07/02/2004

Day 33 - 7/2
Chester, IL to Johnsons Shut-Ins State Park, MO
86 (1777)

I passed through downtown Chester and was overwhelmed by Popeye stores, statues, murals and parks. The creator of Popeye was from Chester, and the town is very proud.

After Chester it was across the Mississippi River over a narrow bridge with heavy truck traffic. I had meant to get across earlier, but I slept in til 6 instead. Traffic backed up as I rode across. That Mississippi is one wide river.

So, finally west of the Mississippi, I sailed past dozens of impromptu fireworks stands, apparently on the border for firework-repressed Illinois folk. After 10 miles of refreshingly flat land, the climb into the Ozarks began.

I had been looking forward to taking the weekend off to enjoy 4th of July festivities in Farmington, which my map guide indicated includes carnival, dancing, bbq, and fireworks. Good ol' hometown America stuff. I booked a motel room and everything. But yesterday I called the city to get more info, and she said that the city had stopped that years ago.
Lame.

So when I arrived to lame Farmington, I had lunch at a restaurant called Spokes-supposedly in honor of bicycles. What it turned out to be was an Applebeesish hotel restaurant with bicycles merely as a decorating theme. I canceled my motel reservation and left Farmington behind.

The road out of Farmington was the scariest and most dangerous I've been on yet. Later that day, I would realize that an Addendum to my maps has listed a new route to leave Farmington. I need to start reading that darn Addendum.

I survived the road and continued on towards Johnsons Shut-Ins State Park to camp for the night. Of course, it rained during the last 10 miles. I was welcomed by a nice campground host. They only charge $1 for bicyclists and the set us up in our own area-kinda nice if your antisocial. At this point I'd rather be out with all the families, but it's a buck, so I can't argue.