DEPART: 6:22 AM
ARRIVE: 11:50 AM 12.25 MILES IN 5 HOURS AND 28 MINUTES (GROSS)
AVG SPEED: 2.24 M. P. H.
Up early and off to a Jewel Osco to stock up on foot powder and misc supplies.
6:22a - Hit the road from Downer Place and River Street in Downtown Aurora.
7:07a North Aurora Police Car pulls over at the City Limits. Lt. Doran of the North Aurora PD welcomes me to North Aurora on behalf of Mayor Mark Ruby. Mayor Ruby was then on his way to Chicago for a meeting and Lt. Doran expressed his regrets. North Aurora Police Chief Fetzer and Lt. Doran meet me at John Street and we stop and take pictures and gab about the heavy traffic on Illinois 31. Sue Jacobson (one of my two LHA "guardian angels" from Plainfield to the DeKalb County Line) also meets up with me there and Sue walks with me to Oak Street.
8:00a- (appx) Spot a few mothers and a gaggle of kids waiting for a school bus along Illinois Route 31. I go over and introduce myself. I hand out some maps and let them know they are on a national scenic byway. (They didn't have a clue, but had seen the LH Historic Route Signs and wondered what they were all about.) They know now.
8:40a - Ruth Frantz, my other LHA "guardian angel" meets up with me in Batavia South of Main Street and we walk through Batavia to Illinois Street. We stop at the Burger King and take a break so I can try to catch up on some of my backlogged voice mails. I order an orange soda and introduce myself to the counter worker and the shift supervisor, tell them that they are located on a a New National Scenic Byway, give them copies of the press release and a few maps. As I head out into the kids play area to sit down, an elderly woman turns to ask someone "Is he your state's Governor or something?" I had a laugh at that and so should my former wife and sister-in-law who, at the "step off" in Lynwood were chanting "Mad Mac for Governor." All along Route 31 there are some very big old mansions, including at least one designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Nice digs along the Fox River Valley.
9:30a - South of Fabyan Parkway on ILL 31 I spot some guy about two blocks down with a camera shooting pictures of me as I am really moving along. I finally reach him and he introduces himself as Jeff Knox with the Daily Herald. He is going to follow me for a while and shoot some more pictures.
10:20a I am five minutes behind schedule. As I approach ILL 38 on ILL 31 just opposite the Geneva Fire House, I encounter an IDOT crew working on some parking signs. One IDOT worker spots me and, I think, with some mild disapproval in his voice, says "Nice Cap." (Referring to my beat up IDOT baseball cap.) I go over and introduce myself and tell him, "I earned it, I've been with the Department for 15 years!" Well, we started gabbing and I gave him a map and a copy of the press release. His name was, I believe, Mike Cody and he may have been working out of the Elgin Sign Shop, though I can't be sure. He wishes me good luck.
10:30a - Stroll though downtown Geneva, which seems to being quite well, thank you. I stop at Starbuck's for a regular, basic, no latte, no mint, no garlic coffee. Sit down outside and make some more phone calls, trying to catch up with people who have left messages.
10:45a - I spot a guy with a tape recorder (professional, industrial size one) and a radio/TV type microphone about a block away on Kaneville Road in Geneva. It turns out to be the news director for WDKB (B-95 FM) in DeKalb, Brian (Carlson or Adams, I lost his card and I was brain dead by then anyway.) He asks if he can do a taped interview. Of course, so I answered his questions and tell him I received my graduate degree from NIU in 1978, etc. After the interview, we talk some more and he asks where I am staying along the way. I tell him I am being put up at various hotels by local organizations or bed and breakfast owners. He asks where I'll be staying in DeKalb Friday Night. I have to tell him that DeKalb, site of my old alma mater, is the only town along the way where I don't have any place to stay. He says maybe he'll stick something about that in his newscast. I don't know if he did or not. But I did get a call from DeKalb the next afternoon offering me a room. (But by then Sue Vos at the Aurora CVB had already booked me for another night in Aurora. Thanks Sue.)
11:30a - LHA Guardian Angel Sue Jacobson meets up with me on Keslinger Road east of the Peck Road Junction and walks with me to the end and beyond, where Carl Jacobson is waiting with his vehicle.
11:50a End of day at Peck and Keslinger Road.
Before heading back to Aurora, I stop in at AutumnGreen Landscaping (38W456 Keslinger Road, Aurora) to inquire if I might be able to leave my car there first thing the next morning when I take off down Keslinger Road. Denny Holsteen says he doesn't think it'll be a problem and that I should check in the morning with his colleague, Michael Pracht. I leave copies of new byway map, press release.
After running around Downtown Aurora to see Sue Vos and drop a press packet off for Benji Hughes of the Aurora Beacon News, I stop back and decide to visit Walter Payton's Roundhouse which is on River Street just North of the Comfort Suites. It is a railroad roundhouse built in 1856 for the Burlington Railroad. There I was greeted by Host Dan Lekovich who gave me the run down on this totally renovated structure. It has, I will say, a genuine first class restaurant operation and a courtyard. I got a peppered steak to go and went back to the hotel. It was great. I only wish I had more time to tour the whole large roundhouse complex. (I promise to send the owners more info on Lincoln Highway.) However, by then, my feet were threatening a revolt. Downtown Aurora is definitely on the way up, much like Joliet. The restored Paramount theater, the casino and Walter Payton's Roundhouse Complex / Museum are cornerstones for a revival that is well underway.
FOR THOSE WHO WERE THERE, PLEASE E-MAIL ME CORRECTIONS OF NAMES AND FILL IN THE BLANKS ON ANYTHING I LEFT OUT.
SINCE I DO NOT HAVE LAPTOP OR REMOTE E-MAILING CAPABILITY FOR CERTAIN LEGS OF THIS JOURNEY, I WILL BE ISSUING BULLETINS IN THE FUTURE AND UPDATES IF, WHEN AND WHERE POSSIBLE.
Next day's walk.
Tom McAvoy (Mad Mac)
Home: 9130 West 89th Street Tele: 708-599-2815
Hickory Hills, IL 60457-1208 e-mail: email@example.com
Work: IDOT, District One, Programming Bureau Tele: 847-705-4386
201 West Center Court Fax: 847-705-4666
Schaumburg, IL 60196-1096 e-mail: McAvoyTJ@nt.dot.state.il.us
On March: SEPT 1-14 ONLY: Cellular Phone: Tele: 708-204-3608
You can still participate, with Tom, on his walk across Illinois.
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