Chester, Illinois is where I crossed the Mississippi River. It's the home of Elzie Segar, the creator of Popeye.
After riding 57 miles in triple digit heat, I decided I was going to get a hotel instead of trying to go another 35 miles or so to Carbondale. I stopped into a McDonalds for snacks and because I can get lots of refills easily. While I was sitting there, a lady asked where I was riding to and from. After I told her, she let me know that she had an extra apartment that didn't have a tenant I could stay in that night if I wanted.
They were renovating the apartment, so there was no shower but new carpet. After consulting with her husband, she offered me to stay in a horse trailer in their barn. It was free, she seemed nice enough and she had a little girl with her (Kyleigh) so I said sure.
That was my introduction to Laurie York. After her husband, Louie, got done working, he and Kyleigh (granddaughter) came and picked me up. We loaded the bike in the truck. Louie asked me if I was an axe murderer. I asked Kyleigh if she was an axe murderer. Kyleigh proceeded to talk my ear off-- in the short ride, I learned their entire family history and then some. She's definitely not shy. Very smart beyond her 6 years.
Laurie and Louie have just moved into this small house in the country that they used to use for a vacation rental. They did not have a spare bedroom, so Louie plugged in the horse trailer and I had a nice air conditioned unit that they use when they take their horses places.
We had a lovely dinner and conversation. We stayed up too late talking. I had a great night of sleep in the trailer. In the morning, a severe storm rolled in so I did not get to leave with Louie like we had planned. Louie had work and Laurie had an appointment and they told me to just stay as long as I needed. By the time the Laurie was ready to leave, the storm had passed and the radar looked clear so I went ahead and left.
I have learned so many lessons from this trip. I have been able to see the best in America. One lesson I have taken is that we should not be too quick to give up on humanity. The Yorks prove that. Holly in Hope, Kansas; Elaine and Dan; the Dejongs; Charlie from Oregon; Justin, Heather and Violet in Idaho help remind me that strangers are sometimes just friends you haven't met yet.