powered by nightshades (srl) wrote in trans_usa_biker,
powered by nightshades

june 16, orion, illinois, nightfall

i'm sitting at a picnic table near a pool at the hillcrest resort in orion (say "ORE-ee-uhn") illinois, munching on caramel corn and writing by the backlight of my email device. this is a little rv campground with a golf course, pool, and bar, about 3 hilly miles off-route. the name "hillcrest" should have told me something.

i didn't leave henry this morning until 10 or 11; had a hot chocolate, a bagel, and a double chocolate at a little cafe that also sold decorating knicknacks, christian books, and gospel CDs. the weather was much better today; no more than 85, with a light northish breeze that didn't get in my way too much. i stopped at the public library in bradford, about 20 miles along, for an hour, then had a convenience-store burrito and a soda on the curb when a college-age guy on a surly long haul trucker pulled up, coming the other way. we traded road information. he told me about a few places to stay that weren't on the map, including his parents' house, which is 1 mile off the route in stillwater, mn. (he said that they take in cyclists all the time, and he wrote me a map of how to get there.) his bike was fully loaded; he had been free-camping in churchyards and such; and he was riding about 100 miles a day. he left seattle may 10. must have been some damn fine tailwinds.

bradford was only 20 miles into my day, and by the time i pulled out around 3 i thought i'd be doing well to end up in cambridge for the night--- that would be a 60 mile day. the winds and my body cooperated, though, and when a bunch of locals at the oonvenience store in cambridge chatted me up, i realized that the extra 12 miles plus 3 offroute made sense to do today. my decision was rewarded with a beautiful sunset, no wind, temperatures cooling to the 60s, and an excellently paved, mostly flat road with wide sweeping curves. i pulled in here about 15 minutes after bike-headlights-on time. the manager gave me $5 camping, a shower under the moon at the pool (brrrrrr), and a bottle of gatorade for free. she had a cyclists' log, too.

nature watch: more corn. fenced lots full of pigs; separate lots full of piglets (so cute-- they chase one another.) the pigs have little shelters sort of like doghouses. no wheat today; yesterday i was seeing wheat, whigh is just beginning to turn from green to light brown. when the wind blows the wheat, it actually does look like waves. it's very aesthetically pleasing. still the same prairie birds; a hawk; fewer of the ring-necked songbirds though. less roadkill here than 3 days ago, which was more wooded, though i did see a blindingly blue spot of feathers yesterday that could only have been a bluebird. there are some roadside zones along the state highways where they forbid chemicals or mowing; they're trying to encourage the growth of native prairie grasses and wildflowers.

the land has started to have more hills, gently rolling ones mostly. the fields are plowed to the contours of the land here, where 2 days ago they were always in even lines parallel or perpendicular to the roads.

there is a train track a few miles away. i will go to sleep tonight to the sound of freight. 42 miles to muscatine, iowa, where i will finish off this map section and start the next one. the weather is forecast to be in the 80s with light north or northeast winds.
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