Day 19 - Marion, KY (Methodist Church Cyclist Hostel) to Golconda, IL (Unity Lodge) - Seeking A Bicycle Warrior's Death, Part II: The Great Rivers South - CycleBlaze

October 10, 2022

Day 19 - Marion, KY (Methodist Church Cyclist Hostel) to Golconda, IL (Unity Lodge)

Some Parts Of Illinois Aren't Flat!

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Statistics, Useful & Otherwise;

Elevation Gained Today;    2,554              Cumulative;   37,673 ft

Max Grade;  9%

Roadkill Seen Today;   skunk (2), deer (1), unknown (2)                                   Cumulative; Hawk (3), Raccoon(3), Possum (13),  Mouse (1), Squirrel (8),      Armadillo (5), Bird (1), Coyote (1), Deer (4), Snake (1), skunk (2), unknown (4)

Found Money Today;   $0.11                        Cumulative; $0.45

Lodging Cost Today;    $ 61.95                    Cumulative; $ 1,384.23

Bad Drivers Today;   1                                     Cumulative; 11

Dog Chases Today;  1                                        Cumulative; 15

Average Speed Today;   9.3 mph                 Cumulative; 10.02 mph

Summary of Today's Ride; Short steep hills are wearing on me, but overall a pleasant ride.

You may have noticed that my cumulative average speed has been steadily declining as I got into the hills in Tennessee and Kentucky.  And today's riding up and down the river bluff terrain wasn't particularly speedy either.  I'm riding a loaded bike and trying to use the lower gears to save my knees - I don't care if my average speed is a bit slower, I'm content to spin up the hills in low gears.  I'll get there.

The found money fund got a boost today when I spotted a penny on the road and then found a dime nearby.  But it's still looking rather grim that I will find enough for a celebratory end of the tour coffee.  Hey, it's just a game I play.   Only 1 dog chase today and 1 bad driver.  The bad driver incident didn't endanger me, but the fellow insisted on passing me on a rural road with a car oncoming - the driver of the oncoming car had to pull almost completely off the road to avoid the hurtling idiot.

I'm drinking decaf coffee in my room at the Unity Lodge in Golconda, IL.  I just finished a yogurt and 2 bagels, which will do for a late lunch.  I feel lucky to have stumbled upon this place when I was researching lodging; it's located about right for my travel plans and relatively inexpensive.  It's a little strange though, more on that later (if I remember and have time).  Today was Day 4 of an 8-day run, I've been climbing hills on each of those days, and I'm a little run down.  Not exhausted or anything like that, but a wee bit tired.  I have 4 days to go on this run and will end up in the Missouri Ozarks before I take another rest day - the final rest day of this tour - at least, that's the plan.  Day 7 of this 8-day run will be the hardest with 3,500 feet of climbing and some 13% grades, so I'm going to appreciate another rest day when it gets here.  In the meantime I'm trying to be efficient and not wear my knees out as I move towards Day 7. But let's talk about today now, in the order that it happened.

I got up before the 06:30 alarm and commenced packing.  I usually pack everything I can at night so that I have a minimum to do in the morning, but last night I was just too weary and left it all out.  No big deal, just took a bit longer this morning to collect everything and pack it away into the panniers and handlebar bag.  When it was all packed, I left a donation for the hostel and turned off all the upstairs lights and thermostat as I had been instructed, then carried the bags down to the second (main) floor and loaded Harvey up for the day.  I was pleased to see that the tires were still inflated (meaning I didn't get a pinch flat from a poorly installed inner tube), and rolled Harvey to the exit and turned off those lights as I left.   First stop of the day was the McDonald's a few blocks away, and I ordered an egg McMuffin and small coffee.  

It was cold in the early morn, and I was in no hurry to leave McDonald's, so I sipped my coffee while I planned ahead.  I called a diner in Elizabethtown to verify that they were open today (today is Columbus Day), and planned to have a real "second breakfast" when I got there.

