April 30th, 2012.
Leaving Chicago wasn't as bad as entering it- I stuck mostly to bike paths to go south east. Indiana was a lovely state. It had very well paved roads (including wide shoulders) as well as many places to pull out and camp. I decided that the Yellow River was the place to camp out the one night I spent in Indiana and it proved to be a nice quiet night on what I assumed to be hunting lands.
I got to Warsaw, Indiana the next day where I hoped to find a good Polish diner and enjoy some pierogis. At the gas station I was told that all they have as far as foreign foods go was Greek. I didn't want Greek! I went to the Visitor center where the nice ladies broke the news to me in a gentle manner; there is very little polish culture in Warsaw. I was told the lake-side restaurant had some good pizza. I didn't want pizza! My stomach was set on some polish cuisine, not Italian nor Greek. I left Warsaw disappointed with a growling tummy.
I was intimidated by the East whenever I would look at a map. Roads went everywhere, which one should I take? It all looked messy and unorganized. In the west there was a road that went north-south and a road that went west-east, and I could get on a road and stay on it for days (like hwy 64 in New Mexico). Navigating the east came back to me rather quickly though and I enjoyed quiet farm roads that went through little towns as I made my way into Ohio.
I stopped in Continental, Ohio and filled my water bottles at a gas station. The employees could not control their laughter as I made my way through the store dirty, unshaven and wearing tight spandex. "I biked here from California and am..." Laughter stops. "You did what!?" By the time I left I had 3 new best friends at a gas station in Ohio.
The part of Ohio I went through was mostly farm land and it was hard to find that "perfect" campspots. Trees were sparse and few in between though I managed to find a grove in which the local rancher let me camp out in. At this point what I ate didn't matter anymore. I made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner and then ate ham & lettuce sandwiches for most of the next day.
My stove became dead weight.
It rained on and off and by the time I was ready to set up camp the next day all that looked promising was an RV ground ( I won't call it a "camp" ground as there is very little camping going on. I think "parking ground" would be a better way to define these fine establishments). The gate was closed so I called the owners, they said to come on by. When I saw the amount of RV's scattered all around I turned my nifty bike and trailer around and all the owners saw were my tires shooting gravel everywhere as I dashed out away from people and society once again. I knocked on someones door to ask if I could camp in the woods in front of their house. No one answered so I perceived the answer to be yes, even though those damn yellow Posted signs were everywhere. It was fine, no one came by waking me up in the middle of the night with a rifle pointed at my head asking me "Whacha doing here boy".
The morning held onto the rain, though the drizzle turned out to be quite refreshing. I passed a house in which a garage door was open and 3 people were inside. One woman looked like she was cold and uncomfortable, the other two were shifting through a whole bunch of crap. The garage was filled with shit; shit that owned these people. I was having a low day (fuel pump broke, everything was wet) until I rode past these folks. I realized how glad I was that I wasn't them and instead myself, almost possession-less save for a few items, riding along at whatever pace the wind allowed me to. I though about how they probably pitied me, went inside, made some hot coffee and stayed inside the whole day. I pity them just as well, for they know not of the pleasure of being free.
In East Canton I stopped to buy some fruit. The cashier, a cute gal with a pretty rad name which I can't remember now gave me directions out of the city and was the first person in the East to understand my unconventional camping style. I was in the mood for a pine tree grove with a view of some farmland and found just that. The neighbor was cool about it as well after making sure I wouldn't burn the whole forest down. I think pine trees inspire peace within me.
I crossed into Pennsylvania the next day after being interviewed by a reporter in East Liverpool, OH. Story here
The rolling hills began, the camping and food was great, the people rather nice. I got to Pittsburgh, had a Pittsburger cheese steak topped with coleslaw & fries (I learned about this restaurant in New Mexico after watching a food show) and made my way (slowly) out of the city. The road was busy and a pain to ride on. I stopped at a McDonald's after the rain began and enjoyed the company of a sweet girl who kept refilling my iced tea. I can't quite remember what was sweeter- her, or the artificially flavored tea.