This morning, we left the earliest we've ever left in the morning - 6:00am - again, to beat the heat, and also we had lots of miles to cover today to get to St. Louis. This heatwave sucks. We had really strong headwinds today. I was down to 6 mph! At this rate, I'll never get to St. Louis for the night.
Here's a windmill I found. For those who have seen my Christmas trees in the past, this is a life-sized version of my tree-top ornament.
After cycling for a while in the deadly heat, we came upon a man watering his lawn. I immediately jumped at the opportunity to cool off. He completely understood our need to cool off. We talked to him for a bit - he's a coal miner. Hard work, but he downplayed how hard/dangerous it is.
Around 2:00pm, we "stopped into a church, I passed along the way..." to escape the afternoon heat. These ladies who were quilting in the basement of the church let us have our lunch in the basement with them. While eating, I was trying to figure out how/where to cross the Mississippi River into St. Louis, Missouri. Looking at East St. Louis, Illinois as an option to make our day a bit shorter, one of the ladies said, "I would not stay in East St. Louis." as if East St. Louis is the midwest version of Compton. Is this true?
After a baby nap, we headed out in the heat again. Still on the "Route 66" route, we were on country roads where the drivers were less than nice. A bunch of cars on Route/Highway 157 were honking at us. I don't get it. How much more can I get to the edge of the road without being on the grass? Put in a f'in shoulder for cyclists or stop honking at us. It's not like I'm out in the middle of the road. Losers.
Finally, our route took us on a bigger road with lights and more of a shoulder. And then, eventually, we got closer to St. Louis. It was cool seeing the Mississippi River for the first time in a while (some may remember that I consulted for Southwestern Bell Telephone in St. Louis for 6 months back in 1994).
We finally found the Chain of Rocks Bridge that we were advised to take to cross the River into St. Louis. When first on the bridge, we saw some water that we thought was the Mississippi. We were unimpressed but nonetheless, if this is the mighty Mississippi, then I must take a picture with it.
After we crossed the bridge, we talked to an Illinois policeman to try to figure out how to get to our host family's house (my friend, Minh's parents). It was 7:30pm and we only had 30 minutes of daylight left. I knew I couldn't get all the way to Kirkwood, Missouri, but I wanted to try to get as close as possible. The officer told us, "I wouldn't even drive my car in that neighborhood [the surrounding neighborhood immediately next to the River] at night and that he would not advise us to ride our bikes there. Good to know. Knowing this, I asked Minh if his family could pick us up at the nearest gas station to us. Not a problem. The officer told us how to get to that gas station, which involved crossing a bridge. I don't get it. If we already crossed the Mississippi, what is this next bridge crossing?
Oh contraire, mon fraire, this next bridge is the real Chain of Rocks Bridge and the water below this bridge is the real Mississippi River. I still don't know what we crossed earlier but I do know that this is the real Mississippi River.
Since I never got a Welcome to Illinois sign, this will have to do.
And, since we never found a Welcome to Missouri sign, this one will have to do as well.
After we crossed the bridge, we waited a little at a gas station off the interstate for Minh's uncle, Thanh, to pick us up and shuttle us back to the safe burbs of St. Louis. At home, Minh's mother made us a nice chicken noodle soup.
As the international spokeswoman, here I am, a Vietnamese American gal with a USPS envelop donning my new Campagnolo (Italian) cycling hat that one of my fans sent to me. Too bad the USPS and/or Campagnolo aren't sponsoring me.