October 10, 2002
Forest City to Clarion
45 Miles Google Map
I really had no heart for this final stage of the trip. The idea of dragging myself out of bed once more to put in even a moderate day’s worth of cycling had no appeal whatsoever. Those last three days of intense peddling as I eagerly hurried home must have really drained me.
But there was no avoiding my responsibility. My grandma Bea’s ninety-fifth birthday is tomorrow. Making it there for that, on my bike, has been one of the major goals. It has helped keep me focused, and now that I’ve come this far there was absolutely no way I was going to wait and ride down with mom and dad in a couple days for the official party.
It almost goes without saying that the you-know-what was in my face for this, my final long ride. But the day was sunny and agreeable and I was not weighted down with camping gear or excess clothing. I kept myself entertained by counting the number of baby garter snakes I saw on the gravel shoulder, sun bathing. I got up to eleven.
U.S. Highway 69 is a busy route, so once south of Belmond I switched to a county road that took me over to Lake Cornelia, site of a few family picnics growing up. I had a short lunch at the park there while fighting off a swarm of ladybugs. Maybe they were hungry? I then got back on the bike, put my head down, and finished the few remaining miles into Clarion.
The only motel in town — The Ironman Inn — was on the main highway and easy to find. The owner (Brad) had moved to Iowa after a stint in North Dakota. Claims that he loves the winters here, which makes me think they must be truly horrible up north. Was kind enough to give me a double on the ground floor at a single room rate.
My grandmother is now in a nursing home on the south side of Clarion and after I’d gotten settled in, I wasted no time riding down to visit her. With her age and predictable forgetfulness, it’s hard to have a coherent conversation, but she was in good spirits and recognized me. For my first bicycle back in the second grade, she had tied a string onto the right handlebar so I’d know what side of the street to stay on and I joked with her about that, pointing out that I had actually ridden all the way from Seattle, stringless. As always, she was less interested in the details of my latest adventure than whether or not I now had a girlfriend. I gave her the usual encouraging, though not quite accurate, report. We talked a while longer about anything that came to her mind, then I left after promising to be back tomorrow for her special day.
Today: 45 Miles
To Date: 1,793 Miles / 2,886 Kilometers