Cape Gazette

SEA TO SHINING SEA: Pedaling through the land of Lincoln

By Dennis Forney | Jul 12, 2013
Photo by: Dennis Forney Here's the front window of Lamp of Liberty coffee shop.  Read that quote carefully.  It's pretty amazing.

Effingham, Illinois — DAY 60 - July 12, 2013 - The American culture keeps coming at us.

We spent most of the day on sparsely traveled rural roads hemmed in by fields of tall corn and short beans.  At mid-morning, we rolled into Vandalia which was Illinois's state capital when Abraham Lincoln began his career of public service.  The coffee shop on the main drag is called Lamp of Liberty - a phrase from a goose-bumping quote from Lincoln.  (See photo.)

We had some fun with a statue of Lincoln in a small pocket park across from the historic state house.

Twenty more miles and we sat at a picnic table in the middle of downtown Altamont - another town with German heritage. Jerry owns the grocery store across the street from the shady park.  He wandered over while we were eating ham and cheese sandwiches, potato chips and cookie. We chatted for half an hour about lots of stuff, mostly Illinois.  He told us about his German connections and Kickapoo Indian ancestry.  We told him we have found the Illinois drivers the nicest we have encountered.  (Montana drivers were the worst. Always flying by about 85 and seeing how close they could come to you without drawing blood.)

Jerry gave us a bottle of BBQ sauce made by a friend, two local newspapers, and lots of good will.

We tried to buy fresh peaches from a man setting up his stand but he refused to take money for four of them.  Yellow and sweet. Reminds me: Jerry told us Illinois Red Delicious Apples are the best in America.

Camping tonight at Camp Lakewood RV Park. Heading off route tomorrow a little ways to visit the Lincoln Log Cabin Historic Site.  It would be sacriligious to not visit such an American icon when we're just a few miles away.

Our 50 miles today bumped us up to 2,301 for the journey.  We've left the Adventure Cycling route and are now depending on Google bicycle routes to get us from St. Louis to Pittsburgh.  Pretty cool.

You all have a nice weekend.  Tomorrow I'll tell you about Abe's cabin.

Follow our cross-country bicycle journey on Facebook by liking Sea to Shining Sea »

Becky grabbed this shot with me and Abe with the historic Illinois statehouse in Vandalia in the background.
This photo gives a sense of what Lincoln looked like in his early days as an Illinois state legislator.
I couldn't pass up this opportunity to let the world know the key to Lincoln's vast knowledge and solid judgment.
We crossed paths today with Phil who is walking across the US from San Diego to York Harbor in Maine.  He started his long walk on March 4.  Not sure when he expects to make Maine.  He said he is averaging just under 20 miles a day.
We rode at least 20 miles today along old Route 40 which is designated as a national historic highway. Not much traffic - most of it is on I-70, not too far away.
An Illinois farmer, with a 17-row machine, cultivates a nice crop of soybeans near Greenville. Jerry said the seven-foot deep topsoil part of Illinois is further north where the rich dark earth deposits were left by the southern migration of ice-age glaciers. This time last year, the temperature here was 107 and the ground dry as a bone.  One farmer told me his 150 acres usually yield at least 125-150 bushels per acre.  "Last year in the drought I was lucky to get 17."
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The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.