My Route

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Day 29: Monday, 30th July. Destination: Super 8 Motel, Kewanee, Illinois

That rainstorm of the other day cleared away the overcast skies, and here I am in Bradford, Illinois (20m west of Wenona), cycling through my second day of very high heat. The tar's melting on the roads. I stopped to chat to a couple of cyclist yesterday and we realized that our shoes had sunk into the tar so much that we were leaving footprints. It's bearable, though, because almost miraculously as you start to cycle a cool breeze seems to come out of nowhere. And there are plenty of songbirds and butterflies to look at.

In Bradford, 18 miles outside Kewanee, I chatted to a young woman who was working at an unexpectedly hippyish health-food store. I asked her about the yellow ribbons I'd seen recently in the lawns and windows of many of the houses I'd cycled passed. She said a lot of local soldiers had just returned from Iraq, including her brother. She said it was difficult, because there were no jobs for them to come back to, and some couldn't adjust and even if they didn't think the war was achieving anything positive a lot of them ended up going back, because at least out there they felt they belonged to something. She looked sad, pretty and a little bewildered, and Bradford felt a long, long way from Washington and Baghdad.

On a more mundane topic, my motel tonight was the typically tidy and efficient (if characterless) Super 8 with a waffle-iron in the breakfast buffet and… a huge Walmart across the road. Time to stock up on Clif Bars and those fabulous hand-wash sachets for clothes! And so, tomorrow, I leave Illinois. Looking back to my note at the beginning of 28th July's entry I have to say, with regret, that the spirits of Sufjan and Obama have been illusive. Maybe they're somewhere over Chicago. Here, it's all about agriculture and while that counts for a lot, it's not the only sustenance the soul and body need.