve had trouble moving along for all the questions we get asked, but Hoosiers seem slow to warm up to us. We get a lot of strange looks, that we’re beginning to call the “three-heads-look”, that is, people looking at us as if we had three heads. Today we got what Claire calls a rude hand gesture. I call it, The Finger.

Maybe the rain just has everyone in a funky mood.

It is has rained every day, almost all day, the last few days. It has been in the 70’s, so we’re not cold, but the road grit is getting to us, and I fear for Zippy’s moving parts.

But, Frank and Jeannie Germano redeemed Indiana for us. They saw us at the grocery and invited us to have dinner and spend the night with them, a couple of miles from North Vernon.

Interesting thing. Frank had to go the security gate and let the guard know we were coming. This was the first gated security community we saw, and yet it is in a modest sized town in a rural area. At their house Frank also pointed out several security  precautions he has taken. I wonder what the threat is. We had thoughts of turning back west.

Over dinner, we enjoyed telling them about our experiences, and hearing about their religious beliefs. They study a modern prophet who has written that the world will end in the year 2,000. Not to be flippant, but I am glad we’re doing our trip now.

They also see television as being inherently evil. We pretty much agree, (we don’t own one) except we do like to watch The Weather Channel in motels. We like to see how wet we’re going to get.

After a wonderful breakfast the next morning, I took a picture of Frank and Jeannie next to the television set that Frank smashed not long ago. It looked like it must have been very satisfying to do.

They are very nice people, and I wish they weren’t so fearful of the world. We feel differently about that issue. We make ourselves very vulnerable, on the road on a bicycle, but we are not afraid. Otherwise, we seemed to really connect with Frank and Jeannie. Hope we see them again someday. Before Heaven.

(Posting this to the web page in 2004, I wonder how they felt about the world not ending in 2000. I hope they weren’t disappointed. It must be difficult to have your spiritual life tied so closely to the end times. We happen to love living, despite the imperfect state of the world.)

Madison, Indiana is a beautiful Ohio river town, brick buildings, flowers and friendly people; we met Frank McGee riding his bike on the street. He’s one of these guys who ride the streets of small-town America on their old Schwinns, a wave and hello for everyone along their way, enjoying the heck out of life. He later told us he’d retired after 38 years working at a local power plant. He looked young for that. Must be the biking.

Frank decided to be our tour guide for his town whether we wanted it or not, (we did) and took us for a ride along the waterfront. The whole town could be right out of Huck Finn. If they’d just make downtown a car free zone, they’d have a tourist Mecca.

Then he delivered us to the state licensing office so we could pick up a driver’s manual. We get them from as many states as possible to see how they treat bicycle/auto interface issues. As we suspected, unlike Illinois’ which was so well done, Indiana’s has no mention of bicycles at all. That helps explain the drivers’ reactions to us. We don’t exist.


Tandem, An American Love Story — 3 Comments

  1. Thanks for the memories, and the update on your own adventures. That last few days back to Sequim was bitter-sweet after more than a year on the road. We’ve never been the same; a good thing.

  2. What a marvelous and beautifully descriptive article about a simply amazing woman – Karen Landis. I’ve had had the serendipitous experience to create and nurture a friendship with Karen after I underwent a hip replacement and three hip fractures and realized I needed to request the local “Meals on Wheels” service. And of course, if she didn’t have enough on her plate, Karen serves the Chino Valley community two days a week by delivering meals to people in my circumstance.
    I loved Karen the first moment I met her. And when we started chatting I knew I had met a soul mate. I’ve been looking all my life for a role model, a hero, an amazing example of humankind. I don’t know if she realizes what an outstanding example she is of a strong, independent, intelligent, talented woman. Sometimes as women, we have a dentency to undervalue ourselves. But Karen, I want you to know you are the real deal. You are just so beautiful in your authenticity. And I a so appreciative of the value you have added to our environment by caring for the land and the animals under your watchful care. Your abilities and strength simply boggle my mind. And thank you for your loving service to me these past four months. You rock girl!

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