May 11, 2001

5/11/01 Carbondale, IL

68.1 miles

Morning comes early when you ride with Mike! I roll over at 5:30 A.M. and yell, "Are we getting up?" I don't hear a reply, so I get out of the tent. You know that sound a mouse makes when he's taking up residence in the walls of your house? It's the same when I hear him packing up in his tent! But I'm awake, so what the hell.

We actually left the campsite just after 6AM which was good because the clouds were already gathering. That was the kind of day we had. Clouds, then hot and sunny, then more clouds, then sun. Lucky for us, it only sprinkled at the end of the day.

You really get to see the world around you wake up when you're this early. We saw more deer this morning than total for the whole trip. One even ran across the road in front of us.

I hate to admit it, but we also had some of the worst roads we've ridden on these last thousand miles, between Eddyville and Goreville. Just a bunch of constant bone-jarring bumps on a road that had some traffic. And who said Illinois was flat? They haven't cycled down here!

We saw a sign this morning that said, "Dad's Pizza - 5 miles in Goreville - 2500 miles to Eugene, OR." So, naturally, I wanted to check it out. It was closed, but we were early and they might be open for lunch in a bit. I talked to the postman who said the pizza shop served real good food, but didn't open 'til 4 P.M. Bummer. The sign in the window said, "Dad's Pizza - cheap d├ęcor, lousy service, excellent pizza!"

The other suggestion was the Late Bloomer Restaurant. "Everything made from scratch," the waitress said, "and cross country cyclists get FREE dessert." Now is this a great country or what! By the time we finished, the place was packed. Highly recommended by the eating machines, Mike and Jim.

Cyclists get FREE dessert. Wow!

After that we had a pleasant, if very humid, ride towards Carbondale. And saved one more turtle. Not sure if he appreciated it or not.

The shocker came when we reached the city. Definitely the most traffic I've seen in a long while, even compared to my rides back in Kansas City. We rode by Southern Illinois University in search of the Bike Surgeon.

Bill was working and told us to unload the bikes and he'd take a quick look at them. He suggested we eat at New Kahala if we were hungry, then stop on back. He adjusted my derailers and tuned up Mike's wheels for free. "Just taking care of the cross-country cyclists," he said. After he closed shop, he led us over to the house of the owner, Mark Robinson. He wasn't due back to town till late, but Rachel welcomed us to "make yourselves at home."

After a shower, Rachel went way beyond hospitality by letting us borrow her truck to go see a movie. I know I say it all the time, but I'm truly amazed at the generosity of the people I meet on this trip. Thank you, Rachel (P.S., we saw "The Mummy Returns.").

We offered to take Rachel and Mark to breakfast tomorrow. She asked if 8 A.M. were too early. I looked at Mike and laughed. "Not too early for us!

So here I sit, up in the loft, writing in my journal. This house is simply amazing! Looks like a converted store, but the rooms are big and airy, the kitchen is full of light, the TV room has a tin ceiling, and there's a big garden out back. My kind of place.