Special Attention: I am writing this on my tablet that is blue tooth tethered to my cell phone. Because I am low on cell phone battery, the phone is hooked to a charger near my motel door. The phone is resting on a chair so it can be outside the door so I can get enough signal strength to maintain an Internet connection. I’m sitting on a second chair, also just outside my motel door with the tablet on my lap. The motel I’m staying in is “budget” priced. I just miss the lack of wifi/internet. I am getting a good value for what I paid, which is the cheapest of any on the trip yet. Because of the data straw I have, pictures will be added later. Now, on with the blog ..
Update May 26, 2016. Waiting the storm out in Crawfordsville, now adding pictures.
It was a day I had long anticipated. After leaving Monticello, the next town was going to be Champaign and Urbana. The University of Illinois and my Alma material awaited me. I had hoped to make it there before the end of the semester so that I might get to meet some of the amazing young people who had become Pullman Scholars. I was awarded a George M. Pullman Foundation scholarship 40 years ago when I attended Illinois. For the last 2 years I have helped interview potential candidates. I am humbled by the achievements and determination of these candidates. I don’t feel like I was half as good as some of the people I have interviewed.
The wind was still pretty light on the ride into town, but it was already getting warm in the morning sun. The mental jukebox was playing “Your Backyard” by a group called The Ship. They were a local band and I still have the vinyl album, Tornado, that they released in 1977. I had “Gwin” on the playlist for my wedding. I felt strong and for a few moments I was 20, riding the Raleigh Grand Prix with sew up tires, flying around the countryside outside Champaign. I came in from the south, took a few pictures near the football and basketball stadiums, then headed for the quad.
I met a nice couple, originally from Yugoslavia, that had come from Chicago. They helped me by taking a few pictures of Hidalgo and I with the quad in the background. I was hoping to do an impromptu crowd singing of the alma mater song in front of the Alma Mater statue by just asking whatever group of students might wander by. Unfortunately, the area was pretty much devoid of students. Final exams were done and the semester was over. I could understand. When that last final was done, I was ready to go home.
From the time my son, Pat was 6 until he was 31, we had a streak of 25 consecutive years of attending at least one football game at Illinois. At half time intermission, I would join the crowd in singing the alma mater.
Not to be deterred by the lack of fellow alumni or students, I set up my phone on the tripod, started the video mode, and put on my best tenor. The Alma Mater statue supported Hidalgo, and I did a solo in clear and bell-like tones.
“Hail to the orange, Hill to the Blue, Hail Alma Mater
Ever so true. We love no other, so let our motto be
Victory, Illinois Varsity”
I then made a stop at the Alumni Association, had second breakfast at Merry Ann’s Diner, and headed east out of town on US 150. Down the road in St. Joseph, I did one of the “Welcome to. .” pictures. Just as I was leaving, I met my first bicycle adventurer this side of the Mississippi. This young man was from London in the UK, not Kentucky. He said he had started his trip in China, sailed across the ocean and was now biking across the US. He had started farther north, coming through the Dakotas and was staying in a warm showers home just 20 miles away. I didn’t catch his name, but gave him one of my cards. He will be working and visiting the Indy 500 and we might get to have lunch together Friday, while he is with another warm showers host.
If you recall, my brother, Mike, who had supported me through Colorado and saved me several times with his assistance, had taken my cold weather clothes back with him. Today he was meeting me near Danville to give them back and carry with me to Indy. We met west of Danville and he carried my now fuller and heavier panniers to my hotel across the Indiana border. I rode Hidalgo “naked” for 20 miles, trying to outrun what looked like potentially stormy skies.
Fortunately, it didn’t rain. We had dinner together in Covington, IN. I was glad he made the trip. I got to eat a dinner that didn’t come from a grocery store and I didn’t have to ride extra miles to get it. Mike saved me again. And now I am once again…
The Lone Rider