I arrived at my campsite in Big Foot Beach Park and Campground, and had unloaded a few things. I stopped for moment to check my phone for messages. I found that I'd missed a text and phone call from A.M., the first Warm Showers host to get back to me ever. She lived about 5 more miles away from the campground, but another 300 feet in elevation as well. I weighed whether I should just rest and perhaps stay with her the following night, but then my good sense got the better of me. I called her, and after a brief conversation I repacked the bike and headed north out of the campground; by way of an exit only visible from the satellite view on Google Maps. About 30 minutes and much huffing and puffing later, I pulled into my host's driveway and was greeted by A.M. and her dog.
She and her pooch showed me around and down to the back of the house, where the pup promptly chased off two Sandhill cranes that were feeding on seeds dropped from her feeders above on the rear patio. (as I'm writing this the following day, the cranes have reappeared.) She insisted I walk my bike inside the lower level, and immediately showed me the private room and bathroom I would enjoy during my visit.
On the upper level we promptly got to talking about cycling and touring, and she served me a cold beer and glass of ice water. Having gone from Chicago to Milwaukee then Lake Geneva and planning to reach New Orleans, and apparently having a "slight drawl" as she put it, she thought I might be from the south and had a six pack of only-available-in-Wisconsin Spotted Cow for me; which I happily enjoyed. She told me about recently meeting cycling legend Jens Voight while volunteering at the recent Ride Across Wisconsin, and showed me the selfie the apparently jovial cyclist insisted they take together. After finishing my beer and water, I excused myself to the lower level and took a delightful shower, and changed into clean clothes. I set my charge-needing things to charging and found my host back in the kitchen preparing a meal of pasta and chicken sausage with tomato sauce. We feasted on her enclosed patio overlooking a lush valley, with sheep farm and Lake Como in the distance.
Since my visit was somewhat last minute, my host left promptly after our meal to join friends she already had plans with. Finding myself alone in a strangers house, I promptly did what any cycling tourist would do: go lay down and rest! While keeping an ear out for the dog's bark in case she needed to go out.
Having been undisturbed by the dog, who apparently let herself out, I came to when my host arrived. Climbed the stairs to greet her and say my thanks once more. Then I promptly went to back down, and to sleep.
This morning my host was gone early, but she had expressly insisted that I make myself at home. I found coffee and breakfast where she had showed me the night before, and threw in a load of laundry. The note she left for me detailed how to get to the bike shop we'd discussed, as well as a nearby UPS store and good eats in Lake Geneva. I've been tapping out this post and photographing the cranes while my laundry finished. I've folded it and cleared my bike of all my stuff in order to venture into town. Then, a few minutes ago, I got an email saying a volunteer position has been reserved for me to help in Houston after Hurricane Harvey.
The timing of hurricane season, and Harvey specifically, was not something I'd considered when I initially planned this sabbatical and bicycle tour. The opportunity to make a real difference with my time and energy was too great to ignore given the time off I now have. I applied to volunteer knowing full well I'd have to postpone my bicycle trip for at least a week or two, if not longer.
It's now a few hours later on the 14th and my mind is made up. I'm definitely going. I fly into Houston on September 19th, volunteer through October 1st, and then fly home on the 2nd. I'm getting a uhaul in Lake Geneva tomorrow and will be back in Chicago tomorrow evening.
This bicycle tour is not over. Simply postponed!
Here we go!