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Journey to the East: 16 July 2012

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

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Sunset over Lake Fletcher

No matter what, you are lonely, my shadow: I move it to see
 
-Hōsai Ozaki

Chasing shadows
The temperatures have been rising and this day was clear and blue and would get to the upper 90s (f). Riding away from Iroquois, back among the fields, I soon crossed the border into Indiana – no sign to indicate my crossing, just the road number changed. Little else changed though, it was all still corn and soy fields cut through by little numbered farm roads with the occasional highway crossing. The road quality deteriorated and there did seem to be more trees – not quite every square inch given over to the factory farms. The route through Indiana is really on the back roads with few towns and most of them having a population in the hundreds. So with the heat today it was tough – I wasn’t able to stop very often to recover. There was one very welcome Ice Cream shop outside of the one horse town Buffalo which had served many a Northern Tier cyclotourist. I was able to recharge a bit and do the final leg of a long hot day. At this point too the time zone changed – I’m now on eastern time, the final zone change of the tour. I arrived at the Fletcher Lake Fishing Access where the route guide said you could camp. The info sign indicated otherwise, plus there was no water beyond the lake and not even a picnic table. However it turns out that just around the corner is the Fletcher Lake Campground which actively welcomes cyclists.

My clothes a little tattered;
myself a bit too –
traveling still

Chasing the shadows of the clouds –
seeking respite from the sun

Journey to the East: 15 July 2012

Monday, July 16th, 2012

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King Corn

In the tree’s shade –
A wind,
Travellers both.
 
-Santoka

flatland
Back again amongst the corn and soy in the heat, this was probably the most monotonous day yet of the tour. Almost completely flat with just the gentlest of rollers now and again. There was a light breeze from the west pushing me along most of the day and nary a cloud in the sky to block the suns rays. The route was mostly due easy, sometimes ruler straight for an hour or more of riding. Every so often it’d go south for a cole miles before resuming the eastward march. It being Sunday what few tiny towns on the route were shut down and so I pretty much just rode with a break at the bar/restaurant outside of Ashkum. It now being afternoon it was decidedly hot and humid and I had the “pleasure” of riding on some gravel roads. Arriving in Iroquois I found the City Park where I’d be staying this night. Nice big park with lots of trees; I welcomed the shade. We often are supposed to notify someone when we stay at these parks but the last few times my cell phone has had ‘no service’ and I was unable to comply. The same was the cad here but then I got one bar of reception and called the mayor. He came by and let me store my bicycle in the maintenance shed and stay in the attached offices which had a bathroom with shower and was air conditioned. So worth making those calls when you can.

taking a leak amongst the corn –
butterflies all around

heat, corn, grasshoppers –
being fully present

Journey to the East: 14 July 2012

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

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Sunset over old Route 66

In sunrise beauty,
Saying farewell.
 
-Santoka

Parting of the ways
It is the way of the road that for a time you may end up camping with the same group of people night after night. Then your days fall out of sync and once again one is on ones own until another set of chance companions are met. I’d camped with P__ for a couple nights and S__ for most nights of the past week. We didn’t see P__ we think tools rest day in Muscatine and today S__ heads up to Chicago for a couple days off himself. My way continues east once again on my own. I crossed the Illionois River over a large steel bridge and then climbed out of the river valley. After that things were as flat as they have been and of course lined with corn and/or soy beans. There were sections where the road was a narrow band of concrete in a corridor of six foot high corn. Hot and humid again but last night and this mornings thunderstorms had left clouds behind and for much of the day the direct sun was blocked. Due to limited camping options this wasn’t going to be too long a day for me so I took it easy stopping at libraries and not pushing it. As I arrived in the small town of Odell yet another thunderstorm broke, though not a very violent one. I waited it out and then found my way to the city Pool Park where I camped that night. Beautiful sunset in the hazy sky and I walked over to the nearby preserved section of the original Route 66 roadway.

Well met, my road friends,
chance companions –
too soon our ways must part

Journey to the East: 13 July 2012

Saturday, July 14th, 2012

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Wind Power

Wet,
Yet walking in the rain,
This is a care-free journey.
 
