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Brian Cray - Budget Travel

Hitchhiking, Train Hopping, & Backpacking

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Sam Dale Lake State Park


Sam Dale Lake State Park

I ended up resting at a church off US 50 near Buchanan Drive.  At first I figured I’d stay out of the heat and cool off, but after telling everyone my story I ended up sleeping in someone’s old home.  I never did catch their names, but nonetheless, an exceptional bunch of people.  I showered, ate a big dinner and prepped my gear for tomorrow’s journey.

Sam Dale Lake State Park Illinois

Taking a rest at a church near Sam Dale Lake State Park!

I woke up around 8 AM and pedaled 65 miles going down US 50 and US 45. I decided to use the car route on Google Maps since I didn’t want to get stuck on gravel roads again.  I looked on in the distance seeing corn field after corn field with mint interlaced in between ever so often.  I stumbled across a church where I indulged in yet another peanut butter sammich and plopped under a tree to get in the shade.  The sun beating down on me all day in every direction with only a cloud in the sky.  My nose beat red and left ear slightly singed from sunburn, but my spirit still the same.  I now know why Illinois is called The Prairie State.  Besides being flat there is not much around, but corn, oil rigs and the occasional mart.

Sam Dale Lake State Park Illinois

Entering Sam Dale Lake State Park in Illinois

I came across a Citgo off of US 45 and grabbed some bread and a cold Arizona Tea.  I sat outside in the shade on a bench to rest.  The last three days the temperature consistently in the 90’s and my mouth dehydrated no matter the amount of fluid I drink.  The store clerk came outside for a smoke and we chatted for a bit.  He inquired about wrestling. where I was from and headed.  I found it odd his high school did not have a football or wrestling team.  The area did seem way out in the country so it made sense.  He talked about his dream of being an MMA fighter.  I told him he should follow his passions and do it.  Granted he’d need to get into better shape and quit smoking, but it would bring happiness, which is most important.

We sat outside for another five minutes and a K9 unit showed up.  This dog barked, growled, scratched the window of the SUV and it didn’t occur to me until later, but I knew why.  I shook my head and laughed, that could have been a dilemma.  I headed down the road to Sam Dale Lake State Park and staked out for a few hours before finding a cozy place to sleep.  I am looking forward to getting back on the trail for more scenic views.

Sam Dale Lake State Park Illinois

The view across the lake at the state park…it was beautiful!

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