Noodlers Are Fishermen Too - America's Most Naive Bike Tourist Rides From MN to MA - CycleBlaze

June 17, 2014

Noodlers Are Fishermen Too

Mary Jane Thurston State Park, Ohio

The wind was absolutely brutal this morning--but not for me.  It was blasting out of the southwest and I was going pretty much northeast.  The gusts were blowing leaves and twigs off the trees and onto the road, but I moved along merrily, pleased as can be that I had the good fortune of a brisk tailwind.  Heavy foliage between me and the Maumee River is the only thing that prevented the wind from pushing me all the way to Napoleon without having to pedal at all.

I knew there would be others who would be cursing the very same wind today, and about five miles before Napoleon I met some of them.  It was a group of 26 riders on a supported tour from Bar Harbor, Maine to Seattle.  They were taking a break on my side of the road so I stopped to talk to them.  I almost felt guilty to be in such high spirits while they were battling the murderous winds, but, all things considered, they were in pretty decent spirits too.  They knew what they signed up for.  Unfortunately, I'm sure that, as a supported group, they were REQUIRED to reach a certain pre-determined destination for the night (and every night) which was probably reserved months in advance.

I guess that's why I like self-supported, solo travel.  I only have to plan one day at a time and I can stop whenever I want to on a really unforgiving day.  I have nobody to answer to and my only obstacle to stopping for the day at any given point is finding a decent place to put up my tent.  Solitary travel is a wonderful thing for loners like me.

"I was never alone--least of all when I was by myself."  Henry Miller said that.

"Same here."  I said that.  But that's a subject for another time.

I saw "BikeUS" vans before and after that group of riders and I'm guessing that if worse came to worst, they COULD get a ride to the next destination.  Hopefully, that would be a last resort.

Napoleon was a nice town.  While trying to find the public library on my own, a citizen took pity on me, welcomed me to Napoleon, gave me directions, and recommended a nice diner that he said "makes great sandwiches and home-made soups."

I thought the Henry County courthouse in Napoleon was pretty nice.
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A gigantic tomato soup can outside the gigantic Campbell's Soup plant in Napoleon.
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After my library stop and my soup and sandwich, the wind was coming straight out of the south so I had a strong crosswind all the way to Mary Jane Thurston State Park.  Before I got there I saw about two continuous miles of RV parks with hundreds and hundreds of those big motorhomes along the Maumee River.  "Please, please, please," I thought, "please don't let this be the state park."  My pleading seemed to work because it wasn't the state park.

Once I had my camp set up, two teen-agers wandered onto the campground and came to see me.  "Have you been fishing?" One of them asked.

"No, I don't fish.  I just ride my bike," I answered.

"Oh," he said disinterestedly.  "When we camp here, this is the site we always come to and we fish."

"It IS a nice spot," I said.  "What kind of fish do you catch on this river?"

"Mostly catfish."

"Big ones?"

"A friend of ours caught 340 pounds of catfish over by the dam one day," the other dude spoke up.  "Some of them were as big as that log."  He pointed at this:

The catfish-sized log. I set the bottle there for perspective.
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"Wow!" I exclaimed with some skepticism, although I do know catfish can get huge.  "Do people ever go noodling (wading into catfish holes and grabbing them with one's arms) around here?"

"That's how our friend caught them."

"Really?  I thought they only did that in Arkansas and Oklahoma."

"Nope they do it around here too."

Bike camping on the brown Maumee River.
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I'm the only camper in the tent area of the park. There are plenty of folks in the RV area though--just in case I need some company, which is highly unlikely.
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Yesterday, heat and humidity moved into the area.  It was a sticky 90 degrees this afternoon.  Heat, humidity, and high winds--the weather men say those are the prime ingredients for a big storm.  Bring it on!

Nothing materialized.  The only lightning I saw was a beautiful firefly show in the middle of the night.  There were literally hundreds of tiny lights flashing off and on while I, ahhhh, while I used the big bathroom outdoors.

Today's ride: 34 miles (55 km)
Total: 805 miles (1,296 km)

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