Thursday, 13 November 2008

Bloomington – Floyd's Knobs (November 12)

Day 59

Rained all freakin' day. As a perennial cyclist and non-car owner, I don't mind the rain. It's not so nice going from a warm, cosy home into a wet, damp environment, but once you're wet, you're wet. It was autumnal rain, with autumnal light and autumnal scents released into the air. The countryside was pretty and wood fires were burning. It was particularly attractive in the Hoosier National Forest, where I crossed a lake on a causeway. Indiana is 'The Hoosier State' and the origin of this word is unknown, although it could be a garbled way of saying “Who's there?” When someone comes a knocking. It was hard work today, not because of the rain; because of the hills, the headwind and because there was 99 miles of them. A lot of dogs have chased me on this trip, but none more than today. A boxer sped past me a couple of times and then ran at me sideways. Also a black lab ran alongside me for a few hundred yards before giving up the sport. Cars are more dangerous adversaries of course, especially in the rush hour on a dark, wet and busy highway, as was the case today approaching Louisville.

Tonight's Pixie Pit combatant came out to meet me at a gas station and escorted me back to his place in the delightfully named Floyds Knobs, on the Indiana side of the Ohio River, the other side of which lies the fair-sized city of Louisville in Kentucky – hence the traffic. Rex, a doctor specializing in difficult births, lived with his wife, Marsha, a pensions administrator, in a plush house stuffed to the gills with sumptuous furniture and furnishings, including a huge Persian carpet and fake trees in the living room. For my money the finest achievement was the basement bar, with its glass and marble curved counter, and vast array of alcoholic tipples. Of course I would walk all over their cream carpet in my muddy overshoes wouldn't I? Food first, in the form of a Creole shrimp dish with rice and a cake made from locally grown persimmon fruit (this was squashy and delicious). Later I road-tested Indiana red wine and a couple of bourbons (which can only be made in Kentucky to be given this name).

Scrabble next and a thrilling best of three. I won the first one comfortably, when accruing both blanks gave rise to the only bingos (GUSTIER & CARTINGS – which turned out to be invalid but remained unchallenged). Rex won game two with MISLAID, yet I did have my chances with NEEDIEST. I had the rather nice AURORAE on my rack but couldn't play it. I did, however, play the misspelled DETERING and Rex spotted it. The third game was neck and neck after Rex's SASSIER and my ALIENATE. Right at the end I pulled SURLIER out of the bag and somehow managed to squeeze it in to assure victory.

The next day, once again my hosts surpassed themselves in the breakfast and routing stakes. Rex printed out a whole host of maps and even suggested we meet for lunch, as he had business in Cincinnati.

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