Saturday, 19 September 2015

Campground Kindness

Location: Moraine View State Park, 27374 E 900 North Rd, Le Roy, IL 61752, USA
We have had no problem so far finding fuel for our stove. It takes white gas or Coleman fuel which has been readily available anywhere we've needed on our tour. So we were not remotely worried about refilling our fuel bottle when we arrived into Normal, Illinois. We scrounged wifi from the Macdonalds in the student area and could find no camp stores nearby. No matter, we've bought it in gas stations and grocery stores before. There was a Target nearby and on their website they stock Coleman fuel so we're sorted. We ride through busy city streets to the Target on a big retail park on our way out of town.  The Target is massive, I've never been in one before, and it takes me a long time to find the right area but all that was there was Coleman gas; no good. I ask one of the store workers if they stock it, but no they don't. But he pointed me to Dick's Sporting Goods store nearby so we made our way across the vast car park and over a busy road and I started searching around Dick's store. I eventually found the right section and hurray they stock Coleman fuel, unfortunately they only stock it in gallon bottles. That is a LOT of fuel for us, way more than we can carry or will use in our remaining time in the U.S. and Canada. I dejectedly leave the store and tell Tom the bad news. By this time its about 5pm we still have 20 miles to ride to our campground and we really want to get pedalling, but without the fuel we have very little edible food. There's a Walmart in the same retail park so despite the fact I am not a fan of Walmart and find shopping in them utterly un-enjoyable I head in with fingers and toes crossed. Its a cavernous, warehouse-like affair and once again I walk the aisles trying to find the camping bit and lo and behold there it is and in a quart bottle; perfect for us.

So we finally get back on the road, our home for the night is Moraine View State Park, and since its getting fairly late now we pedal hard to make sure we get there before dark. As Tom pitched our tent I got started on dinner, its past 8pm and we are hungry. Two cars pull up and the drivers ask us about the trip and we talk for a short while before they drive off only to return on foot a few minutes later with a tray full of food. They have some incredible ribs, potato salad, bread and butter, chips, cookies, rice pudding, a ziplock bag full of watermelon, and lovely cold water. My couscous salad seems a little redundant and unexciting compared to this feast. After we chat with Ray and Leanne some more we say goodbye again and eat our fill of all this wonderful food.

So much food in fact that we have toast and watermelon for breakfast instead of the usual camping breakfast of porridge and there's enough couscous leftover for our lunch. Amazing. Riding back roads through miles of corn and soya (yep that's still what all the fields are full of) we are confronted with a dead end sign for the road we're headed down, but it certainly looks like a road on our map so we ignore the sign and ride down only to find that it is very much a dead end. Not sure what happened but it looks like a section of road was washed away and is now being reclaimed by the plants. There is no way round, so we backtrack and make a detour.

We arrive at Kickapoo State Park (childish I know but it makes me giggle every time, especially when I think that we also stayed in Shakopee!!) and since its been like riding in a sauna all day we head straight for the cafe for cold refreshments, sadly as alcohol is banned in state parks it's not beer, but it's cold and refreshing and they sell ice cream too. We then head to the campground and are assigned the only  spot almost devoid of grass and about as far from the showers as possible. As we're halfway through dinner a guy approaches and we ask him to join us. Michael is riding his Vespa from Colorado back to New York City. We share what's left of our dinner with him and spend time chatting about our trips. I wish we'd fed him more, I'm not sure he had any other dinner.  Anyway w really enjoyed talking with him and he offered to put us up if we made it to the big city. After dinner we hiked the 200 miles to the showers and by the time we made it back to the tent were well ready for bed.

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