Day 12 & 13: Pride of Columbus

The day started like most of the camping days for me… I groggily wake up and get to breaking down camp. Tim was awake in the neighboring unit and offered me a cup of coffee. I joined him and we made brief conversation. He offered to make me breakfast but I declined, the sun was already getting high in the sky and I knew that if I didn’t leave soon I would probably end up staying for a longer than I should and risking a nighttime ride.

I got some good miles in before breakfast and ended up stopping for an early lunch in a town called Granville, Ohio. This is, by far, the most preppy town I have ever seen. It is like somebody modelled a town after the movie “Clueless”. When you ride into the town you see a mansion on your right that hosts the “Granville Polo Club”. Most of the women I saw in town had light sweaters tied around their necks and the men wore khaki shorts, polo shirts, and an excessive amount of hair product. It was crazy to think that a few hours earlier I was drinking Bud heavy with a trucker, a campground manager, and a guy named “Redneck”. I was covered in sweat, dirt, and grime… and I really stood out.

I hit the road with little happening worth describing on the road to Columbus. I arrived at the home of George and Jim, the two hosts for my couchsurfing in town. They had a lovely home that Jim had put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into. He was proud of his work as he should be, it was impressive all the home improvements and modifications he put into it over the years to make it a home. I showered quickly and we all headed off to the opening night of the Columbus Pride festival at a local park.

The crowd was light the first night but the music was good and I got an opportunity to meet some of the local couch surfers. A group of us went out for food and we had some drinks, laughs, and in-depth conversations about relationships. I crashed pretty early that night and slept well, in fact I got a late start and decided to stay an extra day in Columbus for a variety of reasons. I’m glad I did.

The second day of the Pride Festival was a lot of fun. With the theme “Allies and Equality” I felt welcomed as a straight male. It is hard to tell someone’s sexuality by their appearance but if we are to believe stereotypes there were not a lot of straight males in attendance. I had a lot of fun and met some great people while there. We drank, we sang, we watched music, and talked, I met more couch surfers and felt very welcomed into the community. There was even a beautiful, straight girl there who seemed really cool but I was too tipsy at one point and too tired at another to really flirt or talk. Maybe in another life.

When it was all over we went out again for a quick drink and food but it was obvious that people were exhausted. All day in the sun can really wear on you (or at least it did me) and I knew I had a long day of riding the next day.

Staying with Jim and George was an amazing experience. They are two of the most genuine and caring people I have ever met. There love for each other is obvious to anyone who has met them and includes the type of affection, patience, and completion that many people spend their whole lives looking for. They compliment each other in all the right ways and in my mind they embody a theme I am starting to see develop on my ride: people are genuinely good and care about each other.

Maybe it was the military, maybe it was too many years in DC, but it has become difficult for me to see the love and kindness in the world. I talk a lot about positive thinking and good people but much of this is me trying to remind and convince myself. I think that is the main reason why I loved going to LA, it was a place where I was surrounded by good people who love and care for each other. My eyes are starting to be opened to that love again and I am ever thankful to Jim, George, the men at the camp, Dave, Laura, and all the other great people I have encountered so far.

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