Day 24: Back in the saddle

Goodbye Marseilles. We rode to Utica for our second breakfast. There are several Uticas in the world but the first was an ancient city in North Africa built by the Phonecians. Utica, Illinois seems to have tailored itself for tourists with their quant downtown and outdoor dining etc.

We came to the end of the I&M canal. Signs say it was built as a shortcut to save 400 miles by connecting the Illinois river to the Mississippi. We rode thru the town of Ottawa (not the Canadian one). It has a tragic and interesting story I watched a few months ago in the Radium Girls movie on Netflix. Back in the 1920s they painted radium on clock dials and the ladies were told to lick the brush to keep it “sharp”. Yikes!

After riding streets thru a few towns like Peru, Spring Valley, DePue, Bureau, we got on a new trail called Hennepin Parkway and went into the tiny town of Tiskilwa, where we ate dinner at Indian Valley Inn. We sat next to a regular named “Shorty” watching his Cubs play. I asked him “how long have you been a fan?” …”82 years”, he replied. I asked him to verify the story I learned about how they got their name but he said he didn’t have any idea. He thanked me for his new knowledge. We had a nice chat with Sarah the bartender and she told us about her other job and 5 kids and her regular Sunday customers like Shorty.

We chose the primitive campground at lock 11 and watched some locals fishing in the lock.

Summary: We rode 53 miles from Marseilles to Hennepin state park at lock 11 on the I&M, streets in small towns, and the Hennepin Canal.

Single track on I&M
Canal boat remnant
Lots of flags here
Mud, almost adobe when you add hay
A little history
Typical mile marker
Hence the name of the bar “Indian Valley Inn”
Interesting tire design
Lock 11 at our campground
A retired old bridge used by local fishers

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