Friday, October 10, 2008

Holy Smokes

Well snakes alive, I'm in France now, the ride is over, and I'm rolling less deep. I'm in Lille, teaching english to kiddies who didn't speak much english, but after only 2 days in my presence, they are now all phlooent. its silly, and fun. i tell them about famous a's players, and they look at me with complete shock and incomprehension. All in all, pretty similar to the way most people look at me when I talk about the A's. It's great here though, it really is. I eat lots of cheese. To my shame and shock and yours as well, I haven't had an eclair yet. My God you say; mine as well. People here also haven't heard about the mayan apocalypse prophecy of 2012, so that's fun to explain. not to the wee though, that's pretty hard to hear. I'm not eating much mustard either. Gaufres though, or, waphles, I eat lots of. Especially vanilla ones. here are some pictures of the trip. Bye for now. If you come to Lille, or want a dose of tru, email me at big later, nate.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A shortened version of the end. As well as some reflections.

It was really my intention to have a last update a few days before our arrival to the Atlantic Ocean, as I assumed that it would be some time afterwards before I had the chance to be on a computer again. I failed in this way, and have found myself on the 21st of September with nary an update other than that we have in fact made it. I find myself on an incredibly slow, however dependable, computer at a farmhouse in Orwell, Vermont, with little time to spare for this technological gadget called a computer and all of it's internets. Therefore, so as not to leave all of our loyal readers waiting any longer, I will now offer a drastically shortened, however exciting, recap of our trip from Chicago to the mighty Atlantic.

After spending an extra day in Chicago, hosted to a feast and good times by my lovely Aunt Linda and generous Uncle Tom Schumacher, we were on our way again. Indiana proved to be unbelievably flat, as well as having some of the most generous people we've encountered to date. Our breakfast was bought for us by a nice man in Valparaiso, and our quick stop at a winery turned into a comedy show after the wine-filler lady offered us as much as we wanted, and was later forced to ask us to leave in fear of us crashing. The rest of Indiana was fairly uneventful, as no stories of note are coming to mind.

Ohio was much of the same, as the flattest riding of the country continued, much to our surprise. Oberlin, Ohio turned out to be one of the most pleasant surprises of the trip, and we all enjoyed ourselves immensely in this tiny little University town. Upon our entrance on a glorious Labor Day we were greeted by a nice young woman who had just ridden her bicycle all the way to San Francisco with a number of other youths in the area. We made plans to meet up later and share stories. Splendid. We had made plans to stay with Nate's old high school friend, Hannah, and were greeted in front of her apartment by one of her four roommates, Andrew. Andrew was extremely generous and accomodating, leading us to the best burrito spot in town before giving us an extensive tour of the Oberlin campus and surrounding neighborhoods. To my surprise and delight, Oberlin, home of about 3,000 students, has a co-op system that includes over 600 members. I immediately made myself at home in one of the giant houses and began chopping apples to help with the preparations of that night's dinner. As it was the night before the first day of school, there was to be a 600 person picnic at one of the houses, to which we were invited. We attended and met dozens upon dozens of amiable, good-looking college students, so it's safe to say we were enjoying ourselves a good deal. From there we went to another barbecue to which we were invited, where we met the other roommates, although Hannah had not yet arrived. I was offered a haircut and gladly accepted, and Jade did a wonderful job, as you will see if either of my compatriots ever put up the pictures of us at the Atlantic, which I would very much like to see. Not so subtle hints aside, we then went to the only bar in town, where we were wonderfully joined by the whole gang, and had a wonderful time before going home to crash where we were able.

The following day proved no less exciting. I was unable, due to health reasons, to join everyone for breakfast, although I was told that Black River is exceptional. After a bit of lounging, we took off to a river where we swam and sunbathed and laughed and laughed. We then ate milkshakes, we then made burritos at the apartment. The funny thing about a small college town like Oberlin, is that it doesn't have the local economy to support things such as a dance club, so the university takes it upon itself to provide one for the students who so want to dance on any given night. So we decided to take advantage of this wonderous opportunity and shake our groove things to the most awful dj this side of the Mississippi. It really was horrible music, worse than a bad wedding reception (see Space Jam, the song, seriously, and Baby Got Back), but we busted sick moves nonetheless, and our respect for the roommate Andrew grew exponentially because of his ill-flavored style.

