If you start in Naperville Illinois at the crack of dawn and head toward the Fox River bike path, you’ll catch the mist rising above the ponds. Then Northward bound along the mighty Fox river the daffodils burst into sight and the frog princes croak their song of undying love to all the frog maidens as you silently pedal by.
Up near the Wisconsin border in Richmond after sixty miles or so along the path you’ll find a small fast-food joint still attended to by pretty teens who’ll take your order and bring you a hot-dog or a rootbeer and a smile. It was a long day riding, about 73 miles total and I hadn’t seen a Dog N Suds since the 1970’s. We pulled our weary seats in and enjoyed a root-beer as celebration of a day well done.
It was 1973 she was sixteen, I was seventeen and her first real job was car-hop and the local Dog N Suds. That year root-beer was the taste and flavor of youthful romance. She brought the root-beer out in a frosted mug ( just like the old days ) and it was lightly carbonated, slightly sweet with just a hint of licorice, just as good as I remembered. I told the story to our server, did we look so young at sixteen too, and she smiled and told me there were only a handful of franchises left in the whole country, a place of distant memories and tastes.
See you in March….
I don’t think I’ll ever outgrow the lights of the city…
When I was a kid, we used to have streamers and take baseball cards and use clothespins to attach them so the spokes made them echo a baritone trrrrrrpppppp as we rode. Progress is good,
and cyclist visibility makes all the difference. Here’s to being different.
Cycling in bad weather can still be fun, you just need to dress properly…
Turn yourself into a layer cake… under-shirt, shirt, fleece, jacket, leggings, jeans, inner socks, wool socks, gloves, ear-band, balaclava will keep you warm. I can promise if you commute to work this way, you will be wide awake when you arrive!
And for those of you in the holiday spirit, we are set to give away at least two bikes to kids at 2wheels2kids.wordpress.com – here’s what we did last year.
Ride safely – and watch out for dark ice.
The Gilman trail, just off of the Fox River trail in Aurora Illinois runs just over twelve miles to Sugar Grove. It was a blustery day, gusty and cold. It starts on an old railroad right of way and I was struck with the thought that who doesn’t think engineers are artists has not contemplated bridges.
Crossing rivers, or highways
And if you bike back to the Two Brothers Microbrewery at the old roundhouse at the train station in Aurora you can get a craft beer ( Prairie Path Ale ), and food to keep you pedaling in the cold.
Beer and a mufaletta… a fine lunch for a bike ride and fuel for the last 10 miles home.
It was blustery, I mean windy in Philly when my favorite youngest and her boyfriend took me through the city traffic to the bike path along the Schuylkill river. We had seven hard miles out, and then blew back like leaves tossed in the wind.
You just don’t go anywhere in Philly without finding something historical, and some of the stonework on the bridges or off the path is outstanding. But when we passed Paine park, which surely must be named after Thomas Paine, the author of “Common Sense” where he railed against primogeniture and the monarchy for the right of the common man, I thought history has a sense of humor. He got a skate park.
Returning, windswept we could see the setting sun reflecting gold against the sky-scrapers, and I was reminded of how the Spaniards must have felt about El Dorado, the city of gold. The city skyline is very nice, and nicely lit at night.
If you get to Philly, stop at Monk’s Cafe for Chimay beer, brewed in Belgium by Trappist monks where it with the restaurant’s wonderful scallops and mussels will fill you with pleasure.
And the one place that is a must visit is the Rim Cafe in South Philly. It is truly the best hot chocolate I have found ( my previous favorite was a little place near Garmisch at the border of Germany and Austria ) but at the Rim cafe, they are passionate about chocolate and everything is hand made. it’s expensive but the drinks are lovingly prepared
When they have drizzled the salty caramel, or the dark chocolate and add the molten hot chocolate ( either dark or milk ) you won’t regret it. I almost tried the edible gold cannoli ( but Jan convinced me a $24.00 pastry was over the top )
Here’s two of our drinks almost ready, before they added shavings of chocolate truffle and other amazing toppings…
Philly – a good place to cycle and enjoy the table.
We set out to ride along the Des Plaines River but it was a Mackerel Sky – Never long wet, never long dry. At fifteen miles of rain it was time to turn about and admit defeat and try to get warm. There was a bit of color to offset the drab raining sky.
Once back, we were near Bob Chin’s Seafood Restaurant in Wheeling Illinois where ( we were amazed they let out wet muddy selves in ) and I enjoyed a fine clam chowder followed up by mussels and then finished off with a family recipe for dessert unlike any I have tried. It was pie, with the purple base made from potatoes grown in Okinawa which are regular potatoes with the purple color. It is whipped finely with coconut milk and served on a graham cracker and macadamia nut crust and topped with a layer of coconut with a texture like custard and that topped with whipped cream. It was rich and tasty and not overly sweet.
Of all the place in Chicago, Bob Chin’s is right up with the Publican in restaurants not to miss. It makes a day cycling in the rain and mud seem not so bad.
Iowa was so friendly, and the Wabash Trace so nice that it needs a second post. In Shenandoah at the restaurant called the Depot – you can get a locally crafted root-beer. Rich and smooth with just a hint of anise it was a treat.
We stopped at several other nice restaurants, but I couldn’t find one that sourced local Iowa beef, maybe that’s something to find in nearby Omaha which is a larger city, but when I asked the waitress what they recommended everyone said “Onion Rings” and “Chicken Livers”.
I have to admit that all my life I’ve never tried a chicken liver, though my mother a farm girl loved them. So to honor Mom’s memory we tried the chicken livers and they were very tasty.
Maybe this is Iowa foie gras? It was pretty good but very rich.
So, if we’re going to enjoy the table – we’d better do some extra along the trail…
Well, we can’t let youth have all the fun….
Safe riding everyone!
If the Wabash Cannonball still runs, it runs in Iowa along the Wabash Trace, sixty miles of delightful trail in Iowa. The original Cannonball, as legend goes was the death caboose that took the hobos of the depression to a better place. I suppose I’ll defer my ticket till a later date and trust my bicycle along the converted trails.
Iowa is prettier than I imagined with it’s rolling hills and miles of grain. Some of the hills are terraced to conserve the soil, and I could feel the farmer’s love for the land as we rolled along the converted trail, with 73 bridges along the 63 miles and the gentle long inclines that the old steam engines so favored.
The many bridges span ravines, little streams or the Nishnabotna River…
Pictures don’t do Iowa justice. On the cold blustery day the sky is so blue and brilliant the vistas so large I liken it to the ocean. We a red-headed woodpecker, a black vulture flew overhead and a state where the goldfinch is the state bird has to be just fine.
You can hop on the trail at Council Bluffs, and ride the length in a day, the hills are gentle but long and the people of Iowa seem to be friendly. This trail and all the bridges are all volunteer build, so there is a small fee at the trailhead. It’s very worth it to see a piece of history in a great state.