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Illinois!

Thursday June 16: Farmington, MO to Chester, IL

Today was a beautiful riding day, with temperatures in the high 70s, light wind and sun. We had an easy ride on a fairly busy road (32) from Farmington to Ste. Genevieve, where we ate lunch in a small park in the town. Ste Genevieve is a historic site, it was the first town founded in Missouri, and is rich with its French roots. We then crossed the Mississippi on a small ferry boat. It is really a small barge with a little tugboat on the side. The tug is hooked to the middle of the barge, and it swings around and points the other way when the ferry crosses the river in the other direction.

Once across we rode on the levee down along beside the river and the railroad tracks to Chester. There were no big hills today until we got to Chester and had to climb up from the riverbank into town, but even this was relatively short. Jennifer arrived at our motel just minutes before we did, proving her value as our newest SAG wagon driver!

A horse drawn carriage in Ste Genevieve, just before we cross the river to Illinois
This scale shows the height of some of the Mississippi floods in Ste Genevieve (wow!)
The ferry at Ste. Genevieve coming in. The angle is due to a very strong current
Annie talking to the ferry attendant as we cross the river
This butterfly flocked to Annie's vest
We entered Illinois on a little back road and saw no traffic for the next 5 miles!
Part of the levee road we followed along the river and tracks from the ferry to Chester
Jennifer and John went to a park in Chester to find a letterbox. (www.letterboxing.org)

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Friday June 17: Chester to Marion, IL

Another beautiful day for riding. We spent the morning coming down the levee along the east side of the Mississippi. There were farms all along the way, with wheat and corn planted. We passed a huge coal loading dock where the trains bring in coal, and then it is transported on a big conveyer belt over the levee and out to the barges waiting on the river.

Just at the end of this section, Annie broke a spoke. She retuned the wheel a bit to keep it straight, and managed to ride the rest of the day without breaking any more.

We then turned and headed East, passing through Murphysboro, Carbondale and into Marion. Just east of Carbondale, we stopped at John A. Logan College to see the statue of the General that was designed and created by John's brother-in-law Marshall Hyde. Then we rode on to Marion, to meet Jen at the Super 8.

Coal being loaded on barges on the Mississippi
Annie's broken spoke
Lunch in front of a church beside the road
General John A. Logan

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Saturday June 18: Marion IL to Mt. Vernon, IN

Today was a fairly long ride (74 miles), but the riding went well. We are now off the Adventure Cycling TransAmerican route, and heading out on our own towards Cincinnati. Eric re-routed us today to get us off (the originally planned) Rt. 13 because it was very busy. Instead we did a number of nice small back roads leading us through the Illinois countryside, past small towns, big coal mines and farms. We hit a couple of stretches of gravel road which slowed us down and rattled our teeth, but otherwise it was good riding. We also pushed into a north wind for much of the afternoon, and the air got quite cool for awhile. Just at the end of the day we crossed over the Wabash River on Illinois 141/Indiana 62 and came on into Mt. Vernon, Indiana.

Eric is ready to ride
Coal mine in Galitia. This belt brings coal out of the ground and piles it up read for shipping
Eric struggling up a hill on a short piece of gravel road
A wheat combine in action, cutting the wheat, separating the chaff and straw
Mules beside the road watched us go by
John making sure he is well hydrated at a break
Annie fixing a broken link in John's chain
Saw this dinosaur in a corn field. We believe it is an irrigatosaurus
We cross the mighty Wabash and arrive in Indiana

On to Indiana!

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