Friday, March 21, 2008

Riding Shawnee National Forest, Illinois

At 9AM the sun climbed over the tree line and was shining brightly on to our tent. The Eureka tent being bright yellow and me laying with my feet to the east. The direct sunlight penetrating the tent was so bright on my face that I could see the bright yellow tent walls through my closed eye lids.

Our camp site at the Oak Point campground at Lake Glendale Recreation Area in the Shawnee National Forest

After 5.5 hours of sleep Mike got up with no trouble, I was not ready to get up yet but I did anyway since I could no longer sleep in such brightness and we wanted to get going.

After some breakfast of instant hot cereal and green tea I went for a short walk down to the lake and back. There were some nice campsites close to the lake, but at this time of the year those might be a bit cold at night. I was still feeling out of it. After a can of Red Bull I was feeling a little better. We unloaded the bikes, geared up, and by 11:30AM were riding.

I saw these yellow flowers everywhere, Spring is in full swing down here

The roads have a twist to them down here

Two hours after leaving the campsite we were ready for lunch. We stopped at the General Store in Ozark, IL. This is the kind of a place you can only find in the smallest of towns on the most remote back roads. This general store was a one-stop shop. It was a gas station (one pump), a restaurant (there were a few tables inside), office supply and services (there was a paid fax and copier machine), hunting and fishing supplies, automotive and groceries. Whatever you needed you could find here.

And it was a bit busy too. As you can guess, the menu was limited and there was nothing healthy to eat. Mike ordered a cheeseburger and I ordered a grilled cheese sandwich. We also got two corn dogs, one for each of us. I’m afraid my grilled cheese sandwich was the worst I have ever had in my life and I only ate 1/3 of it. The corn dog was OK. Mike said his burger was good.

Mike ordering his lunch at the Ozark General Store

The view from our table

The outside of the Ozark General Store

Burger and corndogs

Grilled cheese

Our route today was a real dual sport route. There were many types of roads thrown into the mix. It included state and county paved roads, residential and goat trail type paved roads, gravel and dirt roads. Some were wide and smooth, some a bit rougher and narrower. One road had pretty cool water crossings. They were all great roads and there was very little traffic.

This creek was deep but not very wide

This creek was shallow but wide

The temperature got in to the low 60’s. I was actually warm for a while. The only thing that I could have done without was the wind. It was blowing a lot, especially while riding through the open fields. It wasn’t too bad, it just wears me out quicker since I don’t weigh very much and neither does my bike.

The flood waters turned all rivers muddy

So far we’ve seen many flooded fields and there was a lot of water standing on the sides of the roads, but finally toward the end of our ride, we encountered a road that was totally torn up by flood waters, since it was located by a river.

Caution ahead; the bridge was ok but the road was damaged

As we came up to this road there were two cars turning around, so we thought it might have been totally washed out. We proceeded anyway and found several vehicles making repairs to the road. We pulled up to the first vehicle and asked how bad it was and if we could get through it on the dual-sports. The guy must have not been knowledgeable about the kind of bikes we were riding because he kind of shook his head with uncertainty and said to be careful. We told him we would turn around if it got too treacherous.

Flood damaged road

Actually, this road was fun because of all the damage. There were chunks of asphalt totally missing and holes up to 2 foot deep. Nothing we couldn’t handle but a car, even a truck, would not be able to drive it.

Our last road of the day was totally under water. We were curious how deep the water was so Mike entered the flooded road carefully. It get deep quick and the water was dirty so it was impossible to see the road though the water. If the pavement was washed away underneath, it would be dangerous trying to ride this road. I also took a turn to ride a bit of the flooded road, to see how it would feel. Just a few feet in to it I could feel the current pushing my bike to the left.

This road was totally flooded

Flooded forest all around

130 miles later we arrived back at the campsite. It was about 6PM and we had an hour of sunlight left to change out of our gear and get dinner going. We were having leftovers from home, chicken fried rice.

After dinner we walked to the lake to watch the sunset, but the sun was already behind the trees. We were beat. Even though we started a fire with camp wood that we bought from the camp host for $3 a bundle. The wood was still very fresh and wet inside. The wood was from all the fallen trees from a real bad ice storm they had here in February. The wood never did catch on fire, and it didn’t matter, we were ready for bed. By 9PM we were tucked in to our sleeping bags. The overnight temps were only in the low to mid 40’s. I felt really comfortable all night and slept pretty well.

1 comment:

Rick said...

Great photos and i am glad to see you are eating a well balanced diet! :)