Although incredibly bittersweet, we left Oberlin on the last of our pushes, just days away from the Atlantic. As my time is winding down, I must become ever so much more brief. And do excuse the writing style, I've been reading David Copperfield by Charles Dickens and can't seem to help myself from writing this way. It's obnoxious, I know. ANYways, Latrobe, Pennsylvania used to be home to Rolling Rock Brewery, we found out that it USED to be upon our arrival at a giant building that looks like a brewery. Instead of seeing our first brewery in weeks, we went to a bar, where Kelvin's ID was not accepted. After demanding the owner and pleading his case, Kelvin was victorious, rewarded with a beer, which he had to pay for. However, the owner ended up giving him a hat and t-shirt for each of us, for which we were extra large grateful. From there, big Ed made it his duty to be extra nice to us, and bought us drink after drink, until those who had offered to host us had gone home without notification, and we had to accept the first offer given us, which was by the owner of the bar, saying we could sleep on his gravel parking lot behind the bar. Kelvin fell asleep immediately, while Nate and I put together a flatbead of board underneath us, as well as one over us like a little lean-to. It was quite cozy, if not a little bit shady. But we slept through the night, and when Kelvin awoke in the night to use the wonderful restroom on the opposite fence, he thought we had left for another campsite. After realizing his error, decided to block our protective lightsource from his eyes by doing the same. Glorious, Latrobe, thanks a million.

Gettysburg was the next stop of note. Although big thanks to Pastor Rich Ralph of Bedford for letting us stay in his mini-mall children's area beside his chapel. Our old friend Haley Dillon was kind enough to contact her father for us, who lived a short ways out of Gettysburg. He was unfortunately out of town at the time, but still offered us his home. It was really amazing, and his neighbors exceedingly friendly. Their were young ones everywhere, and we had a really fun game of soccer with all of them. I've left out our experience with the hills of Pennsylvania, as well as the thousand or so motorcycles we passed that day, I guess that's a question to ask us upon our next meeting.

Our last three days brought us closer to death than any other point on this trip. But never fear, for we're obviously still alive, and not on bikes anymore, so it's all okay. First was on the third to last day, when I was cruising through an intersection as traffic was starting to get much busier around 3:30 or so. An oncoming car turned left into the busy intersection, not having seen me. I had enough time to slam on my brakes, but it was so close that the momentum sent my back tire (with all of its' weight) flying into the air. I landed on my feet and stumbled into the middle of the intersection as my back hit the ground and my chain came off. I was in a state of shock, laughing hysterically. Nate claimed he'd never seen anyone come so close to being hit by a car without being hit by a car. I found the situation hilarious, although I could feel my heart beating about 150 times a minute. The second situation came with the help of a hurricane down south. The system had moved up to Pennsylvania, and it was in fact kind enough to wait until we were on the road to start drowning us. We were riding through towns with puddles at least 5 inches deep, it was the closest to swimming and simultaneously biking that I've ever come, as the downpour was nonstop. The general response from cars was quite positive, thankfully, considering traffic has been quite heavy on this side of the Apalachians. The third situation will have to be another told over beers, as I don't think I can do it justice here, and it's been suggested to me that I omit it from the blog. Just ask about the "bright eyes" story, it's a good one.

We made it over the mountains and through the rain, and had one day to go. As I've said, traffic on this side of the mountains had been awful, but to our great luck, the last day was fantastically beautiful. Great weather, and lush green scenery. We could smell the ocean miles before we could see it. It's hard to describe our state of mind on our last day of riding. I'm feeling quite emotional as I type this, to be quite honest. It was really overwhelming to think that our adventure was coming to an end, and that I wouldn't be spending every day with my two best friends, riding our bicycles and laughing till it hurt, eating anything and everything, and getting far too drunk for a long bike ride the following day, but doing it anyways. But I'm getting ahead of myself. We finally did come upon a beach, and pushed our heavy bikes up the sandy path until we could see it. We took off our shoes as we stared in silence. I collapsed on the sand and we stared for what I believe was about two minutes, although it could have been any amount of time, I really couldn't tell you. Suddenly, Kelvin broke into a sprint towards the water, I followed without a word, with Nate thoughtfully walking behind. The two of us jumped into the crashing waves, Nate walking with arms outsretched into the warm salt water. We couldn't stop laughing, and screaming, and jumping all around. We must have been quite a scene to witness, in there, gripped in a three way hug as a wave toppled us all and caused us another laughing fit intermixed with screams of joy. After a good time of this, we went back for our bikes, picked them up, carried them to the shore, and dipped our tires in the water. Our journey was complete. After leaving the Pacific Ocean on June 20, just north of Florence, Oregon, and traveling 4386.40 miles over the Cascades, the Rockies, the Great Plains, the Missouri and the Mississippi Rivers, the Aleganies, the Apalachians, through cities, high deserts, a month of corn fields, and over the mighty Delaware. We've made it to the Atlantic Ocean. September 10, 2008.

