Illinois 2010 – Day 8

Macomb rest day: Where used books go to die

Thursday May 13, 2010

It storms through the night and into the morning. The weather report sounds dire. There are strong storms predicted for today and roads that I was on yesterday have been closed due to flooding. Roads I plan to use in the next few days are closed. The area near Ft Madison (where I’m heading in a couple days) has had 8-12 inches of rain in the past week. So, with the dire forecast, 92 miles yesterday and the hard-fought 33 miles the day before, I’m ready for a rest day. I check at the front desk and it is fine to stay. I chat for a bit with the Indian woman’s husband. He’s found out from his wife that I live in Australia and he is keen to talk cricket. I’ve lived in Oz for nearly 10 years and still don’t really know much about the sport. But I know enough to fake my way through the conversation, utilising key phrases such as ‘Ricky Ponting’, ‘the Ashes’, and ‘Warnie’ at the right times. The manager watches all the matches on cable/satellite – and he seems very happy to have a conversation about the sport his home country enjoys as much as Americans love their baseball. He watches baseball too, however, and is an avid Yankees fan.

Courthouse in the middle of the square – Macomb, IL.

I don my raincoat and head out to see the town. Like so many American towns, the courthouse is impressive and sits on a town square. There’s some business in this downtown area, but not much. In the window display of an old department store, the resident radio station has displayed a bunch of old album covers. I laugh when I see INXS and Men At Work album covers (two Aussie bands from the 80s) nearly side-by-side in the middle-of-nowhere Illinois.

This one’s for Nigel. Two Aussie bands (INXS and Men at Work) feature prominently in this window display in rural Illinois.

I move on to a used bookstore. The ‘bookish’ chick seems a little too excited to see me. ‘Have you been here before?’, she asks. ‘No’, I reply. ‘Well, I’ll give you the run-through of the lay-out’. She proceeds to tell me that the store runs all the way back to the next block and explains where I can find everything from Horror to Self-Help (maybe one precipitates the other?). I then peruse the stacks and stacks of books and decide that this is the worst used bookstore I’ve ever been in. I’m a nerd. I love books. I’m dangerous in used bookstores. Normally I could fill a pannier without even trying. But I can’t find anything here of any quality. It is truly awful. And there’s tons of it. The ‘nature’ section is filled with books from the 1970s about dog breeds and how to look after your parakeet. The ‘travel’ section is old AAA guides and old coffee table books.

Oh, this is disastrous. So I head up to the ‘Classics’ section. It contains some cliff notes for Sense and Sensibility and Huckleberry Finn. The rest are westerns and a pop-culture book about Beethoven’s life. And the really bad thing is – the asking prices for these awful books are extraordinarily high. I cannot bring myself to buy anything, even though the chick keeps looking up at me expectantly. The chick is visibly disappointed when I leave empty-handed. It’s the first time I’ve EVER left a used book store empty-handed. I conclude that this must be where books get sent as a last chance before being pulped – sort of like the euthanasia row at the local pound – although I can’t find anything worth saving!

The rest of the afternoon and eve are spent lying on my back resting on my rest day, cursing the sun for appearing when it was supposed to rain, and wondering if I should be concerned about how swollen the tendons and muscles are on the inside of my leg between my ankle and heel. You can even hear and feel the tendon grating up and down when I move my foot. (Note: This plagued me on and off until Colorado, but never forced me to stop riding. Must have been an overuse injury from how I place my foot on the pedal – the ‘internet doctor’ indicates it was probably ‘tibialis posterior tendinitis’).

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