Sunday, May 31, 2009

May 21

This morning I was doing a little better and feeling tough enough to try and blast through the desert towards Gallup. About 10 miles in I realized how bad of an idea that was. I was lucky enough to find a gas station the first time the diarrhea hit and thought I could easily find another if it hit again. I was not so lucky, I was unlucky over and over again, desert shrubbery and wash underpasses on 491 were the most comforting things I could find.

I passed over the New Mexico border but wasn't in the mood to embrace it or soak in the mesa's. My plan was to hopefully find a motel in Shiprock. No motel would mean camping out in the desert and hoping tomorrow is a better day. On my way in to town a Navajo kid in a slick looking Pontiac stopped me and asked what was up? I told him about my trip explained my health and asked if there ia a motel in town. He said that the closest motel would be in Gallup, then offered me a place to stay. I was thrilled Navajo Tony is a good guy.

Tony drove back to his trailer and I followed behind him. He just got out of the marines and is staying in Shiprock with his mom. Very nice place. Tony said he had to go but would be back later, He said he would speak with his mom and ensured she would be fine with this. He kept telling me how they are Mormon and they are all about helping people.

I went to sleep in an empty bedroom tony said I could use, It was about noon. I woke up around seven o'clock from an angry knock on the door, It was getting dark and storming hard outside. Tony barged surly and drunk. He said "If you got a reason to be here then that's fine, If not then get the fuck out." Then shut the door and passed out on the living room couch. I still don't get it, why did he do that?

I decided to take my chances and stay, I didn't really have anywhere else to go, except camp out in the rainy desert. I called Dana and got some unbelievable news, they were farther than expected. they were already in Albuquerque. After explaining the situation they were more than willing to come get me. It wouldn't be for another four hours. They stopped in a Walmart in Gallup to get a bike rack for the car, then we just have to hope everything fit.

An awkward and uncomfortable wait until Dana and her mom arrived, the rain was still coming down hard. They finally called around eleven and luckily by that time Tony's mom had come home. I was thrilled to learn that she was a happy drunk. She grabbed the phone from my hands and started rattling of complicated directions. She then ran out into the street with my phone and a flashlight to wave them down.

She was gone for longer than expected then I see her parading around the corner with Dana and her mom following slowly behind.

I wasn't ready for the trip to end, I was ready for that situation to end but it took me a while to realize that it would also mean the end of my journey. I was glad to see Dana.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

May 20

I can't imagine what this would be like if I was camping out in the desert.

I feel like hell. Anything I eat I throw up, I was up all night with retched vomit and awful diarrhea. Cold sweats, I'm dehydrated, I physically can not ride today. Jake offered me to stay another night, I would be crazy not to take him up on that.

I want to hit the road tomorrow, Dana and her mom decided to leave for Show Low today instead of tomorrow. If I could muscle my way to Gallup by Friday I wouldn't feel bad having her rescue me from there. This is a huge blow to morale, at this point I just want the trip to be over. Unfortunately the hardest riding I will see begins tommorow, Its through the barren Navajo Nation from here to Show Low.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

May 19

I woke up early and about an hour later a National Forest representative approached me. He explained that if the gate is locked and a campsite is closed it is illegal to camp in it. He told me that I need to leave IMMEDIATELY. I said ok... and I left.

I got to the top of lizard head pass and then it was all downhill to Dolores. Not much happened, I ran into yet another cyclist, Dave. Straight out of the Navy he is riding across the country. I let him know all the great places to stay, the hostel, the hunting lodge. He couldn't be of much help since I will be off the trail very soon now.

I got to Dolores no problem, It was still pretty early. I stopped at a gas station and picked up a map of new Mexico. I visited the Dolores public library to do some last minute research on a route to Arizona. I decided to ride south through New Mexico on 491. I'll be going through the Navajo reservation.

I went ahead and kept on pedaling past Dolores to Cortez, now I won't have the trans america maps anymore, It was a little unsettling having no idea where I'll be sleeping. These reservations are pretty barren, I will see nothing between Cortez and Gallup, just the lone gas station here and there and towns with nothing more than trailers and RV's.

In Cortez I found a bicycle shop, Kokopelli Bike and Board, very nice shop. I decided to have my rear wheel trued. I spoke with the fellas there for a while and asked about whats to come through new mexico, They told me the rought I have planned out sounds good. It seems most people going to phoenix go straight through four corners to Arizona then through flagstaff. Since I want to make it to Show Low first I'll be going down south into New Mexico.
They're Jumping

My bike shop friends diddn't even charge me to true the wheel and then on my way out one of the employees, Jake, said I could stay with him. He lives in an apartment near the shop. I hung out and checked out all the merchandise untill Jake got off. They sell salsa bikes I kept playing with a very cool singlespeed salsa casseroll.

When Jake got off we went back to his apartment and his lady Kaila and their friend Chuckles stopped by. We all went out to eat at a local resturant/brewery. I had a lovely IPA and some fish, Chuckles also works at the shop so there was a lot of bike talk going on. Jakes dad used to have a Schwinn Voyageur SP, so he was very excited about my bike.

Back at Jakes apartment I started to feel a little off. Something wasn't sitting right. I ended up rejecting the fish and IPA and turning in early for the night.

Mileage: 67

Total: 1780

May 18

We got up early, strapped the Voyageur on top of the mini cooper and shoved the 520 in back. Those things are roomy, With three fella's and two fully loaded touring bikes it was very comfortable.

Breakfast in Gunnison, very nice, This will be our last breakfast. Very emotional. There are aspects of being alone that I have missed, but having someone to ride with has made the trip much easier.

I was dropped off in Montrose about 12:00. This is the latest I have set out on a ride. Loneliest ride of the trip. Just passed Colona I saw a trio of older gentlemen on my right with their bikes leaned up against a four door pickup. They fed me lunch and I let them know whats to come. I'll be off the trail by the end of tomorrow so there isn't much they can let me know about.
Check out their blog

Just passed Ridgeway I passed another cyclist, Sean, Big dude, mountain biker. This guy is doing 90 mile days, he is a maniac. He told me about a bear that roamed into his campsite last night. He said I should get my hands on some pepper spray, luckily I keep a can in my handlebar bag. Sean told me about this guy Dale that I'll be running into. He is some crazy dude that has been biking around the west for the past five months.

I climbed the Dallas divide, 8,970 ft, It was a bump in the road compared to Monarch. Then I carried on easily to placerville, all down hill. on the way down I could see what looked like a bunch of junk crawling up the mountain. It was Dale.

I stopped and talked for a while, this guy started out with nothing but his bike and he said he has aquired everything over the course of his travels. Even the two dogs Sadie May and Chloie. for the past five months he's just been roaming. He was walking up the pass, with his load he has to walk up almost every incline, but he's in no hurry. He's been to Vegas, Phoenix, up and down the western coast, he had a whole list of places written on his covered wagon, it went on and on. This guy is on a real adventure, or he might just be a crazy homless dude, you tell me.

I chugged along late into the day, I had a campsite in mind in the national forests just past Telluride. I wasn't paying much attention to elevation, I knew there was another pass coming up but I didn't't realize I was halfway up it untill I got to my home for the night. It was almost 8:00 and getting dark when I arrived but there were signs posted that the campsite is closed. I figured I would be better of just camping here rather trying to find a spot up the road.

I set up and made a backpacker's pantry dried meal that Paul and Rebecca gave me before I left Elmwood Park. I had been holding on to them for an emergency but I decided to dig in. I just added boiling water and then enjoyed a delicious helping of organic tofu pesto pasta. Thanks Paul and Rebecca.

I called my brother and talked to him for a while, He informed me that Timi, my longtime childhood friend and neighbor in Elmwood Park was looking to buy a touring bike. This is exciting. I gave Timi a call and left him a message about how I am extatic to see one of my closest friends is getting interested in this type of adventure. It is a big investment, the bike and all the gear, thats what usually holds people back. I would love for him to get involved in this, Especially after riding with Tyler this sort of thing would be awesome to do with one of my friends from home. It doesn't even have to be a 30 day trek to phoenix, a week long tour or even a weekend excursion would be tons of fun. Get the touring bike Timi, lets ride around Lake Michigan this summer.

Mileage:69+66 boost

Total: 1713

May 17

The big guy looks like he's going to need another day, I'm not excited about this. Knowing Dana is going to be in show low on the 22nd I want to get to Show Low on the 22nd. I miss Dana, I don't want to have to wait another day to see her.