That night brought champaigne and camping on the beach. That morning brought a majestic sunrise. That afternoon brought the true end of the trip. We brought our bikes to the UPS store, took them apart, and sent them to our respective homes. Turns out they weighed in at around 90 pounds apiece. Whoa. What followed was a bus ride, a truly surreal bus ride, to New York City. But the rest is another story in itself, and this blog was about biking (although I will say that seeing a game at Yankee Stadium was something). Kelvin is currently in Tucson, and will be arriving in Eugene one of these days. Nate is in Berkeley, and if all goes well with the visa, should be in France before the month's end. I find myself on a small organic farm in Orwell, Vermont, with plans to return to Portland, Oregon, in the near future.

I know I speak for the other guys when I offer our deepest thanks to everyone for their support and gracious gifts along the way. We could not have made it without all of the good graces of our family, friends old and new, as well as complete strangers all across the way. Certain images can't escape my mind, flying down mountainsides, seeing the summits of the next mountains on the horizon, laughing at Nate being Nate, lending Kelvin toothpaste, camping in some of the most beautiful spots west of the front range, and some of the funniest east of it, breweries and wineries, bowling alleys and bars. I can't bear to put it all into words, and am sure I would fail if I tried, but I hope soon to put it into images. Please do not remove this site from your bookmarks, as I hope to post a video of our trip in the near future. It's all really too much to bear, I don't know how I'm ever going to remember this summer without feeling like my heart is about to burst out of my chest with I don't even know what. Okay. That's really all.

Thank you for reading.

Friday, September 12, 2008

We Made It!

Hey All!!!
We're in New York City! We hit Ship Bottom, New jersey on the 10th and it was indescribable. Just wanted to give everyone a heads up on the big news. It's been an amazing journey and I'll tell you all about our trip since Chicago in the very near future. For now, however, we've got to go eat some breakfast and see more of the big city. We love and miss you all. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

To all the true snarkz out there

shadows in Kansas, to Atchison

not a lie
birthplaces of Nate and Pete, respectively, on the same sign! OH BOY!
Sunset in Iowa
Hey there sneezes!

Gezundheit! Nate here, from Plainfield, Illinois, staying with Pete's aunt linda and uncle tom. we've just enjoyed a delicious meal, abounding in ribs and potatoes and peppers, onions, broccoli, and even an ice cream cake, homemade. it was mighty tasty. chicago is tyte. i dont know how much zir peter fillled everyone in on it, but it's a really cool city. yesterday we walked around a lot. riding in here though we were told to get a [expletive] car [expletive]. watch out for butterfield road, it's nasty. and i'm not really that down i mean with the cubs, nor the white sux because they skipped town the day we got there, hence, no wiggly field, no comiskey. lame. we did have deep dish, which was zonktacular. oh man it was good. ill have to hit zacharys up hard when i get back to berkeley (zacharys is a pizza place in berekely that is phantastic). another chicago highlight is learning that chicago is the french spelling for the local word for 'wild leek', which refers not to the leeks that you and i love so much, but for the stench of the local skunkz, who smell like wild leeks. thats what french explorers thought would best describe this locale when they came in 200bc(e). also, the weird blob of metal in millenium park is really, really, REALLY cool. hypnotizing. today, while kelvin and pete slept and wrote and ate and showered and blogg'd, i went to the art institute of chicago, where i familiarized myself with several works by many grand masterz of the crapht. despite all the legendary paintings there by a long list of names, my favorite was this urn in the basement, by some mayan fellow, and it was basically an urn with a bunch of soldiers running after each other with spears and knives and shields, but their bodies were shaped like lima beans, and there were just arms and legs sprouting off of the beans. so, imagine beans chasing each other with ferocious weapons, for ever, as a circle is a perpetual shape. yow! this was from 100bc. that date is real, by the whey.

more gnus, we head out tomorrow, our next break is oberlin ohio where we shall find repose with the legendary hannah lesser, a fellow berkeley high school alum. i am looking forward greatly to oberlin, as i have heard many great things. she camped with us for a night in dallas center, and we'll see her again, which is good. from then, it's a powermob to the joisy kost guy. which i am also excited for.

then, just some personal info for all those interested and able, ill be flying back to berkeley sep 15 where ill be trying to get a visa and leaving for france the 30th of september. ill be in lille, in the north, for a year, so for all you pretentious euroheads, come to lille, stay with me, have a beer, maybe. here are some of my favorite photos from the last few days' riding. forgive my lack of ability as a photographer, but i like these. i like shadows and roads, as you may be able to tell. i also feel that color and contrast are important in constructing a composition, as well as shape and image. durant does this well, as does maxwell, but after a certain point it becomes difficult to distinguish the one from the other...

