Day 117 • June 26, 2012 • Elizabethtown, IL to Sebree, KY • 67 miles
First stop today was Cave In Rock: A town, a geologic and historic point of interest, a state park, and the end of the line for Illinois Route 1. Short of swimming, the only way forward was a free ferry ride across the Ohio River to Kentucky Route 91. As for the point of interest, the place was aptly named. It is a smallish cave in the limestone river bluff surrounded by a state park. The park was close enough to the town and the ferry to make the short trip to check it out a no-brainer.
The ferry ran continuously throughout the day so we didn’t have to wait long for a ride. Once in Kentucky it became apparent we were in Mennonite country—rural farms, a horse-drawn carriage, a country store with locally-made furniture. But no Gatorade, we had to settle for a cold Dr. Pepper.
For weeks we’d been hearing from westbound cyclists about a cyclists’ hostel in Sebree, KY that was not to be missed so we pushed a bit to make sure it lined up with our overnight needs. Like most of our lodging and grocery choices it was called out on our Adventure Cycling map so it was easy to plan this stop and it more than lived up to it’s reputation. When we arrived at the First Baptist Church in early evening there were already three other cyclists relaxing and chatting with Bob, an officer in the church who was running the hostel. Bob’s wife Violet showed us the ropes—the shower, laundry, floor mats to be used in the youth rec center in the nicely air conditioned church. After a quick shower dinner was ready, and it was spectacular feast. Roast chicken, fresh corn on the cob, some casserole dishes, several veggie dishes, an unending supply of lemonade, ice cream and fruit for desert. All for a small group of cyclists, prepared by Violet in her home with Bob on the church grounds. They were extremely well traveled through their mission work and understood the value of such a spread for a group mostly living off whatever we can find at convenience stores. We had a pleasant evening talking about our various travels and then called it a night.
Such cyclists’-only accommodations were becoming increasingly common as we continued east, usually run by a church or charitable organization like the FOE. Another variation is local fire departments which sometimes open up their living quarters to cyclists, though without the feast. It is no coincidence that these hostels exist along one of the most popular bike routes in the world. These are always free to the cyclist, though for this stay I kicked in a little money to help defray the sizeable cost of such an operation. We would stay in a couple more hostels further down the road but none as nice as this.