Riding America’s National Road

Since leaving Indiana, I have, as predicted, been sweating like a pig. It’s the hottest week of the year here in south Illinois, and the humidity is genuinely disgraceful. I’m not going to harp on about it, I promise. But just so you know, it’s nasty.

I’ve spent two days riding a national landmark as I head towards St Louis (I’ll still be riding it tomorrow as I head towards St Louis – big country, America…).

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Route 40, as it is now, was built to get settlers westwards after the Louisiana purchase. It’s much less famous than Route 66, but it’s fascinating to imagine the convoys of covered wagons and horses heading west along the same route I’m travelling. It was fascinating enough to take my mind off my raging thirst for a few minutes, at least…

The countryside is changing, with less corn and soya (though they are still there), and more woods. And even some small hills – quite exciting after all the flat lands, but a tough ask in the heat. One result is a new contender for nicest camping spot; in the shade, next to a lake with no mossies – spot on.

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The heat’s set to last for at least a few more days, but I am slowly getting used to it. I’ve gained time in the morning, as the clocks are another hour back in Illinois, so I’m trying to make ground early. And then slowing dramatically as the heat takes hold. And I hit the 2000 miles mark on the bike yesterday. Another little milestone ticking by…

There are still a couple of things I don’t quite understand about America (this is a colossal understatement; it’s a few more than a couple of things). The camping in Illinois is half the price of either Ohio or Indiana, which is nice, though the reasons are unclear. And I’m drinking a root beer. Which I don’t understand at all. I’m not sure what it’s made of, or what it’s supposed to taste of. But then, that seems to be the extent of my worries at the moment, so mustn’t grumble 😉

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4 comments

  1. Hi Tim!

    Too bad you are not further north, as you could have stayed with us! We are northwest of Chicago, some. You may recall my friend Brian and I, as we met you back on August 10th, while we were touring around Lake Erie. We returned home this past Tuesday evening, but you are continuing on!

    Will look forward to following you from time to time, to see you it goes for you. In the meantime, here are some answers for you:

    Camping fees could certainly be different from state to state, in state parks, depending on how much those states subsidize them (and it is up to each to do whatever they want — no standard exists). Root beer is just sugar, water, carbonation and flavor from “roots” of one sort or another. It is like sarsaparilla, which you may have heard of. It is not, nor has it ever been, an alcoholic drink.

    My blog is being populated after-the-fact, and is at amedsker.blogspot.com. I hope to put up a slide show and probably a movie or two before I’m done. Stay tuned.

    Rubber side down!

    Alan Medsker (rode with Brian Knight)

    1. Hi, Alan.

      Good to hear you finished the loop of the lake; didn’t really appreciate how big those lakes are (despite the ‘Great’ clue in the name). Still don’t think I’m fully past them in terms of how far west I am…

      Yep, still pushing on, though the heat’s getting to me a bit. Hoping for a bit of UK-style light drizzle to cool things down, but not sure there’s any of that on the horizon.

      And thanks for the answers. Half the price seems a big difference for camping, though I’m not complaining. I may have more ‘things I don’t get about the USA’ at some point, as I’ve been rehearsing a few to take my mind off the temperature.

      Will have a look at your blog too – interested in how your Warmshowers hosting worked out, especially.

      Cheers,
      Tim

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