Evacuated to the Tornado Shelter
It was around midnight on Sat night when the red and white lights flashed outside the RV, waking us up like a scene out of the reality show, Cops. And then we heard over a bullhorn, “Tornado seen nearby. Everyone evacuate to the tornado shelter immediately!” I jumped out of bed, grabbed my phone, my computer, and a flashlight, and headed to the outhouse-turned-tornado-shelter with the other campers in the park. 3 funnels had been spotted in the county, one of which touched down on the west side of the park we were camping in. Uneventfully, the tornado eventually moved away from us, but not before illuminating the sky with lightning and sending the rain down in droves. (Here’s a picture of the park ranger sharing the severity of the situation by pointing up!)
Today’s Route – Crossed the Mississippi!
Today I rode from Farmington MO to Chester, IL and enjoyed 62 miles of more wonderful rolling hills (albeit in unbelievable humidity). When we reached the bridge, Justin pulled out behind me to videotape me crossing. In addition, he donned my helmet with the GoPro camera to capture the experience from the bike. I rode as fast as I could, but with the incline it was only 20 mph, so we caused quite a little traffic jam behind the RV. When we reached the other side we immediately pulled into the Visitor Center and waved to the parade of cars patiently driving behind us.
I experienced Judi’s warm personality as I was purchasing a map of Illinois. She was even warm when she turned down a young kid who wanted to purchase cigarettes (state law is 18 and 28 with an ID). She has been lighting up the MotoMart for 11 years, and when I asked her why she explained that it was the only place that allowed her to be herself. The other options in town were scary or stifling or both. In addition, she is fond of the people she works with, but then again, Judi seemed to be fond of everyone.
I met Bill as we checked into the Randolph County Conservation Area state park in Chester, IL. He has been a Conservation Manager here for 11 years and loves it (said that at least three times!) He loves the people he meets from all over the country who travel through the area. He also loves working with Joan, his boss, who said to Bill upon hiring him, “I will never ask you to do anything that I wouldn’t do myself.” True to her word, Bill says, Joan is out there cleaning toilets, sweeping leaves, and cutting grass right along with Bill.
- The street signs in Chester IL announcing that the American cartoonist who created Popeye the Sailor was born here in 1894 (that was 107 years and from the signs posted all over town, they’re not letting go of it anytime soon…) (here’s a picture of Justin posing in front of a Popeye statue at the visitor center)
- The bump on my knee after getting stung by something nasty on the route
- The tents of fireworks for sale just over the border of Illinois (clearly not legal in IL)
- Wineries in Missouri (enough said)
Day 43 Stats
Day 43 miles: 62.54 miles
Day 43 ascent: 3,911 ft of slow parts
Day 43 descent: 4,354 ft of fast parts
Total interviews: 72
Road kill count: 859
(added 75 today, sadly many of them turtles, but luckily I saved another 5 turtles from the road kill count)
Don’t forget to send me your guess for the total road kill count by midnight on Mon the 27th (today!). I’m giving away 10 books to the 10 people who come closest to the final count. (See Day 39 blog for the scoop and the ground rules that I concocted.)
Destination for Day 44: Troy, Illinois (heading for Effingham to see my brother on Wed)