I was thinking about going on without Tyler, we would only be riding together for 3 more days to Dolores anyways. I decided not to do that, How would I feel if he left without me, that wouldn't be cool.

Some good news came when Will's friend Chris, who had been visiting from Salt Lake City for the weekend heard Tyler and I talking about possibly staying another night. Chris is leaving tomorrow and he offered to give us a little boost. Some bad news also came with this boost. Tyler is on a bit of a tight schedule, he has a job that starts the 15 of June. The trans america route is not exactly the most direct when it comes to getting to San Fransisco, it is more of a scenic route. Montrose is the next town west of Gunnison, That is where my boost ends. In Montrose the route cuts south towards Dolores, this is perfect for someone heading to Phoenix. It would be silly to cut south if the destination is SanFrancisco, especially if time is a factor. Tyler and Chris will continue west towards Salt Lake City and San Francisco after dropping me off in Montrose. Chris will then drop Tyler off somewhere south of Salt Lake on route to San Fran. But Before all of that We gotta go out and shoot some guns.

Any negative feelings I may have seemed to have towards trap shooting in my last post I would like to take back. That shit is fun and I'm pretty damn good at it.

Thats me on top and Chris and Tyler on the bottom. Note the snow.

May 16

Day off today, Hanging out with the Kids from Crested Butte. I woke up relatively early, 9:00 and walked around town a bit. Last night it was dark when we arrived but now I got a real feel for it. Crested butte is a secluded mountain town, it's very bizarre. That's the best way to put it. It's perfect, everyone rides bicycles to get around, the speed limits are 15 everywhere, no one works, just hunt and fish all day then drink all night. It's a ski town but now they're in the off season, In season people will ski day and drink all night. That's really why they're here, to ski. The hunting and fishing is just to hold them over until next season.

This is the most beautiful town we have been in but I can't wait to leave. I don't like it here, it's just bizarre it makes me feel uncomfortable. I miss the boys of sugar creek, there are no video games, graphic novels or Monday night raw in Crested Butte just outdoor recreation, real outdoor recreation, no whiffle ball or Frisbee golf. Trap and Skeet, lacrosse, rafting, thats they way they do it here.

I spoke to Dana this evening and she received her orders from the US Public Health Service. She is allowed to leave Illinois the 21st, and must report in on the 26th. She and her mom are going to leave for show low early on the 21 and will hopefully arrive the following day. Now I am very excited to get back on the road. Looking at my maps and averaging 60 mile days I could also arrive in show low on the 22. This seems to be working out perfectly. Now I'm counting on the big guy to get himself together to ride.

Monday, May 18, 2009

May 15

I woke up before Tyler so I updated some Blog with the computer. I then got on the waffle maker and started busting out some Golden Brown Belgium beauties. Smokey, Tony, Jeremy, and Tyler started emerging from their bunks one by one. we all ate at the table and chowed down. I was curious to hear smokey's story but he didn't seem to talk much, he was just such an odd fella,Tall Lanky guy with a full beard, Baggy Capri pants, chaco sandals, and dashiki. He really didn't say much of anything and hit the road right after his waffles. Tyler and I started getting ready to head out. Jeremy rode out of town with us and then we were off to climb Monarch.

Monarch pass was unbelievable, the last 12 miles of this climb took us 3 hours. We were both crawling in our granny gears up to 11,300 feet. The smell of cars melting brake pads and the sound of engine breaking got overwhelming, but Between all of that the scent of pine and trickle of the snow melt creeks was soothing. The top of monarch was beautiful, and knowing all the work that we had done to get there made it that much better. I wanted to cry looking out at the mountains, they were majestic. there were 3 feet of snow on the ground but the sun was so hot I was comfortable in my cycling jersey. We had to bundle up for the ride down. The breeze is very chilly. Riding down that pass was one of the most exciting things I have ever done. Flying down the side of a mountain on top of a 70 lb loaded touring bike. We maxed out at 38 mph and on some of the curves the speed limit drops down to 35. We were drafting behind trucks and RV's flying just as fast as traffic. Some of the drivers would get confused, they see a bicycle and immediately think they need to pass it. Tyler was in front of me for a while and I would see a car try to pass him then realize that we are actually speeding then pull off and settle behind him. Very fun, very exciting.

Our goal was to get to Gunnison. Tyler has a friend in Crested Butte. That is a town just north of Gunnison. The plan was to make it to Gunni then Tyler's friend, Will, would pick us up and take us to the Butte. The following morning we would get a ride back to Gunni and continue on our route to Dolores. The wildest thing happened on our way there, A toyota tacoma pulled off the side of the road in font of us, and who steps out? None other than Rusty Nails! This is some wild stuff. We talked for a while, he told us about his bike club back in Plano Texas, then wished us happy riding. We only made it to Parlin, 12 miles east of Gunni, Will picked us up from there and took us to crested Butte. We cleaned up and got ready to hit the town, Crested Butte is a popular ski and vacation spot.

Bad news, Tyler isn't doing so well. We think he has the altitude sickness, we are at 9,000 feet. I feel bad, he was excited to go out tonight and hang out with his friends. He insisted we go on without him. We hung out at Will and his roommate Kevin's town house drinking PBR and Sierra Nevada. I met a lot of people, surprisingly many of them are from Chicago, some from New Jersey, and many from Denver. It was strange, most of them have college degree's, It's like they move here because they aren't quite ready to start life yet. they work part-time jobs in bars, movie theaters, and ski shops. They ski, fish, and raft all day and drink all night. They're living the dream. I don't blame them, I suppose partly why I'm doing this trip is because I'm not quite ready to start yet. I just diddn't take it to such an extreme.

The bars were fun, it's like college without a college. Very small town, they walk into a bar and everyone knows everyone. I didn't stay out too late, I was exhausted from the climb today. I walked back before anyone else and passed out.

Mileage: 66

Total: 1581

Sunday, May 17, 2009

May 14

Big Day today, we want to get to Salida.  Big climb until Westcliffe.  We prepared with some instant coffee off the Trangia.  The climbs weren't as bad as I thought they would be.  It isn't like the ozarks where you're crawling up a wall for a short burst then it's down and back up again for another.  The rockies are a gradual grade all day, or at least for a few hours.

We ran into a couple of cyclists in Westcliffe, Rusty Nails and George.  George is a local coloradoan and Rusty Nails was visiting from Plano Texas, they told us that the climb we just did is the steepest we'll see but there are gonna be much longer ones.  We took a break in town and I hit up the library for an hour and threw up a post.  It has been harder to stay on top of the blog now that I have a partner.  Sitting at a library and typing for a few hours just doesn't sound as exciting as it used to be.  Now that I have a buddy it's more appealing to explore the town a bit and talk to the locals.

The last 20 miles to Salida were hell, not because of climbs but because of wind we didn't get there until late.  Ate at a subway and then went looking for a bar so Tyler could watch the Bruins game.  In downtown Salida we asked a young fella with some kayaks strapped to the roof of his hatch back if we are near any good campsites and where a good place to watch the game is.  He told us of a nice site back the way we came then he mentioned a hostel a block down.  We decided to check it out.  Very cool place, The Simple Lodge, When we rode up there were a few young travelers like ourselves sitting and hanging out in front of the establishment.  Kimberly looked extremely excited and introduced herself and the others.  She and her business partner run the place, she took us around and let us know the rates.  $22 for a bunk, it would definitely be cheaper for Tyler and I to just split a motel room in town but it seemed like such a cool place we thought we should stay the night.  And they have free waffles in the morning.  This would be very convenient for someone who didn't have anyone to split a motel room with.  So we sat and chatted with the other travelers for a while, Smokey Bear, Jeremy, and Tony.  Smokey is just a weird dude backpacking around Colorado, Jeremy seems to be obsessed with Kimberly so he just stays there all the time, and Tony is an avid drug user who is getting his wilderness first aid certification nearby.  It seems like a fun crew, but we couldn't chat for long because we had to go check out the game.

The bar Kimberly suggested was very nice, but we had to beg the bartender to put the Bruins on  They were watching basketball, luckily the game was almost over. Once it ended we watched the Bruins and ate fish tacos until sudden death overtime.  At this point the bartender, Evan, switched over to the Lakers game.  Some of the older patrons were complaining about hockey.  Tyler was furious and I was very disappointed. I'm not much of a hockey fan but I would watch it over basketball anyday, and it's the principle of the thing.  The lakers game had just started, all you need to watch is the last 2 minutes.  The Bruins game was in Sudden Death Overtime.  Thats some exciting stuff.

