Thursday, August 4, 2011

On the Rampage

August 2: Outside of having destroyed the city several times, I had never been to Joliet. In real life the first level of "Rampage" lacked the skyscrapers presented by the game, perhaps rightly fearing an attack by a giant lizard, a mutant werewolf, and a King Kong look alike. Another fictional star of Joliet, was in evidence, the drawbridge jumped by "The Blues Brothers." Joliet Jake used an old police car to channel his own inner Evil Knievel. There were actually several drawbridges crossing the river thru town, so I could not determine exactly which one Joliet Jake had flown over.
Joliet got its start as a producer of limestone and the naked cliffs on the river's western shore still bear the scars of its extraction. Later on, in the heyday of the Illinois and Michigan Canal, whose path I will retrace starting here, the town became a huge steel producer. Soda pop is said to originate here, the brain child of merchant John Paige. The dental industry should put up a plaque in his honor next to the man who invented Jolly Ranchers.
The modern town boasts a casino, Harrah's, where residents hit by the hard times can go to bring joy to the lives of themselves and their family by squandering the last of their money.
On the western outskirts of Joliet sits the starting point for the I&M Canal Trail. The original canal stretched from Chicago to Peru, but the Chicago section is now super highway. A desire not to have hikers and bikers demolished by a bus caused this part to be excluded. Like the C&O Canal, the beginning is rather bleak, with a thick algae bloom obscuring any visual evidence of the very existence of the water underneath.
The French originally first conceived of a canal linking the Mississippi River to the Great Lakes, but, being French, they never actually got around to constructing one. Americans convinced their slaves, also known as poor Irish immigrants, to build the project in 1848. The workers were paid partially in whiskey due to the liquor's perceived health benefits and not because they were a bunch of drunks.
While absorbing these bits of knowledge I covered eighteen miles, from New Lenox to Channahon (pronounced Mike Shanahan). I found a cozy campsite near locks six and seven and drifted off to sleep, lightning playing off the clouds in the far distance. The gap would soon be bridged.

18 miles/1178 total miles

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