The 'Pete Kass Family Tour of the Midwest' Continues

Hello world! My sincerest apologies for the long interval between blog posts, I cannot deny that it warms my heart every time I'm scolded for having taken so long to update our story, as I'm extremely excited that people are reading this as we travel along. Our trip has been going splendidly, and the guys have gotten to meet a huge number of people in my family, many of which live conveniently along the way we are taking. We are currently in Chicago, having decided to take one more rest day before hitting the road again for Oberlin, Ohio. This is bound to be a long post, and might be divvied up into two entities before all is said and done. Just a warning.

We ended the last post in Kansas City, where we have just taken a rest day to eat barbecue, cruise around downtown, eat at my Uncle Tom's house, and hit the town with my buddy Ethan, at whose house we crashed for the night.

Day 51 Monday August 11: Still hanging out in KC, 0 miles
Ethan works at a great restaurant in the Plaza in downtown KC named Eden Alley, so upon our awakening we had a fantastic meal there served to us by his friends. Fantastic people, great food. A fun little hole in the wall for anyone visiting Kansas City, especially for those of the vegetarian persuasion. It's been awhile for us to have had any fine veggie dining, and it tasted great. After that we bid Ethan a fond farewell, and spent the rest of the afternoon running errands and blogging away. Kelvin was lucky enough to spend this time running around town with my mother, and it has been related to me that they had a splendid time joking around and doing some no-nonsense purchasing of necessary goods. After some homemade lasagna that evening, the boys and I continued our quest to see the best bowling alleys this country has to offer, so we drove down to College Lanes to meet up with my old best buds Pat and Al, who you may remember from our last set of adventures. As our last two nights have been eventful and exciting in the regular sort of way, I wanted to show the guys a bit more organic old home experience of mine, so we drove around in my mom's mini-van and ended up at my friend Bart's house in Olathe, the suburb in which I spent my adolescence. Unfortunately, Bart was not home. No matter, we hung out in his driveway, talking about little to nothing until he showed up. This was quite humorous for everyone involved, and we spent the rest of the evening talking and laughing on his back porch. It's been a blast for me to see my old friends meet my new friends and vice versa, especially because with the old friends it seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Day 52 Tuesday August 12: KC to Atchison, KS 39.84 miles
There was still some unfinished business to take care of in Kansas City, so we decided that a late start was appropriate for our last day with my folks. We started with a cruise downtown to see the Nelson Art Museum, which had been closed on our previous attempts to see it. Between the three of us we've seen a good number of famous museums in places like New York and many parts of Europe, and although we are by no means experts in the field, we agree that the Nelson stands up to the best that we've visited. It's a beautiful place, with jaw-dropping art and an appropriately serene atmosphere. Plus, it's free every day. So there's another recommendation for the future Kansas City traveler, if there are any of you out there.
From there we went to the famous Arthur Bryant's barbecue, where we stuffed ourselves fully before the day's ride. It was fantastic, and while we had slightly differing opinions on the better of the two barbecues we'd eaten in Kansas City, we all agreed that they were both head and shoulders above the rest of the barbecue we've ever eaten. So there's recommendation number 3 for y'all.
After a drive out of the massive sprawl that is the greater Kansas City area, we bid my mother a farewell. Thanks again to my parents for showing us such a great time, we loved Kansas City and the visit exceeded all of our high expectations. We set off on the road and I immediately started experiencing cramping in my left leg. After some struggling the left leg started feeling better and the right leg started cramping up. It was a rough afternoon and ended up being one of our shorter and slower days of the trip. But we made it out of KC and were back on the road, so things should be better tomorrow. We met a wonderful woman in Atchison, KS, home of Amelia Earheart as a million signs will tell you, who directed us to the Missouri river and after hearing of our adventure became quite serious and said, 'I have to feed you.' We all laughed and politely declined, as we had to set up our situation before it became too dark, but she ended up bringing us watermelon to eat and telling us all about her family at the park, which we all appreciated very much. Shortly after she left we were visited by the police, who told us we had to go, as we were camped out in the back of a park which closed at 10pm. We explained that we wanted no trouble and would be out very early in the morning, and after some contemplating the officers conceded that it probably wasn't a big deal and wished us well on our journey. Nice guys, really.