We left the bar and rode back to the Hostel.  Nobody was there, so Tyler and I decided to make some waffles, very good.  There is a computer in the common area so Tyler was able to follow the game.  Soon Tony came home in what seemed like a drug induced haze.  Very strange.  Then Jeremy came down and started talking to us about Marathons and growing up in Minnesota.  Smokey Bear was still MIA, at this point I think that was for the better, who knows what he would have brought to the table.  We stayed up and talked for a while before getting some sleep.  We have a big day tomorrow Monarch Pass, 11,300 feet.

Mileage: 66

Total: 1515

Saturday, May 16, 2009

May 13

Leaving Pueblo today and leaving Toby.

We went out for breakfast then loaded up the Bikes.  I'm going to miss Toby, these last few days with her have been great.  Another unexpected luxury I have encountered on my journey. Leaving Pueblo our sluggish rides were heavy and slow.  The mountains came on us quick and we powered up some steep grades.  They're going through a major dry spell here, we passed a restaurant n Wetmore that was closed down to drill a new well.  They were down to 110 feet and still no water.  further down the road we stopped at a small grocery store for a power lunch.  Debra, the owner was very friendly, she let us know of the climbs to come and warned us not to think about cell phone service for the next 10 miles.  I called my family and checked in early.

We had our first major climbs after the store, crawling at 4 mph was rough.  we only made it 6 miles before coming across a very pleasant campsite.  It was almost 5:00 and we were pretty beat.  The campsite was great, right along a crystal clear creek, I got to wash up a bit.  Mac and cheese for dinner, very good.  We wanted to sleep outside without the tents but the cloudy skies looked like they wanted to rain on us.  We pitched our tents and the rain came down late at night.  That was a good call.

Mileage: 37

Total: 1449

May 12

No more rides from Toby.

Ordway to Pueblo today.  We were staring at the mountains the whole time.  They came up on us quick.  Fast riding all the way, we still have Toby carrying our gear.  Pueblo is a big city, 100,000 people.  I am excited to be here, it's the biggest city since Bloomington we are excited to eat at a nice restaurant.

They have a fedex store so my brother overnighted my debit card.  It feels good to have that again.  We found a Japanese place for dinner.  We also went to a bike shop, Tyler lost his helmet so his grandma bought him a new one, she's sweet.  Tomorrow we get back to the grind and I am excited for that.  Tyler and I are both excited to get into the mountains.

Mileage: 52

Total: 1412

Friday, May 15, 2009

May 11

We drove out to tribune, another ride from grandma, then rode to Eads crossing the state line to Colarado. At the end of the day we took one last boost to Ordway. I don't feel like I'm cheating for taking the rides, as long as we are pedaling some decent mileage each day my biking needs are taken care of. I just feel like I'm passing up some adventure or a story to tell. I havn't had much to say lately, just drive, ride, resturant, motel room. Tommorow is our last day with Toby and today was our last day in the car. I am itching to get back into the grind.

Mileage: 58+110=168

Total: 1360

May 10

We woke up in our fancy motel rooms and had some complimentary Danishes and coffee. We discussed it a bit last nigh and we would like to shoot for 100 miles today. With Toby carrying our gear we thought we could pull it off. Halfway was Nickerson and it was a sluggish ride. I think the 74 mile day yesterday did us in.

During a power lunch in Nicherson we talked about the car, we discussed how flat and boring Kansas is, we pointed out how much Toby is itching for a decent resturant. Se was disapointed with the China Buffet last night, she needs something better than that. We are all just itching to get to Colarado. we ended up turning what would have been a disapointing 50 mle day into a Guilty 250 mile day. We loaded up the jeep and drove through the vast ocean of land in western Kansas.

We are in Scott City for the night. We found a mexican resturant to chow down at and maybe get a beer, it was the only thing open in town. Sunday is never a good day to ride through rural America. On the ride to Nickerson we couldn't even find an open gas station to get some snacks and water. Beer at the resturant was a no go no beer on sunday. We never figured out if that is a Kansas thing a county thing or a Scott City thing. Liquor stores don't even sell on sunday.

Mileage: 48+194 with Toby

Total: 1192

Thursday, May 14, 2009

May 9

I woke up early to get a good start, I didn't eat much but breakfast in Cassoday was my plan. Then it would be 38 miles to Newton.

I was riding north a little to get to Cassoday, the head wind was awful. A woman passed me in her jeep then pulled off to the side of the road to wait for me. She told me that her grandson is riding his bike across the country, he left from Boston and is heading to California. She said that his bike is loaded up with gear just like mine. Toby and her grandson Tyler Harlow. They stayed in a motel in Eureka last night while I was in the park. I told Toby to meet me in Cassoday for breakfast and there we will wait for Tyler. This is great I thought, Am I going to have someone to ride with all the way to Dolores? Tyler is going to be on the trans am all the way to San Francisco. We found a country store in Cassoday and I had some time to chat with Toby, Tyler was about two hours behind me. Toby is a very hip grandma, very with it. She is 71 and she flew into Kansas City yesterday to support Tyler for a few days. They are from a small town in Vermont called Putney. Tyler is doing his ride for charity. His goal is to "raise awareness for youth in foster care and the importance of keeping sibling connections intact" Everyone should just check out his blog: Support Tyler and donate to his cause

Tyler arrived in Cassoday and we chatted for a while and got to know each other We are both very excited to have someone to ride with. This journey is going to be a lot different now. We set off for Newton and got there in no time. Toby is going to be here until Wednesday the twelfth and they both invited me to take advantage of the support. I threw my panniers into Toby's Jeep and Tyler and I rode to Newton in what seemed like no time. We were flying with just hour handlebar bags, I felt like Orange County Mike,

Toby got us a motel room in Newton and bought us dinner. I felt bad, I can't let her do this for me untill wednesday. Tyler assured me that it's alright, his grandmother is extatic that he now has someone to ride with. I figure I'll just go with the flow.

May 9, today all the college kids graduate. Congratulations to everyone. I got to talk to Dana and congratulated her, it sounds like the ceremony was lovely. It's strange to think that my sister Deanna is going to go to ISU next year. she graduates from Elmwood Park Highschool in June and will be heading out to the ILSTU in the fall. I'm glad I still have a lot of friends there, they will have to watch out for her.

Mileage: 74

Total: 950

Monday, May 11, 2009

May 8

I was about due for a bad day.

Journal got wet in the rain... Everything got wet in the rain.

I was woken up at 4:00 am by some hammering thunder. Next the wind started. Still no rain but I knew it was coming. The tent was getting blown around. I was set up under a gazebo, I knew there was a chance of stormy weather so figured this would give me shelter. The bad thing about the gazebo was I couldn't stake down. My tent is self standing so I just popped it up on the concrete. I didn't attach the rainfly, I didn't think it would be necessary with the roof over my head. The rain started coming down, with that wind it was coming in sideways. The shelter did nothing, and without the rainfly my tent is basically mosquito netting. I ran out and threw on the fly. Without stakes it isn't very secure and it acted like a sail. The tent was taking too much in the wind, I was sitting with my arms extended for a while holding the walls out. the wind was so strong I thought the tent might rip. I decided to get out and take it down. I threw on my rain gear and broke down the tent. I sat there under that useless gazebo until 7:00 am. I sat there with my back to the rain, I didn't even try to keep anything dry anymore. I wrapped my sleeping bag in the rainfly to try and salvage that but it didn't do much. The rain covers weren't on the bike so all the panniers were soaked. The wind was blowing so hard I heard my bike crash to the floor. Again the gazebo has provided me with no shelter.

Once it all stopped and I went to pick up my bike, It had a flat tire. I pumped it up to see if it would hold air. Lucky, it was only a slow leak. I headed out for a laundry mat to dry my clothes and then my plan was to hit up a motel room and mope all day and all night before heading out in the morning. All I could think about was a relaxing day off after this awful night. I Packed up my soaking tent and sleeping bag the set out of this campsite. All the roads out were flooded, I had to wade through mid shin water to get out. When I got thought all of that I asked a local where the laundry mat was. I got there, and threw everything in the dryer. It felt nice to be in a warm dry building. I popped my tent up outside to let it air out, and repaired my tire inside. Sitting and waiting i strung up a conversation with an older gentleman. he was stuck doing laundry today, his plan was to go fishing but he said that the boat launches and most the roads to his lake were all flooded. He asked about my bike trip and explained that most the roads out of town were flooded. I accepted the fact that I'm stuck here tonight and was looking forward to a motel room until he offered to give me a ride out to where he thought there would be no more flooding.