A couple set down at an adjacent table, and then a lady set down at the same table with them but I'm not sure she was with them.  She was existing in a different reality and talking to an invisible companion, mostly just mumbling and gesturing, and totally oblivious to everything else.  The couple didn't seem to mind, so they either knew her or tolerated her.  The guy and his lady friend were talking to each other and looking my way and finally he asked "Where you biking from?"  I told him I was riding from New Orleans to Iowa and his lady friend slapped his shoulder and said "I told you he was a cross-country biker!"  The lady living in a different reality was positioned between us and continued with her own private conversation while I answered all their questions about my little adventure.  The fellow had once hiked the Appalachian Trail (well, most of it anyway, he hitchhiked through Georgia due to a forest fire in the way), so he told me all about the issues that long-distance hikers face.   We had a good conversation and I wished them a good day and left.  I wished the lady in the alternate reality a good day also, but she stared right through me and I don't think she was receiving on our usual broadcast wavelengths.

And so I headed out towards the Ohio River and the ferry crossing to Cave-in-Rock, IL.  I'd only ridden about a mile when Harvey spoke up and said "deja vu."  He hasn't been very talkative in a while, and that's all he said today.  The term "deja vu" is French in origin and means "already seen."  Harvey was right, because for the first 34 miles of today's ride we were on the Transam route and retracing our path from 2015.   Seven years is long enough that I didn't remember the details of the route until we neared the river.  Before we got there we saw this sign which reminded me that Amish lived nearby.

Amish Folks Live Near Marion, KY
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Shortly after that sign I saw an Amish fellow running on a path parallel to the road, carrying some sort of pail - no idea what's up with that.

I'm not a "religious" person, but I enjoy the study of religion - I've always enjoyed cultural anthropology (as a hobby) and if I had unlimited time I would study it formally (i.e., in a university setting).  The history of the Amish is quite fascinating and shows us how a religious philosophy develops and evolves.  The following link is a quick and easy read should you wish to know more -->  Amish in Kentucky.

The day started off with hardly no wind and not a cloud in the sky.  And it wasn't too cold as I made my way towards the river.

Early Morning Pond Reflections
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Interesting artwork adorned a little farm spread along the way.

Roadside Artistry
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Shortly before reaching the river I rejoined the Great Rivers South route, which overlaps with the Transam route for about 24 miles.

Waiting For The Ferry To Cross Over From Cave-in-Rock, IL
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Cave-in-Rock got it's name from the caves in the river bluff in the right of the picture below.  Pirates and bandits hid in those caves and preyed on unaware river travelers. Today it's an Illinois State park.  I had planned on staying in a cabin at the park, but they were all occupied.

The Cave-in-Rock Cliffs Seen From The Ferry
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Notice how calm the water is in the photo above.   There were only 2 vehicles on the ferry - just Harvey and a pickup truck.  I parked Harvey in his "usual" spot in the right front.  Harvey has only crossed a river by ferry twice now, and both times were here.  We were supposed to cross on a ferry to Ticonderoga, NY last year, but it had not yet reopened from the COVID shutdown so we had to detour and cross via bridge.

Harvey In His Usual Spot On The Ferry
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If the pickup truck driver had gotten out or rolled down a window to talk, I would have asked him to take my picture and try to re-create the photo I have of Crossing the Ohio River in 2015.  But no such luck, so I had to settle with this poor cell phone selfie.

Enjoying The Smooth Crossing
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So now I made it to another state!  Illinois is the 6th state on this adventure.  Some people try to ride in all 50 states as a goal.  That's fine, but it's not my goal.  I have had both business and pleasure trips to Hawaii and Alaska, and never bicycled in them - so obviously I don't have a goal of "collecting" all 50 states.   But I have ridden in 31 states now, mostly when I have toured self-supported across them, but also counting Oklahoma (I've done a half-dozen supported trips across the state on the annual "Freewheel" ride) and Arkansas (my home state, numerous short tours all over).   I've ridden in Illinois twice before; 2015 on the Transam route, and 2021 on the Northern Tier route, so it's not a new state for me.  But I haven't ridden the Great Rivers South route before, so this new for me.

I'm In Illinois Now!
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Cave-in-Rock has gone to some effort to make cyclists feel welcome.  There are colorful bicycles decorating many corners of the town.

One Of A Dozen Or So Decorated Bicycles In Cave-in-Rock
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Much of my route today follows the Ohio River Scenic Byway.

My Route For Awhile
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Today's ride was moderately strenuous, due to constant rolling hills.  And some of them weren't "rolling" so much but were just short and steep.

