Alta, IL (north of Peoria) to Springfield, IL
Today was a total contrast with yesterday. With the 1/2 water bottle worth of water remaining from our dry camp, I made some instant coffee left over from an earlier trip, we packed up early, and headed into Peoria for a nice diner breakfast. After the first couple miles still on the gravel path, we were stoked to be on pavement, going downhill, with a tailwind! We arrived at Childers Eatery after 10 miles and, since we wanted to charge our phones, we got seated right next to the coffee clatch of what my Grandma Hosea told me tonight are ROMEOS — Retired Old Men Eating Out. They were pretty hilarious and interested to talk about our ride. The waitress seemed concerned when Chandra ordered a large chocolate milk with her breakfast. And a second biscuit. We made up for the weak-sauce dinner of the night before in good style then hit the road.
Getting out of Peoria was a bit industrial but low traffic and easier to navigate.
The weather was warm and, most importantly, the wind had shifted from southwesterly yesterday to northwesterly. The terrain was pretty flat. This part of Illinois is ruled by corn, with soybeans being the right-hand assistant to the corn. The towns were nearly desolate with shuttered businesses, but the fields were bustling with harvest activity. Since there’s nothing to block the wind, we live and die by it. Today, the quartering tailwind off our right shoulders was like having a gasoline tube assist! I don’t normally like to talk about average speeds, but yesterday we arrived at camp with a day-long average of 11.6MPH — Today it was 15.0.
We worked out a bit more efficient navigations scheme. We wrote down an abridged version of the Google maps directions (not worrying with a few excessive small jogs here and there) and vetoed them with the AAA maps when they didn’t make sense. It seems there may be some mapping software out there that helps avoid gravel roads, but we didn’t have access to it via phone with dying batteries. The route was good, although I learned a valuable lesson when asking for directions. I tried asking in the Post Office in New Holland for information on which roads were paved and totally got shown the hand. But, in Middletown, in a bar, the bartender not only walked out into the street to point out a route (bar had just emptied of it’s two previous customers) but she came out again again having gone back inside to show us a better road. And she was spot on! The final rural roads into Springfield were mellow, downwind, flat, paved, and FAST! Fun fact — Middletown hosts the Stagecoach Inn that apparently Abraham Lincoln visited when he used to ride the circuit.
We had a fully glamorous lunch on the side of the road having briefly wondered where all the taiko peeps were since we were near San Jose.
The day ended with a great visit with my Aunt Lucy and Uncle Newlyn, Cousins Paul and Kristi and their boys, and Grandma Hosea. A warm, homecooked meal, a couch on which I’m writing this, some great conversation, and a soft bed to sleep on tonight. A total blessing both to reconnect with family and get a good night sleep. Tomorrow it’s off to St. Louis, seeing Chandra’s cousins, and a REST DAY!