Day Thirteen: Cape Girardeau to Golconda, Illinois

We left our cottage at about 7:15 this morning and immediately crossed the Mississippi on the beautiful Bill Emerson bridge, named after a long time congressman from the area. It was the third time (I think) we’ve crossed it on the trip, but notable because we will not see the Mississippi again until we reach Natchez in about 12 days. The day was beautiful, sunny and our spirits rose as we realized that our equipment was working well. We’d left one little camp chair behind so Lisa’s load is lighter. (The other chair is on probation – be useful in the next few days or you’re off the trip, too!)

We made good time on flat roads and were in the little town of Karnak for lunch by 11:30. As is our practice, I asked the first person I saw where to have lunch, and he said “right here, they’ve got a buffet!” So we followed him into a place called…Our Place.

It was a little run down, but very popular. We beat the rush, luckily, and half the people in the place wanted to talk with us. This town is, in fact, at the center of three bike routes- the one we’re on (Great Rivers South), a TransAmerica route and something called the River to River (Mississippi to Ohio). Everyone had a story of bikers coming through town, wet, tired, bedraggled. “Oh, yeah, those girls just slept in the church…got a shower and everything.” Everyone wished us well and we left happy and Lisa got the recipe for a stuffed pepper soup which was delicious.

Then it got a little hard, with the hills that the guys in the cafe told us about. In fact, state pride was probably a factor but these hills were nothing like the ones between Hannibal and Troy. I mean they are hills, but we’ve seen some real hills.

The last twenty miles of a hot 79 mile day are tough. Also, the 35 miles out of Karnak were without services of any kind – that makes me a little nervous. The roads were little country roads with almost no traffic, though, and it was very scenic. We had dog interactions (see below) and took numerous shade breaks, but we pulled into Golconda by 4:30.

We found a place to stay last night – a couple has turned an aging (to put it mildly) mansion into a hotel – and we were met by some aging hippies (there is no other kind) that we chatted with on the porch after we got our cold beer (essential after a long biking day.) We also met another biker, a guy going solo cross country.

There is a BBQ fest going on downtown (Golconda’s population is 600) and a couple of bands will be here, apparently. We walked down for an all you can eat catfish fry and then headed home after chatting with a couple of ladies who know a lot about this town’s history. One offered us a golf cart tour of the levee but we walked down to the river (this is the Ohio) to skip rocks.

Tomorrow will be a long day, around 80 miles, our longest for a while. We will be taking a ferry across the Ohio and will be sleeping in Kentucky.