By about 7:42 I had breakfast, was packed, and ready to leave my "baseball
camp." It looks like eight miles to the Mississippi River trailhead, then 55
miles to Palisades park. If I can make it this day, I am feeling like I can
I thought I was well hidden last night. No telling how the cop
saw me unless he was tipped off. No matter. The cop was
nice, asked my name, and said have a nice night. If I could change one thing
about the GIT it would be to set up small free simple accessible campgrounds
all along the route. I made some preliminary plans to address this. Do you
want to get involved?
The Mississippi river and it’s feeder rivers
and canals cover one third of the United States. This river “made” the
heartland with very low cost shipping of heavy duty items like bulldozers,
iron, coal, grain, and the like.
I made a
water stop at the East Moline trailhead. The water was good, but there was
no spigot. I had to use a drinking fountain to fill my MSR bladder, and
could only fill it half-way. I will need to fill water again.
Note to city planners: include spigots in your park plans. There were a few
parks where it was hard to find one. Then again, perhaps this inconvenience was by design.
Some guy was walking out of a church near the trail, and he said something to
the effect that he had a bike, "but he only had to move his wrist to make it
go faster." I stopped peddling. “...What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
"Sounds physically demanding." I called back.
An anti-scenic part of the Great
Mississippi River Trail and the GIT. It reminded me of the Netherlands functional bike paths. This could just as easily have been
a picture taken by a Dutch bicycle rider there, where the bicycle paths
routinely follow the highway.
miles up this trail are bicycle roads with cities and towns
the whole way. I passed one paid camp area, and another spot across from a dragstrip on a Nuclear power plant property. –Figured If I stayed there,
with my deep tan and three day beard, I might end up at camp X-ray. I pushed
I was getting desperate for a place to stay. I stopped at two places to try
to pay-camp but there was no one attending, and I did not want to wake up in
the morning only to have someone demanding an inflated price. Finally I
dropped the bike on the middle of a paved trail. I was determined to camp
there. I cooked and ate my MRE, but there was just too much pedestrian
traffic. Because of this, I decided this might not be the best place to
stop. I got on my bike and rode on. It was a good thing. This campsite would
located on a short three mile nature walk near the South skirts of Savanna.
I rode through the center of Savanna. Nice little downtown area. You get the
feeling that people actually walk and entertain in the downtown Savanna streets
-a place the residents enjoy.
Wait, wasn’t I just talking about Amsterdam?
Maybe this is a fore-flash? This is another landmark featured on the GITride
starting to get dark. Really dark. Past twilight dark. My blood pressure
starts to rise. I don’t have a light on my bike, and though I am a little
tense, I am back to feeling like I just might finish this thing. “Hell I
made it this far,” I said to myself as I peddled through town. “But right
now, I’ve got to find a place under the stars –and quick.”
I get through town and it is now “full on” dark. On the northern outskirts
there is a fairly tough hill and it’s located on a busy road. This not only
isn’t fun, it isn’t safe.
I couldn’t believe my luck… Just before I had to get on this hill I spotted
a small gravel road with three months of overgrowth. “Bingo!” I thought, “no
matter where this leads, this is home for the night.” -Major celebration!
-Pulled a rabbit out of the hat! Or so I thought.
As I rode down the overgrown path I found myself next to one of those
electricity substations. A natural gas substation would have me with second
thoughts. They must leak something -Really… Electricity doesn’t scare me too
much though. A little while back, I was working with the folks at London
Electricity. Every day I was meeting with the men who maintained the high
voltage equipment for the London distributed power network at substations
just like this one. Most of these British guys been on the job over 30
years, and not one of them had an elbow growing out of their heads. –I
figured I was safe. (No offense to people who have elbows growing out of
Living out of a sleeping bag has one distinct advantage. Once you have
acclimated yourself to the outdoors, and physically drained yourself, sleep
comes very easy. If you bring the right gear, It’s one of the most
pleasurable parts of the trip. How many people do you know that get 10 hours
of uninterrupted sleep? My economic and social calendar affords me no more
than six or seven hours a night. When things get really hectic? Five hours
tops. In this trip, I have found physical nirvana. -and then the trains
The downside of camping at an electricity substation is the abundance of light.
You throw a part of your pillow/pullover across your eyes, and that light
problem is fixed. The hum of the lights is like one of those “sharper image”
white noise sleep aids.
But there is another light, and yes it really *is* a freight train! I must
have been near an intersection too, because I could handle the headlight, it
was the very loud… the “I need a set of earplugs” loud horn that
announced its arrival in what seemed like every twenty minutes! Like a nightmare from an Abu Ghraib
cell, “Your night is toast.”
In the morning I looked around a little more and found that this camping
spot was right next to an intersection and a set of train tracks. It must be worse in the middle of the day, but
that really didn’t matter. It was bad enough to completely screw my
night. Surprisingly, probably because I had been getting good sleep on the
other nights, the deprivation didn’t seem to effect me too much. The
Debacles continue on day five.
END DAY 4: Colona to Savanna
Route: GIT Clockwise
Stayed At: Savannah, just south of the Palisades entrance (2-3 miles)
Total Miles 66.5
Total Time 8:55:55
Average Speed 7.4
Maximum Speed 33.3