Archive for the ‘Illinois’ Category

Day 38, When the levee breaks

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

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Well, tomorrow is another day, and after a day like yesterday, I totally needed a day like today. It started off good, and ended, well, I am currently in a hot tub. Pretty good.

We got an early start this morning. The weather was cool and sunny, with a great tail wind. Perfect for a bike ride. We practically flew, and by mid morning, we had crossed the mighty Mississippi River and made it to Chester IL. By the way, Chester is the birthplace of the creator of Popeye. The character was based on a local “scrapper”. For some reason I was really tickled by this fact.

In Chester we stopped by a grocery store to replenish our bread and peanut butter. We also had a snack of a super sized protein drink and bananas. We can’t seem to eat enough, and, being naturally thin, Mike and I are now downright skinny. We have both lost about 10 lbs. I go out of my way to read the calories on the food we buy, to make sure we get the most bang for our buck (luckily our hotel tonight is not 300 ft. from an all-you-can-eat buffet.) Upon leaving Chester we decided to take the Mississippi levee alternate route. This route would be flatter and more scenic than the main route, but, it is 40 miles without services. After some of the stretches we did in Utah and Nevada, this seemed like a cake walk, and it was. We wound our way along levee roads, through corn and soy fields. We watched some feed corn being harvested while waiting for an extremely long coal carrying train to pass. We then passed a coal depot of some sort. It was huge mountains of coal, and it looks like the trains bring it in and then this big conveyer would funnel it out towards barges in the river. We also encountered our first two untethered farm dogs. The first looked like a black lab, and was waiting for us in the street, when we approached on our bikes, he fled into the soybean field, and we could just see his head sticking out above the crops as we passed. It was very cute, Mike thinks that the poor dog was frightened by his bedraggled visage. The second dog looked like a Rottweiler mix, and he just sat and watched us from his yard. We now have some doggy mace, for emergencies, but I’m starting to doubt that we’ll need it.

We stopped in a small town and ate some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and trail mix. There was nothing in this town except a post office, and the very nice lady working there, was not supposed to let us use the restroom, but, I won’t tell if you don’t.

The 40 miles flew by, and we made it to Carbondale by 4pm. We stopped by a couple of bike shops in town and talked to a guy who had just completed a transam tour this summer, we also finally managed to get a replacement tire for Mike. Now, 75 miles later, we are relaxing in our hotel waiting for Kate and Kara to arrive. Awesome day.

Day 39, Over the hills and far away

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

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We didn’t have to check out of our hotel until noon, so we thought we’d take the morning off and cleanup our bikes and hang out with Kate and Kara. I finally replaced my worn rear tire with a new Schwalabe, which are supposed to be top of the line for touring/durability tires. We hosed down our bikes to get ride of the fine limestone dust which had coated them while riding the Katy Trail, and degreased/re-oiled our drivetrains.

We were hoping to hit the nearby Golden Corral for an all you can eat breakfast buffet but saddly realized it was only served on the weekends. We’d have to substitute that massive caloric onslaught with a trip to Denny’s.

Eventually it was time to say goodbye to Kate and Kara. It was awesome of them to drive over three hours each way to come and spend the evening/morning with us, not to mention treating us to a hotel stay and dinner. Tip of the hat to Kate and Kara. It was tough to leave the comfort and company of friends/family in Carbondale, but we do have a destination to reach. Being in Carbondale had special meaning for me on this morning. Today was the 5th anniversary of my Mom passing away from cancer, and Carbondale is where she attended college as a young woman. I wish she had the opportunity to meet my riding partner.

After riding 54 miles through some pretty hilly countryside, we decided to call it a day in Eddysville at about 6PM. There aren’t a lot of services in this area so we asked the proprietor of the local minimart/gas station if we could pitch our tent out back in the grass, she graciously agreed. Tomorrow we cross into Kentucky.

Day 40, Kentucky, unbridled spirit

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

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We awoke this morning and everything was damp from dew and from a very light drizzle that would continue to dog us for the rest of the morning. We packed up and had a quick breakfast at the mini- mart and headed out towards Kentucky.

We made it to the Ohio river and our much anticipated ferry crossing by late morning. The ferry ride was a little anti-climactic. It was just a small tugboat pulling an equally small barge, the whole trip lasted about 10 minutes. But then, we were in Kentucky! Our second to last state. We hit another milestone today as well – 2,800 miles, which means we have less than 1,000 until the end of our trip.

We continued to make good time the rest of the day and reached our destination, the first baptist church in Sebree, KY. The pastor, Bob, and his wife, Violet, regularly house cyclists in the youth center of the church. We have a shower and laundry and even mattresses. Bob and Violet were even nice enough to invite us up to the house for dinner with their family. It was our first home-cooked dinner since we left Andrea’s way back in our first week. Lasagna and sweet tea never tasted so good. I had second helpings and Mike had thirds. And then we had angel food cake with strawberries and ice cream for desert. It was a wonderful way to end our day. Special thanks to Bob and Violet, for taking such good care of us. Tomorrow we move further into Kentucky, one day closer to home.

-Sarah


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