Up and Down Hills All Day
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I remembered one particularly short but very steep hill from my 2015 Transam ride, and I remembered the Jenkins cyclist rest stop atop it.  So I was apprehensive as I approached the hill, but it wasn't nearly as bad as I remember it being.  There are several reasons that it was easier today; 1.) I'm not carrying camping gear, so the bike is 20 pounds lighter, 2.) I have a lower granny gear now than I had in 2015, and 3.) I've had 7 years more physical maturity so I must be stronger now than I was then.  One might argue with reason #3, but the other 2 are pretty solid.  Here's a shot of the Jenkins cyclist rest stop;

The Jenkins Rest Stop
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Mr. Jenkins had passed away shortly before my 2015 Transam tour.  As I was stopped taking the picture, a fellow came out of the house and we chatted.  He knew Mr. Jenkins as "PahPaw" and Mrs. Jenkins as "MeeMaw."  He told me Mrs. Jenkins has also passed away now, but the family  continues to maintain the cyclist rest stop.  He gave me the history of how the rest stop evolved; basically because of all the cyclists riding the Transam, Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins would offer them food and drink and met people from all over the world, and they eventually built this nice rest stop so cyclists could take a break after climbing the hill.  Very cool.

I rolled on and made my way to Elizabethtown.  The Ohio River was foggy and moody when I photographed it in 2015, but today it was peaceful and serene.

Ohio River Seen From A Pavilion in Elizabethtown, IL
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I had planned on having second breakfast in Elizabethtown, and so I did at the Town & Country diner.  The owner got into a discussion with some patrons he knew about the COVID-19 shutdown - it almost put him out of business.  He got into a rant about how a person sick from COVID had been in the restaurant and yet no one else got sick from that exposure - and from that he somehow concluded that it was all a hoax even though he also said that he had a friend who died from it.  I finished up and left and stayed out of that conversation; you just can't save some people. 

Yesterday I photographed Bigfoot in Kentucky, today I see he is in Illinois.  This guy gets around.

Bigfoot Was in Kentucky Yesterday, Today He's In Illinois
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And here's a lawn mower made for us cycling enthusiasts. I doubt that it would encourage me to actually mow the yard, but it's a cool idea.

A Bicycle Lawn Mower
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And here's a witch riding a bike in Golconda.   I think the sign means she is going to die from riding the bicycle?  I'm not so sure of the message, but it's just a Halloween display.

Witch On A Bicycle
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So my lodging for tonight was a strange sort of find.  It's kind of a small motel, but operates like an AirBnB.  I received an email today giving me the code to unlock the key box by my room.  It worked fine and I'm inside.

The Unity Lodge Was A Lucky Find For Me
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I suspect that the place is mostly used by hunters, cause the rooms have a lot of sleeping spots.  I have a microwave, small fridge, an oven of sorts with hot plates on top, a coffee maker and a hot water kettle.   The room is quite fine for my needs and at $62 I certainly can't complain about the price.  But it's weird; there are 6 rooms each side, and I'm the only person here as far as I can tell - there are no vehicles parked outside.  When I leave I'm supposed to take my trash out to a big trash bin and lock my key back in the box.  There's no one on staff here, but there's a number you can call if need be.  I'm just glad I discovered it because otherwise the distance to the next lodging would have made for a very long day.

Inside My Room
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As mentioned earlier, the found money keeps growing - but very slowly.  

The Found Money Fund Has Grown to $0.45
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Before I finished writing this journal entry, I booked 3 more lodgings. As you know, I started this trip without having had enough time to plan it completely, and I only had lodging confirmed for the first half.  So I'm doing research and booking lodging as I get time now, hopefully I won't hit any bottlenecks - only a few more and I will have the trip all worked out.  But if someplace I need is booked up...

Getting late, there's more I want to say, but not enough time - maybe tomorrow.  Today's ride was mostly in Illinois, so I listed it under the Illinois heading.  But it started off in Kentucky, and my Kentucky riding experience was good and I'm going to miss it.  John Prine thinks Kentucky is Paradise; parts of Kentucky are sure nice, I'm not sure I'd call it Paradise, but I am sure that I'm gonna miss John.  

Hey, I miss you guys too.  Some more than others, but that's how life is.  I'll be seeing you soon.  And for those of you that I won't be seeing soon, well, how we gonna fix that?  Good night everyone...

Today's ride: 39 miles (63 km)
Total: 945 miles (1,521 km)

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