July 27th, 2013
The smell of eggs and french toast waft through the room, it’s been a few days since a warm meal. Clanking of forks and knives mix with several voices conversing over the background country music. Orders are called into the kitchen window by the one waitress taking care of the whole restaurant on her own. She is old and a bit weather-torn but works as hard as anybody could. I’m sitting up at the countertop nestled over a hot chocolate and watching the heavy rain through the window.
Sitting next to me is an old fidgety man who I met briefly outside while parking my bike. He’s a kind man but not 100% there in the head. He points to the puddle below my chair and gives an awkward chuckle. “Got pretty wet out there huh?” I look down and am surprised to find so much water dripping off my clothes. I feel a bit embarrassed being the only soaking wet customer in here. I smile and begin telling him about my trip.
It started drizzling this morning after I woke up in the Ohio rest stop I spent the night at. I’m in somewhat of a hurry to get to the west coast so I just geared up and hoped for the weather to clear. It only started getting harder and harder until I was driving through a straight downpour. I wouldn’t mind driving through this weather if I had adequate clothing but I don’t.
I take off one of my boots and find a cup full of water inside. I can’t pour it out in here so the only thing I can do is put it back on and feel the water slosh between my soggy toes. A couple of the guys at a nearby table ask me where I’m coming from too. I tell them and pretty soon I’m in an eight person discussion about weather, roads, what to see, what to watch out for. They pull out maps, smart phones with weather radar forecasts and tell me all about their neck of the woods.
I love the feeling here, this is the only diner for miles with farmland as its only neighbor. The place is surrounded by pick-up trucks so I know it is either good or there really isn’t another option anywhere nearby. They all seem to be real down-to-earth, common sense kind of people. Everybody greets everybody else when they walk in or leave, they’ve probably know each other their whole lives. In such a tight-knit community they are all so warm and welcoming to me, the outsider.
I spend a good two or three hours chatting, writing in my journal, enjoying a warm meal of eggs and french toast while waiting for the rain to die down. It finally starts to dwindle down to a light drizzle so I take my opportunity to get going before the weather changes its mind. Back on the cold wet road again.
Miles and miles of back country farm roads, silos, barns, Wal-Marts, churches, fields, Wal-Marts, small diners, little mom-n-pop gas stations and Wal-Marts. Yesterday I saw an interesting sight in Amish country Pennsylvania at one of the many Wal-Marts. A traditional horse and carriage tied up to a light pole parked in the parking lot. The little bit I’ve heard about Amish values are interesting to me. I don’t really understand the idea that some technology is OK and others not. A horse and cart was the most hight tech thing out there at one point, that’s OK, cars are not, lanterns are OK, light bulbs are not, and then for even less of an apparent reason, Wal-Mart is OK. I find it silly but respect what any religion chooses to do as long as nobody is hurt.
The weather begins to clear up and I let my clothes dry, not by hanging them out on a line but simply be leaving them on and continuing to ride. As dusk approaches I begin to think about accommodation and decide to knock on doors again. I find a nice looking neighborhood of houses with land and barns and begin asking. Like two nights ago, I’m faced with rejection plenty of times before a kind couple I find doing yard work agree to let me sleep in their barn.
It is so nice to be in an enclosed building especially because it is getting chilly and might rain again. The woman brings me food and water. I’m so appreciative of the world that has been treating me well. Maybe it’s just rewarding me for putting up with its cold and wet weather. Before I had lunch earlier in the Iron Skillet diner I worried about having to sleep outside in heavy rain. Everything goes up and down and in cycles. I recognize this pattern more and more and I feel myself regaining trust in the world.