Leary Townsend gave me a ride about 10 miles out, He was a real swell guy. We stopped at a McDonalds to get a couple burgers and he told me about his kids and his ex wives. He has two ex wives and each of them got a house out of him, poor bastard. Now he's retired, lives on a lake in Kansas and goes fishing every day. He's living the dream, except when he cant get his boat out. We eventually got to a road that was so bad he didn't want to try plowing through it. Leary and I had been blasting through puddles in his big old truck for 10 miles now, but this one was just too much. There was an abandoned house nearby so he dropped me off and we said our goodbyes. It seemed like a good place to sit tight until the water got down to a safe lever. It was going down pretty quick, I figured I had a bout 30 minutes before I could ride across.

I was on my way in no time, I made it to Toronto and had a quick bite. Eureka was my goal for the day. Just outside of town I got another flat, different puncture same wheel. Bad luck with that rear tire today. Again it was a slow leak so I pumped it up and muscled my way to town. Updated some blog at the library then fixed the flat. Quiet park in town I'm looking forward to a good night sleep

Mileage: 58+13 with Leary = 71

Total: 876

Friday, May 8, 2009

May 7

Rolled out of the Pitt at 8:00. Rode comfortably with a tailwind to Girard. Breakfast Girard style, western omelet biscuits and hash browns. Very tasty.

As I was sailing west on 680th ave I passed a friendly looking Lutheran church. Didn't think anything of it at the time but I got a few miles down the road when a guy in a silver sedan stopped me. He said he was the Pastor and told me I ought to turn back, Thursday's community lunch. that means free food. I had just had breakfast in Girard but I could feel a little room for some more. I bolted back up hill into the wind and met pastor john for lunch. Pastor John is a big dude, he has to be at least 6'6''. I threw a few dollars in the donations jar and chowed down on some ham, beans, potatoes, and lots of cakes. The pineapple upside down cake was phenomenal. Everything homemade, everything delicious. Pastor John said I was more than welcome to stay the night, bikers have stayed there before. I really wanted to take advantage of the weather, and the tailwind and blast my way deeper into the great state of Kansas. Pastor John wouldn't let me leave without taking something from his garden, unfortunately all that was ready was lettuce. Pastor John has a lot of pride in his garden and is excited to share it with the world. I would love to someday have a garden as nice as his, one day when I have a little land of my own there will be a spectacular garden on it. I gladly accepted his lettuce, the grocery bag full of lettuce. It was great, I munched on it all the way to Chanute.

Big town Chanute, I checked out the library, some of the local boy threw some trash at me and hollard as they drove by, Chanute is on my bad side now. The library was another one of those one hour per person per day deals. Not cool, I didn't bother messing with the blog. I don't like feeling rushed. Checked the weather and browsed around a bit. Got a chance to chat with Marcos and Ben Strohman on the facebook. Ben is doing a swell job with that facebook group. I wasn't expecting a facebook group or all these blogspot followers. Thank you for all the support. Spoke with David Soria too, he's a wild dude. David, Make sure your dad reads this stuff and send it to all my Freeport folk.

After the library I found a Chanute visitors center, The women there showered me with Chanute maps and tourism pamphlets. There is a lot of history here railroad history and civil war history. Octavius Chanute and what not. I asked them where to eat and they Insisted I try a mexican restaurant in town. I took their advice and I was disappointed. I should have known, Its kansas. I need to wait till Arizona for Mexican food.

I went to the walmart to use the ATM, a woman there saw me on the phone with chase, overheard the conversation and tried to give me $30. I wouldn't take her money. I kept explaining that I have money it's just a pain to get it out. I had to run away from her. She kept telling me to have a little taste of Kansas Hospitality. i said "How about a bed to sleep in?". She wasn't having that. I ran away from her and went to a park in town to sleep.

feeling rushed, library closing

Mileage: 63

Total: 805

May 6

I wanted to get up early so I could enjoy the lodge a bit more before I take off. I was seriously thinking of staying another day, but I cant take a break at every nice place I get to. I made coffee, had a danish, and watched the news. It's not sopposed to rain till tommorow evening and clear up in the morning. Even more reason not to stick around and get to my next destination quick. Bill stopped in to say goodbye, I'm pretty sure he was really there to make sure the bed wasn't messed up. I slept in my sleepingbad just to be sure.

Big Bad Bikin Mike and Kat told me about a diner on the route in Golden City that all the bikers stop at. They have a book that everyone signs and says where they're headed. Chicken sandwich, really good fries and a slice of blackberry pie. Excellent pie.

Arrived in Pittsburg Kansas today at 3:00. Very happy to be in Kansas. Pittsburg is a big town, college town, Pittsburg State University. Georgous campus. I stopped in a bike shop to figure out where to camp, the fellas there were real nice. They told me where the park to camp in was and where there is a YMCA. I figured i would check that place out after the library, I got logged off of the public library computer after an hour, one hour per person per day policy. I even tried to schmooze a little to get more time, but it was a no go. I diddn't get it, the place was dead. I was directed to the campus library, you can internet all day over there. I pedaled over to the other side of town and got cought up on the posts, I never update the day that I'm at the computer because I havn't written in the journal yet. This stuff comes straight out of the journal.

Off to the YMCA, on my way there I stopped at a frozen custard place and got a burger and a custard. Freddy's it was called. The custard was great but the burger was awful. It was like a steak and shake burger, I'm not a fun of steak and shake burgers. They're all flattened out. I think Freddy's and Steak and Shake are affiliated. At the Y $3 for access to the the shower's the steam room and the worldpool. Very relaxing. There were a couple of gentlemen from the university using the facility, Maxwell and Dan. We got to talking and turns out they are fighters. I diddn't think to ask whet kind of fighting and they diddn't really elaborate we pretty much just talked about highschool wrestling and my bike ride. They both wrestled in highschool as did I.

It was a light post, nothing to exciting.

Mileage: 66

Total: 742

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

May 5

I'm Being Pampered

Slept today until about 8:00. PB sandwich and a banana for breakfast, thank you Kathy. I almost stopped into the Walmart on my way out of town, Mike said he would be working. I really had to get going sorry Mike, we'll meet again.

Hit some big time construction and made a big detour where CC crosses 13 west of Fair Grove. Just when i got through that a kid stopped me, Steve Miller. He is planning on doing Virginia to California in a couple weeks. Very cool, he fed me cookies. i tried to take a picture with him but the camera ran out of batteries. He had a camera and is going to send me the picture.

Just a few miles after that I ran into my first cyclist. Burly guy he looked really tough. I knew something was up when to my left at a church parking lot there was a car parked with a wheel set on the roof. A woman was looking down the road. When I got a little closer to the church I could see him pumping up the hill. Mike Meezan and his wife Kat is supporting him. They had some slick cards made up with contact information and blog information, I should have done that. They have been on the road since april 6 from Orange County California. I chould have made Dana drive along side me.

They told me about a place to stay in Everton, Running Spring Farm. They said it was a gorgeous hunting lodge. I asked how much? $70. Easy Meezans! I don't roll like that. I don't have that kind of cash. They then told me that the guy is very nice and will probably let me camp for free. Thats more like it. Perfect, I stopped in some town for a sandwich. i dont remember which one and was at the farm by 3:30. Just as I rode up Bill Cork walked up to me. I told him that Mike Meezan told me about the place. We both light heartedly poked a little fun at him for making his wife drive the whole way. Sorry Mike, i know you're gonna read this blog but I can't leave things out for the sake of people's feelings. Let me just note that this has been a life time goal of his and I think it is great, Power to you Mike. Everyone, give Mike some support:

Bill then said "here's the deal, $50 if you mess up the bed to where i would have to make it in the morning, $20 if its just as it is now when I see it in the morning." So Bill's got himself a sliding scale here. He charges the couple from Orange County $70 and the poor kid from Chicago $20. Way to go Bill.