Day 53 Wednesday August 13: Atchison to Verdon, Nebraska 78.2 miles
To any of you who may think that the Midwest has nothing to offer in terms of scenery, I implore you tremendously to ride your bicycle through Nebraska. It is breathtaking. There are rolling hills for days on end, which creates a surreal view of the distance in which you can see a never-ending wave of brilliantly green corn and soybean fields. The green color is magnified by the sky, which is just a bluer blue, there's no other way to describe it. The sky is huge, and the clouds seems almost cartoonish in their perfectly fluffy white texture. Houses are few and far between, and are generally accompanied by a red barn and silo that you might expect from a caricature of Nebraska. From these houses come extremely excited dogs, barking and sprinting to say hello to you. They've been great for practicing our sprints, and have not caught us yet (side note for the reader's peace of mind, my dad has given us some pepper spray, so in the case of an exceptionally large and fast dog, we have a means to protect ourselves aside from just our legs, which at this point are substantial weapons in themselves). Today's ride was spent more or less in awe of this scenery, and we ended up camping alone at a campsite by a lake in the middle of a sparsely populated highway.

Day 54 Thursday August 14: Verdon to Lincoln, NE 89.4 miles
The morning of today's ride gave us more of the beautiful lightning storms we've come to love here in the Midwest. Luckily for us today's stayed off on the horizon and didn't bother us with any rain. The people we meet along the way have been responding with more and more disbelief of our journey, and we are told that we are "crazy" or "insane" or "real bad" with some frequency. We have a great ride that day and arrive in Lincoln, where I've spent a good majority of the Christmas Eve's in my lifetime at my Aunt Carol and Uncle Marty's house. My cousin Joe and Grandma Mary are also living at this house, and my cousin Liz, her husband Scott, and two kids Abbey and Sophia live in Lincoln also. So it's a regular family affair, just two days after leaving Kansas City. Shortly after our arrival and some showers, we all head down to Scott's restaurant, Suite 1, which he opened very recently with some friends. It's an awesome bar and restaurant in downtown Lincoln that serves Chicago style deep dish pizza. It's awesome, and we demolish three larges without a second thought. The rest of the night is low key, and we watch the Olympics and "Field of Dreams" with Kevin Costner in preparation for our ride through Iowa.

Day 55 Friday August 15: Rest day in Lincoln 0 miles
Some HORSE and a little piano for the morning, then a trip to downtown Lincoln to check out some bookstores and the college campus. We end up at Lazlo's for some local brew and have some fine beers there, though nothing spectacular. From there we meet up with Joe at Suite 1 to have a beer. We've made plans to go to a Lincoln Saltdogs game, the local independent league baseball team in town. It's a great atmosphere with some mediocre ball, but we have a great time and get on the jumbo tron. 2 for 2 on the jumbo trons! It's getting close to 9 o'clock, when Scott's bar has a Friday night special of penny pints for an hour and a half, which we decide might be more entertaining than the last three innings of the Saltdogs game (they were way ahead anyways). Just before we take off, my big mug appears in a close-up on the jumbo tron for a good 20 seconds. We all have a good laugh about that, and I act a fool in front of a good 1,500 people or so. 3 for 2 on the jumbo trons! My Uncle Marty and his brother Larry meet us at the bar for some drinks and bean bag toss, and we all enjoy the penny pints and some more pizza. From there the night gets a little bit fuzzy, but I can say we all had a wonderful time in downtown Lincoln with Joe. After the bars closed down, we came out on the street to find a hoard of police aggressively arresting a black woman. We don't know exactly what happened, the word is she stole something, but there was a crowd and we wanted to see what was happening. We scooted in to watch with a few hundred other young adults (as I said, the bars had just closed). A young black guy standing next to us was shortly taken from the crowd, for no reason that we could clearly see, and thrown to the ground and cuffed. We were subsequently told to leave the scene and received strong shoves from officers quite large. The situation was growing rather tense, and we were not in the happiest of moods at this point, but Cool Head Joe eventually found us in the crowd and convinced us to take our leave. So we escaped without arrest, although it is our opinion that the only ones encouraging violence that night were the police.

