Thursday, August 4, 2011
I'm a long way from my parents and my brother. I miss them all very much. Fortunately, one of the highlights of the entire trip is coming up the road straight at me now. My father's brother David and his wife Jo, residents of Ottawa, Illinois, have been fruitful and multiplied. The resulting four children all live in the area and have kids of their own, with a couple step and halves thrown in for good measure. I've never had a large immediate family and have not been able to see this particular group of relations as much as I would have liked to, so when I saw Ottawa was on the North fork of the ADT I knew which way I was headed. I awoke today with their homes sitting only twenty two miles away to the west.
Their nearby presence and a cold morning were enough to motivate me to get an early start, leaving Gebhard at just past six. The miles flew by, but not without a little learning on the side.
For example, the Native Americans had a huge civilization in Illinois and some of their most impressive burial mounds and other structures were located in this area. During the building of the canal many of these archaeological treasures were destroyed forever. Ain't progress grand?
The white man doesn't always treat his own very well either. The I&M Canal linked the fertile farms of the Mississippi River Valley to the industry of the Great Lakes and Northeast, making Chicago a major hub of the American manufacturing machine. In return the citizens decided to deepen the canal in 1878, reversing the flow of the Chicago River, allowing sewage that had once flowed into Lake Michigan to instead go back towards rural Illinois. That is literally the shittiest thing they could have done.
There wasn't too much to look at as far as water today, the canal in this section has silted over. The animal life took up the slack, putting on a gaudy Broadway show for my eyes. Frogs, birds, and several species of butterflies wowed me all day long, leading me forever onward towards my goal as they fluttered, flew, and hopped along according to their various talents.
In no time I had reached Seneca, where I visited the library and lunched on some Chicago style dogs, one of the greatest examples ever of what can be done with "meat in tube form" to quote Bourdain.
The stop was no more than a speed bump. In no time at all I had reached Marseilles. This town is a great example of the differences between French and American pronunciation. The American city's inhabitants use up all the letters when saying the name, but the French fail to complete the form in its entirety, falling short by the last three symbols. I think you will find such laziness to be standard procedure in the French language.
I digress, of course, let's have an end to such quibbles. My ride is here, cousins Sue and Heather have arrived and the time has come to go home - at least for a few days before the road takes me as its bride again.
15 miles/1208 miles