May 2 - 5: Illinois

5/4 - Chester (63 miles 1164 total)
it was a treat to have debby's 2 older brothers & deb's sister-in-law joining us for breakfast. they had driven 11 hours yesterday to visit deb & headed back today.
it seemed kind of cool while we were eating breakfast & fixing our trip treats, but the weather warmed quickly...partly because we had some of those infernal hills to climb to get back out of the park & on toward carbondale (we never went into carbondale...just on the outskirts). today was not a good day for staying on route. some people even went astray getting out of giant city state park....not a good start. then there was a detour at about 20 miles, which required some backtracking & alternate routes. since we're strung out quite a ways, finding everyone & getting them back on route was a trick for gloria, who was driving the subaru today.
once we got past murphysburo we got into the mississippi lowlands. often the winds were at our backs; it was a great biking day. late morning sari & i stopped at gorham, a tiny wide place in the road. we had ridden over 30 mi & were ready for the first course of our lunch. we found a bench in the shade near some railroad tracks & had our sandwiches & bananas. while we sat there, 2 long freight trains went by. both of us love trains, so it was a special lunchtime treat. then we headed on down the road in search of dessert.....pie or ice cream.
as it turned out, however, today's route was practically devoid of towns. we stopped at one bar & grill & found, to our dismay, that there were no desserts on the menu, so pedalled on. after a while our route brought us up onto the roads running along the top of the levee.
in the photo you see judy taking a picture while sari is probably scrambling for treats in her handlebar bag. even tho' the surface of those levee roads wasn't the smoothest, the flatness was heaven!
chester is the hometown of the person who created the popeye cartoon character. popeye & olive oyl are everywhere.
you'll see in the photo a large likeness of popeye on the wall near a cute little ice cream parlor that sari & i spotted as we got into town.
we made a bee line for the place & each had an old-fashioned those tall glass petalled glasses. it was chocolate almond fudge ice cream topped with hot fudge, pecans, & whipped cream. oh boy! just as we were finishing up, lin & joan laxson arrived. they also had sundaes, as you can see in the photo. this was joan's last cycling day; she did the whole southern tier cross-country ride with womantours last year, but is doing only the first segment of this year's transamerica ride. she'll fly home from st.louis tomorrow. she certainly ended her ride on a sweet note!
our group has had several visitors here in chester. sarah has some friends from chicagoland. gloria's 2 older brothers & one of their wives have joined us here for a layover-day visit.
i am overjoyed to have my dear friends judy & dennis moss from iowa city & also bob & judy adams from burlington, ia, meet me in chester. bob & judy arrived around 6 & joined us for supper (supper was chicken picatta, along with a big green salad & wonderful fresh pineapple & red grapes). they brought my dog fritz along; what a huge treat for me.
tonight i'll go out with bob & judy to stay in their camper at rend lake, 45 mi northeast of chester. it'll be a relaxing change of pace & i'll get to spend extra time with my pup in the bargain. we'll meet judy & dennis back at the motel this morning. i'll love the chance to catch up on what's going on back in iowa.
the other riders will spend their layover day in chester. many have already found the walmart right next door to the motel....& the nearby dairy queen. plus the motel has a laundry room & a whirlpool. guess we bikers have everything we need.
Higher quality versions of the pictures from my trip are available here. If you would like copies of the original, full-size photos, or if you would like text-only versions of these daily reports e-mailed to you, feel free to e-mail my son Mark with your request. Stay tuned....

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