We just can't catch a break on this weather. Since Idaho, we've been dragging thunderstorms across the U.S., heck, we even got rained on in the desert in Oregon.
The day started out sunny enough, but heavy with the humidity. Just a couple miles out of the state park, I saw the Mississippi for the first time! Magnificent. So much history flowed down that river. (Samuel Clemens' chosen name, Mark Twain, hails from his steamboat days - means the water was 12 feet deep, good enough for the boat).
After I gaped for a while, sweating out a liter of water as my body struggled to acclimate to the might-as-well-have-been-Louisiana weather, I headed for Davenport to run some errands. We were trying to make 70 some miles to Hennepin Canal State Park, off the Grand Illinois trail. Theoretically, the trail (made of the Hennepin canal trail and the I&M canal trail) would run us almost all the way to La Porte.
Hwy 22 out of wildcat was more of the same: beat up road with no shoulder. I did stop to take a quick dip in the aforementioned river at an RV camp spot down the road. But for the most part it was industrial with heavy truck traffic. Eventually I turned down Utah Ave to get on a frontage road that took me into town on emptier roads and bike paths. Clearly, the Mississippi had overflowed the night before, the roadways were soaked, the ditches pools for fishes.
The Quad Cities straddle the river, two on the Illinois side and two on Iowa's, bridges criss-crossing every few miles. The bike-friendly bridge is this car/railroad bridge made out of blackened steel, and it rattles and squeals as you ride across it, the rushing waters of the Mississippi visible through the crosshatching below your tires. Sadly, Illinois didn't welcome us with any kind of sign, so Rachel made one up.
Rachel's been plagued with flats, so I went to Bike n Hike for an extra tube and was subsequently adopted. The guys working the shop kept brining their customers in back and challenging them to lift my bike with all my gear. I maxed out their scales when they tried to weigh it. They kept remarking about what a "mighty small lass" I was.. And while I know they meant it as nothing but admiration, and they were nothing but good to us, it's still a little shocking that it's such a surprise to people that we are capable of this trip. Or surprise isn't really the right word, unexpected maybe, as in, this is something they rarely ever encounter. And obviously there aren't an enormous number of people cycling across the county, and Rachel and I still haven't run into any other women doing it but, what am I trying to say. Maybe that I am a little bummed it's so unexpected.
Anyways, the owner of the shop offered to let me use his truck to pick up groceries etc while they looked my bike over and wheooo pickups are fun to drive. Closest you get to feeling like Godzilla. I went to the Hyvee and it took me an hour to go shopping because the store is like half a mile long. It takes fifteen minutes just to walk down an aisle.
By the time I returned, Rachel had arrived and it began to rain. And then we opened the back door 10 minutes later and there were sheets of water pounding down at a good 45 degree angle. We weren't going anywhere.
Steve, the shop owners, offered us dinner and a bed at his place and we gladly took him up on the offer. We hung around the shop for the rest of the day then headed back with him.
His grandson Noah greeted us, a 6.5 year old ball of adorable precociousness. Kid has the most remarkable memory for detail. Watch out for him.
After a delicious chicken and veggie dinner, some laundry and some conversation, we headed to bed a little too late and ready for some decent weather tomorrow.