Day 65

Paris, MI to Middleville, MI
$15 :: BF, lunch, ice cream
106.8 mi :: 7.53 hr :: 31.8 mph :: 13.5 mph :: 4572mi

I woke up to a clear, chilly morning and a wet sleeping bag. Decided to adventure down the paved bike trail I found last night. A guy working by it said it went all the way to Big Rapids, so I decided to cruise there for breakfast. I ended up riding quite a few miles in Big Rapids: across the Muskegon River and down 20 a ways to a big boy, back to the trail, down the trail to 20, where the pavement ended, and back up 20 past the big boy again to get back on my touring route. During all this I ran into one guy twice who has lived in 49 out of 50 states and wanted me to give my story to the local paper. I considered it, but I’d had enough riding around.

A fun adventure of changing road names, trying to get back on route. For a while I thought I was headed for a point only half a mile from where I left the route the night before. Of course I had made some progress-the road names were just different until I crossed the county line. For while I chanted like a maniac:

Amazing! The American maze!

Entres Vous, the American maze!

A flag on every flag pole!

A Patriot behind every bush!

… someday someone will call the police.

In Hardy Dam I reach Ralph Blocksma on the phone. Foolishly I say I’ll be their around 5 or 6, only three or four hours away, and he agrees to meet me. I then look at my map more closely and I realize I’ve over 80 miles to go. Feeling feisty, rather than calling to revise my estimate I start to pedal like hell. I enjoy my workout, first through bucolic farmland then lake getaways.

Ralph

After a couple hours I stop for a quick lunch and hot fudge brownie sundae. Then off again. At 6:30 I’m almost there. I call Ralph and meet him near Middleville. He shows up in a bright yellow 1939 Chevy truck, spotless. He looks really familiar.

At their little house I’m greeted by Ralph’s wife Beth (also familiar) in a T-shirt and swim suit bottoms, sons Matt and John, and neighbors and friends Don and Linda Schaefer. Don thoroughly bores me for a few minutes until his wife takes pity on me and leads him away. I try not to notice that Beth is quite attractive in her T-shirt. Matt is instantly likable, 15. John is aloof, 11? Doug is at his band practice, 17. I swim, Matt drives me around the lake in their boat, when I remember I’ve been here before. Camp Manitou-lin is just down the lake, where I was a junior counselor at 14, 13 years ago.

It’s a casual family night. I make a sandwich, talk to people one by one while the Denver-Dallas game plays on TV. Ralph updates me on his brother and sisters expressing his lack the wealth by emphasizing theirs. He seems a bit melancholy, resigned to it. Aware that his house is small, his to toys are old. The recipients of all sorts of hand me downs. I hope also aware that he has a smart energetic and loving family with a sincerity of speech in manner that is rare in this country. All of them. I even meet Doug in the morning, and watch him round up his brothers and take them to school. They all take care of each other.

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