So if you’ve been following along for the last three entries of my cross country trip that I took last September you probably are thinking things are going fairly smooth at this point. The KLR was running great, I didn’t have any issue’s with the route, and with the exception of being blazing hot the weather wasn’t terribly bad. My third day was where things got for the lack of a better word…interesting. The day before I had rode roughly 390 miles from southern Minnesota along the Mississippi River and into Illinois where I spent the night at Slioam Springs State Park. After a day of being beat down by the sun and hot weather a good nights sleep in a quiet state park was what I needed. However, it is not what happened at all.
During the night two large storm systems rolled through Iowa and into Illinois and I was smack dab in the middle of it. Roughly around midnight I got hit by the first thunderstorm that dumped a ton of rain along with high winds and even a little bit of hail. Somehow through it all my REI Passage 2 tent kept me nice and dry and the KLR was still standing up right. Around 5 in the morning their was a fairly large break in the weather so I decided to pack up and try to get ahead of the second storm as best that I could.
The objective for the day was to reach Terra Haute, Indiana and this was the beginning of my movement east towards Pennsylvania and the northern start point of the Mid Atlantic BDR. With roughly a 230 mile day ahead of me I left right as it started to get light and stopped in the small town of Mount Vernon for fuel and breakfast at McDonalds. As I was finishing my breakfast I noticed the second storm system was moving a little faster then I expected and it would soon be on top of me. Through the morning I was jumping from paved back roads to dirt farm roads in an attempt to stay away from the biggest cells in the storm and for the most part I did a pretty good job which would not of been possible with out the REVER GPS app.
By noon I had worked my to Highway 40 also known as the National Road. Around this time the storm system started to head further south and I was now facing clear skies and calm weather. The National Road was a pretty neat experience and it seemed like it was the road that time forgot. Construction on the road started in 1811 and stopped in 1837 due to financial issues and has seen some upgrades since then but maintenance has been a little lacking in some parts. This road was important as it was the first major transportation path that headed west and it opened up the region to thousands of settlers. Stretching from Vandalia, Illinois to Cumberland, Maryland this would be my primary route heading east. Riding down Highway 40 wasn’t to bad and without the worry of a massive storm I was able to coast along and make up some time that I had lost earlier dodging the storm. Along Highway 40 their were some small pull offs and historic sites in the towns that it went through. My regret on this day was I didn’t stop at some of them especially in the town of Effigham which had some businesses and buildings on the route that were decorated in a 1950’s theme. I did manage to find a replica of a covered bridge in Greenup that was pretty cool to ride through and it’s one of the few pictures that I have of the day.
As I travelled down Highway 40 towards my stop for the night I got lost in my thoughts and music and before I knew it I was in the outskirts of Terra Haute, Indiana. This night was a hotel night which in overall scheme of things I planned to stay at a hotel every third day. Primarily this was so I could get a much needed shower and to enjoy a nice meal at a restaurant instead of my fireside cooking. In Terra Haute I stayed at a Fairfield Inn and enjoyed a nice steak dinner at a nearby Texas Road House. After a rough night and difficult morning it was great to enjoy a nice shower and a full nights sleep in a comfy bed. My wife and I had been talking at the end of each day and on this day I could sense building frustration from taking care of our son, to temporary living with her parents, our three crazy dogs, and dealing with the stress of her new job. It was at this point that I decided that I had to reroute my trip and try to get to South Carolina at a much faster pace, unfortunately riding the Mid Atlantic BDR would have to wait.