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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

POST 1334; MAY 28, 2014; UTICA, ILLINOIS

As planned, stayed overnight at PIZZA HUT in Ottawa, Illinois last night.  Slept well, awaking to the closing of a car door.  Peeked out the window covering to see a Police car...just checking us out.  He drove off without disturbing us.

Please say HELLO to JESSA, who looked after me at PIZZA HUT during the Blog Update and my pan of Hot Pasta with Marinara Sauce, available at all stores.

Also as planned, drove BACK on Illinois Highway 71 to beyond the STARVED ROCK STATE PARK, some 10 miles down the ILLINOIS River from Ottawa.  Parked at the closed night club pictured above, and decided to walk North toward I-80, some 10 miles distant across the river.  Could have walked West, but in that direction was more of the same agriculture countryside we have traversed the past many days.  Seemed worth the effort to find some new topography and a bit of diversion.

We found the ILLINOIS RIVER and the quaint village of UTICA, where we are staying the night in a HOTEL, gifted by Peggy...whom we will meet in a bit.

Opening in 2005, is the above GRAND BEAR LODGE, featuring an indoor water park, an indoor Magic Forest, and amenities for 2,000 over night guests.  Located 1/2 mile from the entrance of STARVED ROCK STATE PARK, Grand Bear Lodge has, in spite of the economic down turn, been successful.

Roadway to the ILLINOIS RIVER, the town of UTICA, and I-80.

Bridge over the ILLINOIS RIVER.

In the distance is a Barge Loading Facility where agriculture items (Corn, Soy Beans, etc.) are loaded, pushed down river to NEW ORLEANS, where "most" of it is loaded onto ocean going ships destined for foreign countries.

Bridge roadway detail.  That grating is of total bridge length - on both sides of the roadway - which is a bit unsettling when walked upon as 18-wheeler trucks pass by.  The bridge has NO pedestrian sidewalk.

Please say HELLO to JACQUES, of PARIS, FRANCE.  68 year old JACQUES is crossing AMERICA from Washington D.C. to SAN FRANCISCO via NIAGRA FALLS and DENVER.

We two were pleased to meet out here.  JACQUES is the third foreigner I have met biking across America.

To be World Famous CUPCAKES.  Was invited to return this afternoon for a CUPCAKE feed, but a LOUD WET thunder storm passed through the village of UTICA mid afternoon.  When I showed up at 5:30 pm local, Two Girls was locked up tight.  Will stick around in the morning for photograph(s) and my promised CUPCAKES .  Two Girls opens at 9:00 am.

NONA's PASTRY and CAFE SHOP, where I did stop for my breakfast...a huge Frosted SNAIL and coffee.

THE WILLOWS HOTEL and BISTRO where I have been invited to stay over night.  It is now 9:00 pm,  dark, and quiet.  During the rain storm, everyone disappeared, so have not yet visited.  Will spend time walking the area and visit folks in the morning whom I met today.

Please say HELLO to PEGGY, who is responsible for gifting me a large comfy room for the night.

Will have to say GOOD BYE in the morning .

An honest to goodness Trading Post.  Never have I seen so many trading goods in a single spot.

...specializing in American Indian goods and artifacts.

Please say HELLO to JOYCE and Hubby BILL, owners of MIX'S TRADING POST.

As I was walking back to SPIA later in the day, JOYCE, driving to an appointment, stopped, offering me:

 - $20.00 gift (which I promptly lost Out of my pocket)
 - Tour of STARVING ROCK PARK along the shore of the ILLINOIS RIVER.
 - A ride back to SPIA-1, some 5 miles distant.

Please say HELLO to KATHY, Secretary and GREETER of the village of NORTH UTICA, Illinois.

Please say HELLO to RON PAWLAK, ALDERMAN and Trustee of the Village of NORTH UTICA, Illinois.KATHY, RON and I had a great conversation about UTICA and current goings on, as well as a bit of walking nostalgia.  Asked about the large numbers of 18-wheeler trucks passing thru UTICA.  Ron explained two commodities are being transported:

1.  Agriculture products for export down the river; and,
2. SILICA SAND of a special configuration recently in great demand for "FRACKING" of old Oil Fields.

The special Silica Sand is mixed into a SLURY, forced under pressure into old oil well pipes, the SLURY apparently enters cracks in rocks far below ground level, where the sand EXPANDS, fracturing the rock , releasing more oil.

Still, I am not satisfied with this explanation.  Will look further into FRACKING.


ILLINOIS RIVER Southern Shoreline bordering STARVING ROCK STATE PARK.  Historical story of this, the 4th most visited STATE PARK in the entire United States:

Two waring Indian tribes fought it out in today's park grounds .  One Tribe was forced to the high rock cliffs, where many jumped to their death.  Others, trapped on isolated rock outcroppings chose to resist capture - or death by jumping - literally starved to death.

I heard three versions.  I like this version best !

Main Street, down Town UTICA,

* * * * * * * * * *

Will take my time in the morning, strolling the town of UTICA, some of the four nearby parks, revisit new-found friends of UTICA, and make our way to Illinois Highway 23, which runs North from Ottawa all the way to Sister Carol in DeKalb, some 40 miles distant.

Taking an alternate path from traditional A to B walk has been delightful.  Perhaps we should do more such optional walks. 

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