Day 112 • June 21, 2012 • Farmington, MO to Chester, IL • 47 miles
Thad dropped us off in Farmington on the centerline of the Adventure Cycling TransAmerica route, skipping about 100 miles of roads we didn’t want to deal with southwest of St. Louis. We were told later that Farmington had a really nice cycling hostel of some sort, might have been the fire dept, but we’re pretty sure we fared better at Thad’s the last couple of nights. TransAmerica was the original Bikecentennial route first used back in 1976 and runs from Astoria, OR to Yorktown, VA. Even though our route doesn’t touch either of these places, at about 1100 miles this is still the biggest stretch of an Adventure Cycling trail we’ll take on this trip.
About 12 miles into the ride today we happened upon Crown Valley Brewing & Distilling Co. It had a nice little restaurant/tasting room and they had just opened for the day. We’re always hungry and 11:30 isn’t too early for a beer, is it? The Gunslinger Double IPA was very nice. Zoe also enjoyed their local root beer. While we were eating, George introduced himself. He was another touring cyclist drawn in by our rig out front. He was heading the opposite direction and had some great advice for us. I’d known for a while that we wouldn’t make it all the way to Vermont—we were a bit too far behind for that—so I had to figure out how to ride into midtown Manhattan to end the trip. George had the solution: take the ferry from the New Jersey shore. He’d done it in the reverse direction and it allowed him to quickly get out of the city and into a fairly rural part of New Jersey, avoiding a lot of gnarly traffic.
We crossed the Mississippi into Illinois, stopping at Chester for the night. Chester was the birthplace of the creator of Popey, Elzie Crisler Segar. The Popeye characters were based on folks in this river town back in the early 1900’s. His presence is evident all over town with statues, murals, and business names taken from the cartoon series.
We spent the night at the Fraternal Order of the Eagles. They provide free lodging for cyclists but we were beat to the punch by a big group on an MS ride across the country. We pitched our tent in the compound and enjoyed their restaurant and watched some competitive volleyball—it was a pretty happening place.