A 30 degree drop in temperature in two days and a cold tailwind, ushering me on through a hundred miles of Illinois scenery, which saw the plains of Kansas combined with the trees of Misery. Route 40 took me along quiet roads, usually parallel to an Interstate, and sometimes dumped me on it, without a care in the world. The four way stops are puzzling to me. You're supposed to wait if other vehicles arrive before you from one of the other directions, and also wait if someone draws up simultaneously to your right. However, as I'm on a bike, vehicular traffic often sits there when it's their turn to go. It's a bit like playing Russian roulette. I also don't get this business of having to halt at stop signs when there's no traffic around. At intersections where you have a good view of the road being crossed and can see there's nothing there on approach, why stop? So, I don't. Maybe it's to give drivers time to take a slurp of an icy beverage, which many seem to have, and sometimes in litre size cups. Or perhaps it's to give women on the phone a moment to gesticulate to their girlfriends with the other hand. The countryside and towns were nothing much to look at, especially with an oppressively grey sky overhead. Coming into Greenville a sign read 'Visit Vandalia” and listed the attractions of this, a town 20 miles ahead. Didn't the Greenville city elders mind this attempt at poaching their custom?
Later, there was a hairy moment when it grew dark. I looked up at one point to see headlights bearing down on me, then swerve to avoid collision in the knick of time, as a car overtook another coming the other way. In Effingham I met another Scott, and his girlfriend, Laura, a math tutor from California. Scott, a sports textbook writer, was young and still lived with his mother, who had made us a stew in her absence. I wolfed this down and don't think I should have compared it to British food, as even here in this isolationist land everyone knows of the plight of my tiny country's cuisine. There was also salad, and as is often the case in American kitchens, about a dozen dressings to choose from. There was blackberry cobbler too, beer, and later Jack Daniel's.
It was a laid back atmosphere for Scrabble, helped along with rocking music and liquor. In the first game, a three hander, I scored 128 for one word and still came last! WALTZER with the Z on a triple letter and the word doubled. The reason I lost was because I changed my letters twice, and they both made clearances - Scott bingoing out with the 100+ AVERAGE. I really should have retired then, but played a two player game against a combined Scott & Laura. They were real good players and very competitive, especially Laura, who acted all demure, but threw down a torrent of bingos. I challenged two of these (ADOBIES & ALIGNER) and was right to do so. I should have challenged MANDATER as well. I didn't bother with NARGILE as it was too weird to be invalid. I picked up both the blanks, although the rest of my tiles were dire and I couldn't eek out one miserly bingo. A quick look at the World War II 'museum' in the basement, assembled by Scott's late father – including a jeep in the garage. There was a Scrabble board carpet down there as well. I want one. It was midnight by the time I turned in and my night was further truncated because my room was next door to a young couple who had just been reunited...
The following morning Scott told me he'd scored an all time high with 577 in a game with Laura. We had Hudson Bay Bread for breakfast, a boy scout flapjack recipe with maple and corn syrup.