Illinois

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September 10, 1992 Murphysboro to Cave-in-Rock  (95 miles, 4010 ft, $17)

We got up early and headed for McDonalds, or so we thought.  The restaurant wasn’t where we thought it was.  Even though it was not yet light, we decided to pedal onto Carbondale and see what we could find there.  Carbondale being a college town, they had a McDonalds.

From Carbondale we rode through Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge.  We saw one deer right on the road but not much else.  We stopped for snacks in Groveville, Eddyville and Elizabeth Town.  Not much in these towns other than a corner store.

We are getting close to Kentucky and the infamous dogs.  Today we saw plenty and some of them were tough.  I drained an entire bottle directly on the nose of one of them and it kept chasing us, although its bark started to sound more like a drowning than a bark.  We had a second particularly nasty dog that another full water bottle did not discourage.  We were going up a little hill so it was able to stay right with us.  Just as we crested the hill and were about to pull away, I dropped the map and we had to stop.  The dog did not really know what to do now it had caught us.  We were much bigger than he was and pretty mad at this point.  When Dave started to chase the dog, the game became a lot less fun and the mutt ran away faster from us than it did catching us.  I can’t imagine what a local might have thought if they driven by with me holding the tandem while Dave chased a dog.  Kentucky might be fun!

We made it to Cave-in-Rock at 3:30.  Dave talked to a couple locals but in both cases could not understand a word they said.  We bought supplies for dinner at the small store and headed for the campground.  The campground was empty, including the ranger booth.  We picked a secluded spot and set up camp.  Before dinner we walked to the far end of camp and snuck showers from one of the hand water pumps.  There was no one around so we stripped and each washed quickly while the other held a towel.  It was very cold water but it felt good to get cleaned up.

We walked to “the Cave”.  It was pretty neat – you could walk right in.  Just outside the cave was the Ohio River and on the other side was Kentucky.  Our two day stay in Illinois would end tomorrow AM with a ferry crossing.  We still haven’t been able find anyone or method for paying for the campsite.  We’ll see what we can do in the morning.

September 11, 1992 Cave-in-Rock to Sebree Kentucky (59 miles, 2180 ft, $34)

Since the ferry didn’t run early, we slept a little later this morning.  Had cereal at camp and rode to the dock.  The ferry pulled in just as we got there and it was a quick ride over the Ohio River.  The ferrymaster charged us $1 – he wasn’t sure if he should charge us for one bike or two people.  Guess they don’t see many tandems.  When we got off the ferry on the other side, we ran into our first Kentucky dog – there was a small puppy wagging its tail, thrilled to see us.  He followed us for a couple miles, no owner in sight.  We’re not sure what happened to him.  More important, after the dogs of Illinois, we hope that’s as bad as the dogs of Kentucky get.

We saw several horse drawn wagons, as there is a large Amish community in the area.  We rode through nice rolling hills to Marion.  We planned on shooting for Utica tonight but took a long break waiting for the Chamber of Commerce in Marion to open (Dave wanted to get one of the standard issue free tourist maps, which they did not have).  We decided to call it a day in Sebree.

Sebree is a nice town with a great park to camp in.  We had sponge bath showers in the bathrooms as the pool was closed for the season.  For dinner we had the “blue plate special” at the local dinner.  It really was just that.  The place was so small that they really didn’t have a menu.  You just got to eat what they were making that day.  The special was pretty good – the best part was the black-eyed peas.  We got ice cream at the corner store for dessert. 

We saw lots of tobacco today.  It’s the time of year that they cut it and hang it out to dry.  We talked to some folks at the store and got the story on tobacco.  Turns out that nearly everyone that has any land grows a bit of tobacco.  Many of them don’t smoke, but instead sell it to the big growers who in turn sell it to the big tobacco companies.  This is how everyone pays for his or her Christmas gifts as the money comes in just before Christmas.

After dinner we watched a local softball league game at the park.  One of the players had a University of Oregon shirt on so we asked him if had been to Oregon.  He said no, he just like the colors, had pretty much never left the county.

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