Saturday, April 05, 2008

Ohio River Valley in Southern Illinois

How exciting, our first weekend touring this season. We got up at 6:30am because I didn’t get to bed as early as I wanted to having so many things to do the night before. I was moving as fast as I could this morning to finish so we could leave but there were still lots of things to do. I wrote down the directions for our route as I ate my breakfast. After taking a shower I still had to gather a few things, clean my helmet, finish packing up the bike, gear up and fix the stuck zipper on my textile pants. Time sure flies when you’re trying to get out the door for a motorcycle trip, especially when you haven’t done a sport-touring trip in months.

399 miles to our destination in Southern Illinois

By 9:30AM we were finally rolling toward the interstate. We slabbed it down I-57 stopping for gas a little past Champaign. For lunch we stopped in Effingham at a Wendy's. After the second gas stop in Mt Vernon we quit the interstate and got on the back roads. Although the back roads were not very exciting since the roads don’t start twisting until you get closer to the river valley, it was still better then the slab.

Northern Illinois still had dry that dead winter grass everywhere and no color what so ever. Just past Champaign I had my first bug of the season splatter on my helmet shield and I was noticing the grass getting greener. When we were here two weeks ago there were many flowers everywhere, but today even the trees were blooming. This means that in a couple of weeks the trees in Chicagoland should be blooming as well.

Even though we left two hours later then we had planned, we were making pretty good time. We ran in to one road detour and a few bridges were under construction down south, but no major delays. We also stopped at a Wal-Mart in Harrisburg looking for a starter fire log for our camp site. Our local Wal-Mart was out of them and since it has been raining a lot down south we knew the wood would be all damp like two weeks ago when we were here. We also needed to pick up some Red Bulls, but I couldn’t find any at this Wal-Mart. We did get a fire log though and continued on our way.

Some neat architecture in McLeansboro, IL on 142, this is a bank on the right

And this is a library

142 is the Lincoln Heritage Trail

From Mount Vernon we took 15 to 37 to 142

I actually didn’t bring a paper map with me and wasn’t checking how much further we had to go on the GPS, thinking we still had a while. For dinner we wanted to grab some sandwiches at maybe a Subway to bring with us and eat at the camp site. There was a Subway next to the Wal-Mart in Harrisburg but I though we still had about two hours left to the campground and I didn’t want to have the sandwiches sitting on the bike for too long.

Then 45 to 145 to 34 to (4) Karbers Ridge Road

We were planning on camping at the Pine Ridge Campground at Pounds Hollow Recreational Area. This is the area we hiked two weeks ago when we visited the Rim Rock trail. When we got to the corner of 34 and Karbers Ridge Road we were only a few miles way from the camp site and were very lucky because there was a general store on the corner where we were able to pick up sandwiches and chips for dinner and two coffee drinks for tomorrow morning, as a substitute for Red Bull. I wanted Red Bulls but they also didn’t have any.

Harbison's General Store on the corner of Karbers Ridge Road and 34

Karbers Ridge Road is a really nice road. The pavement varies and it’s really smooth in some places and really beat up in other places. It’s a narrow road that travels up and down through rolling hills and winds past forests and farm land.

We arrived at the Pounds Hollow around 6PM. It looked kind of empty. The Pine Ridge Campground opens on April 1st according to the website, but many campsites were still closed off with gates. There weren’t many people camping either, there were a few campers, one couple on a cruiser with a tent and one couple in a car with tent. The camp sites were all primitive and they were only $5 per night.

The road through Pine Ridge Campground

Bikes parked for the night

We set the tent up, ate our sandwiches, collected fire wood and started a fire with our starter log. It was a clear night with many stars shining above us. We heard coyotes howling in the distance and some other sounds which we couldn’t identify. The fire log got a decent fire going even though the wood we collected was damp and wasn’t burning all that great.

Sun setting at our camp site

Dinner: Tuna for me, roast beef for Mike

The highest temperature reading I saw today was 59 degrees. After the sun had set it got really chilly. The temperature was supposed to drop in to the low 40’s tonight. I brought a lot of layers with me to keep me warm and I already had all of them on. At 9PM we called it a night. I crawled in to my 40 degree sleeping bag wearing everything I brought with me except for my riding jacket, Gerbing liner and riding pants, and I was chilly pretty much the whole night. I was not freezing, but I was cold enough, where I was waking up through out the night trying to rearrange my sleeping bag so that my face was inside the bag but I still had fresh air to breathe. When it’s cold I find that sleeping on my side or on my stomach helps retain more heat. When I would turn on to my back within minutes I was really cold. I have a feeling the overnight temperature ended up being in the upper 30’s not low 40’s and it was pretty humid also, so that made it feel a lot colder.

The bikes glowing next to our camp fire

Hanging around the fire for extra warmth


Jerry said...

Sounds like you had a chilly evening. I don't like camping when I am really cold, sounds like you were right on that edge. Should be in the high 40's for us this weekend. Jamie would freeze if it got down to the 30's. She does not handle cold very well. Sounds like you all are having fun.

Stay safe you two..

J & J

Anna said...

High 40's, that's brutal for April in Texas. And I bet a lot of Texans don’t own warm gear since it doesn’t get that cold down there and you guys probably don’t get much use from heated gear as well.

As for the cold night camping, I have a 0 degree sleeping bag which would have kept me much warmer but unfortunately it’s twice as big to pack, so I didn’t bring it. Mike didn’t bring as many layers and ended up sleeping in his riding gear, he has a 35 degree sleeping bag.

When it's cold like that, I can't wait to get up and start moving in the morning to warm up some.

Stay warm!