With no breakfast bar in our hotel, and not wanting to grab a boring pack of peanut butter crackers from the car, I decided to take a dollar bill along on a recent run in Wabash, Ind., thinking I’d make a pit stop at a donut shop I’d seen marked on a local tourism map.
We’d been on an old-fashioned meandering “Sunday drive” of a road trip, ostensibly scouting out material for a regional travel feature I write periodically. Bob was amused contemplating the oddball stuff you come across in small towns – a giant fiberglass Indian standing guard over a defunct business, a collection of vintage riding lawn mowers lined up in some old fart’s yard – but I was having trouble staying in the moment, fretting about how, without smartphones, we were driving blind, possibly missing much more interesting things that we didn’t know existed.
Determined to have a more structured exploration on Day Two, I got on my laptop and found a 4-mile mapmyrun route that took me along the Wabash River. Conveniently, I’d pass the local donut shop twice, heading out and coming back. But with only a single dollar bill in my possession, I knew I couldn’t go overboard.
I was curious how this Wabash River Greenway would compare to the one I usually run along the same river 40 miles east in Bluffton. I was also anticipating that donut. But before long I found myself at the river without ever having spotted the donut shop. Hmm. Maybe it wasn’t quite where I thought it was. Oh well, I’d just track it down on the way back. If I had to run a bit out of my way to find it, that would just make for a better run.
This section of rivergreenway was in a more industrial part of town, opposite the city water treatment plant. But the river itself was wider and more interesting than what I was used to. I was curious to see what the bridge on this route looked like. The answer was: a hilly one. Not only did the bridge cross the river at an upward angle, but the road on the other side climbed a much steeper, longer hill than any on our “hill training route” back home. I made myself jog all the way up, remembering to lean forward and take short steps.
I wasn’t entirely sure of the route on the other side of the river, so here’s where I allowed myself to explore. There wasn’t anything terribly exciting, just some neighborhoods that had seen better days. But it’s always nice to give your eyeballs something new to see, even if it’s not necessarily scenic.
Finally I swung around and headed back, glad this time to be hitting the bridge on the downhill. I wondered if I should take the same streets back, presuming I simply overlooked the donut shop, or take a different street, in case I misjudged which road it was on. In the end, I did both. But the donut shop was nowhere to be found. Disappointed, I headed back to the hotel, where I later learned the donut shop had gone out of business.
In the long run, missing breakfast that morning turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I’d just been talking with a local dietitian for a “travel diet tips” column about how important it is to plan your eating schedule when you’re on vacation. But Bob and I hadn’t yet discussed our dining plans; he was still asleep when I headed out for my run. If I’d gotten an unscheduled donut, that would’ve used up my “fun” calories for the day.
Instead, we wound up having lunch at a funky cajun place in the neighboring town of Peru. When I asked the bartender if had anything “halfway local” on tap, it turned out that he’d just received a delivery of a new regional brew – via bicycle.
He told us what he knew of the expedition of Keg Bike 1, a customized cargo bike with a built-in bar that stopped by during a 170-mile journey to an Indianapolis craft brew festival. Then when we got back home I tracked down the owner of the Goshen Brewing Company who instigated the trip, as well as the guy at Winona Bike Works who dreamed up that beast of a vehicle. It was quite the adventure tale, which you can read about here in today’s Adventures in Food and Fitness column. They also made a short video which you can check out here.
And I never would’ve heard any of it, or met a bunch of interesting people along the way, if I’d had that donut.