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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Day 38 - Mt Pleasant to Birch Run - The Hand of Man





The sun swims above the horizon

promising a hot and humid day.
















Allison is ready to go...











 The bikes are ready...











Although breakfast isn't slated to begin until 6:30, the dining room is packed at 6:15.

I'm spending my summer with a lot of very driven individuals.










But at 6:32 I cruise out of the parking lot while the others wait for luggage load.


Al will load my bags while I get started early.






















I'm biking through an Indian reservation, but it looks just like another small town - a little on the shabby side.












The nicest sign is the mental health clinic.





Just out of town is another sad dairy factory farm.

When this ride is over only grass fed milk for me.



I enter the town of Alma - Scotland USA...








Homes with lovely gardens - much nicer than the town of Shepherd.











But the golf course has wide open greens - very American...









The church looks American...
















Even the barber shop looks very USA.





I later found the only Scottish thing about Alma is the name of the high school sports team.








Out of Alma I bike many long miles alone...


No towns.

Few houses.


A crumbling barn.











By the time I hit the detour I'm desperate...

I knock on this farmhouse door and ask Shirley if I can use their facilities.

She lets me use the bathroom back in the workshop.













Not my usual reading materials...

She had looked a bit distrustful, but by the time I have flushed, she is friendly and wants to know all about our biking adventure.










My detour to visit Shirley gives the other bikers a chance to catch up with me...















We pass a sad old house looking neglected.


















Broken windows...

Cracking bricks....













And just across the street another tumble down home.











Around the corner - a collapsed barn.

I've read articles lately about what would happen if man suddenly disappeared from Earth.

How long would our footprint last?

Ask these buildings...









All the fields of corn and soybean would go away.

They've been bred to be seedless.





First would come in annual weeds for a year or two...







Then goldenrods would hold the land for ten years - gradually enriching the soil with its biomass since no farmer would be there to remove the plants year after year.






Next the birds would seed the land with brambles - blackberries and such -

giving shade and more richness to the soil.




Soon - pioneer trees like ash and tulip poplars would filter in - oaks if you have blue jays to carry the acorns.

And in about 30 years all these fields east of the Mississippi would be wooded again.





But for now we have soybeans at our SAG stop...


And we need a SAG stop...





This humidity has been draining us...

















We need to drink!











Tooling down the road again we pass an old barn... 

It's been there for 136 years.

And now the plants are winning.











And the humidity is winning over bikers...

After ten more miles, we all stop at the only store on route - Nixon's grocery.







Chocolate milk - the drink of champions!












We buy gallons and share...











After all that milk Renny and Katie feel quite strong...

They match, too.










This is cool - recycling for clothes and things.

I hope they don't recycle Andrew's bike!





This small town is full of bikers...









This is how my Alex started...



Beautiful house along the way...








As I take pics the bikers pass me by...









There goes Leo on his little Bike Friday...






Tom and Kim are stopped by a broken spoke!

Call the Gold Van for help!




One more falling shed catches my eye...

Why so many neglected buildings today?







And what's that ruckus in the road ahead?


These crazy people are switching bikes!





Nan is trying to ride the Bike Friday...









And Andrew doesn't seem to know what to do with Katie's bike...

They offer to let me join them, but I insist I'm a one bike woman.




Later Kim and Tom wonder what are the pretty flowers I'm admiring...

But these flowers are EVIL!

This is the dreaded purple loosestrife from Eurasia whose beauty is choking our wetlands all over the midwest...

killing orchids...

and destroying habitat.




There are so many destructive plants we have brought to America.


The beautiful Norway maple - a favorite shade tree.

It seeds prolifically

filling our forests.

Since it is from a colder climate it leafs out earlier in the spring.



Shading out the spring wildflowers that provide nectar for our native species.

Even if man disappears now these exotic species will continue their destructive ways.


But the bike ride continues...





I can buy all kinds of things along the route...

Corn...






Vegetables...










Even puppies!







I have to stop at this sign...







I love gladiolas!







Named for the gladiators lances, these bright spikes are worth a picture stop.






But it's getting late and I have a date in Birch Run tonight. 







Tom Creech, a dear friend from high school days and his wife Cindy!

They take us out to a wonderful dinner.

But I have to sit carefully...






This long day with the heat and humidity has gifted me with incredibly painful saddle sores.

A fellow biker (who shall stay unnamed) kindly gave me rubbing alcohol and high powered cream for my shorts.

Weeooooh!

Wow! That rubbing alcohol stings! I tell her.

Oh, I know, she says cheerily.... My husband screams.


Doesn't this sound like a wonderful way to spend your summer?







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