Written by James Reilly
On Saturday morning, June 4th, our group was greeted with slightly cool temperatures. As I looked upward from the parking lot at Homestead High School, gray clouds hung overhead, with small pockets of blue sky far off in the west. This weather was actually perfect for biking, we told ourselves. There was no need for sunscreen and the cool temps would help keep the riders cool.
We stood beside the support vehicle (which was loaded with camping gear) and watched as the riders headed down Homestead Rd, and disappeared from sight. I would normally have been riding with them, but I had recently been diagnosed with a hernia, so biking long distances was not recommended. I brought my son, Sean, along hoping he would have some fun camping (and would also help load and unload the vehicle).
Those of us manning the support vehicle killed some time at Starbucks then headed south as well. We met up with the group at the Crossroads Pantry convenience store in Markel. The group had stuck together and seemed to be enjoying the ride. The rain was holding off.
Our next stop was the KOA campground in Bluffton. When the group arrived we unloaded the camping gear then went to Pizza Hut for lunch. While at the restaurant, the sky finally let loose, and we watched the rain pour down the windows.
After returning to the campground, we all took up positions on the front porch of Jennifer & Brad’s cabin, protected from the rain. Fortunately, as evening approached, the rain gracefully exited to the east. Several of the tents were put happily in place and the two Copeland children enjoyed a dip in the pool. The KOA had given us the use of a pavilion right near our tents, and all eleven of us sat at picnic tables there for a pot-luck dinner featuring chips & homemade salsa provided by the Soures family, and brats and hot dogs provided by the Copeland family. For desert, Susan Hunt had provided us with an ample supply of homemade oatmeal cookies.
Later that evening, while the kids cooked hot dogs over the fire, Charles Copeland dropped by for a short visit.
Apparently, I had stressed myself a little too much by lifting and carrying a cooler. The pain must have been written all over my face because the other campers seemed concerned. Jennifer and Brad offered my son and I the spare room in their cabin. I wasn’t sure I could set up our tent, so we did the smart thing and accepted. My son was very grateful too. I fell asleep the instant my head hit my make-shift pillow and slept like a rock all night long.
In the morning, singing birds heralded the arrival of a beautiful new day. With smiles all around, our well-rested group biked into town for breakfast at the Indiana Pancake House. Afterward, the group began their trek back to Ft. Wayne, taking with them wonderful memories of this adventure. I don’t think they were all aware of this, but they had just participated in the National Bike Travel Weekend.