Highway 24 west of Watseka is pretty straight. I spent the better part of the morning watching the water tower of the next town get gradually bigger until I passed it, then watching the water tower of the next town get gradually bigger. Between Watseka and Crescent City, highway 24 has a narrow but decent shoulder, so I stayed on the highway rather than finding a county road. West of Crescent City, however, there were rumble strips that take up about half of the already narrow shoulder. After threading myself between the rumble strips and the edge of the asphalt for a few miles, I headed south to the closest county road. It was a pretty good choice as it intersected the next highway I was looking for at a truck stop and I was able to get a map of the next state I will pass through.

At US 45, I turned south. I kind of want to cross the Mississippi at Hannibal, MO. I figure I saw where Mark Twain lived once he became famous, maybe I should see where he grew up. Hannibal is a little south of where I am. The wind today was coming from the southwest and I was heading right into it. Fortunately, there was a row of trees along the west side of the highway that blocked the wind pretty well. Between Onarga and Buckley, most of the trees were cottonwood with leaves shimmering in the wind. For several miles, the highway was also lined with wildflowers, mostly chicory, if I identified them correctly.

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I stopped at an old Dairy Queen in Paxton for some ice cream. There was a large sign in the side window with prices, 10 cents for a cone, 25 cents for a sundae. At first, I thought, “This is the greatest place in the world.” Then I realized that those were the prices in 1954 when this location opened.

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I probably should have stopped in Paxton. About five miles south, the clouds darkened and it looked like a storm was on its way. I took “sanctuary” in a covered entryway of a Methodist Church in Ludlow while a brutal storm passed by. The radar made it look like the storm was going to last until after midnight, and for a while I thought I was going to end up sleeping in the entryway. When the worst of the storm passed, I jumped back on my bike and rode as fast as I could through the rain to Rantoul where I had planned to stop for the night.

2 thoughts on “Shimmering Cottonwoods (July 13)

  1. One of my happiest childhood memories is of playing under the cottonwood trees there at Mark and Beth’s. I loved the sound of the wind through them. AND, their seed pods made great, “peas “, for our playhouse. 🙂 :)) 🙂

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