Day 40. July 23.
We had a great night’s sleep and were able to take our time getting ready since we only had 60 miles to get to our next destination. There was a McDonald’s 10 miles away in Whitewater, which was nice because we didn’t actually have any of our own breakfast food. There was a McDonald’s in Fort Atkinson, but Ethan likes to get some miles in before we stop. I had a Clif bar and our hosts kindly showed us how to get to Whitewater on the back roads before we left. We headed out on fairly flat ground and through some pretty country scenery. We made good time to Donald’s and took a longer break there so that Ethan could plan out his training schedule for his Dansville boys soccer team. We’ve been on the road for so long that it feels really weird to have to begin dealing with real life things again. Ugh. Do we have to?
After McDonald’s we were on a fairly busy road again, so Ethan tried to get us on back roads as much as possible. At one point we were going through a “town” and Ethan missed our turn. I usually have literally no idea where we are going or what roads we’re taking to get there, so I saw the road, but just kept going because that’s what Ethan did. Now that’s what trust looks like ladies and gentlemen!! Anyway, I caught up to him and he’s motioning for me to turn right. I stopped and waited as he turned around to turn down this road. He tells me that we missed the turn, but this road will take us to the same place. Phew! So glad he checked his phone before we had gone too far in the wrong direction! Also, maybe I should start checking the maps with him?! We’ll see.
The road took us back to the original road and we were headed in the right direction. We pretty much just booked it the rest of day because we were getting to Illinois and staying with Ethan’s cousin, Monica, that night. We were pretty jazzed about both of those things. Before we got to Illinois, we stopped for lunch in the tourist town of Lake Geneva. We got a couple Arizona iced teas and headed for the park on the lake. The park was really nice and not that busy even though the beach area a hundred yards away was swarming with people trying to soak up some summer. We ate pb&j’s and finished off some white cheddar popcorn we had been toting around since Norwalk. Lake Geneva was really cool, but it was a little too busy for my liking. We headed out of town and only had 20 miles to get to Antioch and would cross the border in only a few miles.
We ended up getting in to Illinois on this weird bike path, so of course we didn’t get a fun “welcome to Illinois” sign! We ended up taking one with the “Adopt a Highway” sign instead. Not nearly as cool, but still evidence that we were in fact in Illinois. The rest of the day was really hot and hilly and we were so pumped to be staying with Ethan’s cousin. We got to Antioch around 4:15 and headed straight for Monica’s house because she had left the back door open for us. Unfortunately, it wasn’t actually unlocked . Hmmmmm. Ethan messaged her to see if there was another way in. We sat out front for a while and probably looked really strange just milling about her house. Apparently, we drew the attention of the neighbor who messaged Monica’s ex-husband that there were two people on bikes wondering around the house. Scott, who has a healthy hockey rivalry thing going with Ethan, then text Ethan to see what was up. Ethan told him that we were locked out so he offered up his place while we waited. He actually lives in the very same neighborhood, so we thought “why not?!” We went over there, took showers, ate some of his snacks, and Ethan had a beer.
By the time we were done, Ethan finally heard back from Monica. She was certain that she left the back door unlocked, so we were going to feel really dumb if we went back there and it really was unlocked. It wasn’t. Somehow during the day it had been re-locked after she unlocked it in the morning. No worries though! She just got lucky that she didn’t have to greet us in our sweaty, stinky gear. After we got a little caught up on each other’s lives and made friends with her two adorable children Claire and Emma, we had an awesome dinner. A few of her friends and their kids came over too. The kids played on the slip and slide (which looked awesome, but there was no way I was going on it) and we ate and had adult beverages. It was a lovely evening, spent with lovely people. After everyone was gone, we tried to stay awake to watch Naked and Afraid again, but we all were too tired. We needed a good night’s sleep anyway.
We went to bed with a very surreal feeling because we were getting to Chicago the next day. It really just did not seem possible that we took a train from there 41 days before and had biked (almost) the entire way back across 7 states. Chicago….here we come!!