The next phase of our journey westward took us from Richmond, Indiana to Bloomington, Illinois to ride another rail-trail.
We don't normally choose to ride rail-trails on weekends since they are often clogged with walkers, joggers, kids weaving all over on their tiny bikes, and dogs on flexi-leads. But sometimes that's just the way the timing works out. We cycled the Constitution Trail, a rail-trail along the former Illinois Central Gulf Railroad line, in Bloomington-Normal, IL on a Sunday in early June. While it was a bit busy in a few places, we had a good experience on a very nice day, and people were friendly.
In addition to the trail, we pedaled on some of the lightly traveled rural roads in the area, and we also got some of the very best ice cream ever, making the ride completely worthwhile!
We started out in a more industrial area near our hotel. It was a short ride over to the trail, and we had this part of it to ourselves.
We soon arrived in downtown Normal, which is a fun name for a town -- just think of all the possible jokes! It's also a charming, eclectic downtown area we really enjoyed seeing. On our way north, we got there early enough that town was very quiet -- nice.
There were some colorful murals...
...and some fun businesses.
We continued through the suburbs of Normal, taking a quick pit stop at the Rosa Parks Commons before heading north into a more rural area.
Silos are everywhere in the midwest, especially along old railroad corridors.
After the cornfields got a bit too monotonous, we turned around and pedaled back way south to the Normal downtown area for the second time. This time we couldn't resist a stop at Emack & Bolio's ice cream shop, even though it was only 11:30 am, and we were still full from breakfast. But they claim to serve "ice cream for the connoisseur", and I believe we've earned that distinction!
It was an incredibly tough choice. Wish we could have stayed in the area longer as much more research was really required.
I opted for a small turtle sundae with Peanut Butter Oreo ice cream (to die for), and Barry chose a simple triple scoop dish of Deep Purple Cow, Mud Pie, and Peanut Butter Oreo. WOW!
They even have an adorable dog watering station. Too bad we didn't have Paisley along!
There was a nice view from the patio while eating our ice cream.
We even got to see an Amtrak train rumble by right behind the courtyard.
After continuing south back towards our hotel area in Bloomington with VERY full bellies, we still had a lot of calories to burn off. So we continued south on the road to another short section of trail. This part actually ran along the Route 66 trail route -- cool!
A few miles south, we reached the southern end of the trail in the tiny hamlet of Shirley, Illinois. There wasn't much there except this little post office, a church, and a few houses.
Last but not least, we took a short western portion of the trail to finish up our ride. It was a really pretty section.
At the western terminus of the Constitution Trail, we finally spied a "Welcome to Bloomington" sign.
A fast ride back to the hotel with a kickin' tailwind, and we finished up our ride on the Constitution Trail. There are a few trail sections we missed, but we cycled the majority of it. I ended up with 60 miles on the day, and Barry, as usual, had a few more. I guess we burned off our ice cream treat!
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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