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Poison Ivy For My Bed - 3

Oatmeal & Mosquitos

We woke up to a muggy morning in the midst of the poison ivy patch, after thunderstorms and stormy dreams in the middle of the night. The mosquitoes were just as ferocious as the night before.

Poison Ivy

We coaxed the nearly-empty stove into heating a little water for lukewarm oatmeal and gathered our plans for the day. Extricating the bikes and tents from the bushes without touching the ivy was tricky.

End of the Canal

Leaving the I&M Canal behind, we rode up into LaSalle town. The little I&M Canal museum was open so we made a short stop to check it out. The museum is small but features some great photos of the old canal. For many miles I had the Holy Modal Rounders "Flop Eared Mule" stuck in my head.

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Retracing the route to Peru, we stopped to explore an abandoned railroad dining car. With the overnight thunderstorms, it would have been better to camp out in the train car rather than our crummy camp, although we probably wold have had to contend with broken glass rather than poison ivy.

Spring Valley, Downhill

We climbed steep streets of Peru back to the farmlands on top of the river bluffs and rode on to Spring Valley. In the center of town we turned south and enjoyed a miles-long downhill then up and over a thin bridge high over the wide Illinois River.

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The soggy morning improved into a nice day of country riding past little Mark, IL and on into Hennepin, where we stopped by the library, then had lunch at a pretty park overlooking the river, with busy purple martins flitting about. Where were those purple martins last night when the mosquitoes were actually out?

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The rest of the day's riding was muggy hot as we rode on down the highway. On and on. The river to the right slackened and widened into the upper reaches of big Lake Peoria. The blue water looked enticing, but we kept riding and only later regretted that we'd passed the best swimming spot. The highway had few businesses or places to stop, so by the time we reached a crossroads gas station we were parched and cross and running on empty.

Though Peoria proper was on the west side of the river, the traffic sprawled even on the east. Four lanes of trucks and metal shed businesses and scrappy crap on the roadside. It was a relief to pull off early into the East Peoria Marina RV campground and set up the tents with a pretty view across the flat river to the town of Peoria.

I had just changed into my swimsuit for a dip in the river when the wind picked up. Suddenly across the river the sky darkened. Cats paws streaked across the water. A golf cart raced around the campground in a panic and whirlwind of garbage. Something was headed our way. I had a minute or two to jump in the water and then back into the tent before the first squall hit.

Before the Storm Hit

Across the river in the city we heard tornado sirens. Uh oh. Surely all the RVs would be too easy a temptation for any tornado intent on maximum destruction! From my tent I could peer out across the river and spot any twisters headed toward us from the southwest, but eventually I got bored of the tent and went out into the rain where Mike and our camp neighbor stood under a tree swapping travel tales of hitchhiking and freighthopping and a night in the Peoria jail. We were all soaked, but the air and rain were so warm it was comfortable out in the storm.

Despite the sirens, we never saw any tornado. Wave after wave of squalls did cross the river, hammering the tent back and forth for half the night. At some point the storm front passed through and I fell into restful sleep.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 5, 2010 1:03 PM.

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