Sunday, July 28, 2013

St. Louis ...

St. Louis a city situated on the Mississippi in Missouri has been our longest stop on the trip. Being here a week has allowed us to get a real feel for the place and enjoy most of what the city has to offer. St. Louis is also thankfully a very bike friendly city, so Anna and I were able to get around town with ease following the signed bike routes that run throughout town.

There are many and varied activities to enjoy in St. Louis -- many of which are free -- and Anna and I made use of our time here by visiting most of them. I especially enjoyed the Missouri Botanical gardens, and their Climatron was pretty brilliant. Of course a trip to the Budweiser brewery was made, where they give free tours and free tastings. And an evening at the ballpark to see the St. Louis Cardinals play the Philly's was a must. But by far the most fun we had in St. Louis was at the City Museum, where the life size mouse trap amusements brought out the kid in all of us including our couchsurfing host David. We were squirming and wriggling, crawling and crouching our way through the maze of elaborate structures that make up the fantastical world that is the City Museum.  

Thanks for the memories St. Louis :)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Road to St. Louis

So while Anna and I made the most of our one night in Cape Girardeau Missouri taking our inner tubes for a dip in the pool and feasting on Mexican, we also met some locals who warned us off our planned route up to St Louis through the mountains due to dangerous road conditions.

 We took their advice and on Sunday the 20th we headed north on the 61 to St Louis, which is actually part of the Mississippi River Trail bike route. It was a blazing hot and we ended you stopping just 40 miles or so up the road at Perryville MO, enjoying lunch at the City Tavern and bunking down for the night at the camp grounds. That night we saw our first night of continuous rain. 

Lucky for us, the next morning was overcast but reasonably rain-free; perfect riding conditions. We stopped in beautiful little Ste. Genevieve MO on the Mississippi for a morning snack. We pushed on and made it about 70 miles to Festus MO. Worried about the looming rain predicted for the night we weren't to keen on pitching our tents in the park so lucky for us we ran into Jim who offered to host us at his place. A dry night inside and a warm shower was just what the doctor ordered after a day of wet cycling. 

In the morning we bid farewell to our hosts and began our 35 mile ride into down town St Louis.As we got closer to downtown the bike friendliness of St Louis became more and more apparent, with bike lanes aplenty and "bikes may use full lane" signs. Needless to say I was in Heaven :) Hello Midwest !!! We have arrived. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Hills and Heat...

After our four day stint in Nashville we hit the road again on the 14th of July headed north. We were lucky enough to get a lift out of Nashville and back onto our route to avoid some back tracking. We made it to our camp site, a cute little place on the 79 in Tennessee called Whispering Pines.

The next day we continued north through The Land Between the Lakes National Recreation area following the Tennessee River. We crossed our fourth border into Kentucky by midday and headed for our campsite for the night on the Kentucky Lake at Hillman Ferry. It was a pretty place to camp and we even managed to have a dip and watch the sunset over the lake -- though the local racoons did manage break one of my tent poles :/

On the 16th we ventured further north through western Kentucky, following the Ohio river through some beautiful countryside. It was pretty hot this day and we stopped in to some local houses near Birdsville to ask for some water to refill our bottles and ended up camping the night there. 

The 17th saw our fifth border crossing into Illinois as we crossed the Ohio River by ferry to the town of Cave in Rock. We checked out the famous Cave in a Rock which supposedly used to be used by crooks and thieves as a hideaway. There was one famous tale of a man who put up a sign that read "House of  Liquor and Entertainment" and used it to lure travelers and boat crews in so he could rob them. Though now it is just a large hole in a rock covered in graffiti, but it's interesting to think of the bygone uses it once had. This was also the day of the beginning of the "heat wave" everyone kept telling us about, though Anna and
I are coming to believe that summer in middle America is just one big heat wave :)

On the 18th we set out into the heat making it over 60 miles to or destination in Karnak Illinois. We met some nice locals who let us shack up in the rental house they are renovating and even use their pool. We had a much needed dip after an exhausting day in the 100 degree heat before retiring to our own little house Anna even had her own room :)

Today we made it just under 50 miles to Cape Girardeau on the Mississippi River crossing into Missouri, our sixth border crossing. We will rest up for the night here before we begin our ascent to Saint Louis through the Ozark Mountains and beyond.