Dena and Rick made a great breakfast. I slept in and finally got rolling about 10:00am. I packed up all my gear onto the bike, said goodbye to Dena; Rick and I biked to Blues City Deli and has an awesome sandwich.
I pedaled through downtown looking at all of the old stone and brick buildings.
At a stop light a man started yelling at me from his car, “Are you from Minnesota? Did you bike here???” I answered in the affirmative and shouted my destination. He proceeded to tell me he’d canoed from the Mississippi River headwaters to the gulf of Mexico… Twice.
He then asked if I was headed South why was I bicycling north? I explained I was headed across the river and then South. He somberly responded, “Oh.”
For years I’ve heard the horror stories about East St Louis and those stories were repeated over and over again by the locals of St Louis.
The fact I’m writing this is evidence I’ve survived the ride through East St Louis.
I met a woman when I stopped for gas who asked me, if based on the license plate on my bicycle, if I was really from Minnesota. She turned out to be from Sleepy Eye, Minnesota, but had been living in the St Louis area since the 1970s. We chatted for a bit, she congratulated me on the ride, and offered to buy anything I needed in the store.
I came across an ornamental iron works business and the owner was just pulling up while I was taking photos. We chatted for a bit and he gave me some information about the quality of the roads and shoulders down toward Carbondale. He has the Venice Cafe magic bus on his property and we bonded over that.
When biking through Dupo, Illinois, I met a man who talked about different routes and I mentioned about heading toward Memphis and he said, “Oh lord, you don’t want to go there. Memphis is one big East St Louis. If you have to go through it, do it during daylight hours.”
He wished me luck and recommended I ride down Highway 61 for the full Blues experience.
I finished going through Columbia, Illinois and it was already 3:15pm by that point so checking the map I saw that I wouldn’t make it down Bluff road as far as I’d wanted before dark, so I readjusted my plans and aimed for Waterloo, Illinois with the plan to get a room at the motel and then finish my paper work I’d brought with me. Get up at six am and get a hundred mile day in along the river tomorrow.
Main street Waterloo already has their Christmas decorations up…
I had a Thanksgiving Sandwich (turkey,gravy,stuffing,cranberry) and a cup of chili for dinner at Mamma’s on Main.