Crossing the border into Illinois was an exciting moment because I knew I would get to see family soon. On our second day in the state, we rode to Springfield from Effingham. It was the largest city we had seen in a while (since Louisville, KY) and the named streets were a welcome change from the numbered country roads we had seen for the last few hours.
On our build day in Springfield, our team split into two groups. My group cleaned up trash and weeds outside an abandoned building that was to be made into a Habitat for Humanity ReStore. After a long day at the site, we came back to our host feeling tired and quite accomplished. I was greeted by my aunt, uncle, and cousin in the church parking lot. We drove to the historic district of the city, where Abraham Lincoln’s childhood home had been renovated and preserved as a historic site and tourist attraction. We also visited the Lincoln Memorial, where some re-enactors were milling around in their anachronistic mid-1800s costumes. After strolling around, enjoying the downtown area, we went out to get dinner, where we had a great time talking about my strange new lifestyle, joking about our family, and considering the future. Exchanging ideas with people outside of the “B&B bubble” can be weird sometimes. But it is always a good challenge, making me reassess and reinforce my decision to bike across the country for the affordable housing cause.
The next day, we rode to Pittsfield, a small town of 5000 near the IL-MO border. According to some locals we talked to, Pittsfield is a slow and simple town, without many attractions. It does, however, claim to be the “Pork Capital” of the Midwest. I have to admit that the pulled pork we had for dinner that night was phenomenal. Our hosts greeted us with amazing decorations, like this adorable sweep scarecrow:
Our night in Pittsfield will probably go down in Bike and Build P2C 2014 history as the night that we had the best sleep ever. Our hosts were generous enough to open up their homes to us, so all of us had the luxury of sleeping in real beds for the first time since the start of the trip. The host that Emma and I were assigned to was out of town, so we stayed in the William Watson hotel, which was a cute, old-fashioned place, decked out with mason jars, Campbell soup cans, and snowshoes on brick walls. The hotel’s decor gave it a nice, homey feel. Sue–thank you so much for your generosity. I appreciated that night of rest more than you will ever know!