Goshen to Bluffton via Florida (Ohio)

After a week off the bike and the gang reassembled at Jim and Lisa Caskey’s house before our departure from Goshen the morning of the 22.

 I had spent some time up at little Eden camp with my family and Jackson had returned from Pittsburgh where he had been interviewing with several nonprofit organizations which he hopes to be working with this coming year through the PULSE program. Lisa prepared us a great breakfast to get us on our way, I think I ate too much because I had a side stitch going after half an hour. We were finally able to physically ride with our fourth member of our trip, Emma Caskey. 

  
  
Emma has been with us the whole trip linked by an invisible string attached to jackson’s phone.  Haha I’m just giving the love birds a hard time. Actually one of my favorite times during the day is when jackson and Emma talk on the phone in the evening and jackson would be recounting the days’ adventure to Emma. Jackson is a great storyteller, And takes after his dad perry.  Seth and I would be listening like grandkids listening to a well known story told by grandpa piping up every now and again with corrections or additions to the story. Anyways, it was great to have our good friend Emma along with us for the first 50 miles leaving Goshen on our way to our friends Natalie and Luke Graber’s familys’ house in Stryker, OH.  Unfortunately Natalie wasn’t there but we had a great meal with fresh sweet corn and burgers with Luke and his parents joe and Karen. Thank you to Joe, Karen, Luke, Megan for being so hospitable! 

We had two unbelievably gorgeous days of riding first to the Graber’s and then on to Bluffton. We have heard the Midwest has been swamped with rain and only now are farmers here able to get into their fields to harvest the wheat, which was happening in Kansas when we were going thru there al,let a month ago. We have been really fortunate with weather and seem to be just missing all the rain. 

    
In between Stryker and Bluffton, we went through a town called Florida, OH.  We were joking around that we didn’t see many retired folk and wondering why this was such a popular vacation spot. The town had a bridge that we were going to take to get accross the Maumee river which was several hundred feet wide. The actual bridge across the Maumee was fine but the bridge was out where it crossed a smaller tributary running parallel with the Maumee. To give you a better picture of this there we were standing looking down into this ravine with a creek that at certain places was only 10-15 feet wide. There was a construction crew working on the other side of the creek on the intact portion of the bridge. Other bridges to get accross were another 7 miles in either direction according to our maps. We took a while to decide what to do. While we were standing there an older gentleman came up and was talking to us about our dilemma. The problem was it was a dirty muddy river and we couldn’t see the bottom and couldn’t tell how far we would sink in if we tried carrying our bikes accross. The man told us he wouldn’t cross if he was us and informed us that all the houses along the creek used to empty their septic into the creek until about 8 years ago when the town got a new system. 8 years didn’t sound like a long enough time for me when the creek seemed pretty stagnant. Jackson wanted to do it and save the miles and I wanted to do it but didn’t want the infection. Jackson and I decided it was worth it and convinced our wilderness guide Seth to do it even though he was not very inclined. I told Jackson he had to go first lol. So we got our sandles on and strip down our bikes and are prepping to walk across when a guy comes out of no where and tells us there is a dam we can cross less than a mile down and come up a tote path on the other side to get on the bridge. The older man who came back over to see us get muddy said “oh yeah I forgot about that one”.  Apparently the water was only a little over a foot deep but the mud on the bottom would swallow us up 3 feet. We were very glad for the alternative and I made the joke to Jackson ” I can’t believe you were about to walk thru that muddy septic river, ugh that’s disgusting” to which Seth said “oh shush you were egging him on!”.  

We crossed over the small pedestrian walkway and came back up a small path on the other side between the creek and the Maumee and jumped on the bridge. 

  
(Seth’s new look)

We were happy to have Jackson’s dad Perry Bush ride out to meet us with about 25 miles to go. Jackson was jubilant about riding with his dad and continued to get more excited as we neared his hometown of Bluffton.

  
 We stayed with Jacksons family for a couple nights. Jackson gave USA small tour of Bluffton which is a great small town. It was funny to go about 5 blocks and Jackson had already pointed out several close friends houses, his elementary school, middle school, high school, his church, his bank, his local bike shop. It is a great small town and we have been enjoying my time here with Perry, Elisia, Kerry, and Cassidy Bush. We ate like kings at the Bushs’! Friday evening some family friends came over for an ice cream social at the Bush household which was fun too

-Caleb 

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