Detour

Today was clear, breezy, cool-to-cold, and dry. It promised to be a great day for bicycling, headwinds notwithstanding.

We left Elyria, planning to ride along the shore of Lake Erie, cross Sandusky Bay, and set ourselves up to head west by passing to the north of Toledo.

Here’s a picture of a U.S. Steel building in Lorain. Jeffrey liked the look of the U.S. and Ohio flags and wanted a photo. A guard at the gate told us, “no bicycles” (we weren’t planning to enter the property) and “absolutely no photographs”. One shouldn’t argue with bullies. Jeffrey said, “OK,” circled the BikeE around, crossed the street, stood on a public sidewalk, and took this photo anyway:

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Soon we passed this mural at a Puerto Rican club:

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This brought to mind something pointed out by Jason Riley of The Wall Street Journal editorial board. Many Puerto Ricans moved (not immigrated — they are U.S. citizens) to the U.S. mainland after World War 2. In the 1960s, the exodus dropped nearly to zero. Why? Mr. Riley says it’s because Puerto Rico’s per capita income rose to be about 1/3 that of the mainland U.S. It was enough to keep Puerto Ricans at home. This reminded us that until 1965, there were no quotas for immigrants from the Western Hemisphere. The borders were essentially open to Latin Americans, yet they did not overwhelm us.

It makes one think (1) when Latin American incomes rise enough, and it may not be all that much, they will stay home like the Puerto Ricans did, and (2) relaxing visa requirements would make population movement easier in both directions, encouraging many Latin Americans to go home because they know the door won’t be locked behind them.

A short distance later, we saw this:

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Do people who get upset at seeing Puerto Rican and Mexican flags, also object to Polish-American celebration of their roots? Just asking.

Then we got to Lake Erie. This photo was taken by a kind passerby, a Croatia-born pharmacist who was walking her dog. Had she not immigrated, Jeffrey would have had to take it himself!

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The woman said that her mother got an American master’s degree, raised her children herself, and that all the children are professionals. Yes, just another bunch of immigrants looking for handouts! (Sorry, I am being sarcastic. Even Korean kangaroos get sarcastic sometimes.)

The shore of Lake Erie is lined with houses — Victorian mansions, modern McMansions, little bungalos — hotels, condos, and stretches of railroad tracks that block public access. We found this view in Huron striking: a ConAgra plant with some smokestacks in the distance.

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The empty parking lot makes us wonder whether this facility was active. We passed many lovely old brick buildings that are underused or closed up. In a world short of shelter, so many solid buildings wasted . . .

At the other side of Huron, we received the 100th donation to the Ride for Human Rights. As has happened often, our road turned into a “No Bicycles” highway. We stopped to ask the Gordons for directions. They didn’t ask about Human Rights First; they just opened their wallets. I think they figured that if it was important enough to bring us by bicycle all the way from New York City, it was important enough for them to contribute something. Now, don’t fret. We have some extra postcards, so if you donate soon, you too can still get one. But the Gordons get the distinction of being Number 100.

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The Gordons did more than donate. They offered to put us up if we couldn’t get out of Sandusky. You see, the 4-mile bridge over Sandusky Bay is yet another Ohio route that bans bicycles. There are ferry boats, but not this early in the season The Gordons confirmed what we’d heard from others, that bicyclists can find folks with pickup trucks who’ll happily cart them across the bridge, sometimes for a little gas money.

We thanked the Gordons, continued to the U.S. 6 shoulder near an on-ramp to the bridge, parked the BikeE, got out a $10 bill, thought about holding it aloft . . . and spotted an Ohio state police car.

The officer and Jeffrey had a very cordial chat. He asked what we were doing. Jeffrey told him. The officer said something about a law against hitchhiking. His language was ambiguous, and he ended by saying that he wasn’t going to stick around to watch us. Was he warning us that Jeffrey might be arrested? (Hitchhiking laws do not apply to kangaroo puppets.) Or was he just doing his job while inviting us to do what we had to, but quietly?

We’ll never know. Jeffrey, who has seen the insides of some pretty awful jails, decided that a 35 mile detour was better than testing the officer’s patience. So we gave up on going NW to Port Clinton, and rode WSW for 25 flat, headwindy miles through soggy farmland to Fremont, where we are spending the night. The motel proprietor, a cultured gentleman from near Mumbai, gave us the special Bicycle Discount. He told Jeffrey (who avoids meat) that as vegetarians, his family has trouble dining out in this part of Ohio. He and his wife live behind the hotel office; as a small businessman, he has to be “on” 24/7. The gentleman’s children graduated from Ohio State and settled in Chicago. Another family of foreign-born freeloaders looking for handouts!

There’s that kangaroo sarcasm again. Sorry.

3 thoughts on “Detour

  1. I’m so glad that you and Joey didn’t get arrested tonight! Gotta get to Iowa on time.

  2. Finally finding a moment to actually read through your posts! This is great stuff J&J – keep up the good work!

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