How High’s The Water, Mama?

Hank – Before we left our camp site this morning, Officer Andy Dahlem of the Sparta Police Department stopped by. He was looking for an individual that we hadn’t seen. We chatted for a bit. I guess word got out from my phone call to the police yesterday and everyone knew we were touring by bicycle. Andy told someone who is interested in cycling who said he was going to stop by and see us this morning. He didn’t by the time we left but we gave Andy a couple of our retired business cards with this web site for whoever is interested. Andy warned us that the Mississippi River is reaching flood stage at Chester and they might close the bridge. That would be bad for us because the southbound route to Memphis on the Illinois side was already closed because of flood waters. If the bridge was closed we’d have to reroute and head east and probably skip Memphis. So we got moving. Before packing up the tent I noticed three small holes in the floor. Yesterday we scooted the tent a bit with the panniers inside. Big mistake. Three contact points wore a hole through the tent and the foot print. I guess that’s what the duct tape is for. I covered the holes on both sides.

We headed south on Illinois Route 4 and the climbing began. We had more than yesterday but most of it was pretty gradual so it wasn’t too bad.

Chester, Illinois is the halfway for today’s ride. Our planned stop is a campground near Perryville, Missouri. While looking on the map at Chester I noticed an odd marker: Statue of Coal Oyl. “What the heck is that?” I wondered. So I looked it up.

Chester, Illinois is the birthplace of E.C. Segar, the cartoonist who created Popeye the Sailorman. There is a Popeye Character Trail in town where granite statues of the characters who appeared with Popeye have been erected over the years. A statue of Popeye is at the west side of town. It’s the last thing on the left before you cross the Mississippi River if you’re headed west or the first thing on your right if you’re coming east from Missouri. We stopped to see as many statues as we could keeping in mind we needed to cross the bridge soon since we had no idea if or when it would be closed. So that was a high point today.

After crossing the river, which is really high by the way, we pressed on into Missouri. A gentleman at the Popeye statue told us about a Vietnam Veterans Memorial near Perryville that is a full scale replica of the one in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, this being a Sunday, it would be closed by the time we got there so we missed it.

We got a tent site at the campground. The ground was like a bog because it was so wet. We were next to the pavilion where the bathrooms and showers are and the cement sure looked inviting. So we pitched our tent there, took showers, and then ate dinner. We’ll, we boiled water to reconstitute our dinners.

Kathy – I want to start with a shout out to my sister Mary Beth and brother-in-law Tim, thank you for the new tent! Their dog chewed holes in our other new tent (that we only used four times) and they sneakily paid to replace it. We used the new tent last night…and I slept like a baby. 👶⛺️😴

We did have a slight “issue” with our newest tent. Last night we set it up under the City Park pavilion on the cement slab. To secure the rainfly, Hank was tying the doors to the picnic benches. They wouldn’t reach so he suggested we just slowly pull the tent to a slightly different location so the door ties could reach the benches and be secured. We had all our bags inside the tent when we drug it forward. We thought everything was fine. This morning Hank found three small holes in the footprint (shield under the tent) and three small holes also on the tent floor. Bummer! Apparently the pannier bags caused too much friction while moving the tent. Band-new tent number two already has holes in it. When we started this trip a year ago we used a tent that we had for about five years. That tent worked fantastic. We only replaced it this past month because the sun and weather exposure was causing the fabrics on the top of the tent to break down. Two new tents in the past few weeks, both with holes in them. The dog was the culprit for the first one and operator error for the second one. Hank patched the holes with duct tape. Maybe REI (were both tents were purchased from) needs to sell some sort of insurance protection plan. 😏

It was an absolutely beautiful day to ride bikes! Temps were in the mid 60’s to low 70’s with the sun shining brightly. We had a slight breeze that kept us cool but did not hindered our 37 mile ride. We climbed a lot today but no super steep ones so all was good. Our plan was to ride another ten or so miles but there are no campgrounds in that area, so we opted to stop at this campground just outside of Perryville, Missouri.

Many of the roads on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River are already flooded and closed so we decided to head over the Mississippi and take the Missouri roads to Memphis, Tennessee hoping we can avoid any road closures over here. So we finished up our riding in Illinois – state #44, and are back to riding in Missouri – State #43. Right now there is a lot of flooding up north. The Mississippi River is rising in our current area because those waters are working their way south. It will take us about five more days to get to Memphis and we are hoping to we do not get diverted due to flooding.

We had a good day of riding and a relaxing evening. Ready for a repeat tomorrow. 😊

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