Illinois 2010 – Day 4

Turkey Run State Park, IN to Forest Glen Preserve, IL: Hiking with Mom and Dad

Sunday May 9, 2010

It’s Mothers Day. The plan is to check out a park just over the border in Illinois that my parents have not been to before. We’ll hike for the day, then Mom and Dad will head home. So I’m driven over my first state border. It is still a little breezy today, but it’s warmer, around 60 degrees, and mostly sunny. We enjoy the day in a new park – even though we don’t have a trail map and get a little lost a few times. Read more

Illinois 2010 – Day 5

Forest Glen Preserve to Weldon Springs State Park: Landfill or glacial moraine?

Monday May 10, 2010, 88 miles (142 km) – Total so far: 194 miles (312 km)

I get away early – early enough I have to use the combination the ranger gave me last night to open the front gate locks to get out of the park. Breakfast is at McDonald’s where the local farmer contingent is sitting around a table solving the world’s problems and giving me a curious stare. Eventually they ask how far I’m riding and just shake their heads and laugh (at me, not with me) when I tell them Monticello (about 50 miles away). One ornery old guy with a John Deere ball cap says, ‘watch out for the truck drivers, they’ll want to run you down’. Is he one of them? I politely thank him for the tip. The older lady who serves me is distinctly unfriendly. So I get out of there with my orange juice and sausage biscuit as fast as I can. This is definitely not ‘trail magic’! Read more

Illinois 2010 – Day 6

Weldon Springs State Park to Lincoln: Toughest day of the entire ride

Tuesday May 11, 2010, 33 miles (53 km) – Total so far: 227 miles (365 km)

It’s still raining when I wake up, but the storms have passed. I pack up everything wet, and as I leave I attempt to pay my fee. It’s within the camphost hours and their car is there, but they don’t answer to my calls of ‘hello’, ‘HELLOOO’ in a louder voice, or a knock on the camper door. Well, forget it, I don’t have the correct change for the campsite, so I give them the closest that I have, which short-changes them by $3. I put the money in an envelope and leave it with a note that I stick under a heavy napkin dispenser on their picnic table. But I don’t care, they can come chase me down for those $3 if they like. It’s not as if I can escape the scene very quickly! Read more

Illinois 2010 – Day 7

Lincoln to Macomb: Sailing, or so it feels

Wednesday May 12, 2010, 93 miles (149 km) – Total so far: 319 miles (514 km)

I set my alarm for 5 am so I can call my husband in Australia. I tell him it’s been stormy but I’ve had some good tailwinds, one day of bad headwind and that I’m having the time of my life. We talk for 15 minutes, then I doze for another hour before turning on the Weather Channel. It’s raining and it doesn’t look like it will clear for some time. So I put on all my rain gear and front pannier covers and then head out. Read more

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. Read more

Illinois 2010 – Day 9

Macomb to Nauvoo: Drinking like the locals

Friday May 14, 2010, 59 miles (95 km) – Total so far: 378 miles (609 km)

I’ve planned a way out of town that avoids Hwy 136 (even though it has huge shoulders here). I pass over a river that is flowing right up to the bottom of the bridge (which will flood and close this road a couple days after I pass by). I then have a couple hills to climb. One of these climbs from a river bottom is so steep and long that I have to walk (the bike store owner in town warned me of this). After this, it is fairly flat for awhile, but then there are quite a few gentle descents and climbs in and out of creeks. Read more

Illinois 2010 – Day 10

Nauvoo: A religious and cultural history day

Saturday May 15, 2010, 10 miles (16 km) – Total so far: 388 miles (625 km)

Part of this ride, and consequently the route I’ve chosen, is to reflect on why people emigrate and the hardships people may have encountered in past journeys. What compels a person to leave the security and love of home (refugees excepted!) to take up residence somewhere foreign and unknown? I happily emigrated west for college and immediately felt like Fort Collins, CO was home. My next immigration was considerably more involved and more expensive, and I struggled for more than 6 years to get a life started in Australia. It was a long time before I found a place where I fit in and felt accepted. Read more