We certainly lost some of our edge after two weeks off. It is amazing (and a bit unjust) how quickly fitness is lost and how easily creature comforts become routine after going without them for so long. But we’re back! Back to sweating (I can feel each and every toxin ooze out of my body…. kidding!), daily grocery store visits, camping, and re-conditioning our bottoms to sitting on the saddles for long stretches. Thankfully, the farm roads of the northern half of Indiana are mercifully flat as we build up our muscles again (especially merciful now that we are heavier with winter gear in tow), and lightly traveled which makes for pleasant riding and enjoyable family conversations along the way. The second chapter of the bike tour is off to a good start: more agritourism, museums, family and friends, and friendly strangers.
We have slowly made our way to Indianapolis. Prior to our Michigan break we pulled over to watch juvenile cygnets swim with their parents, despite the entire family being relatively uniform in size, and marveled at how fast time has flown (punny!) since Sissy was pointing out the significantly smaller baby fowl along the way.
At one of the Indiana campgrounds the leaves are already beginning to change colors and litter the ground. The crisp evenings and mornings are noted and make sleeping outdoors much more comfortable than just a few weeks ago. With Labor Day concluding most people’s summer vacation season, campsites should be easier to obtain for the remaining open season.
Our first stop after we left Valparaiso was Fair Oaks Farms where we went on the Pig Adventure, walked through their Crop Adventure, and witnessed the births of three calves in the birthing barn. The births were the highlight of the time spent there.
The many farm fields that lined our journey there and the one regional airport that had a parked crop duster have inspired Lil’ Mo to diversify her adult ambitions to fancy farmer AND crop duster pilot. Sadly, she anticipates this addition to her professional life will take away any time for her to have children of her own.
The path between Fair Oaks and Indianapolis included a few campgrounds and a gem of a Warm Showers host. Our hosts raised six kids in their 1886 farm house and continue to operate a hobby farm, about which we peppered them with questions and the kids thoroughly explored. The host, an electronic engineer, treated the kids to his homemade Tesla coil demonstration. Icing on the cake for Old Man was when he got out his telescope in search of the passing meteor. Clouds obscured the view of the meteor, but they still had good views of Saturn and the moon. The hostess, spoiled us with home cooking from mostly homegrown food and impressed us with her packed pantry of garden canning. Together, they engaged all of us in great conversation and inspired us with the stories of their mission work in Zambia. Yet again, we were given a great gift to be invited into the home of strangers and get a window into their life.
Our time in Indianapolis was spent biking across town to museums. We were pleasantly surprised with the abundance of bike trails throughout the city, however, we were discouraged by the underutilization and poor maintenance of the trails we rode. To that effect, a passerby laughingly hollered, “Pay your taxes and they might trim the trees!” after seeing each of us duck stadium-wave style to dodge low-hanging branches. We visited the Children’s Museum, the biggest one in the world, to the delight of everyone.
We also visited the Indiana State Museum following a picnic along the city’s Canal Walk, and learned more about the natural and human history of the state of Indiana.
Our exit from Indy took us by Conner Prairie, a living history museum. The museum generously let us in for free in recognition of Old Man’s military retiree status (putting the ‘old’ in Old Man!). The kids got a window into prairie life. Regrettably, we did not have enough time to explore all of the museum, but will make it a priority to do so if we find ourselves in this area again.
We are currently reconnecting with one of our Montana heroes, the beginning of a week filled with reunions of one sort or another. Unfortunately, Mr. C is in the throes of food poisoning, so our time together is more limited than expected. To give him peace and quiet as he mends, we visited the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum (as a nod to the daredevil boys who will never have drivers’ licenses until they turn 25!). It was interesting to see the progression of automotive engineering: from two-seater crank-start cars to the modern day single-seat open-wheel cars we now associate with the event.
All in all, our southbound tour through Indiana has been a delight. In rural Indiana, the majority of drivers wave to us unprompted, strangers at grocery stores pray for our safety and well-being, and the quiet farmland provides peace for thinking and breathing. The Indianapolis metropolitan area offers a multitude of things to see and do. The additional bonus of appointments with friends and family throughout joyfully round out this state for us. We have another half of the state to go, and this next half entails significantly hillier terrain, but we go into it heartened and eager to see what lies ahead.