Camping With The Carnies

Hank – Yesterday was our one-year anniversary of being on this adventure. Where has the time gone? I remember last year not wanting to think about how far we had to go because it seemed so overwhelming. And now we’re almost done. Wow!

We left O’Fallon, Illinois at noon and headed south. We had good shoulder most of the day. The first 22 miles went by fast. We stopped at the Casey’s in New Athens, IL (pronounced “ay-thens”) and had a snack. Two different people in cars stopped as well and mentioned, “Hey, I just saw you outside of Freeburg. You guys are moving right along.” (Freeburg is about six miles north of New Athens.) And they were blown away when they learned what we were doing.

Regarding the pronunciation of New Athens, I’m reminded that there is a Spokane, Missouri. It was actually named after Spokane, Washington. But they pronounce it “spo-cane”. Go figure.

During today’s ride we passed by a dead snake. Kathy didn’t scream because the snake was dead. She says that’s how you can tell if a snake is dead or alive. If she screams the snake is alive.

We continued on and ended our day in Sparta, Illinois. I called the police department and asked if there was a city park we could camp at. I was told we could camp at the fairgrounds on the south side of town. They told me how to get there and that it should be pretty easy to spot. There’s a carnival in town and some of the people working at it are camped at the fairgrounds in RVs. Fortunately the carnival is in the town itself so we wouldn’t have to deal with that.

The place looked more like a park than fairgrounds. No sooner than we arrive and two boys, Keshawn and Sebastian, befriend us. They asked us all kinds of questions about what we’re doing and where we’ve been. Not long after that lots of young people showed up at the park. The little ones got on the swing sets and playground. The older ones started up half-court basketball games. This seems to be a popular place, which is awesome. Everyone should get some outside time in. The carnies in the RVs were probably at work so it was quiet in their area.

We cleaned up as best as we could and relaxed for a while before boiling some water and fixing our dinner meals. It looks like the basketball games will go at least until dark.

After dark update. We’re camped under a shelter because the ground is a soggy mess. We just found there’s a motion sensor in the pavilion. If we step out of the tent to go to the bathroom, the overhead lights turn on. Looks like we both better go now.

Kathy – We turned in the rental car this morning and got an Uber back to the hotel. I must say the Uber car was one of the worst ones I have ever been in. At first I thought maybe we got in the wrong car. The back of the car was dented in due to a previous accident, no license plate on the front, the car medallion stating what kind of car it was – was missing off the front, the car was extremely dirty inside with broken arm rest and door handles, and it reeked of strong cigarette smoke. Not sure if the driver just finished a cigarette just before picking us up but it sure smelled like it. I opened my window to air it out some. The driver had an old stained shirt and shorts on, and the rap music playing on the radio was pretty loud. The driver was nice though, so I just gave him a half way decent rating and passed it on so someone else can deal with it after me. Hey, I had stuff to do before we hopped on the bikes.😄

My sister Ellen surprised us at the hotel this morning before we left. It was great to see her and the adorable twins, Caitie and Ellie. We had a good visit seeing all my family in Missouri and Illinois, but now it was time to move on.

We rode 43 miles today with overcast skies and temps in the low 60’s. We had less than 1,000 feet of elevation so that was nice. We actually had a tailwind for part of our ride. We always love tailwinds! Our views today were mainly of farmlands. It was a pretty sweet ride today. State #44 – Illinois is officially checked off our list now.

We are camped out in the Sparta City Park. Lots of kids playing and having fun. I’m enjoying all the laughter. Keshawn and Sebastian, the two boys we met in the park were super cute. They asked me so many questions about our trip, our bikes and our camping gear. They even had their heads peaking through the tent door so they could see everything in the tent and ask more questions. They also picked out which dehydrated meal I should eat tonight. 😊 Those two boys literally had nonstop questions for 45 minutes. I loved meeting these two, they are really great kids! It was a nice ending to an easy-peasy day. 🤗🤗🤗

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  1. Happy Anniversary!


    1. Thank you, John.


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