« Swimming in the Chicago River | Main | 60 Miles on the I&M Canal - 2 »

St. Louie or Bust - 1

Mike and I are reprising our trashboat journey with a bike trip following the Illinois River to St. Louis. I'll be taking the train home from St. Louis, while Mike continues on biking solo to California.

Packing the trailer

After a lazy start, we leave my backyard garden behind, with a tail-wind pushing us south all the way!

On old Route 66

Leaving Chicago, we follow old Route 66 out of the city. Rolling on past my favorite, Snuffy's Grill, we opt for a lunch stop on an abandoned section of highway in the shade of overgrown trees. This section of Route 66 was closed in 1998 after quarries on each side of the road started to undermine the road.

Looking down into the quarry

Looking over the edge it's a long way down! Its surprising to see such topography after just leaving flat Chicago. In the distance beyond the quarry we can see the line of the Des Plaines River where we floated our trashboat downstream in an epic flood. The presence of limestone not far under the soil here no doubt accounts for the rapids we encountered a few miles down river.

Pleasant Canal

Making our way south on city streets, rural highways and bike paths, we finally make it to our first small town outside the city, Lockport. The town was once the headquarters of the I&M Canal, which opened to barge shipping all the way upstream from St. Louis to Chicago in 1848. A quiet remnant of the canal is still here, at the start of a bike path that we will follow west for 80 miles.

Hurrying through Joliet as the afternoon wears on, we cross the wide Des Plaines River on an old iron bascule bridge, and pass the riverfront tavern where we ended our trashboat journey three years ago. Too bad we are in too much of a hurry to stop in for a drink and to see if Keith, the riverman we met back then, was still around.

McKinley Woods

Due to our late start, we end up racing the sunset to camp even with the longest daylight of the year. After a water stop in Channahon, we make it to McKinley Woods, for some secret off-trail camping. A picturesque stone overlook built by the Civilian Conservation Corps gives us an escape from the mosquitos while we eat dinner, and there's time for a refreshing swim in the river. Across the dark water, behind an island, the Kankakee comes in from the south, merging with the Des Plaines to birth the united Illinois River at this point.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 3, 2010 12:20 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Swimming in the Chicago River.

The next post in this blog is 60 Miles on the I&M Canal - 2.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Powered by
Movable Type 3.35