As I sit here in my tent with soft and sporadic drops of rain falling, my thoughts are much more clear than the past few nights. We had been lucky with biker hostels recently, so this is our first time camping in about 150 miles. Not surpisingly, it's much easier for me to concentrate on my thoughts when we don't have "Deconstructing Harry" or "Bruce Almighty" as the background noise. I've grown accustomed to not having many distractions the past few weeks. Before this trip, the only time I wouldn't be playing on my phone or busy with something would be in the shower. Showering was the only time that I really allowed myself to think. I don't have much of an opportunity to do anything other than think these days, and I kind of like it. I haven't come up with any million dollar business ideas yet, but those will come. I'm pretty tired from our first day in Illinois, so I'm going to bullet out some thoughts from the day:
- We rode the ferry from Kentucky to Illinois this morning. Crossing the Ohio River lasted no more than 5 minutes. When we rolled down the ramp and into our third state, we found ourselves in a very pro-biker town. There were painted bikes used as decorations in front of stores and a few "Welcome Cyclists!" signs. We had a great first impression of Illinois.
- I (mostly) continued to like Illinois as the day went on. The roads are a little less narrow and there are considerably less Mountain Dew and Natty Ice cans thrown along the side of the road. The hills aren't as high as VA and KY, but they're definitely the steepest we've seen.
- I asked Chris if he feels like us being from New York causes us to look down on some food places like snobs sometimes. He said no and that we just had standards that we've come to expect. This conversation took place in a restaurant today that had seemingly run out of space for dishes in the kitchen. The counter had towering stacks of dirty plates lined four feet long. When we walked in, there were three empty tables that still had their plates and garbage there. When we left, there were five. Some of my favorite places to eat back home are on the dive side, but I would never expect to see something like that. Maybe health inspections are more casual here.
- I saw a few confederate flags today. I feel like that's a strange thing to see in Illinois.
- It's interesting to see what sports are big in each state. Everyone in Kentucky wore some kind of UK apparel, had UK mailboxes, and made an effort to fully rep the school that I doubt most of them went to. It didn't surprise me when the only ball I saw in the whole state was a basketball. Kentucky is obsessed with college basketball, so it made sense that it was the only sport people spoke about. We've only been in Illinois for a few hours, but I've seen a bunch of Cubs hats. At the dirty diner I mentioned earlier, the waitress and a patron were talking about a few summer league baseball tournaments. Illinois has more sport options thanks to Chicago, but it's been all baseball so far.
- After setting up my tent, I sat down at a picnic table to relax. A creamsicle colored cat walked over and tried to rub against me, but I shooed it away. I wasn't much in the mood to play with a stray cat. It walked to Chris' tent, paused, and decided to keep moving. When the cat was next to my tent, it turned back to look at me and, without breaking eye contact, began to piss on my rain flap. This cat reminded me of my first business idea: the kitten exchange. Disclaimer: if you're a cat lover, don't read. If you do read and get offended, I would sooner question you for liking cats than I would apologize. Anyway, the kitten exchange club was simple in theory; everyone loves kittens, not everyone loves cats. A kitten wouldn't maliciously piss on your tent, but a cat would. The idea was a subscription based club where you get a kitten and then, when it becomes a cat, you trade it in for a new kitten. Yes, I know what you're thinking: what do you do with the cats? If I had that solution, this club would exist already.
- Tomorrow's destination is Carbondale. I have a few packages coming in from my family and I don't know any of the contents, so I'm anxious to find out.