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August 12, 2017 - Fort Wayne, IN

By meriwether, Aug 13 2017 12:19PM

Tippecanoe and Thompson too . . . er . . . uh . . . that should read Tippecanoe and Tyler too. You may remember that campaign slogan from way back in your American History classes. My campsite of a few nights ago was Tippecanoe River State Park where I fought the 2nd Battle of Tippecanoe against my once again formidable opponents - the mosquitoes. And I believe the mosquitoes won, for I retreated to and cowered in my tent after consuming my picnic table meal in the midst of an aerial assault by the dive bombing little beasts.


Of course, the first Battle of Tippecanoe was fought 206 years ago near Lafayette, IN, at the confluence of the Wabash and Tippecanoe Rivers, to the south of the state park where I camped - a very interesting site I visited a number of years ago. This was the place where the Eastern Confederation of Native American Tribes under the great Shawnee Leader, Tecumseh, faced off against the troops of Indiana Territory Governor, William Henry Harrison. One problem though - Tecumseh was not at the battle. He had traveled to the south to garner more support for his cause of Native American unity to resist the loss of their traditional lands to American settlers, and left things in the hands of his younger brother, Tenskwatawa, who was nicknamed The Prophet, a mystic who was definitely not the battle leader that Tecumseh was.


Tecumseh had counseled his brother not to engage Harrison’s forces until he got back . . . and as younger brothers sometimes do - he did not listen. In fact, The Prophet actually promised his warriors that the American bullets would not harm them, and so attack they did. After a hot two hour conflict, the Native American forces were dispersed, and their village burned. Tecumseh’s dream of unified Native American resistance to American encroachment on Indian lands came crashing down . . . and he wasn’t even there.


Tecumseh - one of those figures like Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, and Sakakawea from our colorful past that you would like to sit down with and have a chat. He was one of the greatest of all Native American leaders and a fierce opponent of American advancement into Indian territory . . . and yet, he spoke out against the torture of those who had been captured in battle. Those of you living in Ohio, if you have never seen the spectacular outdoor drama Tecumseh staged in a beautiful outdoor venue down at Chillicothe, gather your kids and/or grandkids, and go experience this!


And William Henry Harrison? Tippecanoe and Tyler too is that slogan we all seem to remember from our history that helped vault Harrison, “Old Tippecanoe”, to the presidency in 1840. Of course, he died of pneumonia after only a month in office - attributed by some to his longest-in-history inaugural address given in cold and inclement weather - 8,000 and some words without a hat or gloves.


And . . . a rather amazing circumstance of history relating to this is that John Tyler who became our tenth president in 1841 after President Harrison died. . . . John Tyler, who was born in 1790 - a year after George Washington was elected 1st President of the U.S. . . . John Tyler . . . still has two LIVING GRANDSONS! Not great great grandsons . . . or even great grandsons . . . but GRANDSONS! Check it out for yourself.


My ride across the states of Illinois and Indiana brought me fully into the Midwest, leaving the Mississippi River and its bluffs behind and following other waterways which eventually find their way to join the Father Of Waters - like the Fox, Illinois, and Kankakee Rivers. The highways and byways of these two states receive very different grades, however, regarding their bicycle friendliness. I would give Illinois an F for their bicycling infrastructure, and the horrendous condition of their secondary and country roads, as well as their U.S. Routes across the state - at least those that I experienced. U.S. 52 through central Illinois is a death trap for cyclists with absolutely no berm or any place for a cyclist to ride safely. You may remember Hans the bicycling pastor of whom I had a photo in my June 28 Update. Hans and I stayed in touch, and he was only a few days ahead of me in Illinois. He let me know that he was hit from behind on U.S. 52 and very seriously injured - now slowly on the road to recovery in Rockford, IL. I was to travel that very same stretch of road the next day, and I did so with apprehension, but I also let drivers know quite demonstrably that they better not get too close to me.


Indiana, on the other hand, I would give high marks for the friendly riding conditions and smooth paved surfaces of their secondary and country roads. Coupled with the Hoosier gently rolling and verdant farmlands, the sunny skies, cool temps, and favorable winds, Indiana was this cyclist’s joy to traverse.


In Fort Wayne I was able to put in my 19th volunteer day of the journey with their Habitat For Humanity affiliate, and as always, it was a good day with a small crew doing some ceiling painting in a wonderful community of Habitat built homes called Fullers Landing. And that’s part of the philosophy behind Habitat - building not just a home, but also a community. Fort Wayne’s CBS affiliate WANE Channel 15 came out to do a nice spot, and here’s the link to that report if you are interested: http://wane.com/2017/08/11/cyclist-stops-in-fort-wayne-on-12k-mile-charity-ride/


I’m taking a rest day at my Nephew’s home here in Fort Wayne - which I haven’t done for quite a while - before I begin the two day ride to Toledo, and the end of my mission for Habitat For Humanity and Save The Children.


I’ll be leaving tomorrow on Sunday morning and either camp or motel it around Defiance, OH, and then mount up for the final time on Monday, and roll into Toledo sometime Monday afternoon.


As I’ve already had one homecoming, not planning anything grand. But I’ll just say that maybe I’ll bicycle right over to Buffalo Wild Wings at Central and McCord which is near my house, and grab a tall, cool one. And if you are in the area, stop by and join me for some form of liquid sustenance.


So . . . for one final time from the Road, I will say that . . . I am Proceeding On.

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