Thursday, June 9, 2011

June 8-- Hot Time in the City (Defiance to Bowling Green, Ohio)

Another scorching day on the bike, but it was a short day--only  48 miles--so we had plenty of time to go slowly and enjoy the ride and surroundings. 

Today's ride took us down a towpath that was part of the canal system through out Ohio.  The canal followed the Maumee River; the canal was on oneside of the towpath, and the Maumee Rivier was on the other. We just couldn't figure out why they would need a canal when the river was wide, deep and with a good current.  Why not just use the river instead of having mules pull the canal boats?  As we puzzled over this, we stopped an older gentleman walking down the towpath and posed that question to him.  He looked at us as if we were half-baked (and we were, literally, in that heat!) and realizing we were serious in our query,  he answered.....
"Once the boats get down the river, how are they going to get back up? That's what them canals are for--gettin back up here"  Things that make you go "hmmm'....enough so, that I decided to look it up.

In a nutshell, in 1825, building the canals provided the quickest and cheapest way to get farming goods to the Ohio River and to market.  Prior to the canals, the only available method of transport was with horse drawn wagons on washed out, unreliable roads. Compared to that, the canals were a godsend and played an important role in the economical development of Ohio. They were used successfully until the railroads entered the picture in 1855, and pretty much made the system obsolete; at that time, it was more profitable to sell the water from the canals to businesses and industry than to actually transport goods.
From Wikipedia
I don't really know why one was built beside a viable river; perhaps the river was too unreliable, or too hard to navigate.  It did, however, provide a constant water source to this portion of the canal system.  Other canals relied on man-made lakes, such as St Mary's, Indian and Buckeye lakes, to keep them full during dry spells.  You can read more about the Ohio canal system here:

It was a pretty ride, and provided shade as well as a nice change from riding on roads.

As we popped out on to the road from the trail, our cue sheet said, turn left and go over the bridge; once again we stood there in discussion about which way to go....the bridge was clearly to the right!  Do we go right and go over the bridge, or left as the cue sheet instructs?  After a few minutes discussion, I noticed that to our left, the direction we were instructed to go, there was also a bridge.... how could we have not seen that....and better yet, we knew the river was to our right and the canal was to our left, both requiring a bridge to cross; how could we have not realized that when we had just been sandwiched between them for the last 8 miles?  Things that make you go 'hmmmm'.  Clearly, we were out to lunch, so that is exactly where we went!

Less than two miles away was the delightful little town of Grand Rapids, Ohio, population 1000.  It is situated right on the canal, and the Maumee River and surprisingly had a very nice restaurant, LaRoe's. The interior had just been redone because an elderly man had driven through the front and into a good portion of it in 2010
Bumper from the car that crashed into the front portion of LaRoe's
In repairing and renovating from the damage, a local artist did extensive faux and trompe l'oeil paintings on the walls and mirrors--even the bathroom and patio!  It was very cool--an elegant and unexpected find!

I don't think that Carol realizes the waiter isn't going to share his wine.
I had a wonderful BLT sandwich, though I was quite tempted to order a fried balogna sandwich, which I think is the official state sandwich.  The only time I have ever seen this sandwich on a menu has been in Ohio.

The rest of the ride was uneventful--well, almost.  We managed to miss another turn, and pedaled about 5 miles before catching the mistake.  Looking to my left, I saw a sign for 65 North and noticed on the cue sheet that we would be travelling on 65 South eventually. I suggested that we turn right on it instead of backtracking in a headwind to catch the missed right turn.  Everyone looked left at the sign I was pointing to, 65 North, and one person said, "But the cue sheets says to go on 65 South", to which I replied, "then we'll just go in the opposite direction.....which will be south."  Things that make you go 'hmm'.

We arrived in Bowling Green without further ado, and as the town's bank thermometer registered 108 degrees, we stopped at the local bike shop and supported the economy.  All in all, a very enjoyable day.
Patio at LaRoe's overlooking both the canal and the river
Happy locals in Grand Rapids, Ohio
Maumee River dam
Lea Adams speeding down the towpath
Campbell's Soup factory, Napoleon, Ohio
Sad house....what stories could it tell?
Lunch break.....notice the fancy lock.


  1. HI SUE, finally looking at your blog as I wait for my laundry to be done...only a few hours since ya'all left and I am soooo was too much fun, and I loved the great laughs we had, and adventures along the way.

  2. We miss you already! I kept looking around for you and expecting to hear you laugh. We have more fun and adventure in front of us. You and Kathy better be ready to plan a ride for us Yanks in the Down Under!