Day: 60; Daily Mileage: 51.1; Total Mileage: 3,130.3; Stopping Point: Chester, IL
We had a visitor last night, but we don't know what he was or what he was doing, but he was constantly banging and rustling things. We figure he was just a raccoon in the trash, but since we were camping near a maximum security prison, we were all on edge. Todd, of course, never woke up; the rest of us got very little sleep.
It thundered all night, but didn't decide to rain until we left. The rain lasted for a good half of the day. We got soaked. As we rode by a church we saw a lady standing by a tandem. We stopped and talked to her and her partner. They were from England and had eight weeks to do the trip. In Colorado they will cut off the TranAm trail and head for California. At this point, they don't think they will make it.
Since it was wet, I notice air bubbles coming out of Dad's tire. It didn't seem to be that big of a leak. At our last lunch stop, at a gas station, Dad put some more air in the tire to make sure it lasted the last 15 miles. Hardly five miles down the road, I hear a loud bang. It sounded like an engine backfiring right next to us, which had happened a few days ago. We were ridding uphill with no cars right next to us. Dad called us back and we realized that, with the puncture, the tire couldn't hold all the air. We started getting out the patch kits before we realized that the whole tire was split. We had great fun laughing about it.
We were just truing up the tire, when a truck pulled up. Leo was the man's name and he was eager to talk about our trip. He first offered us help and then started in about the crazy drivers of Missouri. We talked about everything, just about. Leo was just a lonely man looking for a bit of company. He would have liked it greatly had we come home with him like he was hinting. As we were packing up he handed us a slip of paper and ten dollars. He said to sent him a postcard when we got to Virginia. We said good bye and nice talking to you and he had a tear in his eye. Twenty minutes of talking sure touched him. He followed us up the next hill to keep back the cars. Leo pulled down a dirt road at the top and honked his horn. We all waved back.
The last seven miles before Illinois were flat, like Kansas flat. We crossed over the Mississippi River and saw a park. There was a Popeye statue. Chester is the home of Popeye because his creator was born here.
Day: 61; Daily Mileage: 42.7; Total Mileage: 3,171; Stopping Point: Carbondale, IL
Cereal made a luxurious breakfast instead of oatmeal. We ate it with powered milk, but it still tasted good.
After taking a shorter, and flatter, route, we arrived at Carbondale. People have been recommending that we visit the Bike Surgeon in town. Mark, the bike surgeon of 24 years, fixed the bikes and then invited us to stay at his house. "His house" are hardly the words. It was an old store from the 1970s. From the outside it looks like a run down building, but the inside is beautiful. Mark is a collector of old posters and antique items, centering around the presidents. None of the stuff is high price auction material, but stuff that other people find useless. There are pictures of Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, both, I think, are autographed. It was really great to see all this stuff because I value these types of things.
Mark also has old bikes. His has one of the original mountain bike that is 30 years old. There are bikes filling his garage. Dad found one similar to his childhood bike days, a Western Flyer, sold by Western Auto stores.
We wandered around Carbondale looking for a T-shirt. Since Carbondale is a college town and all shirts were from South Illinois University, it might be hard finding a shirt in Illinois.
Day: 62; Daily Mileage: 57.8; Total Mileage: 3,228.8; Stopping Point: Eddyville, IL
We got up before Mark and Rachel, so we left quietly and went out for breakfast. After stuffing ourselves full, we headed out into the rain. It rained off and on all morning, but it was warm enough that we couldn't wear coats and so got thoroughly soaked. At lunch time it turned into a thunderstorm and we came across a gas station with a café. We ordered pizzas and ate outside under the canopy. It had stopped raining when we left, but not for long. The rain continued off and on all afternoon.
Before reaching Eddyville, a man sitting on his porch said there was a Community Center that we could stay in. We found the building and asked a lady (sitting on her porch, also) if she knew where we could find someone to open the door. She said to ask the man at the funeral home. When we found him, he was more than happy to let us into the building. He told us just to lock up the next morning. The friendliness of small towns is great.
We went down to the small store and bought hot dogs and chips for dinner. A half gallon of ice cream was easily finished for dessert.