July 19, 1999 - Day 40 - Naperville to Momence, Illinois
70.6 miles - 16.1 mph average - 2622 total miles - 27.6 mph max speed
MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT: Roadkill Roulette Regional Winners!!!!
We have two regional winners to announce, the West (California-Colorado) and the Great Plains (Nebraska and Iowa).
And our winners are (drumroll, please):
The West: 397 Total Roadkill. Courtney Taft said there would be 400.
The Great Plains: 183 Total Roadkill. Matt Beres said there would be 196.
These two students will receive a free sundae worth up to $4.50 at Every Day's a Sundae, Downers Grove's pre-eminent PRIVATELY OPERATED ice cream shop (unlike those nasty ice cream shops in Vail, Colorado), right on Main Street in Downers Grove. And they will join the other regional winners and the national winner for a home-cooked dinner at the Graham's house sometime after school starts.
This is the garden that Lois and I put in three summers ago.
This time instead of putting the bike in the car and going to the airport, I said goodbye to Lois and rode off down 6th Ave.
The four days at home were great. The time with Lois and the girls was made more special because of the absence. I ate like a king. I slept great. We saw friends and other family.
I took Ruth and Alyce back to their respective job/orchestra rehearsals in Wheaton, Matt Marengo came over for Lois's fabulous buttermilk pancakes, I re-loaded the bike, and put a new tire (Continental Top Touring 700x28) and tube on the front wheel.
After a few more errands, we went across the street to say goodbye to our neighbors, the Shifflers. Mr. Shiffler was one of several brothers who began a home contracting business in Naperville many years ago, back when its population was under 20,000. Now the city is approaching 120,000 and Shiffler Builders is one of the town's largest and best-known home contracting companies.
And so I hit the road at the crack of 2:00 p.m. with hopes of making the Indiana state line by nightfall. Coulda done it, but the problem is an old one: lodging. There's no motel in any of the small towns east of Momence, Illinois until well into Indiana. I could make Indiana (it's only about six miles), but not to the nearest motel in Indiana. (Guess "Indiana Doesn't Want Me")
Outside of Manhattan (the Illinois one) is the only round barn I've seen on the trip. It's a working farm, but they have it open for tours as well.
Did I mention the heat? No? Well, it poured this morning, then the sun came out, temperature went to 95 and the humidity level went to about 1000 percent. It was the kind of air where you don't "breathe", you "pant". It's like breathing the air out of a vacuum cleaner, no - a wet vac; you can just feel how this was the kind of air that was just loaded with cholera germs and all those other "lowlander" diseases that people fled West to escape. The heat closed on my head like a vise.
And that's why it was just GREAT to coast down a shaded street in the town of Peotone where Daly (5) and Laine (3) Tongren had their lemonade stand set up. They offered a wonderful BIG plastic cup of delicious lemonade with ICE! for a dime. I chatted with them and their dad for a little while. Daly is going to start kindergarten this fall and Laine is going to start pre-school. They're both very excited about this, and I told them that I thought they were both going to just love school.
The town of Peotone is about 60 miles southeast of Chicago. Our previous governor wanted to put the "new" Chicago airport here, since O'Hare was landlocked and couldn't expand anymore. Unfortunately, Denver beat him to the punch and put their airport here first, so the new governor is busy trying to find another site. Green Bay and Rochester, Minnesota are the leading contenders right now. They're both fine with the taxi companies.
As you come into Momence (or is it as you leave Momence?), you cross the Kankakee River, one of the two rivers (the other is the DesPlaines that flows south out of Chicago's northwestern suburbs) that have their confluence about 25 miles west of here to form the Illinois River.
The Kankakee is non-navigable and is used mainly for fishing and some boating (behind its dams). The DesPlaines has been dredged and hooks up with the Chicago Ship and Sanitary Canal, connecting Lake Michigan and the Illinois River, providing a major transportation artery for barges carrying coal (of course) and grain from the Mississippi River through the Great Lakes and vice versa.
Jim and Sue Baldwin in Naperville
You'll remember Jim and Sue if you have followed these journals from the VERY beginning. I stayed with them in their home in Concord, California on the first day of this trip. They are now on their own journey to (it seems) everywhere in the U.S. They followed Rte. 50 across Nevada and Utah, just like I did. And here is the picture I took of them in our driveway here in Naperville when they visited us yesterday.
Bon Voyage, Jim and Sue. Safe journey.
In closing, I think you'll love this one. A day after arriving home, a post card was delivered that I had written to Lois from Middlegate Station, Nevada on June 16. That's right, folks, I got to Naperville from Nevada on my bicycle faster than the U.S. Postal Service delivered that post card. The post card? It was a picture of the old Pony Express station at Middlegate.
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