Day 56 Saturday August 16: Lincoln to Fremont 68.24 miles
I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before, but my parents are avid cyclists. They have a tandem bicycle that they ride all around. My mother enjoys it, my father is obsessed. Seriously, he's more into cycling than anyone else I know. So he was quite disappointed when he and my mom were unable to ride into or out of Kansas City with us, the former because of weather issues and the latter due to job obligations. Seeing as Lincoln isn't too far of a drive from our home in Kansas City, and that my mother had gone to Sioux City, Iowa for the weekend to help clean out my grandmother's house and would be nearby with a car, my dad decided to join us for a day's ride out of Lincoln. We were all quite excited about this, as it has not only been many weeks since we've had anyone to ride along with, but it was yet another opportunity to spend some time with my pops. To those who think he may have had a hard time keeping up or going as far as we generally go in a day, I would like to reiterate that he is obsessed with biking, and could have easily left us behind if he had so chosen. He has an awesome bike and calves the size of most people's thighs. So it's safe to say that he kept up just fine. It was a beautiful day on the bikes and it was a most enjoyable ride. My mom decided to stay in Sioux City for an extra night, and so he even joined us for the camp out that night. We stayed in a surprisingly crowded camping area off the lake near Fremont, but the moon was full and the dogs on the grill delicious, so it ended up being a great time.

Day 57 Sunday August 17: Fremont to Sioux City, IA 80.29 miles
My dad certainly picked two great days to ride with us, as on both the wind was favorable and the weather was perfect. Nebraska offered a great shoulder for the entire ride, and some nice folks along the way. My dad and I traded bikes for about an hour, and I don't know who enjoyed it more. I was giddy with being able to accelerate at will and cruise up hills with about 55 pounds less weight on me, while my dad was able to experience the weight and awkward steering that comes with it on the bikes. He didn't lose a beat, and flew up the hills with the ease of young men who have ridden nearly 3000 miles at this point. We arrived at the border of Nebraska and Iowa in the late afternoon. Both of my parents, my brother, and I were all born here in Sioux City. My dad's parents live here, and I spent a summer two years ago living with my maternal grandmother here. So it's safe to say this was one of the more important stops for me on this trip. We didn't even bother showering because of the hunger and went straight to El Fredo's pizza a few blocks away from my grandma Mary's house. We ordered 3 jumbos and for the first time all trip came home with leftovers, an entire pizza in fact. All three of my living grandparents joined us, as well as my Aunt Carol, who had brought my grandma Mary to Sioux City for the weekend to clean up with my mom. We spent the rest of the evening relaxing on the front porch swing and telling old stories about killing bats and other family tales. It was about as good as it gets for me, and I was very happy to have been able to show Nate and Kelvin this part of my life. It's so rare and so exciting when one can connect what are generally so separate yet important influences on what forms us into the person we have become, and I found this evening to be such an occasion. My parents then bade us farewell and we spent the rest of the evening watching the Olympics.

Day 58 Monday August 18: Rest day in Sioux City, IA 0 miles
My grandma and Aunt Carol, along with the Abbey and Sophia left early Monday morning, so we had my grandma's old house to ourselves for the day. We cruised downtown to fix some problems on Kelvin's bike that arose on the previous day's ride, then we found ourselves strolling into the theatre to see the new Batman movie, only there was neither anyone there to sell us a ticket nor to take a ticket upon our entering. We looked around for a bit, but eventually decided that this one was a gift from the theatre and got to see a matinee for free. What a city. After the film we stopped by Palmer's old tyme candy shoppe and gorged ourselves on delicious chocolate, then went almost immediately to my other grandparents' house for dinner. They told stories and we chatted about our trip and the entire evening was quite enjoyable indeed.

Day 59 Tuesday August 19: Sioux City to Denison, IA 83.16 miles
My stamina for typing is waning, so I might be somewhat more brief, I hope you'll excuse me. Iowa doesn't have shoulders. The beautiful continuation of Nebraska was somewhat hindered by this fact, but it was a great ride nonetheless. We were stopped by Craig, a nice old trucker who told us of a better biking route and a great place to stop for whiskey tomorrow. Our kind of guide. The hills were intense and the pig farms depressing, but overall the trip really was beautiful. We rolled into Denison as the sun was setting, and a nice woman led us from her car to a campground, which actually turned out to be a fairgrounds, which smelled awful and had no place to camp. We thanked her dutifully and rode away immediately after she was out of sight. We spent that night in a park in the middle of town, where we slept inside of a massive wooden fortress built for small children to play and climb on. It was probably the coolest sleeping spot we've had yet.

