June 2: Danforth to Odell, Illinois - The Great North American Sticky Bun Hunt - CycleBlaze

June 2: Danforth to Odell, Illinois

Spaceships were supposed to land here. Or maybe take off. Not sure which.
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THERE'S MUCH TO BE SAID for seeing a spaceship descend from the stars to pick up the faithful and whoosh off back whence it came. About an hour after Ashkum, but not marked on the Adventure Cycling maps, is a place where just that was supposed to happen. I'm going to have to look up the details but the essence is that a guru who'd had some success in Texas in the seventies decided to recruit a new flock in an unknown place called Stelle. Quite what they believed, I don't know, except that they were told the world would end at the close of 1999 and that only they would be saved, thanks to the spaceship.

The problem, of course, is that the world didn't end. It didn't pay to read the signs too literally, the old chap said. But then what did he care because by then he had had his guru-like way with many of the girls in the commune and a little later vanished with much of everyone's money. He died a little later, back in Texas.

Stelle is still there and we had it on authority from Kathy the night before that it was still a wacky place and that her UPS crews weren't allowed past the entrance, that they had to leave parcels at a central reception. And that, in any case, nobody is allowed in after dusk.

A brush with the supernatural isn't something I turn down on a bike tour and so we rode the mile or two off the route to have a look. We were disappointed. Stelle is there but it looks like a settlement without gates. Not a lunar vessel in sight. Just cars along the roads, and very un-hippielike speed bumps and road signs. There was a goat, it's true, and it looked as though they produced their own electricity. But that's not a lot compared to stellar intervention on the eve of destruction.

Stelle was where the believers lived. A smart sign set in a garden suggests the community is not as hippie as it was.
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If there are no hippies at Stelle then their spirit has moved an hour down the road to Kempton. Take the road in and out of the village and you see nothing remarkable. But turn off a block and you enter a land of murals, of Sergeant Pepper and desert travel and a whole building covered in discontent-looking newts. A ventilator hatch has been transformed into a hot air balloon creeping up a wall and a verandah has become a sort of Indian reservation with totem poles.

There are no hippies in Stelle but...
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The desert scene is on the side of a new-age-and-conspiracy bookshop outside which stands a scaled-down version of the statues on Easter Island. Inside is free coffee, although we didn't realise at the time that it was a gift, which left us feeling ashamed to have asked for something fresher.

...there's an other-world feel...
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The shop runs a mail-order business. Its 64-page catalogue offers "UFOs, Atlantis, Templars, Lost Cities, Anti-Gravity, Ancient Science, Street Societies, Tesla Technology and Much More." The picture is of a flying saucer with rocket ships landing and others whizzing out of portholes.

...just down the road...
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One of the books, 324 pages, tempts buyers: "Near where the sunken warships of the Battle of Guadacanal lie, glowing UFOs rise out of the Pacific, fly into the mountains and disappear into jungle lakes. Here, a tropical paradise exists with inexplicable, ancient ruins and puzzling writings of an unknown culture."

...in the centre of Kempton.
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No fewer than 624 pages of another book, "Gravitational Manipulation of Domed Craft," reveals - for the first time - "the scientific principles behind UFO propulsion mechanics and shows that these principles are known and recognized by today's scientists."

Even the Blues Brothers get in there somehow.
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The shop's magazine costs "$6 USD, $5 sic euros, 7 Darions." One of the classified ads asks: "Are you part of the Time Travel class action lawsuit stuck in the 2007-2014 time glitch? The claimants against the makers of the SA-989 series of Polywarp Time Machines sold until the recall of 2024 will meet at..."

A joke, presumably, although with people like that it's not always simple to tell. I think this one is serious, though:

"Do you recall a former life, living in Atlantis, but don't care to tell anyone? Talking about it with others making you uneasy? Contact..."

It compensated for an otherwise dull ride to Odell.

AMERICAN FLAGS SEEN: 40 (Very poor work, Illinois. See me after class.)

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