Now I'm being pampered. 2 bedrooms, a bunk room, dining room, living room with satelite TV, bathroom, and kitchen. This place is un believable. Bill also said that the kitchen is fair game and the kitchen is stocked. It seems to me like all the hunters that come during season buy and bring food then just leave it here when they depart. 3 bottles of mustard, 2 jars of mayo, a countless number of bottles of louisianna hot sauce. Bill probably just ends up throwing it all out. I found a opened box of pasta and some sauce in the fridge, that was a nice little dinner. Then i had at some icecream from the freezer.

Mileage: 60

Total: 676

May 4

Up at 7:30. Kathie and Adam were already up and about to go to school and work. I thanked her graciously. They left but let me leave at my own pace. Kathie let me make some peanut butter sandwiches for the road. I had some cereal and a banana for breakfast. Quick shower, did the dishes and I was out of there at 9:00. Non stop riding today, i made it to Marshfield by 3:00. I tried to call Dana in Hartville but I had no service. It's very depressing when that happens, I regretted not buying that phone in Houston. I finally got service down the road a ways and dana told me there was a Walmart in Marshfield.

I wen't to the Walmart and looked at the phones. Mike, the walmart employee told me that Alltell would be the way to go. They use Verison towers. We even busted out come maps that show the service areas and sure enough where there wasn't one there was the other. Now I feel Connected. I wen't to pay with my debit card and it gets denied, Try again and it's denied. Mike said that its probably because I'm traveling. Yeah, they probably just wan't to make sure nobody stole it. I called them up and unfortunately someone did steal it, tried to spend $200 on some london based site. My card has been deactivated. I can not use it. They are sending me a new one in the mail to Elmwood Park. I explained over the phone my situation, I notice Mike's concern for my situation as he reacts to my dramatic facial expressions, and she said that all she can do is allow me to get money out of an ATM if I call chase while I am standing in front of it. She made note of who i am and my situation, so I have to call chase verify my identity, they open up the card, I get my money, then they close it up immediately. I'm grateful they cought this but it is still a bummer. I called my dad and explained whats up. When he gets the card were gonna figure out a post office on route to mail it to.

I went to the Walmart ATM, called chase, got money and went back to mike to buy the phone. I ten talked to him about where the city park is and if they allow camping. He said he has seen people camping there and there are showers at the fairgrounds to use. We went oveer to the city alderman who happens to work at the local Walmart and he got on the phone to get the showers unlocked. This is good. Mike then offered to drive me to the fairgrounds, the park is right across from them. Mike has a truck and he was getting off of work within minutes. He reminded me of Seth Rogen, he even kind of talked like him. On the way to the fairgrounds Mikes Fionce called, he explained that he was driving a stranger on a cross country bike trip to the fairgrounds then asked what was for dinner, Angela told him she isn't making dinner, "Were goin to McDonalds". Coolest Fionce Ever. Mike then asked her if the stranger could come with. This is good, I like McDonalds, there is only one person I know that likes McDonalds more than me and thats Dana, Dana Loves the stuff.

We get there and meet up with Angela and their daughter, I forgot her name. They refused to let me pay for my own meal. Very nice people, awesome people. I told them about the blog so everyone say hi to Mike and Angela. We stayed and talked a lot, Mike told me a wild story about his dad crashing into an amish guys buggy. The buggy was hauling milk, milk wood, horse shoes im sure go flying everywhere. The truck and buggy were totaled. Everyone was fine thank goodness.

On the way out I bought myself and their little girl icecream, McDonalds has excellent icecream. No DQ but exceptionally velvety. Mike drove me to the fairgrounds, I said thank you and goodbye. Just as he left a guy came to unlock it. The shower was great, I was not expecting to be able to take one. The park was just renovated, very nice. I camped under a gazebo, there was a chance of rain.

Mileage: 67

Total: 616

May 3

Today I took the day off. Kathie told me if I want to stay till Tuesday she will drive me to Springfield, MO. I didn't want her to do that but I was grateful to be able to stay one more day and get a rest and break from the rain. Cold and rainy this morning. I was actually all set to go out but as I was packing up the bike I found that my bottle of 3 in 1 oil cracked open at the bottom of the left rear pannier. I spent all morning cleaning it up while Kathie, Adam, and Devon were at church. I ended up taking it off and soaking it in detergent. It didn't get on anything except for the pannier itself. Everything else in there was in a ziplock bag.

We watched Tropic Thunder and ate pizza when they got back from church. Funny movie, I like Ben Stiller. Walmart after the movie, I decided to get a go phone that uses verison towers since my cell phone is at&t. Certain providers lease different towers and usually in the smaller towns when one doesn't work the other will. The cheapest one they had was $30, I wasn't expecting to pay that much so I held off on that idea.

Kathie works at a doctors office and they have internet there. After Walmart we stopped by so I could update the blog and Kathie had some work to do. We weren't there to long so I only updated a couple, that was fine.

We dropped off Devon on the way back from the office and then Kathie made some teriyaki chicken and broccoli back at the house, It was delicious. Kathie told me a little bit about what it's like living deep in the Missouri Ozarks. People here don't like change, Kathie is originally from southern Florida and it took a little time before people accepted her. I rode through some of the poorest town's in Missouri. Life is different here compared to small towns in Illinois. In Illinois people hunt for trophies, here people hunt for food.

May 2

Rainy Morning, Depressing. I waited for it to stop, it wasn't until about 9:00. I made sure to have the rain covers on and my rain gear on hand before I set out. Excellent breakfast in Ellington, eggs sausage hash browns, the basics.

I rode through the Ozark National Scenic River Ways National Park on 106. It was very beautiful, and scenic. I did a lot of vistaing. I ran into a group of backpackers, a bunch of young kids. They were part of an organization to help out youngsters who have made bad decisions. They were nice. I told them to check out the blog. Hey Guys... whats goin on?

It started raining not too long after I ran into them. The raingear works well. I really have to ride slow, it gets very hot. Raingear does not breathe well. If I ride too hard I just end up drenching myself in my own sweat. I could feel my legs heating up and the rainpants starting to stick to my shins and calves. It was only a few degrees above 50, I hope I don't hit much rain on hotter days.

I wanted to get through Alley Spring to summersville today. I figured I would have phone reception in summersville. Alley Spring is down in a valley and Summersville is up on top. I was wrong about the phone reception.

I saw signs for a family youth center that has camping and lodging once I got in to Summersville. I followed the signs and arrived at a big building, the parking lot was packed. I peeked inside and asked around for someone in charge. Once I was brought to the right people I asked about camping. It turns out that this woman had just purchased the place, it had been abandoned for some time and she just bought it a few weeks ago. Those signs have been up for years. She said it would be fine to camp out. I asked her what was going on inside. She diddn't explain much, just said it was a benifit and I should throw a couple bucks in the jar and go eat. Just before I walked in Donna stopped me, she is in to century rides and has done a few tours of her own. it was great to be able to talk to someone who has done this sort of thing. Donna went in and I turned on my phone to call my family, no service of course. I threw a few bucks in the jar and went in to eat. This food was great, I really loaded up. Amish bean soup, Chili, Baked Beans, Pork and Beans, Corn Bread. lots of beand, I diddn't really understand that, every dish was based on beans. I saw Donna sitting by herself so I went and joined her. I conplained about the cell phone service and she handed me her's. I ran out and quickly called the family and Dana. I diddn't want to talk too long so I diddn't really get to explain much, I just told them where I was. Ran back inside and started throwin back some beans and chatting with Donna. Two others had joined us when I returned from checking in. Kathie and her boyfriend Mark. We talked about my trip and I asked what this benifit was all about. The Good Samaritan Care Clinic in Summersville is a free healthcare clinic. All the money goes to that. It's just everyday people who go to the clinic, they are people who can't afford health insurance but make too much money for Medicare or Medicade. Basically everyone in the towns of Summersville and Eminence. My donation is going to a good place. Mark checked out my maps, he's a trucker and knew a lot of the rads I'll be riding on, he let mem know whats to come.

There were some bluegrass bands playing so we went and checked them out after dinner. On the way over I hit the desert table, every kind of cobbler and pie you could think of. I went to town. The Bressler Brothers were awesome they play all over the world and the members are from Eminence and Summersville, everyone needs to check them out. After they played the Spring Valley String Band performed. They had a banjo player from Australia who hand makes banjo's, Laurie Grundy, I got to meet him later on. He was jacked for my trip. After all the bands there was a charity auction to raise more money for the clinic. They had one of those fast talkin auction guys. It was just a bunch of junk people donated but it was still pretty cool.

