Paper Restaurant

My daughter is a big fan of John Green, an author of young adult novels. He lives in Indianapolis where she went to college. Green’s most well known book is The Fault in Our Stars which was made into a pretty good movie a few years ago.

My daughter liked his books so much that I started reading them. One of his books is Paper Towns, which introduced me to the mapmaker’s concept of a paper town. A mapmaker will put a nonexistent town on his map as a marker for copywrite infringement. It makes the case against a plagiarist easy to prove. I often see this same thing in print when an obvious stray word or misspelling is used. Perhaps this is done so that scanning software used in academia can detect a cheater.

Tonight I was goofing around with Google Maps when I stumbled upon a paper restaurant. The restaurant is The Abyss and it is located outdoors behind our local elementary school. Using street view one can clearly tell that the restaurant is located where some swing sets are.

The Google Map entry even includes several customer reviews. Many of the reviewers’ names are comical (Dippy, Alden’s Got a Dumpy, for two). All but one of the reviews are 5 stars.

As you can see from the screenshot, the “restaurant” is between the school and some tennis courts. The entire surrounding area is suburban neighborhood.

Maybe someday I’ll ride over and have a paper meal.


Lord knows as someone who had ridden the 50 States Ride 13 times, I love a good gimmick. Me and my 650 states can’t hold a candle to the accomplishment of Lynn Salvo.

I first heard about Lynn from a blog reader during one of my tours. She was riding her bike across Canada. It had something to do with a peace sign.

Lynn who is six years older than me rode the Southern Tier route from San Diego to Saint Augustine in 2015. It was her first big tour. She was, by my math, 66 years old. A couple of years later she came up with a crazy idea. Why not trace out a peace sign with her bike tours. Across Canada and up and down both coasts would be the circle, with a dove’s foot down the center of the US from Canada to Wichita and then on to intersect her Southern Tier route to the south, southeast, and southwest.

The peace sign project is a labor of love. Lynn’s older brother John died when his plane crashed in Laos during the Vietnam War.

Reading about the recently completed, last leg of her peace sign down the west coast of the US blew me away. She’s 72 years old and that route sounded HARD. So many hills. So much wind. She even rode her bike on the bridge between Washington State and Astoria Oregon. When I reached Astoria in 2018, I took one look at that sucker and said “No way!” Aside from the fact that it’s a brutal climb, it’s a two-lane highway with no shoulder and the cross winds are insane.

And then there was that mountainous wildfire detour she had to take along the coast of central California. Eek.

14,500 miles over six years.


I lifted this map from her blog. I’m pretty sure she won’t mind.

If you can get past the firewall, here is a Washington Post story about her.

Congratulations; Lynn.


My rides around the DC area involve passing three golf courses. As any duffer will tell you, balls that are abandoned in the weeds beyond the course are fair game. Finders keepers and all that. I have made a habit of picking up golf balls when I spot them on the side of the road. When I get back home, I toss the balls into a cloth bag and forget about them,

Yesterday I rode on Fort Hunt Road for the first time in a few weeks. The road surface has been milled for repaving. This makes for bad riding (especially if you manage to hit an exposed manhole cover). Not having ridden by Belle Haven Country Club, there was an unusual bounty of balls along the road. I passed on the first one I saw because it was in an intersection. Then I saw another, and another, and another….eleven in all. I felt like turning towards the golf course on the opposite side of the road and yelling, “Hold your fire!!!”

The eleven was a sort of personal record for a single ride. I normally find multiple balls in the spring when the ground is hard and the golfers are rusty. Yesterday’s haul may be evidence that the pandemic has caused a secondary pandemic of lousy golfers.

In any case, I decided to empty the bag and see how many balls I have found this year.

123 and counting

Restored – Grand Staircase – Escalante and Bears Ears

My 2019 tour took me through some breathtaking scenery in central Utah. One of the highlights was a hair raising ride through Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument. The day before I had ridden just south of Bears Ears National Monument. The pictures I took don’t begin to do this area of Utah justice, of course. It is beautiful but harsh terrain.

I took a break in Grand Staircase at a highway overlook. I was standing at a railing taking in the sights when a van pulled up behind me. A little old lady (I’d guess she was 80, at least) carefully stepped out of the van. She looked out at the landscape with an expression of awe on her face. “This is so beautiful!” she said to me.

She was wearing a MAGA cap. She had no idea her beloved president had recently downsized the two monuments to 228,000 acres from it’s previous size of 3 million acres.

National Monuments can be created by executive order. And executive orders are modified at the will of the president in power. Thus, the size of these monuments was reduced. Today, the White House announced that the two monuments would be restored to more than 3 million acres. I don’t know if the MAGA lady is still alive, but I wonder if she has the slightest idea that any of this happened.

As for me, I am thrilled. This area of the country has a surreal beauty that just blew me away. To think that it would be open to development and artifact hunters was really depressing. We owe the preservation of these lands to our descendants.