Day 80: (60 miles) We thought it would be a tight squeeze in the breakfast area this morning knowing the motel was at full capacity. We were pleasantly surprised we had the place to ourselves. We packed up and hit the road following our trusty Bike GPS App. We explored low traffic side roads in the morning which eventually met up with one of the fabulous bike paths again. Not long after we were on it we stopped for our second breakfast at “The Depot”, an old train station depot turned restaurant with “home cooked” fare. We each got a breakfast sandwich and another cup of coffee. It was a drizzly day again and we overheard the locals talking about not having much else to do but enjoy food at the depot on a day like today. Didn’t seem like a bad way to spend the day, but we had miles to gain, so on we went. Unfortunately we were off the path and back on the roads which meant hugging the white line as there was no shoulder. We went through a national preserve and just as we were to hit our biggest climb of the day a tandem bike rode up alongside us. Another couple who shared a love for cycling. They asked about our trip and shared stories of their own. They were planning on doing a cross country tour until one of them had some back issues that caused them to post pone. Unfortunately, nearly 10 years later, they hadn’t yet set a date but said that we were encouraging them to. They stayed with us for a few miles- through the brunt of the climb which was a nice distraction, and then we parted ways. Soon after, we came to the town they had told us about; Hudson. We saw a Starbucks and were eager to use one of our gift cards. As we were getting off our bikes a young man taking out the trash asked of our trip and told us we should shop local at the bakery next door. He didn’t know we had more Starbucks cash than regular cash, so we went to Starbucks, grabbed some coffee and some lunch. As we left we figured a cookie to be a nice treat so we DID stop at the bakery. It smelt amazing and they had every kind of fresh bread you can imagine. We debated how long one would last strapped to the bike and opted for the safe cookie option. With our ‘Hippy Chip’ cookie in hand, we thanked the young guy for getting our attention, and parted ways. Only five or so miles later we found Streetsboro and our hotel. We had dinner at Ruby Tuesdays, sonic for desert, and watched Harry Potter until we fell asleep. Typical.
Day 81: (66 miles) Our alarm sounded at 6:15. Chris got up and bushed his teeth, put on the news, and soon after Shayna followed. We enjoyed a continental breakfast packed up our things and headed out. between the hills and the gradually clearing sky, it didn’t take us long to shed a layer as we made our way north out of Streetsboro. Our route today was mostly state routes, some busy, others empty. Pedaling into Newbury we stopped to buy a sports drink and enjoy our hippy chip cookie from the bakery. After we finished consuming our energy boost, we made our way to Chardon where we stopped in a park under a nice Gazebo to enjoy our usual lunch before coasting a quarter mile down the road to King Kone, the local and seemingly popular ice cream joint where we had some tasty soft serve. The route from King Kone to the western reserve greenway bike path was a conflicting combination of the extremely busy state route 6 packed with discourteous drivers and a practically empty dirt road through the quiet woods. The final 12 miles of our pedal was on another one of Ohio’s beautiful bike paths and half way to our campsite was a convenient store where we picked up some pork’n’beans and peas for dinner. Shortly after arriving and finding a dry campsite to pitch our tent, a local that has spent half of every week for the last 20 years at the campground, came over, introduced himself, and gave us some firewood and lent us some folding chairs because “you can’t go camping without a camp fire”. Unfortunately, with everything being saturated, Chris quickly grew tired of fighting to keep the fire alive. So, we enjoyed our dinner and settled in for an early night to wake with the sun and beat the afternoon thunderstorms.
Day 82: (46 miles) We woke up bright and early and were able to pull out of camp by 7:00 am. We were back on the bike trail for a bit before hitting historic Ashtabula near the harbor. We decided Harbor Perk Coffeehouse and Roasting Co. looked like a good spot for a cup of joe. We ordered a hot cup of their finest and split a second breakfast- poppy seed bagel. Here we met Tim, a local Ashtabulain who had spent the majority of his years here. He meets his brothers at the coffee shop every Sunday to catch up. They were late so we had the pleasure of talking with him. We told him stories of our trip and he talked about the de-escalation of the Ashtabula harbor, and surrounding towns. Over the last 10 years, or so, their harbor’s workforce had decreased by nearly 90%. Boats can travel farther distances now and as a result most of the numerous ports that once lined the shore have been scaled back or closed while a selected few have grown exponentially to compensate. You can see how the town has suffered, particularly in the harbor area, with vacant store fronts and boarded windows. We enjoyed our time with Tim but figured we should get a move-on to beat the weather that was coming. All we saw for the next 20 miles were blue skies and blooming rhododendron bushes. Since the threat was non existent, we decided to stop for our third breakfast at Angela’s Café. Chris got a breakfast bowl and Shayna a breakfast Sammy. Both hit the spot, and we were on our way again. Our route followed the lake and we had some pretty incredible views that peered through the trees from time to time. We still weren’t seeing storm clouds and were disappointed we set a short day to avoid the non-existent storm. This was especially true when we realized the hotel we booked was nearly seven miles off route and had next to nothing around it. Luckily it had a restaurant. Unfortunately, it was closed on Sundays. On the plus side, they let us check into our room early so we relaxed a bit before venturing to the gas station when we remembered Pennsylvania doesn’t sell beer in gas stations. We were walking back to our room to order some delivery (only option) when we passed a sign that said “golf course 0.2 miles” it also had beer on the sign. We crossed our fingers it was open. It was! They served food AND beer so we were set. We ate and drank and then headed back to our room. Almost the moment we set foot back inside the hotel, the skies opened up and the thunder started rolling. We were glad to have made our reservation after all.