People were starting to roll out, I said goodbye to Donna and she told me about the internet radio station she works for, KWBC.FM, she is going to mention me on it. I gave her the blog adress and she is going to keep her listeners posted on where I am.

As Kathie was getting ready to leave she asked me if I wanted a place to stay for the night. I was thrilled, the only thing was she lives in the next town over, I would be cheating 20 miles. I decided to take her up on her offer. This isn't just a bike ride, this stopped just being a bike ride the day I stepped off the Voyageur in Morris and camped out for the night. The bike is a tool that I am using to travel and see parts of the country I have never seen and would just pass up in a car. If I decided I need to ride every inch of the journey this post would end with me camping out in a clearing behind a youth center. Instead it ends with Kathie, her kid Adam, his Friend Devon, and I packing into their Jeep with the bike, stopping at a liquor store for beer and driving 20 miles to Houston, MO. Kathie and I threw a few back, We ate apple pie that she won at the Charity auction, played rockband and went to sleep.

Much better than camping is Summersville

Mileage: 62+20=82

Total: 549

Sunday, May 3, 2009

May 1

Loaf of bananna bread for breakfast. I got up early, 5:30 out on the road by 6:00. I wanted to beat the rain, I knew it was coming. I stopped at a nice little bakery in Farmington. ate a bleuberry scone and got a muffin and a bagel to go. Love those carbs. The route took me through St. Joe State park. It was very nice Missouri has lovely state parks in the Ozarks. I wish I would have gotten there last night.

Lovely hills and scenery till I got to my destination in Centerville. Very nice little town 171 people. The trans am maps said to check with the town hall about sleeping in the main courthouse square. They said go for it. I ate at a nice little resturant right across from the courthouse, big burger, needed the protein, and I hit the salad bar pretty hard. I told Dana last night that I would call her today at 1:00. It was about 5 till when I turned my phone on and realized I had no service. damn hills. Centervill is deep in a valley. Just as I realized all this the librarian came in, saw my bike, saw me and put 2 and 2 together. She told me the library is open till 4:30 so I could come in and use the internet. I ran over there and messaged a few people and told them I have no service. I'm supposed to call and check in with my parents every day at 5:00. I figured they would get word by then. I diddn't get all my posts updated before the place closed.

I went over to a gas station on the other side of the square and asked if they had a phone I could use. The woman there handed me one and said it would be fine. I called my parents, no pick up but I left a message. Bought a yoohoo and went over to the police station to ask if I could sleep in a cell, It was getting a little cold. No go on that. I was back in a nice corner settin up my tent when the librarian walks up to me and tells me I have a phonecall at the gas station. She just happened to be in there and the woman that let me use the phone sent her over, small town. Walked back to the gas station and talked to my dad, let him know where I was. On my way out of the I saw a couple of the local fella's fillin their pickup with beer, I asked them what's goin on tonight hoping they would invite me to come drinking, they just directed me to a bar up the road. I remembered it coming in and I wasn't about to ride back up there. There was a nice diner across from the gas station that had floats. when I walked in there was a lady gaukin out the window at the two boys, I asked her how she was and she commented on her boys up to no good fillin her truck up with beer. small town. I just grabbed a Dr. Pepper float and wen't to bed.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

April 30

Woke up a 6:00 and had a quick rinse in the shower. Margie made me a bacon cheese omelette, Best omelette I've ever had, It was perfect. Justin was talking about coming over here today and trying out the new gun. It's been three days and they got a nice piece of land and a gun crazy neighbor. I called him up and we decided not to do that, I really wanted to get on the road. I was off at about 8:00, I said my thankyou's and goodbye's to Margie.

Chester, IL is where I crossed the Mississippi into Missouri. I stopped into a country bakery and got a few little loaves of bananna bread. There was a little park with a statue of Popeye right before the bridge. Chester is home of Popeye the Sailor Man. Crossing the bridge was scary, very long no sholder lots of trucks and construction.

It started to pour around noon. I threw on the rain gear and covered all my panniers. It was getting bad and I got fed up a little after Coffman, MO and stopped off at a gazebo behind a church. Changed my clothes and made some mac and cheese, It's still pretty good if you use water instead of milk. It's now almost 6:30 and still raining prett hard. I'm not going anywhere today, very miserable.

I talked to Paul Munda on the phone. Him his girlfriend Rebecca and my brother are going to come to Phoenix for a week during Dana's birthday. It made me happy to talk to him about that. Dana just signed her apartment in Show Low, AZ. It's gonna be great spending time with her there. I like Paul and Rebecca, Dana can't get enough of them either, Paul has this vulgar gangster flair that Rebecca keeps up with and even hits him back with. I know she is really looking forward to their visit. It will be nice to actually do something fun for her birthday. I know last year on her 21st she and her hometown friend Alex wen't to an empty dive bar in princeton IL. I was doing an internship in Freeport and she was stuck pollenating corn. It was a depressing summer. We'll have to make up for that this year. With Paul Rebecca and Michael coming that wont be a problem. If only Jessie could come too, then it would be perfect. Dana loves that crew were kind of an odd tripple Duo.

Mileage: 49

Total: 467

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

April 29

Woke up at 7:30 to the plaesant sight of Justin Box brewing coffee. We had breakfast together and said our goodbyes. Stephanie got up a little later. I thanked the two of them, They're so lovely, then I was on my way.

The ride to Steph's parents was beautiful. Very woody and lots of hills, it was very pleasant. I got there super quick averaging 13mph. I'm so used to having to battle that wind, I don't need to push it nearly as much as I had been. It was only about 12:30 when I arrived. Stephanie's mom wasn't home but this was expected, she was in town. Steph gave me her mom's cellular telephone number and I was instructed to call her when I arrived. Due to the grueling pace and early arrival I thought about just truckin on by. The only thing that kept me there were the major T-Storms forcasted for this evening. I thought it would be a good idea to take advantage of the shelter regardless of the low daily mileage.

I called up Steph's mom, now were going to start calling her Margie, and she was there in a flash. She told me that I'm going to come to Sparta with her and I'm going to help out. I don't know what that means, I just agreed and she tossed me the keys to the pickup. She needed to take her Harley down there. I followed Margie to a little town called Sparta. We pulled up to an enourmous beautiful brick house with flowers covering the lawn. They weren't planted, there were hundreds of flats and pots of unplanted flowers and hanging baskets all over the lawn. We enter the house and I am welcomed by a slew of lovely ladies. I don't know these ladies, I don't know whos house this is, i don't know why there are flowers everywhere. Margie is a rough and tough kinda gal. She doesn'e play games or waste time explaining things, she is the real deal.

I am eventually introduced to Stephs Grandmother. and soon found out that this is her and Stephs Grandfather's house. We all sat down for a lovely lunch, homemade broccoli cheddar soup and chicken salad. For dessert home made coconut cream pie. It was all delicious. All of the ladies were very nice, They loved hearing about my trip. I admit I was a little tired but I made the mistake of yawning at the dinner table. Stephs grandmother insisted I take a nap. I was told I would be woken up when the next truckload comes, the next truckload. Margie escorted me to "the day bed" to get there we had to go through stephs grandparents room. Grandpa Steph was taking a little nap of his own and I got a nice shot of him in his underwear.

As I was told a truck came and I was woken up, by a fully clothed Grandpa Steph. we wen't out and started unloading this truck, mind you I still don't know what these flowers are for or who these ladies are. I couldn't take it anymore so I went and asked Stephs Grandmother. She explained to me that they are all part of a philanthropy sorority this is their big flower sale, they made over $4000 in flower sales and it all goes to charity. We had to finish unloading the flowers, sorting them by type, then we could seperate them out by orders. We had vincas, goldfish, geraniums, merrigolds, straw flowers, ferns, many many more. we worked from about 2:00 to 7:00.

After we got out of there Margie took me to a bar in town. We got beer and fried chicken. Her neighbor from across the street and his wife were there. Big guy with a thick grey beard, funny guy, he likes to bullshit. He gave me a hard time about goin on this trip, but made sure I knew it was all in good fun. he gave Margie a hard time for taking this young, he said people are gonna start rumors. Good chicken, very good company we had a lot of fun.

We got back to Maggie's around 9:00pm. They have a nice guest bedroom in the basement, with a bathroom and shower. I had a quick shower and then used the computer to update my blog. They have dial up and it was getting late so I only updated a couple. Called Dana and hit the hay.

