The rest day was over way too soon and we had to set off westward from Carbondale to the Ozarks and then the Midwest.
We started out the day by going on a local radio show and talking about our cause and telling funny stories about things that have happened along the way. I talked about how you don’t have to be a “cyclist” in the traditional sense to enjoy the trip. I mean, I’m sure it helps to be awesome at cycling, but if you’re just a normal person like me you can still go out there and try 100% everyday. After the radio program we went to a local coffee shop where we were treated to ANOTHER free meal. It was all organic and vegetarian. Great for breakfast. They also had real local coffee and not coffee-water like we’ve gotten used to at gas stations. If you want to make us happy, get us coffee. Most people take down their tents and change clothes in the morning when they first wake up. I have to boil some water and make some instant coffee before I do any manual labor. Then twenty miles later when we stop for breakfast I have another few cups. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that caffeine isn’t a drug.
Here’s me, Bridget, and Liza in our NEW JERSEYS! Leigh’s mom has some sort of connection to pharmaceutical companies so we were all shipped shiny white Team Copaxone jerseys. Copaxone is a drug used to treat MS. So yeah, it’s not like we’re totally selling out to the drug companies. They are also American flag colored which suits the trip well and probably placates local rednecks. Dirty hippie cyclists love America, too.
The ride today was neat; we rode along the tops of levees on the banks of the Mississippi River. It was flat, hot, and for the first time I can remember there were hardly any trees in sight. Riding your bike next to the Mississippi after having come all this way was surreal. I can’t wait until tomorrow when we get to cross.
Coal: What’s up with that?
Part 7: Shipping
While on the levee road we went right under this awe inspiring structure. Coal is taken off the trains and dumped in huge piles so big that the trucks dive up and down them. Then it’s put on this conveyor belt that goes over the road and straight out to the Mississippi where the coal is dumped onto barges travelling down to the Gulf. With that, our journey with coal is over. We saw it literally being blasted out of the mountains and now we got to see it float off into the sunset like Huck Finn. Goodbye, coal… hopefully goodbye trains.
No one told us that Chester, IL was going to be sweet. We were staying at a Lion’s Club or something like that, which usually means an empty building old people sometimes use to meet in. Not this place. This place was bumping. It was a full restaurant, bar(!), had pool tables, internet, and a jukebox. This picture is of the ‘nerd’ table; instead of joining them for the LAN party I had some rums and cokes and played pool for hours. Then we went outside and watched the numerous games of league sand volleyball going on right next to our van. Can you see why it’s hard to keep up with this blog now? I would love to look over my pictures and write, but it’s so hard to find the time when I’m so busy riding my bike and having fun. I need to get faster at riding so I have more free time in which to have fun AND blog.
That night the boys were nice enough to give the girls the “beds”, which were literally shelves of plywood nailed to the walls of a shed. It might sound miserable but there is a catch: there was a window AC unit they’d put through a hole in the wall. So us 7 girls enjoyed our hard plywood beds more than we ever thought we could.
Sleep in plywood bed. Have coffee. Pack up stuff. Jam stuff into cubby. Put on dirty, smelly, damp bike clothes. Check bike shifting and pump up tires. Reset bike computer. Start riding.
I crossed the Mississippi! I got here! On a bicycle! Really cool personal moment for me, my only regret is that I did not look more beautiful at 5am or whatever ungodly hour this photo was taken.
I didn’t take anymore pictures on the way to Farmington. I was busy being shocked at this random mountain range (I’m told they call them the Ozarks) that is apparently in the middle of the country. I thought it was Appalachians, Rockies, and Alaska. Those are the mountainous areas of the United States. No one explained to me that I would be able to find mountains in MISSOURI of all places. Isn’t it like Kansas there? No, it is not like Kansas there. It’s like Virginia there.
However, Farmington Missouri is awesome. There is a legit WATER PARK in the middle of the town with a lazy river and big slides and everything. We were so thrilled. I laid on a tube in the lazy river for literally 3 hours without a care in the world as little kids splashed all around me. Great afternoon. I’m glad Farmington knows what’s up.
Later we went to a nice-ish place for dinner. Of course we were appropriately dressed in our bathing suits and cycling clothes. Geordie got a $5o lobster meal, much to our amusement. The bike hostel we are staying at in Farmington is off the hook- leather couches, a nice TV, and enough large bunk beds that hardly any of us have to sleep on the floor. If I had to live in Missouri, I might move here.
I guess I did take one final picture today: Seth scaling the wall of our hostel. These boys have so much energy for activities all the time. So many activities. And I can barely type at night, ha.