Leo redux, slamming the back door on Indiana, and Rosie gets snubbed.

Listen, nothin’ against Indiana. But on the 17th day of our Great American Rail Trail Expedition to the Mississippi River, it was a relief to ride into a blue state for a change.

Alas, when this is all over we still have to go back to Florida. Where (if you haven’t already heard our nut-job governor in full rant) woke now goes to die.

We started on the Erie Lackawanna Trail in Crown Point.

Depending on your point of view it’s either the Gateway to Illinois or Indiana’s Back Door.

I won’t argue either way. After all the riding we’ve done (698 miles to date) sometimes I’m not sure if we’re coming or going.

We ran across this poignant memorial to 9-11 along the way. It’s a scorched, twisted girder salvaged from the World Trade Center.

We met up with Leo…again.

We first met Leo about half a dozen trails and two days ago.

Leo is riding from New Jersey to the Pacific Ocean.

He’s given himself three months to do it.

He’s carrying 80 pounds of gear on his bike.

He said he originally intended to do this trip when he was in his ‘20s. But, alas, “those years kind of slipped away from me.”

Yesterday Leo said he rode 99 miles.

Today we rode 37.1 miles.

Leo is so very young.

And we are trying very hard not to resent him.

Walt was excited when we got onto the Old Plank Trail.

Either because it really is a drop-dead gorgeous trail.

Or because Walt heard there was an Old Plank-trailside brewery waiting us in Frankfort.

I forget which.

While we’re on the subject of the Old Plank Road turned trail.

Apparently it was a lot harder to travel on way back when than it is now.

Not only did you have to ride a mule, but Lycra hadn’t even been invented yet.

We took a break in Centennial Park. Where Joe got back in touch with his hippie roots. Listen, Flower Power is still where it’s at Baby!

As it turned out, this was our last peaceful moment for the next several miles. Because we almost immediately got routed onto trail-connecting urban roads that were very – how should I say this? – auto-centric.

In which Walt and Bruce discover that the grass is greener in Chicago Heights.

One thing I noticed on today’s ride, is that people hereabouts are really trying hard to put the prairie back into the Prairie State. I saw one sign that said, essentially, don’t mow it…let it grow.

Now all they need is some buffalo.

We ended today’s ride at Frankfort. It’s the coolest trail town we’ve been in since Yellow Springs, way back in Ohio.

It’s a very walkable and bikable. It’s got a classic village green and an old grainery that, these days, bristles with antennas and satellite dishes such.

There were kids playing on the village green and people walking their dogs everywhere.

And, yes, we found Walt’s fabled Trailside Brewery. We felt like desert wanderers staggering into an oasis.

Later on there was a celebration at one of Frankfort’s finest restaurants.

It was called Fat Rosie’s.

Which was ironic, because Rosie was left behind at the hotel.

Rosie was not amused.

Tomorrow we ride again.

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