Mileage: 47

Total: 418

April 28

Another relaxing day in Carterville, No riding. Justin and I went to a few bike shops, there are three of them right on the main drag in Carbondale. One is more of a mechanic, one is a schwinn/GT shop, and the third was a fancy Trek shop. I liked the Schwinn one. My hands had been feeling a little bit chaffy and blistery so I was thinking about getting some riding gloves. I just couldn't bring myself to spend 25$ on a pair of skimpy fingerless riding gloves.

Justin had to work from 5:00pm-10:00pm, he was covering for someone. I played a little kung foo panda on the 360 while steph worked on a paper then all of a sudded we get a call from the big guy. He diddn't have to work. That made me so happy, I like Justin Box. We wen't to Dairy Queen, I got hot eats and cool treats. I love that mint oreo blizzard, the peppermint/chocolate combo is unbeatable. York Peppermint Patties, jr. Mints, Frango Mints, Faney May Mint Meltaways, The new 3 Muskateers Mint is very nice very refreshing, Andes mints, Newmans Own Organics has a few products. Newman-Os, basically an Oreo with mint filling and the peppermint chocolate cups. I mentioned in a previous post that the filling is a little chalky in those. I could go on, but I'm rambling. Justin came home and it was great, we watched the Wrestler, Awesome, Stephanie made us tortilla crusted chicked, delicious. That Stephanie is an excellent chef.

Lost Thoughts From the Road: Dairy Queen has always owned the Blizzard market, now every fast food place has their equivilant, their all good but Dairy Queen is the best. From McFlurries to Concrete Mixers the DQ has them all beat. Then Wendy's had to go and jump on the bandwagon, my favorite fastfood burger and the only chain with a good cup of chili, Steak and Shake can go scratch. They used to just have the Frosty's. It was great, it was simple, it was their thing. But Isn't it just chocolate icecream in a cup. No it has a faint malty flavor and a uniqe subtle icy consistancy. I just thought that they were better than that, First they slapped us in the face with the Vanilla Frosty and now the Twisted Frosty. They're tasty and all but I just feel like it ruins their image. Dave Thomas is turning in his grave.

April 27

JB and I relaxed and had some coffee this morning. I needed the day off. I rode too much yesterday, too much and too hard. The right knee is starting to give me some problems, my calves and quads are super stiff and the upper back is tight and cramped. Not that I'm complaining.

Justins showed me his Beretta. He lives in a trailer, hes got a gun and a pitbull. the son of a bitch is living the dream.

Justin and Stephanie have this shitty roommate DJ, Smelly and selfish. It's actually his pitbull. He has a ridiculus black pickup with rims the size of the Voyageur's and airbags that take the a hair off the ground.

the Beretta wasn't good enough for JB so we wen't to the gun store later in the day. he picked himself up a 45. Thats a big boy gun. He'll have to wait three days to get it so I wont get to handle it. You have to have a FOID card to handle guns at the store.

Stephanie's family lives about 50 miles west of Carterville Just off the Trans America Trail, my route to the west. She talked to them and arrnge for me to stay with them when i carry on my jopurney.

In the evening we wen't to one of Justins college friends in carbondale. Justin used to attend Southers Illinois University, thats how he met steph. I'm just about done with the whole college thing, these fella's were older guys seniors and beyond. They seemed about ready to be done with college too. Everyone just seemed burnt out and drinking and having a goodtime just turned into a routine that had to live up to untill the day they graduate. I'm happy to leave the ilstu. I was just about done with it, Not that i was much of a partier. I left at a good time, I don't miss it too much and I wasn't aching to get the hell out either.

Sleep was rough, DJ came home at about 3:00am and started watching the dark night in his room with the door Open. of course he has a surroung sound system in his tiny room that is extremely unnecessary.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

April 26

Nasty Headwind, more meganasty headwind.

Got up early at 6:00. Early enough to make pancakes. Bisquick shake and pour, seems kind of wasteful. Wasteful but delicious. The pancakes were great, the stove still works. David came out around 7:00. He was heading out to church, I forgot today is Sunday. He gave me his buisness card. I told him about the blog and he said he'd check it out so we cant say anything bad about him. Papa Kergs on the other hand, say what you please. He will never find this thing.

Very good people the Reynolds Family, Thank you again David.

Windy wind damn it wind damn you windy wind. I wanted to get off my bike and yell at it, that would be silly though. I just stayed on and yelled at it.

Slow going, I stopped at DuBois for some eats at Traveler's. Cajun turkey was good, the church crowd came in as I was eating and it got real busy. I used the toilet but it wouldnt flush, I lifted the top to have a look inside and a lovely statue fell right in the bowl. I let the waitress know and got the hell out of there.

Later stopped at Casey's for a breather and something other than water to drink, Electrolytes. I think I was in DuQuoin, I'm not sure. I must had seen a couple hundred motorcycles riding south down 51 this morning and now about 2:00 I was seeing them riding north. Asked a few that stopped at the casey's what was going on. Some sort of bike blessing in a town south of Carbondale. I don't know what that is.

Today was the first day I rode later than 5:00pm. I stopped one last time at a picknick area and saw a couple biker chicks urinating right in the middle of the place.

Finally got to Carterville and met with Stephanie. That's my good buddy from Elmwood Park Justin Box's girl. They are living in a nice little trailer just east of town. Justin is training to be a Paramedic and Fire Fighter. He was working when I arrived so stephanie made some chicken and potatoes, Delicious, and we took it over to him. He's working 24 hour shifts and got a call just as we finished up. Poor Bastard. I wanted some DQ so Stephanie and I stopped at one on the way home. Bannana cream pie blizzard. mmm...

Mileage: 71

Total: 371

April 25

I set my alarm for 6:00, I wanted an early start. I took a shower, ate an apple and a granola bar and I was off by 7:00. My Goal, Centrailia, Halfway point, Vandalia. I muscled my way to Vandalia real quick and was able to hold off on food untill I got there. That was a bad idea. I wanted to have a nice little breakfast at a nice diner. Every small town in Illinois has one, Every small town except for Vandalia. Thats the first capital of Illinois. They had a lovely main street with no diner. I even asked a nice old lady, and she told me that unfortunately they don't have anything like that. Fuck Vandalia I Ate at Quizno's. They have a Quizno's?

Off to Centralia. The wind is just as bad as it's been. Straight out of the south. A big relief now though are trees. You start seeing trees once you're south of Pana, very nice change in scenery.

My right knee was hurting, I stopped at a rest stop off of 51. I had been on 51 all day, the traffic was getting lighter and lighter the further south I got.

I arrived at centralia at 4:00 and found a nice internet cafe. A couple rows of computers with people playing runescape and WOW. Cumfy couches, flat screens with 360's and ps3's. A Strohman's Paradise. Five bucks got me two hours of internetting, Updated my blog and found a dairy queen.

My plan for sleep tonight was to just find a woodsy area south of town. It was woodsy north of town so I figured the same for the south. At DQ I was enjoying my snickers blizzard when a family saw my bike and asked where I was headed. I told them my story, thought what the hell and asked if I could use there backyard as a campground. David was the father, Justin was the boy and I forgot the mother's name. Very nice people, he drew me a map to his house on a dairy queen napkin. Here I am.

Mileage: 65

Total: 300... perfect

Saturday, April 25, 2009

April 24

I was woken up today by the big guy. He made me breakfast. Eggs, Hash browns, and Bacon. Gary is my friend. He said a prayer for me. I ate up and said my goodbyes, I was off at about 7:30. It was off into some more shitty wind. Made it to Decatur at 9:30. Millikin is nice, it reminded me of Wesleyan. There are some shitty neighborhoods in Decatur, It reminded me of Bloomington.

I found a bike shop but it didn't open till 10:00. The guy saw me with my bike and let me in early. They were cool guys, they let me drink some coffee. They convinced me to buy a replacement kevlar spoke. It just looks like a piece of string, you replace a spoke with it and tension the thing real good. Spin City Cycles, if your in Decatur check them out. They also sell a bunch of north face apparel.

Not much happened till Mowequa, I got a famous pork chop sandwich, and some mac and cheese and pancake mix for later. I was getting tired outside of Pana so I asked a woman if I could camp out, I cought her going into her house. She was jacked and excited to let me but she decided to call her husband to make sure it would be alright. The Boss said no, she told me her doughter was having a sleepover tonigth so there would be little girls running around and she diddn't want to freak out the mothers by having a stranger camp out. She told me about a park in Pana I could camp at.

Now I was getting real tired, i had to drop down to my granny gear, baby blue was too much for me. I finaly got to the park, not a place to camp in. Nearly no trees, baseball diamonds, no camping signs and a band shell. For the ISU folks, it was a lot like Miller Park. I decided on bein coragous and crashing in the band shell.

I satisfied my hunger at the Pana Family Resturant. I got breakfast, pancakes sausage and eggs. They had an ice cream machine and you get all you can eat self serve ice cream with the purchace of your meal. It was good icecream too. I relaxed there for a while and called my family.

When I got back to the band shell it was getting late, the 5-0 was rollin through the park. Thats when I notice the band shell was across the street from the police station. I decided against sleeping in the park. I asked a local for a campsite, the best he had for me was a cheap motel, He said it was only about $45. I diddn't want to but I went ahead and pussed out. It was a nice motel and the lady at the counter was friendly. She fed me popcorn apples and granola bars. She said that a few days ago a kid on a touring bike stayed there, he was headed for chicago.
Shower felt nice, bed feels nice.

Mileage: 55

Total: 235

April 23

Back on the road after a long lovely stay in Normal. It was hard to get back into it. It was hard saying goodbye to Dana. I'm going to miss her and I can't wait to see her in Arizona. Dana Has an internship in Pinetop, Arizona, its a town east of phoenix. She is going to be working with the US Public Health Service on Indian Reservations. Pretty Exciting.

Like I was saying today started of very depressing, The whole time riding down the constitution trail in Bloomington I was thinking about turning around. Once outside of town I got hit with The most uncomfortable and aggravating headwind. I went 30 mile in a long and grueling Five Hours, that is awful. I had some food in Clinton at this place called the Shack, it was good, hot turkey sub. It was already 4:30. I diddnt leave the ILSTU untill 11:00.

The wind was getting worse and I was not happy. I saw a big Fella with a littler one a few miles south of Clinton. They looked friendly so I asked if I could camp out on their farm gfor the night. The Big guy gave me a little bit of a hard time at first "How do I know your not gonna rob me" Jolly son of a bitch. I asked him why I need to camp out on his lawn if I'm gonna rob him. This was all in good fun, he introduced himself and his son. His name was Gary Kergan and I forgot his son's name, oh yeah, Little Kergs. Gary owns a heating and refrigeration company, they fix the big industrial stuff. Gary's got a real deep voice and a southern accent, sometimes t was hard to understand him but we talked for a while. I told him about my trip and we talked about Obama and Indian reservations. Later in the evening he grilled up some hamburgers and warmed up some of his wifes stew, It was delicious, Moral was rising, Moral spiked when I found Dana's secret messages she hid in my journal, this journal. The paper one not the online one.
Only traveled 30 miles today but gained about 100 Morality Miles.

Mileage: 38
Total: 180

April 16

Woke up at quarter to 7. The mornng was very relaxing. I made some oatmeal on the Trangia stove Dana got me, brushed y teeth and packed everything up. It took longer than I expected, I had to let my rainfly dry in the sun, it was a little dewy. The whole site was a little muddy. As I walked the bike out of the site through the mud the tires got a nice layer on them. There was then a gravel path out of the park, the gravel stuck to my muddy tires then got wedged between the tire and the fender. It made an aweful sound. Once I got up to speed the rocks cleared. I wasn't back on 47 untill 8:00

47 was busy, I diddnt like it, but only 18 miles and I was in dwight. I hit some big time construction only 2 miles in. They were doing work on all the bridges over the irrigation streams. It was cut down to one lane with a stoplight set up alternating northbound southbound traffic. I diddn't think I would make it across befor the lights changed. I looked down the stream and saw a foodbridgr on someones property, it went right up tp a farmhouse. I saw a woman on the other side so I asked if I could walk across. She asked where I was trying to get to, I explained and she said that all the bridges between here and dwight are like this. She gave me directions todwight using backroads. I was thrilled, I told her that I wasn't enjoying 47 very much and she was happy to help. The backroads went through some nice country. Nice wooded areas.

I reached dwight at 10:30 and had an early lunch at a route 66 themed cafe. French onion soup, meatloaf sandwich and mashed potatoes, it was delicious. They gave me a free slice of boston cream pie. Very nice.

Back on 66 at 11:15 this was a boring ride, it rins along 55 so I had to stare at that the whole time. Every town I went through had some hokey route 66 memoriabelia. I got pretty sick of that stuff too. I dont undersand how people could take this thing all the way out west, Its a very popular bike route. 50 miles with 55 to the left of me and amtrack trains to the right.

I made it to normal pretty quick, I had a nice tail wind, stopped once to finish up some meatloaf and again just outside towanda, some mad hunger kicked in and I had to get a little snack. Chomped on some jack links beef nuggets and a payday, that did the trick. I was in Normal by 4:00

I called Dana when I got there but she was doing school. I went by Bac, Brett, Rudy, Nick, and Timi. Thats one place but I diddn't want to leave anybody out, and Kaile. I was happy to see them, they a good group of friends. Bac hooked me up with a bike computer, I was gonna buy one in normal bet he is letting me use his now. Then I wen't to my place and relaxed at the Creek for a while with all the Fellas, I like the Fellas, theyre a good group of friends too. Especially that Ben Strohman

Mileage: 72
Total: 142

Saturday, April 18, 2009

April 15

I just got settled down in a campsite in Morris. I'll go over what’s been going on these past couple days.

I waited until the last minute to pack and figure out what I'm bringing. Yesterday I went to Dick's with Paul Munda, my best good friend from home, we picked up some last minute items, first aid kit, water bottles, fuel bottle.

Later in the day I had dinner with my family, and said goodbye to them. My mom is not happy with this adventure, seeing how upset and nervous this trip is making her I thought about canceling the whole thing right then and there.

Jessie, my brother's girlfriend, was having dinner with us. She helped get things rolling when it comes to packing. My brother Michael and I made a packing list a few days earlier we went through it piece by piece and figured out how to fit everything on the bike. The trick is to put the heavy items on the bottom of the panniers to keep the center of mass low. With Jessie’s help we got it done pretty quickly.

It was hard to sleep that night. I was just then starting to think about how lonely this is going to be. I’m going to miss everyone, my mom, my friends, and Dana.

Today I woke up at 8:00am, showered, and had cereal and a hardboiled egg for breakfast. I took a quick trip to Walgreens for a disposable camera. Dana was letting me use her digital camera but I forgot it at her apartment at ISU. Bloomington-Normal is my first destination so I will get it when I’m down there. I compulsively went over my gear, I couldn’t get the thought of forgetting something out of my head. I finally got out the door at 9:45. I enjoyed riding through Elmwood Park with my loaded rig, it feels like a boat.

I got on the Prairie path in Maywood and headed to Aurora. The path mostly crushed limestone, some of it still wet from the rain; it was like riding through quicksand. It felt great to get on to 31 and hit some real pavement. I took route 31 to 34 to 47 and down south to Morris. These roads were a little bust, 34 was by far the heaviest. I took a little rest stop at a church right after I got on 47. Had some frosted mini wheats and a granola bar. I had been munching on the mini wheats since I got on the prairie path. They did a nice job of keeping my under control. It wasn’t till a family restaurant in Morris that I had some real food. That was at 4:00.

The Chicken soup, coleslaw and Turkey melt hit the spot. I asked the hostess if she knew of any campsites in Morris. She directed me to Gebhard Woods State Park. It was a park just south of town on the I and M canal. I rode through down town Morris to get there. Downtown Morris is very nice, I stopped in a fancy grocery store and got some gourmet peppermint patties. Peppermint patties are my favorite candies; unfortunately the peppermint filling was a little chalky.

Right outside the campsite a fella with a big Giant Hybrid stopped me. Justin, he was out there. Just a weird dude who roams the I and M canal bike trails. He told me of his travels helping people with their flats and simple bike repair. He was a friendly guy, told me where a bike shop was and asked if I needed any help with anything. I didn’t come to the conclusion of him being a weird dude until he came pedaling up to my tent about an hour later. It scared the shit out of me, I was in my tent and I heard someone pedal right up to me. It was getting dark, he didn’t stay long, talked about bikes for a little, he was off.

I called Dana on the phone and talked a while before going to bed. 9:00

Mileage: 70

Total: 70