Thursday, June 22, 2017

June 22--Day 10--On the 10th Day, I Stayed With 11

Today ended up being one of the reasons I love bike touring so much. It's the people--it's always about the people I meet.

I left the hotel at 7:00. The weather was good, but it was shaping up to be a pretty warm one. I started by getting to ride a bike path through the rest of Muscatine. I rode through a pretty little park called, of all things, Weed Park. It didn't look weedy at all to me!
Weed Park

The bike path took me almost all the way to the bridge. Yep, I was back to the Mississippi for one last crossing, this time into Illinois. 
Mississippi and the bridge to Illinois

Welcome to Illinois

Illinois started out pretty flat, at least flatter than Iowa had started. I did encounter a few rollers, but nothing too difficult. As it was getting rather warm, I did my best to stay hydrated by stopping at convenience stores in the small towns and refilling my water bottle with ice and cold water as well as getting a Gatorade.

As I was nearing the town of Orion (pronounced Oreeon), a guy rode up beside me on an e-bike. We chatted for a bit. His name was Don and he was out for a ride. He asked where I was going today, and I said I was going to Cambridge. Turns out his son and daughter-in-law live in Cambridge. He told me they have 8 kids, but for the summer they have 3 cousins staying with them, bringing the total to 11. Well, I thought that was totally awesome! I asked if he thought maybe I could set up my tent in their backyard.
 He seemed to think that would be no problem.

As we rode into Orion, he said he would show me the backroad way to Cambridge, but first we stopped at his house so I could meet his wife, except she wasn't there, so we continued on. We took farm roads to a point where Don could easily tell me how to get to Cambridge.
Farm road
I followed his directions, and got to Ben and Jennifer's house at 2:30. Jennifer was working in the yard with a number of the kids. Don had already called and told Jennifer to expect me. I asked if I could camp in their backyard. She said that was fine, or I could sleep in their guest bedroom (yes, 11 kids here, plus Ben and Jennifer, and they have a guest room!). Well, the guest room sounded wonderful to me!!!

I met all the kids. The oldest is 14, down to the youngest who is a year. All really wonderful kids. Four of the boys went to a cousin's house for a sleepover leaving just three 
year old Declan as the only boy here with the girls (Mackenzie, Markelle (I'm sure that's not right), Micah, Hope, cousin Ellen, and baby Delancy). Hope is 5, and she is a social sweetheart. Her and I had a great time reading her books and talking about her unicorn dream. She is a delight! 

While one might think a household of 11 kids is chaos, one would be right, but it is organized chaos for sure! There is a definite routine, and the kids know what they need to do, and do it. Jennifer started dinner of tacos, then had to go to her sister's birthday party. Ben was in charge, but the older girls finished the dinner, set the table, and we all enjoyed a delicious meal. Even Don had come by and we got to continue our conversation. 

I've had so much fun here tonight! This really is a wonderful family, and I'm so glad I got to meet them and spend the night here. This is what touring is all about! I just made a whole bunch of new friends!!! I didn't take any photos, but I will tomorrow before I leave. And to think, today's post was just going to be all about the corn fields--miles and miles of corn fields.
Selfie with corn

Total miles for today: 61

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