Day 22: So long, Ohio River

7/6/15: 60 miles, Sebree, Ky., to Cave-in-Rock, Ill.

Even though we slept in once of the nicest accommodations of the trip so far, I didn’t sleep much. You know how they say one side of the brain stays awake when you’re sleeping in an unfamiliar place? It’s supposedly a vestigial trait from the caveman days to keep us aware of predators while we sleep, or whatever. Anyway, that.

As John and I worked on a pot of coffee, we added our push-pins to the big wall map indicating the hometown of bike tourers who came before us. In town, we hit up The Dairy Bar for a simple diner breakfast.

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The ride out of Sebree was another humid and hot one. As the morning wore on, a headwind intensified, making not only the climbing, but descending miserable, too.

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My girlfriend Michelle drove down from Chicago, as we planned to camp a few nights in southern Illinois, today’s destination. She ended up making better time than us, so she met us in Marion, Ky., for lunch. I ordered takeout for all three of us and we ate in a gazebo. There, we ran across one of the last few riders of the TransAmerica race, a guy who introduced himself as Yukon (born in Cleveland!) He said he came across the Mississippi River in the middle of the night.

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From Marion, it was about 12 miles to the Illinois border at the Ohio River. There, a ferry carried traffic between KY-91 and IL-1. It was surreal seeing the undulating road flatten out and just dump into a river, as though it were flooded for good. We rolled onto the ferry for the 10-15 minute ride to the Land of Lincoln:

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We made for camp at Cave-in-Rock State Park, a perfect location to end the day. The park was deserted except for us. In an earnest effort to find a camp host or ranger, we discovered not a soul. So we set up camp and had cash at the ready. We grabbed beer in Elizabethtown, home to the nearest liquor store.

Before turning in for camp, we had to check out the namesake Cave-in-Rock. It literally was a cave that opened to the Ohio River. A little historical plaque explained how pirates used to hide out there and plunder boats coming down the river. The claim was undermined, however, by a disclaimer that said there was no historical evidence to back it up. Pretty funny.

Because the Ohio River was high from recent rains, the pathway to the cave was inundated. Along with some other cave visitors, we waded through the river along what we thought was the path. Pilot, our dog, swam. The next few days called for bigtime rain, so we decided to take tomorrow off and get a cabin for the night.

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