I arose at 3:00 am and fried some potatoes with onions and garlic and eggs sunny side up.
At 4:30 all was quiet in the neighborhood, which is good because the neighborhoods were East Garfield Park and
I took Kedzie to
To keep track on the map and absorb my surroundings, I habitually speak aloud the name of each street as I cross it and the attempt to recall the name of the last. We frequently watch this video at work and singing it whenever somebody says “
I crossed the Fox River in downtown
I turned onto
“How may I help you?” said the cheerful attendant.
“I’d like to buy some snow tires” I replied in my head.
“Well, I’d like to see the House.”
“Do you have an appointment?”
Uh oh. “Um, no… do I need one?”
“Let me see if anyone is available.” I pawed through the carefully folded, neatly stacked t-shirts, one each small, medium, large and extra large. She reappeared with a docent in tow.
“Now, the cost is $20” she smiled sweetly.
“Good Gravy!” I said, wide eyed. “Uh… I just want to take a peek. Might there be some sort of discounted look-see rate?”
“I’m afraid we only offer discounted rates for groups of 10 or more.”
I looked carefully to each side. “No, I’m definitely not a group of 10 people.”
We sat silent, blinking. “Sorry to have wasted your time” I said and walked out.
I’m sure that the tour would have been grand. I’m sure that the $20 would go to upkeep. I’m sure there is a need to keep an eye on visitors. But all I wanted and had time for was a gander and it irked me that there was no more accessible rate. I knew I should have just ridden around that stupid shack.
None the less, I should not be thwarted so easily. Immediately, I started hatching a plan. If the house sits on the river it must be visible from the other bank, right?
Right. I rolled into
“Hello, this is T.C. O’Rourke. I was over there a moment ago, you remember, the fellow on the bicycle?”
“Yes, of course”
“Well, I’m across the river now. I believe I can see the House. It’s rather near the bridge, is it?”
“Yes, yes it is.”
“Well I just wanted to alert you it is viewable from here. There is some tree cover, but I’m certain you’re loosing revenue. Have you considered a privacy fence?”
I crossed the Fox for a third time in
Passing by “the Rock” without a pint at Duffy’s felt a little strange, but it’s one hell of a hill on the way back. You might remember
We entered Starved Rock from the east and I powered up the steep hill like it was a speed bump, three gears up from the lowest, fully loaded, with 90 miles on my legs. All the mileage appears to be paying off, ‘cause people, I’ve never taken a hill like that in my life.
A bridge was out so we hit the grid of idyllic county roads working our way to route 26, which follows the
I ended up with 145 miles for the day. We camped the night in Marshall State Fish and Wildlife Area, where our camp hosts Ken and Carmen graciously allowed us to shower in their RV. We ate cheddar fortified mac and cheese and fully cooked brats over the fire watching the antics of our coked up neighbors. They set the stage for the total chaos later in the evening, when we called the cops on a dude restraining a drunken woman and running around with a golf club screaming and banging on cars. The cops showed up, arrested someone else. Then it was group hugs for all and back to non-violent shouting until 5 am.
We had a leisurely breakfast of toaster pastries and coffee and were on the road at noon.
We confusedly detoured into an
I did the math and started panicking. It was now 4:30 in the PM. Train departs at 8:06 PM, from Bloomington-Normal, approximately 35 miles away, the specific location unknown. Tight, mighty tight and all the time with
The first guide sign along US 151 confirmed my fears that
At 7 pm the phone rang. It was
I made one last stop for Gatordrink and a 6 pack of tall boys for the train (or possibly the hotel room) and asked directions to the Amtrak station. The filling station attendant narrowed it down 50% to “
I hit the streets of Bloomington without slowing, turning northbound to on the main drag through Normal, noting the tracks on the map, all the while on hold waiting for an Amtrak agent. Finally, I spied an Amtrak sign, the first in the series that would guide me to the station at 7:52 pm, 72 miles from camp.
I kept my neck craned for
So imagine my surprise when he rolled up at 8:03 PM. “Funny, I would have thought the train station in Bloomington-Normal would have been in
We weren’t out of the woods yet. When the train arrived, the assistant conductor asked if we had screw drivers to remove our wheels, as the bikes would need to be stashed in the overhead racks due to the crowded holiday train. We assured her we did. What we didn’t have were tickets for the bikes. This was because roll-on service is not offered on this line, but nobody appeared to know this but us. I gave her the old “they told me to buy it on the train” line but she demanded I go into the station to procure them. They would hold the train.
The conductor at my side we waited as the agent fumbled around trying to get the computer to sell us a bike ticket for a train that doesn’t allow bikes. After 2 minutes the annoyed conductor bellowed “FORGET IT! WE’LL SELL THEM ONE ON THE TRAIN!”
We stashed the bikes, changed our sweat drenched clothing and settled in the snack car with our cans of High Life.