Day 34 - Chester to Farmington

June 22, 2002
11 min. read

This post is part of the Trans-Am series.

I woke up and heard dad tell mother that it was 7 o’clock, when I clearly knew it was 6. I woke back up when it was actually 7. They are still wrapping their mind around this whole different time zone thing. We packed up tents, hit the restrooms up the hill in the park and got moving. It took mother about 200 yards in front of us with the van to find a yard sale that looked interesting. :) This was good, because I forgot to see what snacks she had brought along. I picked up some beef jerky and some granola “Trail Mix” bars. A little plug for Nature’s Valley, their Fruit and Nut Trail Mix bars are really good. Dates, Pecans, Peanuts, Raisins, and other good stuff, in addition to the expected rolled oats.

We started on the route and passed the church where I had stopped to take a picture last night. The sign really cracked me up: “When the trumpet sounds, I’m out of here. So there.” What is that dear reader? You say I promised to explain the connection between Chester, IL and Popeye.

Yeah, yeah. I forgot. Chester was the town where Popeye’s creator was born. He based the characters of Popeye from people he knew around town. Was there a woman who lived in Chester that actually had the dimensions of a microphone stand? I don’t know. Kinda fun to think there was though…

More info is in the photo of the plaque I took in Segar park.

Yesterday when riding into town I noticed a Popeye painting with some cheesy saying on the side of an auto body shop. I thought it strange, but later learned why this town is Popeye crazy. There is a memorabilia shop in downtown and a big mural on the side of the building. Heading out of town on Hwy 51, just before crossing the bridge to Missouri, there is a Segal Memorial Park where a statue of Popeye stands proudly.

As I was taking a picture of the “Welcome to Illinois” sign (of which I was denied at the ferry) and noticed the cigarette bootlegging sign. Apparently Illinois has some serious taxes on cigarettes. I noticed packs in gas stations that were around $4. These same pack were less than $3 in Missouri. The cigarette bootlegging sign states that you cannot bring cigarettes into the state that have had the proper taxes paid on them. The penalties were stiff: $25,000 fine, up to 1 year in jail, and seizure of vehicle. Illinois wants its tax money, I guess.

After crossing into Missouri, we pulled off at a gas station/convenience store. This is how I had the comparison in cigarette prices. We each picked up a Gatorade a headed off. The hills were nice and gentle, until we got near St. Mary. We saw Perry County Airport and looked for a place to change dad’s shorts. He started the day with untested shorts and the seam was hurting bad. He had his tried pair in the bag, but we hadn’t yet found a place to change. We headed into the Sabre Liner plant and were looking for a restroom. Most of the place looked like they didn’t like visitors. That’s fine, their jets were ugly anyway.

We headed past St. Mary and pulled off at an antique dealer. It wasn’t open on Saturday until 10 AM, but dad found enough cover to change his shorts. We rested a while and reapplied some sunscreen. We were just leaving as the owners arrived. They didn’t mind us taking advantage of their shade.

For those of you who have never been in Missouri, many roads are lettered. We started on H and turned onto Z. We were coming up with some seriously bad puns. Of course, on Z road you have to change into a German accent. Zee bikers are riding down Z road. N road ran into Ozora and we had to climb a mile to get into town. We sat down to cool down and eat. There was a descent buffet and we were able to get a table next to a wall plug. I typed up some of the day going into Carbondale. (Yes, I have been getting behind lately. Instead of typing before I go to sleep, I’m talking with my parents during dinner.) Just before 2 PM, we left town towards the church with nice big shade trees. There we laid down for almost an hour and slept a little. Well, I slept a little. Judging from dad’s snoring, he slept a good bit.

Before turning on P, I had to take a picture of the PN junction. To those other Electrical Engineers out there, they will get a chuckle out of the bad diode joke. It won’t be that funny for the rest of you, so I won’t bother explaining. After you read the explanation, you would just say, “Um. OK.” Before we left P road, I had to pee on P road. Dad didn’t pee on P, he peed on B.

In Coffman, we switched from B to F. I stopped at a church and tried the frost proof water tap. Nothing. Dad said that we would probably find something in Cossman, but I broke the news that this was Coffman and we were heading out of town (it’s a little easier to keep track with the GPS too). We probably would be fine, but I always fill up when I can. A good bit further, I turned into another Antique store. They closed at 5, and it was 5:03. I went inside and they had a little snack bar. We had just caught them before closing. Dad had an orange juice, I had a lemonade and we split a package of chocolate chip cookies.

