Friday, August 28, 2015


Waiting for the last train in Joliet to Chicago. It's a little funny that I carried this reserve bag of trail mix for the entire trip.

What can I say? It's important to do, not just dream, we learn best by doing and I can hardly wait to do it again!

Eastward on the I & M Pt.5 - Finishing...

A bane of my fender mudguard. I couldn't help but think of "cow catchers" on trains. My home made mudguard turned out to be rather good at picking up dead leaves and twigs that made annoying squeeling noises that only ceased when I halted and let the debris fall out...

Dissection of another washout...

Modern wooden bridge, very soaked in a creosote- like preservative...

Curses...this broken bridge required a proper and annoying detour...

The near water is the water if the canal being carried through an aquaduct. The far bridge is a train trestle.  Below the far bridge is the creek the canal travels over.

Sumac. Makes a rich vitamin C tea...

Wide expanse of the Illinois River

Our passions are us- do not reset to default...

Eastward on the I & M Pt.4 Washout!

Step One

Step Two

Step Three

Step Four. Voila!

Eastward on the I & M Pt.3 - Through Marseille and Seneca!

Eastward on the I & M Pt.2 - Through Ottawa

Eastward on the I & M Pt.1

The Start of the Illinois and Michigan Canal!

The canal waters go further west, but the actual path starts/ends further east.

Looking east...

Very exciting!

The Storm Between

Between the end of the Hennepin Canal in Bureau, and the start of the I & M Canal in LaSalle, one must detour on routes 29 and 6. A person could include some lesser treavelled side roads, or even travel entirely on tertiary roads south of the Illinois River by first heading into the town of Hennepin.

It has rained heavily the evening before and the weather had started to threaten again. Though a man in Bureau Junction had "warned" me of a tornado watch, another person assured me it was only a thunderstorm. Not one to wait, I headed out, making good time, enjoying long climbs up smooth asphalt followed by exhilarating descents.

When the rain caught up, I parked under a small tree that also, protected a mailbox and donned my rain coat. After the initial down pour, I could see that it would be drizzling for sometime, so I forged on. A few miles up the road, just before Spring Valley, the wind and rain increased dramatically.  I returned a few yards back to take cover against the side of a hill, cutaway by the road.  The rain came down so heavily even the walnut trees above couldn't keep the water away for long.  The ditch quickly filled with water and I was thoroughly soaked.  Cars continued past, their wipers working furiously. I felt like I was in a trench, with gale winds blowing over, inches above my head. At least I was in a better spot if a tornado came. There was little way I could pedal my way out of this one.

Eventually the storm died down enough I could ride on, I could see the clouds clearing out and in a few minutes the sun peaked out.

I found a yard to camp in. The owner turned out to be a biker and made coffee in the morning.

It looked like it could rain again, but like I said, I don't like to wait for too long...

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The End of the Hennepin

You can see that the canal, on the right, is higher than the natural waterway on the left.

The Hennepin is a hundred miles long and I recommend it to anyone. You can camp for free on many places, the people in the visitors center are great and you can spend a good amount of time in the solitude of nature!

From whence I came...

At the end of the path the canal continues on into the Illinois River.

Ghosts of Tiskilwa

I was earnest to visit Tiskilwa. Unlike many other towns along the Hennepin, Tiskilwa was only a mile south of the trail.

I'd been to Tiskilwa before. Not the town, but to a Mennonite community to hear a presentation by a strawberry farmer who was doing peace work in Colombia, in the Medellin region.

I spoke it a woman crossing the street about Tiskilwa. She said they had set up a museum in one of the old churches. A few years past they put up historically relevant pictures in many of the storefronts, some of which were vacated.

Myself coming from a small town, we agreed that it's hard to keep "Small a Town America" alive.  When I commented on how nice it was to see kids riding their bikes home from school, she replied that they all take busses to the larger town of Princeton and had just been dropped off.

When I related I was returning to Chicago, she mentioned she actually spent most of her time in Wheaton, which is along the Illinois Prairie Path.

My pictures don't properly represent the entire town. They do show some of the old buildings that struck me by their strong presence.  All too familiar.