Oh, Illinois. Our last day there did not disappoint. We bought – and paid for – breakfast at Cookie’s Diner to fuel us forward. Cookie clattered around in the kitchen, wrapping up eggs, lunchmeat, pickles – anything she could find, really – and sent us on the road with a packed lunch. Early in our day, a man named Kurt drove up and found us after we walked past his house. He brought us a bag of eccentric snacks and some water, and wished us luck.
But it’s not all about food! After lunch, we handed off the dogs to Kate in the car, and kept keeping on through the relentlessly growing corn kingdom. As we started to close in on the Mississippi River, an older gentleman passed us in his pickup truck and pulled over. He hopped out wearing overalls and a big smile, introduced himself as Geryl, and talked us up about the walk. We told him stories of kindness and generosity, new friends, and sleeping under the stars. He told us stories of hitchhiking in the ’70’s, surviving cancer, and getting stoned. Before we walked off, he told us that he was truly proud of us for what we had undertaken, and how far we had made it. He was the last person in Illinois that we got to meet before we reached the bridge.
Six states down. We made it across the Mississippi without the loss of a single oxen (or dog.) We bedded down in a campground just north of Fort Madison, Iowa and got cleaned up. The next morning, we headed to the Fort Madison Health Care Center for a therapy visit. They currently have about 60 residents, as well as two resident dogs. We always love to see a facility that knows the value of having animals around.
After our visit, we settled into a cafe with Car Kate to plan the rest of the day. Ultimately, we decided that we would move up the timetable for our return trip to Kentucky by a couple of days. We have been planning to go home for my sister’s wedding, and Kate wanted to visit a very pregnant mutual friend in Kokomo, IN so we decided to drop her off on the way. With some Tetris Ninja packing skills, we broke down the cart and bricked all of our stuff into the car – followed by 3 people and 3 dogs. We set our sights to the east, and started to drive home in our little rocket ship on wheels. We will return to tackle Iowa as soon as it becomes July.