May 2 - 5: Illinois

5/2 - Cave In Rock (42 miles 1018 total)
i notice that my odometer surpassed 1000 mi yesterday; today it says 1058. so we've polished off almost 1/3 of the days that we'll spend on this ride....but only about 1/4 of the miles. i'm no mathematician, but methinks we'll have some catching up to do somewhere along the way. we've gotten a little spoiled with so many short days, but looks like that can't last very long.
it was a picture-perfect biking day....sunny, blue skies, warm temps (almost hot by afternoon), light traffic, light winds (which seemed VERY light after yesterday). there were quite a few hills, but most of them were those relatively harmless rollers. sari & i left the clark baptist camp near dixon at about 7:45, about in the middle of the pack for a change instead of at the back.
the first town we came to was marion at about 25 mi. you'll see members of the 'cafe crowde' in the picture. the ringleaders, rose & sarah, spent last evening in the bunk room settling on where the next morning's breakfast cafe would be.
in the photo are, from left, sarah (who doesn't like having her picture taken), debby, gloria, then across the table almost visible in blue is sue, coming this way on the right is anne, then rose.
rose's nose always knows where the next good cup of coffee is hiding; she's often one of the first to get a cup of patty's brew in the morning. then once on the road, rose & sarah seek out the hometown cafes along our route. their bikes leaning against a storefront have come to be the sign of good eatin' for other bikers as they pedal into town. sari & i took their lead today & stopped by that coffee shop for a piece of homemade oatmeal pie.
we're happy to have crossed into illinois & to leave the kentucky dogs behind. tho' the last couple of days or so, we've probably averaged only about half a dozen canine close encounters daily. today one of the groups of dogs that dashed noisily out to meet us on the roadway was especially persistent. sometimes the dog dazers work, sometimes they don't seem to. under anne's tutelage, i have been working on my canine repeller shout----a very loud & abrupt NO, OFF! in fact, today i shouted that way to a couple of dogs nearing the road as i approached & they started wimpering & slinked (slunk?) back away. i almost felt if i should go back & pet them.
debby was driving the subaru this morning. she was trying to protect a group of our riders from an especially troublesome beagle. (i'm particularly fond of beagles; my son mark's maggie is a charmer.) finally debby opened the door of the subaru & the beagle gleefully hopped into the car. debby took the dog back to the yard where it had started pursuing our bikers, but it simply jumped out & started chasing again. about that time a highway worker drove by & offered to take the pup with him. that pooch hadn't had no much fun in a long time.....but he sure posed a problem for our bikers.
our day turned out to be longer than we'd thot because there was a typo on our route sheet. but even then, most of us got to the edge of the ohio river for our ferry ride into illinois by late morning. sari, judy & i happened to draw near the ferry just as it was leaving the kentucky shore, but the tugboat workers saw us coming & waited for us to board.
you'll see judy & me standing on the ferry, which we shared with a large construction truck.
having grown up on the mississippi river (in burlington, iowa), i have a special fondness for rivers & tugboats & barges & everything that goes with rivers....even the humidity.
darleene has really been looking forward to today's ferry crossing. & when her chance finally arrived, she rode back & forth for 7 one-way trips. the ferry workers were very nice about letting her park herelf & her bike along the railing & just let her ride & ride & ride.
the town of cave in rock, pop 400, is on the river's edge. after disembarking the ferry, we pedalled less than a mile to the cave in rock state park, where we're staying tonight. our group uses up all 8 of the park's overnight accommodations. & boy are they nice....large rooms each with 2 double beds, a little kitchenette with sink & small fridge, large bathrooms, & decks with spectacular views of the ohio river & all the traffic on it.
notice judith & her wash in the foreground of the photo, with 2 large coal barges floating on the ohio river in the background. notice, too, the hazy sunshine; it's a real summer day.
but unfortunately there are no phones in these rooms, so i'll soon put an alternate basket on my bike, put my computer in that basket, then hop on my bike & pedal back to the town in hopes of convincing some kind cave-in-rockian to let me use his/her phone jack to send some web site reports & check my email. if you see this report close to may 2 you'll know i succeeded. otherwise, since we're again camping at a church tomorrow night, you'll be reading stale trip reports in a few days.
late afternoon i rode back down the big hill from cave in rock state park to a little family cafe, where the owner wasn't able to let me use her only phone line, but she knew that the pizza place across the street had 2 phone lines, so she called there & arranged with them for me to use a phone jack there. people are wonderful. i enjoyed chatting while my iBook sat on the ice cream cooler sending messages & photos via the nearby phone jack.
now it's after our supper back up at the state park. i have ridden back down to the pizza place so that i can send you a picture of these kind folks at gee jay's in cave in rock, il, who are nice enuf to let a complete stranger monopolize their phone jack.
the owners/operators are sisters Gladys (Gee) Douglas & June (Jay) McDowell.
the restaurant has been in operation only since this past february. they get quite a bit of business from ferry traffic; the ferry landing is about a block away. if you ever find yourself in this friendly little river town, do stop for a soft serve, sandwich, or pizza at gee jay's.
Higher quality versions of the pictures from my trip are available here. If you would like copies of the original, full-size photos, feel free to e-mail my son Mark with your request. Stay tuned....

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