7/8/15: 63 miles, Cave-in-Rock, Ill., to Goreville, Ill.
After we cleared out of the cabin, I loaded our wet crap into the car and our bikes on the back. Of course, the rear windshield was fogged up, and I gently backed into a small tree (really?! really). That’s what I get for not driving a car in a month.
I ran out to check the bikes, and it all appeared fine. Phew.
I drove John, Michelle and I back down to the Ohio River where we’d officially commence day 24. Said important goodbyes and moseyed on. We rode by what looked to be a low-security prison, setting a warm tone for the day.
In Elizabethtown, about 10 miles in, we stopped to load up on snacks and checked out this classic Coca Cola mural:
The ensuing ride through Shawnee National Forest was pretty unremarkable. Thick humidity, a stubborn overcast sky and gray, rolling pavement made for a rhythm that, after a while, suggested monotony.
Leave it to the sudden appearance of a dog, exploding from a front porch as though it were shot from a cannon, to jar you from the tedium. Just when we thought we we’re used to daily dog barrages in Kentucky, we were caught off guard by a Golden Retriever that charged, full-sprint, into the road after me. I somehow crested the hill and outran him initially. It saw John behind me and set his sights for him instead. Without breaking stride, it torpedoed John’s rear wheel, knocking him off his bike and onto the damp road. The dog didn’t seem malicious, as most goldens aren’t, and John scared him off just as the dog’s owner came calling. John yelled at the owner hollering from his porch behind him, resolving nothing. We kept on.
Coming into Eddyville (Tunnel Hill), we had a gnarly climb — one of the final send offs from the Ohio River Valley. We stopped for lunch at the Shawnee Mart, where the lady made John and I sandwiches. I bought a copy of the local paper while I waited for our food, and on it were two front page stories about meth. You hear about widespread meth use and manufacture in rural parts, and southern Illinois apparently is no exception.
The ACA map indicated a convenience store at I-24 and Tunnel Hill road, where we planned on grabbing some beers, as we usually did before camp. But the store was shuttered when we rode by it.
Eventually, John and I ended up at Ferne Clyffe State Park and grabbed a tent site. The camp host told us about how the convenience store had closed because it got robbed so many times. Its proximity to the highway made it an easy target with a likewise easy exit, he mused.
John’s “waterproof” hammock setup:
Look a them tanlines! ^^
We turned in early, about 8 p.m., because heavy thunderstorms were bearing down on us. Here’s a screenshot from the radar on my phone: