Thursday, April 30, 2009
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.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
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.
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.
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
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...
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.
Total: 300... perfect
Saturday, April 25, 2009
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.
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.
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
Saturday, April 18, 2009
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