Day 60 (Can you believe that?!) Wednesday August 20: Denison to Dallas Center, IA 97.17 miles
Our first 90 some mile day. Templeton, IA is a small town with a great whiskey distillery if you're ever in the area. One of the owners gave us a tour, a giant Iowan with a deep voice, a very appropriate whiskey distiller actually. It was fantastic, a great little stop in the midday. From there we cruised along, going for some miles along a bike path in the middle of nowhere. Way cool. That night we stopped in Dallas Center for a rest, and found a great little park with a gazebo for us to lay our heads. This town didn't have a grocery store, so we got some things at Casey's General store for dinner, and were shortly acquainted with a group of carnival employees who were in town for the coming weekend's fall festival. I say shortly acquainted in the term that they were not much for conversation, nor eye contact, nor for much of anything aside from seeming quite out of it and extremely bored or pissed off. In short, we think there may have been more than a few of them who frequently enjoyed an extremely addictive illegal substance or two. This was more than a little unsettling, so we camped out on the other side of the park, sleeping right next to our bikes. We were also waiting for Nate's friend Hannah, who had chosen a wonderful night to stop on her road trip to Ohio to meet us for a campout and some breakfast the following day. I slept like a baby, but Nate and Kelvin both awoke to some yelling and fist-fighting among a crowd of carnies and friends some 30 yards away. To our extreme relief, we were never offered involvement in any of the night's activities, and so we kept to ourselves quite happily. Hannah showed up shortly after the knuckle hitting at around 2:30, and seemed quite comfortable as she slept without a pad on the gazebo concrete floor.

Day 61 Thursday August 21: Dallas Center to Grinnell, IA 91.06 miles
So we woke up safe and sound, which is always nice, to a dreary and threatening sky, which is a little less than nice. Hannah was excited for breakfast, as were we, and we planned to meet up in Grimes for breakfast. The ride was rainy and traffic was heavy and there was no shoulder, and when we met up with Hannah we discovered that Grimes was without a single breakfast place. So we stopped for our standard coffee and pastry or whatever at Casey's General Store. Delicious. It was fun to see Nate catch up with an old friend, and we are all excited to see her again when we roll through Oberlin on the 1st of September. From Grimes we continued on in the drizzle, eventually finding ourselves somewhat lost and confused. Another nice trucker gave us a bike map and awesome directions, and we soon found ourselves on another bike path, this time for some 20 miles. Iowa is funny, not a shoulder in the entire state, but awesome bike paths out in the middle of nowhere. The afternoon dragged on as I found myself continually getting a flat tire on the back tire. We could not discover the culprit for all of our searching, and ended up struggling through the final 25 or so miles by repumping and repatching the tires. We finally found ourselves in Grinnell, home of Grinnell College, hoping to meet some back to schoolers in town. Unfortunately, school didn't begin for another 10 days and we found ourselves in a very tiny town. That night found us in a very dark gazebo in a park in the city, where we were sure we'd be fine until morning. But after laying our heads for about 2 hours we were awoken by a flashlight and a stern voice asking us, 'what's goin' on guys? Park closes at 11.' Great, a Peace Officer here to do his public service. We explained our plight and found no sympathy. Park closes at 11. Where should we sleep? 'There's a hotel down the street, although I don't think you'll be able to find anyone there this late.' Well that's great, but we can't really afford hotels anyways. They chuckle. 'Other than that there's really nowhere you can sleep around here.' What should we do? 'I guess ride out to wherever there might be some campsite or a hotel.' We can't just sleep here? We had a similar situation before in Atchison and it worked out fine. We'll be out with the sunrise and we won't bother anyone. They ask about Atchison and chuckle and make a comment about what a small town it must be. 'Sorry, park closes at 11 and we have to worry about vandals and such. Maybe next time you should plan it out better.' They chuckle again. By this time we've decided to stop trying reason with them, I don't tell them about my flat tire and we pack up our stuff as they shine their carlights on us. We walk our bikes out of the park and they thank us and tell us to have a good night. Honestly, from all of my experiences in the midwest, one out of three semi-positive experiences with the police isn't bad, so I guess I'm less than surprised. Anyways, we walk to Grinnell college campus and split up, Kelvin finds a nook behind a church where a night watchman pretends not to see him on his rounds throughout the night, and Nate and I cozy up at the base of a stairwell in the back of one of the buildings under a sort of overhang. It ends up not being too bad, all things considered.

Day 62 Friday August 22: Grinnell to Iowa City
Grinnell turns out to be a great town in the sunlight. A cool coffeeshop. Kelvin gets 10% off a book from some nice folks at a bookstore, and I get helped out at a bike shop by one of the nicest guys we've met on the trip so far. Craig is an artist with the bike, and uses tiny surgeon tools to pick out miniscule pieces of glass and a quarter inch piece of wire that was wedged between my tire layers. He sets me up, doesn't charge for labor, and then buys us lunch at the deli next door. Huge thanks to Craig for all of his help, he really sent us off with great feelings about Grinnell. The ride to Iowa City wasn't bad, and we rolled into town to stay in our first Co-op of the trip. I was ecstatic, and found myself right at home in the communal living situation. There's was quite different from what I've lived in, but it just felt the same. We played piano and petted the dogs, but there wasn't really anyone hanging out, so we hit the town on our own, which was a huge disappointment to me. Aside from a really cool punk/metal bar in downtown, Iowa City was fairly disappointing. I think it would have been improved if we'd had a local guide, but we found the nightlife to be a bit outside of our style. Regardless, it was a good time, and we ended up hanging out on the porch of the co-ops until late into the night, chatting with good folks who gave us homemade cookies and listened to our stories.

