Start: Jasper, IN
Finish: Salem, IN
Weather: 65 degrees, cloudy
Distance to date: 1,770
I got up early this morning and left before a gorgeous sunrise over the Indiana farms. For two hours I rode through glistening fields with the moon descending to the west and the sun brilliant in the
east. Being Sunday morning there was virtually no traffic and the pavement was smooth. By around 8:30 a few clouds began to appear, the dramatic shadows disappeared, and within a half hour the sky was a solid grey dome, the kind of overcast that only occurs in the East. Everything seems like the East now. I am rarely out of sight of a house, there are lots of services, the farms are small, the trees plentiful. It is all very domesticated.
I passed through French Lick, which has a grand old resort that began around springs but now is a casino. It is a huge and
elegant place circa 1920’s, with many guests eating breakfast on the veranda. Since I don’t exactly have resort attire, I ate at the Rainbow Café where I had my first ever breakfast that was served with an appetizer course. They bring you biscuit and gravy as a starter, and then eggs, bacon, fried potatoes and toast. I am not a huge fan of biscuits and gravy, but these were the best I ever had. I am pretty sure I was the only one in the place on a major bike ride; the rest of the patrons were hefty from so much country food.
Fortified with calories to burn, I rolled through more bucolic farmland and past many country churches with congregations coming and going and socializing. I past many elaborate houses – a French Chateau, an English country house, and a limestone hunting lodge concoction. There are people with money around here and they indulge their fantasies.
I knew there were highway motels in Scottsburg, but when I rolled into Salem, I discovered the Salem Motel with a lot more local color, so I decided to make it a short day and stay here. I took a McDonald’s break to use their WiFi and spent an hour sitting next to a local family of wife, husband, and eleven year old granddaughter.
My heart was both warmed and broken by this struggling family as they ate their thin hamburgers, debated whether they had enough change to buy a second packet of fries, and quizzed the girl on rudimentary multiplication tables. The grandmother had no front teeth but was full of questions about my trip. She had a bike with a tow trailer that she considered very speical and wanted me to get a rig like hers. The granddaughter was precocious about my netbook and did not have the social skills / impulse control we expect in eleven year olds. She was totally perplexed by the idea of a vacation, could not believe I stayed in a motel every night, and worried what I would do when I ran out of money. I told her I saved my money in advance to go on the trip, but her grandmother said the girl did not understand saving. They were poor people, perhaps the poorest I have met, yet I loved their curiosity and spirit. A different sort of folk than those who live in the fantasy mansions.
Castle Knoll Farm, Outside Paoli, IN