Day 15: Back in the saddle

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

Pere Marquette State Park to Pittsfield, IL (~35 mi / 56 km plus a ride in a pickup)

We got up before 6 and were on the road by about 6:45. As we were filling up our water packs, I noticed that mine was leaking. Of course, we had left our extra 2 liter packs at Sam’s.

So short on water we started on our way. It got pretty hot pretty early. We had to stop a lot. We were on Great River Road, but the river wasn’t visible much of the time.

We crossed the free ferry at Kampsville. Well, like usual we showed up at the same time as weekly fuel truck and had to wait with no shade for about 20 minutes. The transport ferry really is an amazing thing. The ferry is 2 pieces: 1 piece is a tug boat and the other a barge. It acts like a hinge and it’s fun in the river current.

On the other side of the Illinois River we went to this cafe that had free wifi and opened in 10 minutes at 11 am. We were the first ones in and ordered a simple breakfast of eggs, toast and hashbrowns (they were also out of bacon). Apparently the grill was throwing a breaker and instead of letting us order something else, we were served at 11:45. Normally we’re not that picky but we’d just biked 28 miles and were starving.

We dropped off a couple of postcards and got on our way. By noon it was already in the 90’s. It was hot. The breeze was hot. The sun was everywhere.

But we kept on going. It was also pretty hilly and after huffing and puffing up a big one we took a break in the shade. It was across from a horse ranch. A lady told us it was down hill for a few miles. Her husband let us fill up on water.

We ride pretty much downhill until Mitzer Pit stop which closed at 2 and we got there with 20 minutes to spare. The grill was closed but deep fryer was ready. We split a chicken tender salad. Some nice people were asking us why we are so crazy to be biking in the heat. Truthfully we’re not sure at this point. We ask for somewhere shady and out of the sun. We left and headed out to a church about 1.5 miles away.

We are exhausted at this point and I lay down and crashed for an hour. A guy stopped to ask if we needed water or if we had heat exhaustion. We said we were fine.

Around 4 something another guy shows up and asks if we want a ride. Nate woke me up and I said sure. I didn’t want to ride in the heat.

I introduced myself to the driver and he said his name was Nathan and that he used to be married to an Amy. I then said that I’m married to a Nathan.

Pretty cool!

We threw our stuff in the back of the pickup and climb inside to blasting AC. Heaven sent!

We have a good conversation, shooting the breeze. Nathan invites us to crash at his place and to go swimming. Hospitality just comes natural to this guy.

He has a huge Victorian from the 1850s he’s restoring. More good conversation and we head to the public pool which after 6 was only a buck each. It was refreshing. It was also fun to meet Nathan’s 11 year old daughter. Everything felt natural even in our exhaustion.

After the pool we headed to the grocery store to get some good fixin’s to go with steak. Caesar salad and a bottle of Shiraz, I felt at home, mom and dad.

If you ever go through Pittsfield, Illinois, it’s famous for Abe Lincoln, but I hope you get a chance to meet Nathan. You’ll have a lot to talk about and feel good about life and you’ll want to drive cars real fast. To meet him just get stranded on the side if the road, he’ll come by and you’ll be glad he did.

Thanks Nathan.

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