Sunday, July 19, 2009

Day 19: Golconda, IL to Carbondale, IL (71.5 Miles)

Yes, I ate all of that...

I left San Damiano at sunrise and felt my legs failing me within the first 25 miles. As I traveled along the Trail of Tears, I set my eyes toward Eddyville, IL. Upon arrival, it looked like the gas station/store was closed. Everything is takes on the look of a ghost town on Sundays. On one hand, it's great having very few cars on the roads; conversely, it's dreadfully difficult to find places for water/food/rest. I pulled up to a man apparently sleeping in his truck, and he told me of the Shawnee Restaurant and Lounge. I went there and ate the biggest breakfast I've ever consumed. It helped. Pushing on again, hoping that I'd run into Chris & Chris, I stopped to chat with these three fellows from Syracuse, New York. I warned them of rabid dogs, soul-wrenching switchbacks, and lack of bike shops in Kentucky. In return, they warned me of insect swarms, shady campgrounds, and more steep hills.

I stopped in Goreville for lunch and found a gem of a restaurant called Delaney's. The owners sat with me and shared stories and offered me free pie. Feeling stuffed, I had to decline the pie, so they gave me apples instead. After some brief picture taking and thanksgiving, I took off towards Carbondale. I wanted to end my day there due to numerous bike shops (my Bianchi needs a tune-up something fierce) and hopefully catch Chris, Callum, and Dowds.

The road to Carbondale was nice and rural, with plenty of farms stretched along the way. As I approached town, I could see the signs of a college town emerging. Keywords like "organic," "interfaith," and peace flags made me felt welcome. It's sad that I'm here during the summer, because I'd like to see this town in it's element, say during October or April. Anyways, I found a super-cheap motel ("The Heritage") just outside of town and spoke for a bit with a very eccentric, maybe drunk, owner.

I then received a call from the Brits and they informed me they were staying in the EconoLodge on the other side of town. They were stranded here due to a mishap of knife blade meeting rubber. Dowds somehow stabbed his front tire whilst putting on a new computer onto his Trek outside a Wal-Mart parking lot. I also ran into Chris & Chris, who stealth-camped in Elizabethtown last night, and they checked into the same motel as me (where they found a colony of bugs infesting their room). After sharing our wretched stories of the prior evening, I headed east of town to meet up with the trio. I soon found them topping off copious amounts of beer (which seems to be a running theme with these guys). We hung out outside their motel and shared some hilarious stories. Then we went out for some pasta and met up with Chris & Chris for a late night of conversation. I got in a little before midnight, feeling completely exhausted. I'm meeting Dowds outside Bike Surgeon at 10:30am tomorrow morning and we'll try to catch up with Chris and Callum in Ozora, Missourri. I just hope I can keep pace with my triathlete friend.


M said...

Hi Blake,
Mee Maw is having trouble posting a comment on your blog so she is writing to you at your e-mail address. If you have a moment to respond to her that would make her so happy!! I've been talking to her via the phone almost every night filling her in on your progress. Glad you are doing better and Dad said you sounded better on the phone Sunday night.
We both miss you too!!
Tyler says,Ruff! Ruff!
Love, Momma

Momma said...

Hi Blake!! I am walking Mee Maw through this so she knows how to send you a comment every once in awhile!
Love ya! Momma

Mee Maw said...

Hi Blake: So glad Momma is walking me through think you were the only one making 'accomplishments'---if I do this, think I'll have some of 'that there' beer!!only called 'champayne'!!! I am so glad things have come up roses for you again and that you are proving 'your stuff' Go sweetie and enjoy all you can...We Love You, Pop Pop and Mee Maw

Anne said...

I'm glad you caught up with your British friends and have someone to ride with again. I thought a lot about you yesterday while visiting Clem in Quincy. Just know that you have a whole squadron of friends who are praying for you and cheering you on. Stay safe, Blake.

Grandma said...

Hi Blake - We can't wait to read your blog updates as they become available--we're mapping your progress on a big map spread out on the dining room table. We're impressed with your writing skills--to match your riding skills! My sister, Maggie and brothers Myke and Charles are thoroughly enjoying your journey too. Don't think I can call you "Blakey-boy" anymore--more like "Blake-man" or Blake-the-bike man!" We know it takes a lot of determination to keep up with the writing each day--but it's wonderful. You will have a great book for publication at the end of your journey.
Love you! Grandma and Gramps

Grandma said...

Thought you might like reading what my brother Charles wrote today:
"Looks like Blake is some kind of young man. Followed him on his blog for a few days. With so much entering on his laptop, how does he find time to ride, repair, eat and sleep?" This pretty much echos everyone who has been following your incredible journey. Love again, Grandma

Nicole said...

Hey Blake!
I heard about your trip through a newspaper article. What you're doing is very admirable! My name is Nicole, I'm 23, and I'm trying to plan a fundraising bike tour this fall. Your blog has so much great information, so thank you for that! I was wondering if you could offer some advice to a first time rider..on planning, training, the kind of bike to take, and fundraising. Thanks for what you're doing!!
-Nicole :-)

Nicole said... can contact me at I know you're really busy, but any advice you can lend would be AMAZING!

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