50 States Day 90, Alton to Quincy
Alton to Quincy, 162 Miles "Those who would accomplish little sacrifice little; they who would achieve much sacrifice much; they who would attain highly must sacrifice greatly." ~James Allen, As a Man Thinketh, 1902 We rode miles along the narrow road, farmland on either side. Were we lost? Perhaps. We stopped at an intersection in a tiny hamlet. "Left, straight, or right?" I asked in the intercom. QG said left, so being the wise husband, I chose straight. 2 miles later the road turned to gravel. We returned to the intersection and went her way, and the road turned to gravel in a mile. We came in the third way, so no other choice but right. Soon we stopped in another town and a nice older woman asked us if we were lost, since we peered at the map. You know the answer. "Not really." Right. She told us to keep going to the tee then turn left. Would we like to follow her? Sure. Apparently she knew the roads because she drove like a bat out of... of... farmland. We regained our direction. Alton holds the site of Lincoln's last debate with Douglas. The setting is recreated with statues and a bit of the building where they stood. I wonder if their debates were done well or like the circuses we suffer through now. We rode the free ferry across the Illinois River and the thing was cool. The tugboat pulled- or pushed the barge from the side. After watching its contortions, I figured it out. It backed away from the shore and then disengaged the stern hook. Then the tug swiveled around so it faced the other way, reattached the stern hook (with a hydraulic cylinder) and drove the boat forward. Why do that? Because the screw is always out away from the shore. A traditional ferry has screws on either end, and the shallow water would trash them when it docked. Very clever. Jim highlighted our trip today too. We stopped at a gas station and he noticed the bike- hard not to, but he chatted us up. He owns the station and convenience store. I love small businesses so we talked shop. He got a pretty good deal, although no fire sale, two years ago. Then BP (like the signs all over his place) had the gulf oil spill and business suffered. Like it was his fault! Then a horrific winter. Yet Jim stuck it out and cleaned the place up, offered cool things like $20 in free gas drawings weekly, wings specials on Fridays (he's no Catholic) and tie dying for the kids. Pretty cool. Jim's a bit tired but happy. The road (the real one) wound along the Mississippi River (pronounced 'Missssippi' here) with trees overhanging the road, farmhouses on hills overlooking... well, dead corn. Except for the corn (a big except!) the landscape is idyllic. The corn dies quickly now after the hundred plus degree days. We see larger patches and the green corn shows signs of stress too. The Mississippi River carried pleasure boats and barges, sailboats and yachts. An amazing huge river. Water is a wonderful necessity of life and signs of it extend for miles each way from the river in the form of healthy green trees. By three, we rolled into Quincy, a medium sized town teeming with franchises. We actually looked up the address and rode to a motel instead of wandering around like Moses in the desert, only on a bike. And on asphalt. And in America. But kind of just like that. Sorry for the lack of pictures, I am working on it. Between the iPad, the Wifi, Blogger and Blog Docs, I don't know who to throw under the bus. Perhaps all of them. Thanks for following and have a wonderful weekend.