I’m not gonna lie to you, friends and neighbors.
On the 21st day of our Great American Rail Trail Expedition From D.C. To The Mississippi River, we were supposed to ride 44 miles on the Hennepin Canal Trail to Moline.
But the truth is that the HCT turned out to be such a soul-crushing slog through mud-and-gravel strewn wilderness that I simply couldn’t subject my elderly traveling companions to that ordeal for even one more day.
No. Don’t thank me Walt. Don’t thank me Joe. I just think that, after 20 days on the trial, you’ve suffered enough.
Which is why we decided to SAG from Princeton, Illinois to the Mississippi-side town of Fulton and then strike south on the Great River Trail to Moline.
On the one hand, it is not, technically, a part of the Great American Rail Trail network that we have been following for 20 days.
On the other hand, it’s a wonderful trail. Terrific vistas of America’s greatest river. Relatively flat terrain. And almost the entire length paved instead of loosely gaveled.
And, in our defense, instead of riding 44-miles on the unpaved Hennepin Canal Trail, we ultimately ended up riding 49 miles on the paved Great River Trail.
Call it the trail of least resistance if you will. But, dammit, we reached the Mississippi River by hook or crook. Which was our ultimate goal.
Which is why we rode.
And we rode.
And we rode. Until we came to Port By Ron
No, please, hold your applause. I really didn’t build it. I can only assume that some other Ron did that.
Still, if you insist. I’m willing to take the credit. Thank you very much.
And still we rode.
Until we got to Moline.
Which is where we resolved to do our victory lap across the mighty Mississippi to Iowa and then back again.
Which we did.
And then we came back.
Bottom line. Mission accomplished.
We started out 21 days ago following the Potomac River.
And 857 miles later, we ended on the banks of the mighty Mississippi. (BTW: If, looking at this photo, and surmise that I am personally propping up these three elderly gentlemen, you are surely entitled to your opinion.)
Apropos of nothing at all: As the sun set over the mighty Mississippi, Bruce – who has been scowling virtually since the first moment we left Washington, D.C. in a cold driving rain – finally broke down and laughed. In front of witnesses, God and everybody.
Rosie of course, being Rosie, was still not entirely convinced.
On balance, all is right with the world. For now.