Today marked our first morning and last night in Illinois. Our stay here has been short and pleasant. On Day 2, we met a cyclist who said Missouri and Illinois were her two favorite states. My theory is that the short stay means there's not enough time to find negatives.
Our morning ride was nothing particularly noteworthy. We met two guys who were heading east. We asked how long they had been on the road, but the three weeks they spent in Boulder seemed to cloud their memory. We traded some recommendations for hostels and camping and went in opposite directions. It's a pretty cool experience to talk to people doing the trail; you rarely exchange names or really any personal information, yet you have a sense of understanding of each other that could only come from an experience like this. You'll never see them again, but that's ok.
About 25 miles from our destination of Carbondale, we stopped for a meal at Delancey's. I don't know what town we were in, but if any cyclists on the trail pass by a restaurant called Delancey's on Broadway in Illinois, go inside. The food was great, but the advice we got was better. The waiter told us a shortcut that would save us some hills and miles. He prefaced it by saying "Cyclists never take my advice and always say 'I have these maps,'" but Chris and I weren't so quick to dismiss the local advice. He could have ended up being someone who actually hated cyclists and was trying to send us on a terrible detour, but we trusted him and took his advice. We ended up shaving about 10 or so miles off and had a great ride into Carbondale, so I'm glad we listened.
By getting to Carbondale so early, we were able to drop off our bikes for tune ups and grab our mail and Sonic while we waited. On the subject of Sonic- I will give them credit for great marketing, but man is it overrated. They're smart with their advertisements; there are always Sonic commercials in the Northeast, but there are very few locations up there. You always want what you can't have, so this makes people think that they have to have it when they see an actual Sonic location. Once you have it, though, it's iust meh. I'll probably continue to fall for it each time I see a location, though.
We are staying at our first Warm Showers host tonight. Warm Showers is an app that connects cyclists with people that are willing to host them for the night (or at least just a shower). Our host signed up because she has been interested in doing the Trans America Trail, so she wanted to talk to people doing it in order to see what it's like. We were able to shower, do our laundry, hangout in an air conditioned room, and had a few beers with our host- all for free. I've thought about this for a few weeks, but homeless people should honestly just ride around on bikes. I'm not saying that insensitively- I actually mean it. We get meals paid for, showers, places to sleep- and why? As I've said in the past, we voluntarily decided to bike across the country. No one is forcing us to do it, but everyone we meet wants to help us succeed. The cyclist community is so helpful and altruistic that's it's a bit crazy when you really think about it.
The beer of choice tonight was Magic Hat #9. The underside of my cap read: "write your own future." All of the caps have positive calls to action (not like they're going to write "give up already"), but I still kept the cap. Writing my future is exactly why I decided to quit my job and bike across the country. I knew I wanted to have a more interesting chapter in my life than commuting to and from my desk everyday, so here I am. I don't know what is to come, but I'm the author deciding it.