Chester, Illinois to Farmington, Missouri

Leaving Chester.

It's supposed to be hot today so Tom and I left early.  Bill came along too.  Chester is famous for being the birthplace of Popeye.   The town is filled with statues of various characters.

Crossing the Mississippi     is a big highlight and huge physical landmark and milestone.  It's not quite half the country but now the radio and TV stations will start with a K instead of a W.  The Hardee's are still Hardee's and not Carl's Jr.

We're only a fourth of the way through, but bumping upon a third but it feels different, like we're entering the West, if only the Midwest.

Having crossed over the narrow bridge over the wide Mississippi we find ourselves in Missouri.  Our fourth state.

Big hills today, perhaps not compared to the Appalachian portion, but still long and extended hills.  Not a lot of services as well, and so at the near crest of one particularly long hill we came upon the Crown Ridge Tiger Sanctuary.

The Sanctuary rescues tigers that are in captivity and they have about five to ten tigers.  We heard one in the distance - lovely growl.

It is more like a four star resort with lodging and a dark wood paneled restaurant.  We went around back because it was still before opening, and met Chef Ken Viera and his wife Michele and asked for water.  Graciously they filled them up with ice too - always a plus - and then brought out these pastry cinnamon cookies for us.

They are planning a vacation where they will take their kids along the Eastern Seaboard "so they can see where we dated" and Chef Ken will buy seafood off the docks and cook it up.

They then invited us in the restaurant and took a photo with us, something that Chef Ken does with lots of cyclists and posts them on Instagram.    A lovely stop and I wish that we felt that we had the time to do lunch, but the remaining hills and the increasing temperature prod us onward.  As we were about to leave Michele offered to top off our water bottles again.

Ste. Genevieve

Pink Lemonade Cider with BBQ Brisket Nachos at the Crown Valley Brewery and Distillery.   The cider is crisp and good in a hot day like this.  Twelve miles to go.


Farmington, Missouri

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In 1870 Saint Francois County constructed a jail out of the local tan limestone and put on it a second story brick living quarter for the Sheriff.  The only escape came in in 1932 when dynamite was detonated on the north wall while 31 prisoners were still inside.

The explosion was so big, that it confused the thirty-one inmates.  A fourteen pound steel cage window sill was found on the roof of the local high school two blocks away.  The explosion also woke the Sheriff who lived on the second floor with his family.  Only seven inmates escaped and all were captured more or less immediately.

The building was decommissioned in 1996 and stood unused for 12 years when it was turned into a unique, city-sponsored Bike Hostel celebrating local Long Johns Silver's owner Al Dziewa who was an avid biker, and community enthusiast.  Al claimed his Long Johns SIlver Restaurant provided the fastest, friendliest and most "fish-ient" service in town.

In 2005 he lost his battle with cancer, dying at the age of 49, and this hostel was organized in his honor.  It is the top rated biker hostel in the nation.

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Today as we biked in, we rode through downtown until coming smack dab into a fair.  Farmington Country Days Festival runs this weekend and it is everything you would expect in a small city or county summer fare.  Games, corn dogs, rides, tricycle pulls, beer, henna tattoos, bands and young people doing that uncomfortable ritual of being a teenager in America.