29 June 2014 => Illinois and Beyond

Ever since I heard about 'Surfing' I have been wanting to try it. Now I will get my chance. My very first Surfin' Safari will be tomorrow in Northwest Illinois. Yep, this will be my Maiden Voyage Couch Surfing.

This sorta came out of the blue. While planning the first leg of my trip I started looking for lodging/camping in Monroe, Wisconsin - the Swiss Cheese capitol of the USA. Monroe is also a good place to find some dandy Rail-trail cycling. The 40 mile Badger Rail-trail is a north-south trail which runs from Madison WI south to the Illinois state line, passing through Monroe along the way. It then connects up to the 12 mile long Jane Addams Trail which heads south to Freeport, Il. With all this cycling, Monroe seemed like a great place to start my trip.

But that's not what it is going to happen. Here is why...

Recently I went to the tire shop to have some work done. Betsy dropped me off. At the last minute I snagged the Illinois map from her car. I hate sitting doing nothing unless I have a beer in my hand and I thought the map would provide a useful distraction while I waited, and waited and waited... .

Knowing I would be cycling south to Freeport from Monroe, I located it on the map to see what else was in the area of Freeport. I noticed there were a number of state parks within 30-60 minutes of Freeport. I made a note to check them out when I got home. I am glad I did.

Here is what I found: Apple River Canyon State Park
Lake Le-Aqua-Na State Recreation Area
Mississippi Palisades State Park
Rock Cut State Park
and Franklin Creek Natural Area to name a few.

I started thinking, if I stayed in Freeport instead of Monroe I could get in some nice hiking as well. And I had never been in the Freeport area before so there would be lots of new places to explore. Knowing this I started looking at the possibility of staying in Freeport and did the usual hotel searches. Then, for some reason I decided to try Couch Surfing.
I went to the site, filled out the request for dates, reason for my visit, etc. I then submitted the form.

I have to say I really did not expect to have much luck with this. But, low and behold I got an email within a couple of hours with my confirmation to stay for 4 nights. AWESOME! No hotel with a noisy AC unit and people talking in front of the room door. No cars pulling in and out of the lot all night and no engine breaks growling and rousting me from sleep. This seemed too good to be true.

I then got an email from hosts Jilly and Kenbob letting me know the details of my digs. The email was very friendly and welcoming and I was really glad they had decided to host me. Yippee! No hotel and local color to hang out with. Don't get no better than that!

Seeya in Freeport!
~ Mike

Click on the photo below for a larger image.

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

My home for the next 4 days.


'Till next time...


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