June 22, 2006
I had a good breakfast of cheerios, cookies, and orange juice – courtesy of the church. What a great stay… better than a motel, and free!
I rolled out around 7:30, and the first town I came to was Dixon. With a population of 632, there wasn’t really much there, so I moved right along to the next town – Clay – population 1,200. Knowing that I had a 22 mile stretch without even a gas station ahead, I stopped for breakfast at a small place called Jeri’s Cafe, and had a great ham and cheese omelet with biscuits. I asked the waitress to fill up my water bottles with ice water, anticipating another hot day.
The following miles were easier than I expected. A funny thing happened with the weather. A flat dark cloud covered the sky, and the temperature dropped 10-15 degrees. By the time I got to Marion, the next town, the cloud had moved on, and the temperature was back in the mid to upper 90s.
With a population of 3,200, Marion was an even bigger town, and I arrived around noon for a lunch break. They had a McDonald’s, so I stopped in for my typical double cheeseburgers, and I stopped at the library. There I updated my online journal, so you can read about how I stopped at the library!
From there it was ten miles to the ferry across the Ohio River, and into Illinois! Pure adventure. Well it doesn’t quite top the man with a canoe that rows hikers across a river in the middle of the Maine woods, but a ferry feels adventurous nonetheless.
The first town in Illinois is called Cave in Rock, because there’s apparently a large cave nearby that hosted a band of river pirates for decades. And now in Illinois I see signs for the Trail of Tears “Auto Tour.” It looks as though I’m following the route same that 14,000 Cherokees took on their forced march to a reservation in Oklahoma.
Down the road I came to Elizabethtown, still along the Ohio River. A thunderstorm rolled in, but it was no surprise to me. I had checked the forecast back in Marion, and expected storms all night. I watched it pour outside as I sat dry and cozy on a porch in front of a general store.
The only place to stay in town was a bed and breakfast, so I chose to be bold and venture out into the dwindling rain, seeking cheaper accommodation farther down the line. The rain ceased altogether, but not before I was soaked with the assistance of puddles and the wet road. My feet squished out water on each pedal stroke.
I knew another storm could come at any time, and it was a shaded, misty evening. The sun only occasionally broke through the dark sky. I saw a ton of deer near the Shawnee National Forest… no surprise, closing in on dusk.
It was along this stretch that I met two eastbound riders – Peter and Amy Ward. They’re riding from Oregon to Virginia, and were fun to converse with. We were talking for probably at least half an hour. We covered all the bases – from what to expect up ahead, good places to stay, keeping an online journal, attitude, the recent heat, and more.
The remaining miles were a breeze, and I found a cheap motel in Golconda, just as a strong storm started to blow. Life is good.