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SEA TO SHINING SEA: Up, down, headwinds, tailwinds: even out

This tall Catholic church near Lillyville, Illinois - out in the middle of nowhere - piqued my curiosity. BY DENNIS FORNEY
dennis_forney
July 15, 2013

DAYS 62, 63 - July 14 & 15 - Drinking our way across America.  We made 75 miles yesterday and 65 more today.  Total is now 2,441 miles. The weather has turned hot, real hot, 90s.  We ride and sweat and drink and sweat and ride and drink some more. At lunch, tall glasses of lemonade over lots of ice.  Then more lemonade. We order ice water and Becky fills her water bottles with the cold liquid.  I don't care as long as it's wet.

In the evening a big margarita.  Salt and citrus works.  Replaces our electrolites and lots of other stuff.  I'm pretty sure the cointreau and tequila lubricate our synapses and allow the electrical impulses to cross our dendrites smoothly.

I forgot to tell you about what Jerry told us while we were picnicking under the shade trees in the little park across from his grocery store in downtown Altamont, Illinois.  We were talking about how much we were impressed by the culture of St. Louis.  He mentioned an area of the town called The Hill, an Italian district.  "Great restaurant there called Mama Capizzi's," said Jerry.  "That's where toasted raviolis were invented. A  bunch of the restaurant owners were getting together for a drink at Mama Capizzi's and the cook put out some food. In the process he accidentally dropped a ravioli into some deep fat and out came a toasted ravioli."

We had never heard of toasted raviolis but we tried some in St. Louis and they were delicious.  The ones we had were filled with ground meat and the shells were crispy. Someone in the Delaware Cape Region restaurant scene needs to add toasted raviolis to their menu as an hors d'oeuvres.  Between those and a calzone joint like Kyle turned us on to at Sauce on the Side?  Surefire hit.

We visited the Lincoln Cabin site south of Charleston.  Budget cuts have taken their toll but the exhibit is still impressive.  This is where Abraham Lincoln's father - Thomas Lincoln - and Abe's stepmother lived out their days.  It was subsistence farming at a time when the industrial revolution was changing farming.

Before we visited the Lincoln site we passed through rich agricultural lands with tall corn and thick carpets of beans. Out in the middle of nowhere we came across a tall-steepled Catholic church.  No town nearby.  Where did the money come from to build and maintain such a church near the little crossroads called Lillyville?

These are hardworking, resourceful farmers, but enough discretionary income to build this big, beautiful church? We saw many Virgin Mary statues in the front yards of farmhouses we passed.  And maybe another clue too.  Near a prosperous dairy farm we saw oil pumps sprinkled through a corn field along with tanks to store what the pumps were drawing from the ground deep below.  The thick smell of petroleum mixed with the equally thick smell of manure from the dairy operation.  Talk about farming at all kinds of levels.

Lots of time to think when you're riding along slowly and observing.  Speculation and conjecture arise quickly and often.

Headed into Indianapolis tomorrow, then out the other side and on toward Ohio.  Pittsburgh is our objective now. Maybe two more weeks.

You all have a good week.  Here are some more photos from the last two days.

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