Labor Day - 12X26 - CycleBlaze

September 6, 2021

Labor Day

Today is Labor Day, the final day of a long holiday weekend.  Unlike some cyclists, I do not listen to music or pod casts.  I prefer to try and focus on the surrounding environment.  I couldn't help think of the summer of 1966 when I was taking a partial "gap year" in a textile mill in my hometown of Pawtucket, RI.  My "gap" experience helped me realize I should at least check out college since working 65 hours weekly (40 hours straight time and 25 hours overtime.  During the course of that summer and early fall I injured my foot and was unable to work for two weeks.  Due to my membership in the International Lady's Garment Workers Union, I received full pay...straight and overtime!  While that was 55 years ago I remain grateful for the support I received through my union.

Today's 48 mile ride on the Tunnel Hill State Trail began in Harrisburg, IL ending  at the Cache River Wetlands Center.  I expected too see a fair number of folks enjoying a beautiful day, but, as has been my experience so far, there were only a few.

The hot day started in the open but quickly transitioned to a  forested ride for the balance of the day.

Great map outling the history of the Tunnel Hill Trail.
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Should have started a bit earlier...85!
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Definitely enjoyed the shade passing for more than 25 miles through the Shawnee National Forest.
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The highlight of this ride that passes through farmland and forest is the 500+ foot namesake tunnel.

As you might expect there was a parking area nearby providing an easy .2 mile walk to the tunnel.
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After passing through Tunnel Hill I was looking forward to a break in Vienna where Laura and I agreed to meet up to enjoy a bite and a cold drink.  What surprised us both was signage indicating a memorial erected to recognize the Trail of Tears.  None of the information I reviewed mentioned the Trail of Tears had passed through the area.  A moment to reflect.

Trail of Tears Memorial.
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After a longer break than planned, I headed out to complete the final 13 miles to the wetlands area where I would meet up with Laura.  These last 13 miles were among the most peaceful so far.  Leaving Vienna, the trail enters heavily wooded marshland for the balance of the trail.  I did not see a soul!  

Wooded peaceful.
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Cache River approaching the wetlands center.
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We will overnight in Marion IL hitting the road tomorrow for Rochester Indiana.  The day will be spent on the road since this is a 350+ mile trip.  Looking forward to getting back on the bike on Wednesday.

Today's ride: 48 miles (77 km)
Total: 532 miles (856 km)

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