Day 21 - May 24 - Okaw Valley Campground (Brownstone, IL) to Camp Dubois, Wood River, IL - Two Old Guys Take On A Continent - CycleBlaze

May 24, 2023

Day 21 - May 24 - Okaw Valley Campground (Brownstone, IL) to Camp Dubois, Wood River, IL

Back in Time

Ed’s Story

We were much closer to the interstate last night than the night before, or at least it seemed.  Additionally, there was a train track nearby, and we heard trains passing by throughout the night.

Once again, we were up by 5:30, breakfast over, bikes loaded, and on the road before 7:30.

Vandalia was a short 8 miles away; however, they did not have a coffee shop.

The quiet hamlet of Vandalia is perhaps best known as the location of Illinois’ fourth capital or as the one-time western terminus of the National Road.

In the 1850s, less than two decades after that edifice was erected, the Illinois Central Railroad completed a line between Cairo and Galena, passing through Vandalia.

Obviously famous for its railroad intersections.
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After Vandalia we continued on until we reached US 40 west again. We continued  to cross bridges. Although this bridge is not as fancy as the one yesterday, there is John trying to cross it ahead of me.

A not so fancy bridge.
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We ended up on US 40 again, but we were confused, there was no traffic on the road. A few moments later we saw a Road Closed sign. I thought, oh no here we go again another 6 to 25 mile detour. We made it through but John has more of the details.

Another one ? 🤬😡
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We eventually reached Greenville where there was indeed a coffee shop. We missed the first one, but from what we found out later it was out at the Greenville University. There was a nice gentleman cutting grass on the side of the road who gave us directions to a nearby coffee shop just two blocks away.

Coffee ☕️ ☕️☕️☕️ mmhh.
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Jane ChimahuskyIf the coffee isn’t scalding, I don’t want it. Okay, I still want it but I’ll be a chimahusky and complain about it as I drink it 😂😂
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1 year ago
Nancy GrahamThe pain is real! First a town with no coffee shop - whoever heard of that?? Then a tepid cup of hot drink! I definitely feel your pain as I am a tea drinker and it is often unreasonably difficult to find a hot tea in some places, and when you can, it is often ….. tepid! I want HOT tea thank you.
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1 year ago

I noticed my coffee wasn’t as hot as I usually drink it. The lady at the counter said that is because I put cold milk in it. Hogwash. I use cold soy milk at home and my coffee is still hot. The coffee was dispensed out of those pump containers that hotels and some restaurants use. That is why it was not hot.

The ride continues.

Will we find John Smith there also?
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We eventually reached Alhambra where we picked up a nice bike trail heading toward Edwardsville. It was as good or better than the C&O Trail or the Great Allegheny Passage. We anticipate this is what the Katy Trail will look like.

Towards the end of last year, my wife was looking for some thistle for some of her herbal concoctions. Well, I found some but a little too late.

Flowering thistle.
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We were riding on the Nickel Plate Trail, but there are many trails in and around Edwardsville, Illinois.

More trails and you can shake a stick at.
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We stopped in Edwardsville for lunch, picked up groceries for dinner, and headed out for the last 12 miles. We had a slight detour as this poor truck just couldn’t turn sharp enough to avoid falling into the ditch.

I may be one, but the driver of this truck is not a happy camper.
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After riding on the Mississippi River levee for a while, we finally arrived at Camp Dubois. The camp is a re-creation of the campsite Lewis and Clark stayed at that prior to proceeding west across the Mississippi and up the Missouri in 1804.

It has rustic bunk houses, however, a fully updated and functional shower and bathroom facilities. Woot woot!

Our home for the night, all to ourselves.
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Historical information.
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John, after checking out one of the bunkhouses.
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We were worried for a while. We’ve been plagued by bugs and raccoons. However, we’ve been told that there have been coyotes sighted in the area. Now we were really frightened; they even put up a warning to ensure we were aware of the coyote situation.

As long as there are no roadrunners in the area, I think we’re safe.
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What a great cartoon!
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Mike AylingWas it ever!
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1 year ago

Well, the day is drawing to an end. It is almost time to cook dinner. For once the journal may actually be done before midnight.

Tomorrow is a short day. We cross the Mississippi River and go to John’s wife Carol’s cousin Lois’s  for the night. It is only 30 miles, but we have our last major climb of this route section, but we will talk about that tomorrow.

Until then, happy biking.

John’s Story

The days and nights are getting warmer. It dropped maybe to the upper 50s last night. I zipped the sleeping bag only up to my belly button last night. The wind breaker came off after less than an hour on the road today. It’s not so bad to be in the sun as long as you’re moving, but stop for a minute without shade and you can feel the sun beating down.

We met Britney and Wit this morning. This young lady is moving to Durango, Colorado from her parent’s house in Ohio to look for a job. Why Durango? Because she has friends there and the promise of a bed to sleep in while she looks. I asked how to spell her dog's name, and suggested that she add an extra T to the end of it. Apparently it’s a rescue dog, and it had another name, but she decided to give him a name of her own. She liked the idea of the extra T immediately. Good luck to her on her adventure to Colorado.

