Day 1: June 19, 2015
A Wet Start

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I left home a little after 8:00, quickly pulled onto I-71, and had this for a view for most of the morning.

I had no specific route planned for the day but only knew that I wanted to get to Kalamazoo, Michigan. I let Garmin be my guide -- mostly. Garmin would have taken me off I-71 a little south of Lima. When I realized that I would be getting pretty close, I decided that Kewpee Hamburgers in downtown Lima would be just the spot to take care of my growing hunger. The few crackers and the mug of iced tea I'd downed while driving weren't quite doing it. I punched the Kewpee location into the GPS and it directed off an exit just south of Lima. Traffic had slowed to a crawl as I approached the exit and as turned at the end of the ramp I could seen long lines of stopped semis trailing off into the distance. Saved by a Kewpee craving. Got to see a little Dixie Highway, too.

I reached the restaurant a few minutes after 10:30 which must be the breakfast cutoff time. There was one "omelet" left. A Kewpee omelet is a scrambled egg disk which can be combined with assorted items in a sandwich. I tried to include the kewpee doll in the corner in the photo of my sausage and cheese omelet but it just didn't work out. It is, however, in one of the pictures from my 2011 visit. A question left open in 2011 was answered today when I heard some talk about the men's restroom being outside. I didn't check it out, though. When I did go outside, I ducked under a tree across the street for a quick picture.

After I'd realized that Garmin was taking me near Lima, I studied the proposed route a little closer and saw that I would be passing within a few miles of a friend's house near Fort Wayne, Indiana. I gave him a call before I left the Kewpee lot. He wouldn't be home when I passed but would be in Fort Wayne itself. To get there, I only had to deviate a little from Garmin's plans for me and this time I got to see a little Lincoln Highway.

I found Dale -- and a lot of bicycles -- behind that door. Dale has shown up on this site before, perhaps most notably in the 2009 Indiana LH adventure. He has always been mechanically inclined and he's always been a cyclist including ongoing outings with his adult children. The combination leads naturally, or perhaps necessarily, to him being something of a bicycle mechanic. He has also always been a caring and giving person and all of that comes together on Friday mornings when he and Michael Brown, one of the Mission Church at Fort Wayne's co-pastors, open a free bike repair shop in a section of the church building at 1651 Cass Street. That's Michael on the left and Dale on the right in the fourth photo. I guess I didn't really need to even take that picture because there's a pretty good sketch of the pair, drawn by one of their "customers", on that banner in the last picture. It can be seen a little better here. If you're near Fort Wayne with bikes, parts, or skills to donate, give 'em a shout.

After closing the shop, Dale and I headed over to the nearby Cindy's Diner. Just about a year ago, the fifteen seat Valentine was moved about a block because of new construction and this was the first either of us had been inside since the move. Cindy's is known for a combination of eggs, potatoes, cheese, onions and ham called "garbage". I was still fairly full from my Kewpee stop so I ordered only a grilled cheese sandwich. Three people next to us were having "garbage" and I, realizing that it would make a much better picture than my sandwich, asked if I could take a photo. Possibly because they feared what this crazy guy from Ohio might do next, they obliged. As it turned out, Dale ordered "garbage" and I've used a picture of his meal rather than that of our cooperative neighbors. From Cindy's we stopped at the nearby animated (slices fall from the loaf onto the plate) bread sign then drove by some of the flooded parts of Fort Wayne. Dale told me that, had I stayed with Garmin's original path up US-33, I'd have had several detours because of flooded sections.

As soon as I got onto I-69, traffic almost stopped. Evening indicated an accident in the right hand lanes and a police cruiser soon rolled by on right shoulder. I guess it was an accident of sorts. the cruiser took up a position to guide people into the leftmost lane and away from the mud fill right lane. I don't really know what happened so I've concocted my own story. My guess is that the truck was hauling flood deposited mud from somewhere when the tailgate became unlatched and started redepositing the mud on the expressway. I figure that the odds are about even on whether the guy with the shovel is planning on returning that pile to the truck bed or spreading it around so it blends in with the rest.

In Kalamazoo, I made my way to Eccentric Cafe at Bell's Brewery. Bells's started in 1985. The third photo is of a sort of buffer zone between the cafe and the patio. Both are impressive. The outside area is much more than a simple patio. There is a large area paved area with wooden picnic tables but there is also a big grassy area and a small stage. Several of Bell's beers are served only here (I had LeContrabassiste & Downtowner Pale) and the food selections are a bit, well, eccentric. Beer, food, and atmosphere are all good.

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