Goodbye Illinois, Hello Kentucky!

Our time in Chester Illinois was short, but fun. We had a big day (that means 90 miles/5000 feet of climbing) planned for Tuesday, and resolved to get an early start. So we departed Chester, and headed east toward Goreville.
The riding is getting more difficult, and it is starting to take its toll on us. Colorado, Kansas, and even western Missouri were not as tough as these last few days. It may be nothing more than the accumulation of 16 straight days of riding, but we suspect that it has more to do with the endless progression of hills – some of which are so steep as to be almost impossible to ascend (remember we are pulling trailers), combined with the high temps (every day since we began has been over 100), and now that we are in Illinois, the extreme humidity. It is SOOOO humid! In fact, in this part of the country, you can go swimming without ever having to get in water….. The air is wet enough by itself! Today it was so bad that there was actual steam on the road – I mean it was so steamy that it was like being in a sauna! It makes the breathing difficult and the riding uncomfortable. You literally cannot ride 1/2 mile without being soaked in sweat. It’s almost impossible to stay hydrated also, and we have taken to filling our camelbacks with ice so as to have cold water to drink for an hour or so. But when you get an early start, you have the entire day to ride, and since we were on the road by 7:30, we were in good shape.
The ride to Goreville was great. Cornfields, lots of wooded land, cemeteries, and small farmhouses, most of which were tidy and neat and well cared for. Lots of small ponds dot the landscape, and the barns are wonderful; old, and creaky and rusted, but most still in use and an integral part of the economy here. Speaking of the economy in Illinois, I had a conversation with a farmer at a minimart, and he shared with me the dire situation farmers in the Midwest are facing. Basically, it is bone dry here. So dry that the corn harvest is going to be “maybe half” of a normal year. Many fields he told me are a total write off- the corn is stunted and turning brown when it is barely 2 feet tall. When I asked what he thought the cause if the drought was, he replied “let’s just hope it’s not global warming, cause if it is, we’re in a world of hurt”.
We made Goreville, found a state park to camp in, had a nice dinner at Pete Delaneys, and struggled to sleep in the thick, steamy air.
It is now Thursday, the 4th of July! And we are back in the saddle, this time headed for Marion, Kentucky! The ride was much the same (in fact it is getting hard to tell one day from the next as the landscape and riding conditions are so much the same). Had another weiner dog attack, except this time the little bugger did not see me coming from behind, and when I yelled at him, HE was the one who was terrified and bolted for home! We made it to a little spot called Elizabethtown, and enjoyed a break and a bite to eat. But when we got up to go, there was a storm brewing, and we decided it would be best to wait it out. Good Thing! Within 10 minutes the sky had opened up, and torrents of water were gushing down the street and overwhelming the drain system. We, thankfully were comfortable and dry beneath the awning of the restaurant, and even caught a short nap as we waited for the storm to play itself out.
By 3:00 we were back on the road, and by 4:00 were on a ferry crossing the Ohio River! Welcome to Kentucky! And I will close by thanking the good folks at the Methodist Church here in Marion for opening their hearts (and church) to cyclists! We got a great shower, air conditioning to sleep in, and found a good pizza and salad for dinner.
Total miles to date is 1,131. On to Uticca, Kentucky tomorrow.


A cemetery along the route in Illinois.


Devon, riding through a tree tunnel in Illinois.


The farmhouses are well-kept, quaint, and charming.


A hay roll in Kentucky.


Waiting out a giant thunderstorm in Elizabethtown, Illinois.


On the ferry, crossing the Ohio river from Cave-in-Rock, Illinois. That’s Kentucky on the far bank.


Kentucky! We will finsh on Saturday in Louisville.

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