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So, an Amish guy and his son walk in to a mall...

August 26th, 2023

Things What Make Americans Feel Good

Roadside observations: Part 67, in no particular order…

· Cigarettes (butts)

· Slim Jims (Wrappers)

· Lite beer (cans)

· Booze (1.7 oz plastic bottles of Fireball)

· Vaping (cartridges)

· Sex (condoms)

I don’t know… I’m no prude. I’ve engaged in a couple of the above “vices.” But, jeez louise, I can’t help but think that what I’m doing right now, walking along the side of US Highway 20, shirt off (trying to balance out my farmer tan,) a bit dehydrated (as per usual,) a bit hungry, legs getting wobbly as they tend to do after about 10 miles, that this Type 2 fun is so fucking much better than the zoned out, checked out lives going by me at 60 mph.

But that’s just me. Maybe I’m atoning for something in a past life?

The Joke:

"They’re marvelling at all of the gleaming enormous structures and massive panes of glass when they come across two big gleaming metal doors." (to be continued)

Also, is “road life” representative of America? Probably not.

For example, today a young woman pulled her suv/minivan alongside of me on a small highway and we chatted and blocked traffic, with me waving cars around us, her four little kids smiling in the back seats. She was a family farmer—growing grapes for Welch’s grape products and a bunch of other farm stuff, including animals. Hopefully she’ll read this and expand on her wonderful family business. We probably have friends in common in Minnesota.

But, I doubt that she is whipping Fireball bottles out the window, or bags of McDonald’s refuse.

(back to the joke)

“What is it, Dad?” inquired his kid.

“I have no idea,” the father said. I’ve never seen anything like it in my entire life."

I’m having a hard time coming to my point here. It’s just so “in your face” all of the time. The obesity, the clouds of smoke from burning bacon, the clouds of bug spray, the roar of trucks and Harley’s, the billboards inviting travelers in for a sip, a smoke, a toke, or a bellyful of grease. I heard today that 50% of Americans are now obese and diabetic, or prediabetic! 50%!! Think of the burden on our health care systems, not to mention the unnecessary human suffering.

And, then, as you're agonizing over these depressing numbers, someone pulls over to ask why you’re walking, or hands over a pint of blackberries when you are having trouble finding $6.00 in your pack. (“I don’t know how you’re walking to California without any money.”)

Good people everywhere.

(oh, yeah... the joke.)

They stood there in awe as an older lady approached the doors, touched a button, and stepped within the now-open doors. The doors closed again, and a 20-year-old blonde emerged a little time later.

The Road Less Traveled is a Myth

We’ve left the Erie Canalway Trail behind for good now, as we passed Buffalo. Moving camp and navigating the city dampened our resolve to detour up to see Niagara Falls, sadly. I guess it’ll have to wait for another time. (But what if you start running out of “another times?”)

We miss the Canal already as we’re back on busy roads. We’ll miss the Canal people, the Canal culture. The cyclists and fellow walking folk. Meeting and talking with people was much easier there. Now, people have to pull off the road, or you have to wander over to a produce stand or something in order to engage with humans.

We spend a lot of time planning routes; sometimes it works out, and other times not so much.

Did you know that US Highway 20…well, I’ll let my new AI-enhanced Google to explain it to you.

(This is in italics but it's not part of the joke)

“U.S. Highway 20 (US 20) is the longest road in the United States, spanning 3,365 miles from Boston, Massachusetts to Newport, Oregon. The highway passes through 12 states, including Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Oregon. It takes most people at least a week to drive US 20, which takes 52 to 60 hours.”

So, we could just follow 20. But it would get damn cold in WY and MT in November and December. But the simplicity is alluring. The shoulders are adequate, and the traffic is steady but not overwhelming.

I’ve taken a few wrong turns in the past two months. You get in the walking zone and forget to check if you are still on the route you’d planned.

So on we go.

It’s 16.5 miles to Pennsylvania (tomorrow!) and 62 miles to Ohio (Thursday!)

It’s Now Tomorrow.

I felt surprisingly good after a 4+ hour trudge yesterday, and I was able to do some brisk trotting today.

Wow! This is really wine country. Miles of vineyards alongside the road. Lake Erie is, on average, a quarter mile from us here on Hwy 5. So there is a bit of a cooling breeze. I did swipe a bunch of purple grapes and eat them as I walked. I’m sure they’re covered with pesticides, but I guess a few won’t kill me.

Yep, we got into our 5th state, after @430 miles of New York (over half of our total journey.)

This was probably the first time in a month that we didn’t talk with anyone enroute.

As per our developing ritual, I went into a town (Northeast, PA) to buy beer from the state we just entered. Every state has its own rules about selling alcohol, but this was a new one on me.

The store was like a warehouse with a deep cooler with a door that felt like I may get locked in there and die of hypothermia. Then the owner came in a minute later and asked what I was looking for. “Something poundable,” I said. “It’s hot out there, and we’ve been walking across…” he cut me off. No interest.

“How about this Straub’s Lager? Made right here in PA.”

I said “Perfect!” and he took it from me and carried it out to our car and put it on the front seat while I paid the kid working the register.

Now to select a Pennamite author to listen to for the next 60 miles.

Got any favorites?

Oh yeah... I suppose you're waiting for the punch line.

The father said to his son, “Go get your mother!”

Pennsylvania is Ground Zero for all things Amish. I've always been intrigued by them, and other practitioners of the simple, religious life. Just ask Julie! :)

Hopefully we will be able to meet some, maybe have a race: man vs horse and buggy!

See yas in O-Hi-O!

Two Amish ladies are gathering potatoes in a field.

One Amish woman sighs as she holds up two potatoes.

“What’s the matter?” asks the other Amish woman.

“These potatoes remind me of my husband’s testicles,” the first woman remarked.

“Oh, that big?” exclaimed the second lady.

“No, that dirty.”

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