Oh, Chicago

So right now I’m sitting on my sister’s couch in her apartment in Chicago.  It’s crazy to think that I’m back right where I started this journey.  We have really come a long way and I can now cross 8 more states off my list of states to visit.  I think it’s interesting to see the way things change between state lines…I always thought the lines drawn on U.S. maps were arbitrary but I’m realizing that with nearly every state we pass through the lines are almost like invisible ink marking noticeable differences between boundaries. That might be one of the things that makes the U.S. so beautiful to me.  It’s so different but unified at the same time.  I don’t really know if I’m describing that right, maybe I’m not good at explaining it…I guess I just like the way that every state has its own personality visible through the landscape, the people and the way they talk, and even the street signs or the plants along the road.

After we rode through the Appalachian Mountains in the east we headed through Ohio and rode through the state in about one day.  This was our first 100 mile day as a team, and my first 100 mile day ever.  It was great though.  The weather was perfect, the pb&j was delicious, and my group couldn’t have been more entertaining (we spoke in british accents for most of the day).  When we arrived in Indianapolis my aunt and uncle (heeeey Aunt Shary!) drove an hour from their home to meet me and spend the rest of the day with me.  It was great to visit, eat dinner with them, and catch up with my cousin Marty.  Seeing family even if it’s just for one night is often the best kind of break you could ask for.  The next day was also a great one as I was pleasantly surprised in Rockville, Indiana when my cousins Matt and Tommy came to visit!  It’s so good to see familiar faces, it means a lot to me and I’m happy that this trip across the country allows me to catch up with family along the way.  A lot of times we rely on the kind words or actions of our families to give us strength on our journey and there’s something to be said about people in your life who go out of their way to support you or let you know they care.  I’ve been really spoiled lately when it comes to seeing loved ones.  After we rode through Indiana we arrived in Champaign where my sister Cassie surprised me at our welcome event.  After seeing her, I was able to spend the rest of the day with my good friends and sleep in my apartment.  It was a strange feeling showering in my own shower, sleeping in a bed, and doing things without 27 other people.  But it was amazing and a much needed refresher, not to mention soooo awesome seeing the people I miss!

After Champaign, I was even more spoiled as we headed North to my hometown of Clifton! Although we had really heavy (I think 14 mph) head winds to face the entire day, I could not wait to be home.  It was a cool feeling riding through towns like Onarga, Gilman, and Danforth.  With every town we passed I would count down the number of towns we had to continue through before I was home.  After stopping at the gas station in Ashkum to visit Mardelle (my favorite cashier) we continued into Clifton where welcome signs lined many of the roads (my friends parent’s made signs, the church made signs, and even the welcome sign on main street was dedicated to our team).  It was awesome to say the least, I really could not have grown up in a better place. A lot of people don’t understand why I like living in a such a small town, but I think maybe some of my team understands why I love it after our visit.  It’s the community that’s important, not the population. My sister drove all the way home after work in Chicago that night just to see me and meet some of my team, I got to hug my mom, see my neighbors, my high school teacher stopped by to wish me luck, and even Biscuit (my dog) greeted me when we arrived at the church.  Thanks to gracious hosts at Zion, we were all stuffed full of delicious homemade pasta, fresh fruit and vegetables, bread, salad, cheeses, and a million desserts.  Our dinner was extra special because cancer survivors in the community prepared and served our meal…it was awesome! After eating, I was able to reconnect with my friends from home.  It was amazing to be back in the country, sitting at a bonfire, and talking with my best friends like I had never even left.  I don’t know if they’ll ever understand how much they mean to me.  The next day we arrived in Homewood and once again, I got to visit with my friend Emily who lives in the area.  It was short but much needed, I miss her already!  After arriving in Chicago, I’ve spent the past day with my sister sleeping at her apartment, eating delicious food, and relaxing at the beach.  I’m pretty lucky to have older sisters they’re always giving me advice, food, and laughs. It’s been an incredible week filled with people I care about.  After this luxurious week, I’ll be challenged again with some windy days and hilly lands in Wisconsin.  I think we’re up for the challenge though!  Here’s to the west.

PS- Dear everyone at home: thanks for all of your hard work, warm welcomes, and offering up your showers/homes/food it means the world! : )

PPS- I did our ride dedication from Champaign to Clifton for you, Coach D.  Thanks for getting us there safely, you’re guidance was helping us pace-line the wind!

Comments (3)
  • Shary Devine says:

    We think about you so often and are so proud of you. What a great group you are a part of. Be safe-Blessings and love! A. Shary

  • eleanor archer says:

    Hi Shannon: We are so proud of you and enjoying your Blogs so much. Take care and stay safe. Aunt Eleanor and Uncle Al Archer

  • eleanor archer says:

    We will be anxious to hear your next blog. Aunt E.

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