It was the coyote fight that woke me at 4:30 a.m. It was loud and very West Side Story. The Jets would strike and the Sharks would lunge. It was the push-you-out-of-the-sack and start-the-day inspiration I needed to get moving.
Spent the night at Illinois Beach State Park. It’s the south park that allows camping, not the north end. ”You can cross through to the south,” said the Warden when I asked where the campsite was. ”Oh no, wait, you can’t, because of the nuclear power plant,” she said. ”It’s about three miles.”
The night went off without a hitch until 1:20 a.m. and winds kicked in. Checked the radar and a big storm was incoming.
I managed to get my gear stuffed into my micro tent and slept through a storm that must have dissipated.
Left the campground during a beautiful sunrise as steam rose from the swamp and blended with the horizon in Zion, IL.
It was a slow roll out to the road as the 74.24 miles from the day before left a mark and I cranked out some kinks in my giddy-up.
I heard the music before seeing what appeared to be Jesus pushing a baby stroller and walking alongside Lassie.
“Spreading the good word are ya, brother,” was how I greeted the man.
Swaddled in a blue blanket in his stroller was a big boom box blaring the news of salvation.
“They call me Papa,” said the man with a big white beard and clothing to match. His dog, named Son, pulled at the leash.
Papa said he had six kids in his first life. Now with a slew of grandkids he said he was ”trying to do things right.”
Pulled into the McDonalds down the road for coffee and unexpected conversation with a man named Joe Jackson.
“Ooooh wee, Julie, you need some tread on those tires,” said Joe. ”Come on, Julie.”
Joe was a fantastic new best friend. He said it like it was. Dressed in a blue gingham shirt with two pens in the left pocket, black jeans and sandals.
“I always liked biking,” he said. ”Had a 10-speed.”
Joe said he was athletic and played basketball. ”Were you a shooting guard?,” I asked.
“No, I played center. Always center,” said Joe, who was about 5’7-1/2″.
Joe had four kids and did factory work most of his life. ”Own my own construction business now,” he said, handing over a card that read J&D Builder, Inc., Joe Jackson, President.
“I’ve enjoyed life. I enjoy seeing people take advantage of life. You have to keep in mind things that motivate you. Don’t listen to people with negative vibes that tap into your spirit.”
A great way to start the day. On to Indiana.