"You don't take a trip, a trip takes you."
-John Steinbeck from Travels with Charley, emailed to me by Carol "Super Cooper" Brannon
"Unbelief never changes the truth."
-Barry, in Collision
"Never miss a good chance to shut up."
"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."
Before pedaling this morning I took a quick ride into downtown Dixon to take a few photos of Ronald Reagan's boyhood home. It was one of those moments when I realized I was standing somewhere special. I wonder if anyone in Dixon, years ago, ever thought they had a young president in town. Mike, these photos are for you.
Today I would like to present to Illinois the award for "The Worst Roads on Our Cross Country Bike Ride." We had the misfortune of pedaling south on Illinois Route 52, 251, and 18 from Dixon to Streator. All three roads were rough, full of potholes the size of Kansas, and without shoulders most of the time. Add rain to the ride and we had a lot of white-knuckle pedaling. It was still a good ride and we did 74.71 miles. I'm sure all of the roads in Illinois are not like these roads. We did have some good stretches of roads but not many. We made good time because we had a great tailwind for all but the last eleven miles. The Illinois drivers made our ride much safer than it could have been. All but one were courteous and gave us much room as they passed by.
We stopped at The New Parkway Family Restaurant in Mendota where we had great food and super service. Jonathan and I took quick twenty minute naps in the car while Margaret read her Kindle, took pictures of me asleep, and recorded me snoring. That woman can sometimes be so bad. She's actually good at being bad! I am making an appointment with our pastor so she can have some major counseling when we get back home.
We decided while eating lunch in Mendota that we would get off of route 52 because it was so bad. That's when we decided to take 251 and 18. Things did get better on our detour but we had to watch the road every second so we could miss the potholes and bomb craters! Someone said, "We don't repair the potholes in Illinois, we move them!" Tell me about it! I think they borrowed some from Fallujah too.
We also encountered the only truck driver today who acted irresponsibly and dangerously. He pulled close beside us in his blue flatbed rig on one of the stretches with no shoulder, blasted his air horns when he got next to us, and didn't even slow down. We have pedaled over 2,300 miles and only one truck driver has been rude and acted like the north end of a southbound donkey. Now Illinois has two awards.
Fortunately all truck drivers are not like Blue Boy. One of those guys on the highway is one too many. Because of guys like that all truck drivers are branded irresponsible and dangerous. "But it takes only one wrong person among you to infect all others -- a little yeast spreads quickly through the whole batch of dough" (Galatians 5:9).
That verse was not written to the Truckers Union. It was written by the apostle Paul to a church! That's right. They had the same problem! We have the same problem. People in church who are angry, impatient, impolite, bitter, greedy, selfish, sinful, and rude. You know who they are: the horn honkers at the lights, the people who can't stand to wait in check-out lines, the Sunday-noon-serve-me-serve-me-big-tippers at the local restaurants, and the Me First Club Members. People sometimes think all Christians are like the yeast that often ruins it for the whole batch. The church gets its reputation many times from the yeast!
But . . . Illinois gets another award today: the "There Are Really Nice People in Your State Award." And today's award goes to . . . Bill of Bill's Bike Shop at 1110 - 14th Avenue, Mendota, IL 61342. When Margaret, Jonathan, and I talked about changing our route for today Margaret looked for the closest bike shop. Bike shop owners always know the best routes from town to town in their areas. We found Bill's Bike Shop and Bill and Della . . . and what a treat. Bill worked in another occupation for forty years and, during that time, also ran a small bike shop in his garage. When he retired he kept wrenching and selling bikes. Today he is still at it, still loves it, and still rides around the neighborhood on his bike. When we left he told me, "It's my hobby. I'm not ready to give it up yet." Bill is eighty-four. Not ready to give it up yet.