Just as we were outside getting ready to leave, this van come flying past doing way too fast. Then it comes back the other direction and pulls into the lot. It was mother and she had been driving the route trying to find us. She had helped a lady get out of a ditch, after she drove in swerving away from a truck or something. She had other adventures and met a woman from Chester who visited the place where my dad works regularly and knows many people from Jeffersonville, IN. All of this took hours and she was worried about not beating us to town.

Mom went ahead to scout out town, and we kept cycling. She didn’t follow the bike route into town, but headed into the more modern part of town. We pulled into town and couldn’t find the van. We should have set a place to meet. My cell phone had service (Verizon) but we were not sure if her’s did (Sprint). After looking at things, we decided to split up. We could call each other and we would check in if either found her.

I headed out of town towards Interstate 67, to find the Barbeque place that the group from Tucson said we MUST try. It was a couple tenths of a mile past the Interstate and had a sign for St. Joe’s State Park at the same turn. I got a call from dad and he said to watch for mother, as he was heading this way. I headed back to the interstate and met her about when dad rode up. We had been planning on camping in one of the two city parks, but people suggested that St. Joe’s had showers. We mulled this over in our mind as we ate.

The food was really good. The sign states that it takes from 4 to 15 hours to prepare some of the food and there is food until it runs out. If you complain, they will cheerfully ignore it. :) The sampler had pork and beef barbeque and ribs. We picked cole slaw and baked beans as our sides and a loaded potato. The potatoes are 1 pound and splitting the butter, sour cream and meat topping with the potato was sufficient for all. We ate it all, but were full enough.

People told us that St. Joes was 3 or 4 miles, so we decided to go for it. After 4 miles, we ran across the Equestrian Campground. It had no showers and no office. We asked where the office was and everyone said up the road 3 miles. We headed back up the road. A few minutes later, we were passed by what looked like our van (it was dark and we were riding with head and tail lights). I mentioned that it looked like the van I and thought I heard “All full up” as she passed. I hoped I was wrong. She turned around and met us to repeat what she had said in passing.

It was Saturday night and there were no spots left up in the campground with showers. We had shown our hand by having her go ahead. Having the van on a bicycle touring trip makes things easier and makes things much harder. It is easier to get to camp on a small piece of ground when the campsite is full if you only have a bicycle. I doesn’t sound like these people would have cared though. We had cycled 7 miles to get to the showers and they said that we needed to camp at the campground 3 hilly miles back. No persuading that we had a hard day with 60 miles and nearly 4000 feet of climbing. They didn’t care. The guy said that this was the campground for the off-road vehicles. You know, dirt bikes and four wheelers. The campground for the bicycles was back 3 miles. You are only important if you have something that runs on gasoline.

I don’t understand how a bicycle camper is supposed to register. Do you ride 7 miles to the office to find out that you have to ride back 3 miles to find a camp site, then ride back up 3 miles to give them a number and register? Then you get to take a shower and ride back 3 miles, climbing hills and getting sweaty to camp. It is a joke. Anyone going on the Trans-Am trail, eat in town and sleep in the city park. You will save yourself some trouble if you try to use the joke of an organization called St. Joe’s.

The line for the shower was 5 guys, so dad had me get in line as he ferried the first bike to camp. I was able to shower pretty quick, and it was shocking.

Literally shocking.

You step in the stall and it looks like a bad prop from a 1960’s science fiction movie. Then you see the 2 inches of water in the shower area that won’t drain. If you are smart, you don’t step into the water and plan on using the handicapped sprayer to wash while standing out of the water. This is a good thing, because you aren’t grounded as good when you grab the metal knob and notice the 60 Hz pulsing of AC power.

Nice. I’ll get clean but electrocuted. It felt like an induced current of some electrically running next to the plumbing. They have been trying to fix it for years, and say they are building a new shower house. Luckily the water was fairly pure and didn’t conduct very well, as you couldn’t feel the current through the water. Anything metal that you touched gave the familiar (to anyone that has had the misfortune of accidentally coming in contact with AC wiring) 60 Hz tingle.

We got back to the campsite with my bike this time and started setting up camp. You are supposed to setup your tents on the gravel pad with rocks sharp enough to cut through all of my tent bottom. That wasn’t going to happen. We found some small patches of grass where you keep the horses that wasn’t completely covered in droppings and went to sleep.

I didn’t think I would say it on this trip. But, I don’t know if the shower was worth it. And showers are awesome.

Today’s numbers: 6:39 riding time, 60.8 miles with 3,870 feet of climbing.

Farmington, MO

Tent Site: 37 deg 46.895 min N, 90 deg 26.226 min W, elev 976 ft.

Trip Miles: 1332.8 miles

Part 39 of 48 in the Trans-Am series.

Series Start | Day 33 - Carbondale to Chester | Day 35 - Farmington to Johnson's Shut-In State Park

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