Morton to Manito - Celebrating in Manito, Illinois - CycleBlaze

May 19, 2022

Morton to Manito

Day 1 - Morton, IL to Manito, IL
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I didn't have any plans for day rides or three-day trips this year, except for one, and that was to get to Manito to celebrate my retirement and retirement of my friend Bruce Ferguson. Bruce and I were childhood friends and we have stayed in contact, more or less, through the years. Bruce retired after 47 years as a machinist at a foundry near Pekin. This is the longest for a person working at one place that I personally know. Bruce is now the bartender at a pub in Manito, and I thought that would be the perfect place to celebrate. This was going to be a surprise visit. I had sent an email to Bruce over a year ago saying I needed to visit his pub, but hadn't mentioned when or how I would get there.

So I mapped out a three day ride that would take me through Manito. The plan was to stay the first night at Pine Campground in Sand Ridge State Forest after my Manito stop, and the second night at Hickory Lane Campground near Atlanta, before making it back home. I'd been at both campgrounds before, but was looking forward to new roads (for me) between Forest City and Atlanta. I had the plan finalized on April 11, so was just waiting for three days in a row of perfect weather. May 19-21 (Thursday through Saturday) initially looked good, but not so much as the days got closer. The problem with the forecast was the wind direction and the probability of rain. The night before, I decided I would wait another week or two. The next morning I changed my mind, and hurriedly packed up and went.

Backing up, the day before I had worked some on my Trek Belleville, the bike I'd decided to use on this trip. I attached a new device I'd recently purchased - a Garmin Varia RVR315 Rearview Radar. It's radar for bicycles that gives an audio alarm when cars are coming up from behind. My eyeglasses mirror has always worked well for me, but on a CycleBlaze Forum discussion earlier this year, everyone who has this radar recommends it, so I'm giving it a try (as an additional aid to my mirror).

Garmin Varia RVR315 mounted on my Trek Belleville
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The radar unit has only 7 hours of battery life, so I rigged up a cable to keep it charged. The unit's output is a Bluetooth signal received by a smartphone app. I didn't want to use my main smartphone as the receiver, so I eBay-purchased a $19 phone just like I have (but without a SIM card) to use for the audio output. I was able to hear the alarms well with this mounted on my handlebars.

Using "Ride with GPS" app on a Samsung Galaxy Core Prime "phone" for listening for radar alerts
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Back to the trip. I took off at 10:22am, with first planned stop at Morton's Dollar General store for Gatorade, snacks, and food supplies. Then on south to Miss Vickie's South for breakfast.

I'd set down a $20 bill to cover the meal. When my waitress brought back my change, it was $20 in change. She said the ladies up front had paid for my meal! They were gone by then, so no chance to thank them, whoever they are.

11:03am - my paid-for breakfast at Miss Vickie's South
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At 11:28am I was finally on my way on roads I've been on before. The wind was strong from the south, so going that way was slower. I took a break at 12:39pm along Leslie Farm Road, a quiet gravel road near Route 9. Here's looking east from my break location. The water tower in the distance is for the Tazewell County Health Department.

12:43pm - break on Leslie Farm Road
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It was here that I first noticed those pesky little flies that I ran into on my 2020 day ride to Green Valley. They were flying around my head, though I don't think they were biting. Fortunately, on the road, when I wasn't blocked from the south wind, they weren't a problem.

There was a jog north in my plan to get on a new road for me, which led to a short pleasant gravel road north of South Pekin.

2:36pm - along Red Shale Hill Road
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From here I varied my plan a little to get to Manito the easiest way I know, since the wind and the pesky flies were enough of a challenge. This change kept me from climbing up the 60-foot hill northeast of Manito, marked on my map as "The Mound". At 5:09pm, I arrived in Manito from the east.

5:16pm - looking west at East Market Street in Manito
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I parked in front of Fergie's Pub, then walked up the street past the Banquet Center to Bert's Hot Stuff. Those three businesses are run by Bruce, his wife Loretta, and relatives of Loretta. My plan was to eat supper first, then check in with Bruce. Loretta was at Bert's and served me a delicious bacon cheeseburger, while we caught up on news. Their grandson would be graduating from high school the next day, and he and his folks and sister were there eating supper as well.

5:34pm - supper at Bert's Hot Stuff
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The building for Bert's Hot Stuff used to be a bank. The vault is still there. I found the time-lock mechanism interesting.

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Loretta pointed out a way I could get through the banquet hall to the pub without going back outside. I took a picture of the hall as I passed through.

5:54pm - cutting through the banquet hall
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Bruce was happy to see me. He had other customers, and it was fun watching him stay attentive to their needs. Still, there was plenty of time for catching up on what's been going on since we'd last seen each other at my church's Pancake and Sausage Day back on March 7, 2020. I'd mentioned my fight with the south wind and the pesky flies I'd encountered on my way there. Bruce knew the name of the flies: Buffalo Gnats. He also knew that some folks use vanilla as a deterrent and that the gnats should be gone by mid-June. By 6:38pm I'd finished my beer. After a heartfelt handshake, I was back on the bike. As I turned the corner onto Broadway Street, Loretta stepped out the door of Bert's to wave and say goodbye. What a great visit!

6:00pm - Bruce serves me a cold one
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A relative of Bruce made this lamp for the pub.
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Note: I have more pictures of the facilities Loretta and Bruce run posted from a previous visit there.

I had 6 miles left to get to Pine Campground at Sand Ridge State Forest. It was a pleasant ride at first, since the wind was still strong enough to keep the Buffalo Gnats at bay when I was moving.

7:01pm - Mason County Highway 15 (CR-2500N)
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7:19pm - along CR-2750E
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7:43pm - made it to the state forest boundary
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The Buffalo Gnats were really bad when I got to the state forest - the trees were blocking the wind. At 7:57pm I was at the campground, and by 8:05pm had picked site B3 for setting up. Next thing was to apply insect repellent to my face and neck. That worked . . . for about thirty seconds - I'm thinking until the alcohol evaporated. Later I was spitting gnats out of my mouth! I was all done with set up at 8:45pm - 32 minutes after sunset. I sent out a short report to my wife and father-in-law, then headed to bed. No gnats inside the tent, thankfully. 

Total today 39 miles. Moving average 6.3mph. Top speed 30.1mph.

Spent: $18.51 (Dollar General) + $0 plus $5 [tip] (Miss Vickie's South) + $6.80 plus $5 (Bert's Hot Stuff) + $2 plus $5 (Fergie's Pub) + $8 (camping fee) = $50.31.

Today's ride: 39 miles (63 km)
Total: 39 miles (63 km)

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Kathleen JonesYay! Jeff’s on the move!
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1 year ago
Jeff TeelTo Kathleen JonesMoving at a retiree's pace :-)
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1 year ago