We woke before dawn as usual. Not because any alarms were set, but rather because our clocks have adjusted to the natural rhythm of the outdoor world.
I have to admit though, I woke up grumpy. I lay in the tent and considered the reasons for my discontent.
Sore? Not really.
Finally, I realized what it was. Having dined on pasta boiled in lake water, I was none to thrilled at the prospect of coffee and oatmeal made with lake water. I would rather (and could) forego breakfast altogether. As Mike gathered the breakfast things, I conveyed this reality to Him and disappeared back into the tent to get dressed and pack things up.
Several minutes later, Mike appeared with a gallon container of clear clean water. Plenty for breakfast. Once again, strangers reward us with kindness and generosity. The man a few spots down — who apparently had down some bike touring in his younger days — had seen Mike and decided we needed the water more than he did. And so, my dark mood lifted as the hot dark coffee hit my blood stream and I saw the beauty of the morning — herons on the lake, autumn colors in the trees.
And, Mike was making oatmeal!!!!
After paying our camp fee and informing the park ranger of our unhappiness at the lack of water (or more accurately, the lack of information about the lack of water), we were on our way.
Usually, it takes longer than I think to get to a destination (even a halfway point), but this morning, it seemed like we had just started when we found ourselves in Marion, IL, about 30 miles. The quick pace to get there though, rapidly dissipated as we wandered around looking for fuel (something we should have gotten on our rest day, but spaced) and groceries (I wandered around the unfamiliar store for far too long).
Still, we thought we were doing pretty well as we had 60 miles to go and it was only a little after noon.
And Mike had finally found PIE!!!
Ah, little did we know that first, we would have to go 20 some miles of rolling hills on a very busy road with about half the traffic being large semi trucks filled with coal–and mostly with little to no shoulder. Riding single lane roads with trucks can be harrowing and exhausting, especially for the captain. Although the trucks were (for the most part) conscientious about moving over and giving us some space, they are still loud and scary when they go by.
So, we were quite relieved to finally be able to turn off Hwy 34 onto IL-146 toward Cave in Rock. But we quickly discovered that the hills we knew were coming at the end of the day were not kind, gentle rolling hills, but rather steep suckers that went up and down and up and down and up and down for the last 15 miles of the day. Mike says that today is the first day he really feels like we have our legs back. I guess he must be right, because although the hills were long and we were tired, the legs kept propelling us forward to the top of each hill without too much complaint.
We, unfortunately, did not arrive at Cave in Rock State Park to actually see the cave; nor did we find the beer that we both craved after the long day. But we did get nice warm showers and a hot easy meal, so once again, all is well and we are content.