Britney and Witt. It’s not every day you get to rename someone else’s dog.
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I can’t resist. The Bond County courthouse in Greenville, I’ll.
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I want this house. My man cave would be on the third floor up in the turret
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Kelly IniguezDo you want to move to Osceloa, Iowa? I have friends with a similar house for sale. It's a labor of love to own an old Victorian.
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1 year ago

Ed told you about the road closure we ran into this morning. I’m trying to convince Ed that the universe is on our side in this tour. We pressed on to the actual construction site past several layers of barriers across the road.

Road closure? I laugh at thee! (please re-watch Ricardo Montalbán in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan to imagine the proper inflection.)
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I approached one of the workers and told him we really needed to walk our bikes through the construction site to avoid many miles of detour and backtracking. No problem! Adam even shifted some 4 x 8 sheets of plywood to bridge (pardon the pun) several 3’ wide gaps in the roadbed over the river to facilitate our passage. All the guys on the work crew were interested in what we were up to.

Adam with the Illinois Department of Transportation wins part of today’s Road Angel Award. More about the sharing later.
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There can hardly be a day without some pictures of wheeled vehicles for Johnny.

This one came barreling down the road towards us, and I barely had time to get the phone out to take the shot.
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These were moving a lot slower so it was really easy to get the picture.
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I am requesting that my other grandchildren, Aiden and Haley, let me know what kind of pictures they would like to see. Tell Haley I’ve been looking everywhere for unicorns and have not seen one yet.

Saw this in a convenience store. Now this is a competition I might have a shot at winning. And I love Reese’s peanut butter cups. Please note the requirements.
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We rode across the State of Illinois almost entirely on US 40. No rideable shoulder. Heavy traffic. Road closures. The occasional Road Demon. Where were the bike trails? We finally found one at Alhambra, which took us to Edwardsville and beyond. And suddenly there are bike trails all over the place! At least according to the map we saw on the Nickel Plate Trail.

The bike trail from Alhambra to Edwardsville. Apparently a rare species anywhere else in the state of Illinois.
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Don ShepherdNorthern Illinois had some nice trails when I rode there in 2019. Hennepin Canal Parkway Trail. I was able to ride it peacefully for 25 miles as I left Moline.
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1 year ago
This needs to be spread a little more evenly across the state of Illinois.
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Yes, I know Ed posted a picture of the purple thistle we found along the Nickel Plate Trail, but I have a special memory related to this plant.

Becky Lou, can you thay thithle?
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I attempted to have a conversation with these animals, but their throats were sore and they were too hoarse to talk.
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Kelly Iniguezwhat a jokester!
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1 year ago
We saw something as we were leaving Edwardsville this afternoon that is becoming very rare in this country, brick streets. They were rough as a corn cob. Imagine that in Europe they race over cobblestones on skinny tire bikes at high speeds. Yikes!
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My petroleum geologist background caused me to take this picture of this refinery between Edwardsville and Wood River. They were miles of this sort of scenery, and eventually we saw a Valero sign on the fence. I worked for Phillips Petroleum for 25 years, and always heard about the Wood River refinery. It may or may not belong to them anymore, but it was interesting to see it.

Pictures of evil looking refinery equipment like this give the industry a bad rap.
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Ed showed you a few pictures of Camp Dubois. I’ve been communicating with the caretakers of Camp Dubois since January. When we arrived Alice was here to greet us. She showed us around the encampment, and allowed us to select which of the buildings we wanted to stay in tonight. She provided oil lamps and oil for lighting. There is no electricity or plumbing in the encampment. About 100 yards away there is a modern bathhouse, air-conditioned, clean, with lights and plumbing.

This place can accommodate something like 50 people in the bunk houses at each corner of the stockade and in the building in the center of the stockade. But tonight we have it all to ourselves. With a sign out front that says there is a private event going on. I have never been a private event before. The cost to have this place overnight for just the two of us was just $30. Amazing!

After she showed us around we quizzed her a bit about where to go to find a cold beer. After some discussion she offered to drive us to the liquor store so that we could buy cold beer without having to ride our bikes anywhere. And this we did. For this act of generosity and consideration Alice is granted the other half of today’s Road Angel Award.

Alice the Road Angel,
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All day I’ve been anticipating that we will cross paths with Route 66, but we haven’t seen it. I’m pretty sure Route 66 back in the day went north from St. Louis to the Chain of Rocks bridge across the Mississippi River. The Chain of Rocks bridge is south of us at this point so we may have already crossed it without noticing. If not perhaps we’ll come across it tomorrow.

With the stockade walls around us we feel fairly secure from attack and safe from raccoons. Our oil lamp is burning on the table. Our sleeping kits are laid out on the wooden bunks. Just like the Corps of Discovery we are ready to sally forth tomorrow across the Mississippi and westward up the Missouri.

More road music.


Sweet Baby James

Country Road

On the Road Again

Today's ride: 67 miles (108 km)
Total: 2,970 miles (4,780 km)

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