-Santoka

Tilting against windmills
Really humid this morning and though there were clouds to block the direct sun it just got hotter and more uncomfortable as the day wore on. The landscape was again almost all cornfields with the occasional rolling hill but there were several wind farms to break up the monotony. I really enjoy these big abstract windmills and am always happy to see them slowly spinning to themselves. By lunchtime I’d arrived in the town of Kewanee which was the largest town I’d seen in days. I restocked supplies and laid in a bit extra as the days ahead looked pretty sparse. back on the road the early afternoons ride was quite uncomfortable as the heat and humidity hit a fever pitch. However as I left the small town of Bradford big black clouds were pouring in and drizzle stared soon after and the wind picked up. Then a full on downpour began with winds now so strong the rain stung as it was whipped into my face. At several points I had to pull over and crouch down among the corn to block this intense wind. Eventually I took shelter under a tree totally soaked I realized I was cool for the first time in weeks. Im sure the farmers were grateful for the rain, I’ve been hearing for weeks from the locals id talk to about how troublesome the lack of rain was. The rain and wind died down and I took back to the bicycle. Really enjoyable riding the last twenty miles or so – cool, no wind and the occasional bit of drizzle. There was a big two county fair going on in the tiny town of Henry but I passed it by (destruction derby tonight!) and camped at Waterworks park which was right on the Illinois river.

In the gentle summer breeze
the windmills lazily spin

Suddenly a thunderstorm!
Whipping winds, driving rain –
finally cool again

Journey to the East: 12 July 2012

Friday, July 13th, 2012

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Last view of the Mississippi

if I cross –
How many mountains and rivers,
When shall I reach,
The realm of no loneliness.
Today also traveling.
 
-Bokusui

Farewell Big Muddy
Today I rode away from the Mississippi which has been a near constant companion since Itasca, MN. The nights camping on the edge of the river was excellent; one of the best ‘grounds in a while. When. night feel it became sonically rich with the mechanical whine of the cicadas, the strange grinding of the tree frogs, whirring crickets, the calls of various birds and so on. Leaving the river today the route gently climbed out of the river valley for some time and then it was flat cornfields for as far as the eye could see. And that’s how it’s going to be for a while. Mostly flat with some rollers, farmland, the occasional tiny town. It’s heating back up (alas) reach 90 or so,today. This trend is supposed to continue (also alas). Not too long a day thankfully after yesterday’s epic ride and by five pm or so I was at the Timbers Campground near the tiny town of Cambridge IL.

Above the sun baked road
a yellow and a white butterfly
dance

Journey to the East: 11 July 2012

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

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Land o' Lincoln

As if it told a lie, the day moon, there it is
 
-Hōsai Ozaki

A long, hot slog to Illinois
The day dawned with perfectly clear skies and it would become as hot as its been in a while. That plus rills pretty much all day and a light headwind most of the day made for a bit of a slog. There was no camping near Muscatine, where the map section ended so I ended up riding about 7 miles into Illinois. This led to me exceeding the daily distance record once again – 92 miles on this day. Too long.

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Iowa Fields

This last day in Iowa was again along the ridge line with cornfields winding through the hills and valleys. Up and down a lot, but seemed more up and down, even at the end where unexpected a bug descent into the Mississippi River valley it only gently descended for a bit. There was a detour on the route but I decided to press my luck and see if I could ride through it, or if they’d quit for the day. Well they hadn’t and it was a multiple mile long section of new cement. So I walked and rode along the edge of the cornfield becoming completely covered in cement dust. Should have done the detour. Back on the road it wasn’t to far before I did that short descent into Muscatine where I wandered around, looking for a grocery store which I never found. So I just ate dinner in town and set off. Crossed the Mississippi for the last time on a huge bridge and then rode for a bit on Illinois country roads and then a gravel road to the Blanchard Island Recreation area. This was a nice Corp of Engineers site right on there river. There was an East to West touron there and an hour or so later S__ arrived so a bicycle tourist summit of sorts.

Along the broken roadway
purple, white and blue
flowering weeds