Day Twenty-Four: Flying Plane! The Drive to Illinois.

Today was July 4th. While most riders prepared for a roughly 80 mile day to Lawrenceville, IL, I prepared for another day in the van. I played Ride of the Valkyries and the USSR anthem this morning; no one seemed to appreciate Valkyries or recognize the USSR anthem.

It was an exceptionally rainy day. The weather to date has been less than ideal, and we can only hope that the rain clouds subside as we head further west. Until that happens, we don our raincoats and try to ward off hypothermia. I ran the van's heater at lunch to help people stay warm.

As we passed through Vincennes, IN (where townspeople were making preparations for a parade later that day) and into Illinois, we entered a part of the country where flooding had very recently devastated the land. At the Illinois state line, we found three Piper two-engine aircraft parked, since the local airport had been flooded. (These planes look unimpressive from the inside, where they look like shoddy cars.) I stepped out of the van to chalk a turn onto Old US 50, and was overwhelmed by the stench of manure and overrun septic tanks, spread over once-thriving corn and soy fields, now dingy brown. The roads, now open, still took on a brown color, ravaged by the floods. Later this evening, some townspeople would tell us their flood stories. One woman, age 79, had never seen anything this bad. Geez.

We stayed in the Gas Lite Motel, which doesn't have an address - it's just on IL Route 1, south of town. People were glad to get beds, even if the majority of rooms were smoking (Jane and I pushed for a nonsmoking room).

As a complete surprise, Ericc Powell P2S'06 drove down from Chicago to visit our group! I was so excited to see him, though as always, I wish we could have spent more time chatting.

We went to bed early, in preparation of the 0500 wakeup for an 0530 sunrise and 0630 breakfast. Welcome to Central Daylight Time.