Goreville to Chester, IL. Apparently my hammock-tarp contraption was not what I was talking it up to be last night. After an hour of heavy downpour the rain started making its way in. Although it was a damp evening I did get a few hours of sleep.
Once there was a break in the rain, around 9am, I got out from under my shelter, packed up my soaked gear, and we made our way to breakfast. Once again, a small town diner. There seems to be a theme. We spoke with a few older gentlemen for awhile who made wisecracks about my trip out west and motivations. But all and all they were good fellas. As they made their way out another two made their way in. When it came time for us to settle our tab the waiter informed us that the two newbies had covered our tab! A massive thank you to Mike (on the right) and “The Big Fella” (center)!!!!
The ride today was not the toughest physically, but definitely mentally challanging. Lots of long stretches and 10 days of peddling 9 hours a day and limited conversation takes a toll. Also the large number of cemeteries and road kill that that are seen each day really gives you a sence of your mortality. A bit morbid, but true.
At the halfway point we were in Carbondale, the home of the Southern Illinois Salukies. We rode through the main campus and past the football stadium on our way to the laundromat to dry out everything that got wet the night before. Once we were dry we grabbed lunch at a Brazillian cafe, Sabor de Miel.
The ride from Carbondale to Chester was fairly flat, rural, and just off the Mississippi. The last town for 25 miles was Gorham, a town of 300, and I was running low on water. Lucky for me there was a couple on their porch, so I filled up there. After a few minutes of chatting we learned that Chuck was born in a tent up the hill during a flood and was a truck driver for 30+ years after living in Germany with the Army and Bobbie was born on the other side of town and had traveled with him for over 4.5 million miles. Next year will be their 50th anniversary and they plan on driving out to Calfornia. Although Bobbie mentioned she was ready to move out of her small town I found their story to be quite beautiful.
From Gorham the route was flat, surrounded by what appeared to be mangroves, and full of wildlife. The usual such as deer and rabbits, but also a birders paradise with hundreds of blue herring and their white counterparts as well as two turkey that flew out of the soy bean field in to the mangroves. Just before the last stretch I caught my first glimpse of the Missippi River.
Our final 10 miles we were racing the storm, and the storm won. Although we were drenched the Fraternal Order of Eagles had a warm and dry cabin waiting and Bubbles the Bartender had a hot meal and hopitaitly ready upon our arrival.
In the morning it is farewell to Illinois and hello to Missouri.
Until tomorrow . . .