Day 63 Saturday August 23: Iowa City to Clinton, IA
A great ride but a fairly uneventful day. Paw Paw, Iowa probably offered the most in terms of entertainment, simply because it was the home of the Guinness record holder for largest collection of unique pens. We didn't get to meet him or anything, but we liked the sign that informed us of this fact. We reached Clinton shortly after dark, so we could even really see the Mississippi, but we had a nice little campout beside a great bike trail. Nate dropped the pasta just after finishing it. But a little sand and grit never hurt anybody. Delicious dinner.

Day 64 Sunday August 24: Clinton to Aurora, IL 129.95 miles
Whew! What a day. By far are longest in terms of miles and hours on the bike. Almost 130 miles and almost 10 miles to be inexact. We finally got to my cousin Hank's house and ate pizza with him and his fiancee Julie, as well as my Uncle Rod and Aunt Madonna, who were there for the weekend and were leaving the following morning. I was glad to get to see them before they left, and felt that the day's long ride was worth it.

Day 65 Monday August 25: The Big City, The Windy City, Chicago at last! 0 miles
I'll skip right to it. We've been talking about Kansas City barbecue, Chicago deep dish, Philly cheesesteaks, and New England clam chowder for the whole trip. The barbecue didn't disappoint, and we b-lined it straight for Giordano's upon our arrival to Union Station off the train in downtown Chicago. It was like nothing I've ever eaten. Suite 1 was great, but this pizza was just on another level really. Whoa, I could go on, but I think it would be quite boring, and I think this post has been quite long enough already. But there's always more adventure to be related, so I must go on. After pizza we strolled around the town, looking for either a brewery, another pizza place, or a hot dog stand. We were full, but we figured we were only in Chicago once on this trip, and wanted to make it worth it. We received directions to a brewery, but found ourselves growing restless on our search, and when we passed the blues legend Buddy Guy's bar on a corner, decided that we had to go in for at least a beer. What we found was a great blues bar with good music, great staff, and epic stuff all over the walls. They were having a jam that night, but we figured we'd be on our way. After a few beers we left for that brewery, but found nothing but another shitty bar, so we headed back for Buddy Guy's. This was a great call, as the music was fantastic. Sadly, Buddy Guy's brother had recently passed away, and the wake had taken place that day. As a result, a crowd of old time blues folks were there and the jam was amped up to epic proportions. Kelvin actually got to shake Buddy's hand, as he arrived later, and I discovered that he flushes the toilet with his foot in his own bar, although I didn't actually talk to him (it's not like I was staring at him when I was in the bathroom or anything, you can easily see when someone takes a step back and does a slow karate kick to the flusher). We had such a good time that we nearly missed the last train back to Aurora, and had to sprint to get there just in time. We promptly fell asleep on the train and missed our stop, and had to spend a good deal of cash on a taxi home. Ahh the big city.

Day 66 Tuesday August 26: Day 2 in the big city 0 miles
More transportation issues for too much cash, but we'll not talk about that. We had a great walk in Chicago, Kelvin played chess on the street with some cool dudes, we got a little vertigo looking at all of the skyscrapers, we ate a delicious hot dog, and realized that Chicago is huge when you're trying to walk to Wicker Park from downtown. We hoped to meet up with my other uncle Tom for dinner that night, but not only got a late start on the train, but found the train to have 'speed restrictions,' making us over an hour late. We barbecued anyways, in the dark, and had a great chat with him and my Aunt Linda. The guys got to meet my little cousins, Tara and the twins Sean and Tyler who were all starting school the next day, 5th and 4th grades, respectively. Linda convinced us to stay an extra day, so now we're getting ready to go over to their place for swimming and a great meal. I love my family.

So that's where that is. It's continuing to be a blast. It's terrifying how fast it's coming to an end. To clarify, we had planned on ending in Massachussetts to visit our friend Tim Griffith, but due to some communication issues it turns out that he will not be there when we arrive. Thus, our final dates will be spent in New York and possibly Boston, so if you'll be around in early mid-September, let us know. I plan to post the next blog sooner next time, so hopefully the stories will be more thorough and less to take in all at once. I hope you're all doing well, we'll be talkin soon I'm sure.