Today was another 50 mile day, but thankfully the weather was 180 degrees from yesterday. Cool, sunny, and with a very light breeze that was almost behind me. I even saw my first dead armadillo on the side of the road! Oh joy!
After yesterday, which I will always think of as “the ride from hell,” I did a lot of thinking about this journey. I had a lot of time to think as the river was not visible and the scenery was a lot of cropland! One thing that I said to Jane and many others was that we are doing this for fun. If it isn’t fun then why do it? Yesterday was not fun. Enduring 50-70 miles a day on roads where you have to contend with traffic is not fun. Even without traffic which is also the case four to six hours on the bike every day is a pretty lonely experience. There are only so many podcasts to listen to.
According to our guide book for the MRT we are headed into more of the ride that is not very pretty and just miles and miles on roads. The sense of accomplishment at the end of the day is fun, but it all too soon turns into another morning and getting back on the bike. This trip has been hard on my body as well. The ride in the wind really took a toll on my back.
East Saint Louis was NOT fun for Jane either. The RV park was nothing but a giant parking lot behind the Casino. She volunteered to ride across the bridge to a bike shop to pick up some new tubes for our tires and some urrrrmmmm “Chamois Cream” for my developing chafing problem. Brand name “DZNutz” 😂 On the way back from that errand she hit a patch of broken glass and suffered another flat. Thankfully she was close enough to just walk the bike back to the camper. This was a good reminder that this trip is not much of a vacation for her. Hooking up the camper, taking care of the “black water,” filling the fresh water, all the stuff that we normally do together when camping she is having to do alone.
So, all of those things were turning over and over in my mind as I rode and I think it leads to one conclusion. A little less riding and a little more fun. Maybe more hiking, maybe just some shorter rides in areas that are pretty. Maybe just more time together enjoying our campsites and what they have to offer. It doesn’t mean I’m giving up — the killer nagging feeling in the back of my mind. Lets just say I am reprioritizing the activities of the trip!
Jane met me with the camper a several miles short of the camp site for the night and we rode those last miles together. We talked about my thoughts from the day, and considered skipping the campground for tonight and moving on to the next so that we could have a couple of nights in the same place. Luckily we decided that we should at least drive through the campground and see what it was like. Luckily we did! Our campground was a real find! Called Fort Kaskaskia, the campground was first come first served. Other than a few campers that were obviously there for the season we had our pick of sites. After getting camp set up we walked back to the main picnic shelter where we had a spectacular view of the mississippi.
This area has a very interesting history. The mississippi changed directions here at one point putting part of Illinois to the west of the river. It was also the site of a revolutionary war battle! Yes revolutionary not civil, I never knew there were revolutionary war battles fought this far west. We met a nice couple who had lived in the area their whole lives who had just come up to the fort after a doctors appointment to enjoy the view. They enjoyed sharing some of the history of the area with us and it was fun to hear it from them.