• Sophia Fang

Day 25: Welcome to the Land of Lincoln!

Saturday, June 25th.

Henderson, KY --> Harrisburg, IL.

Hello dear friends, family, and wonderful people we have serendipitously met along our way! Sophia here to welcome you to our third state - Illinois!

Goodbye Kentucky. I’ve been writing down random words and phrases for each state and here are some for our second state: tiger lilies (everywhere), beautiful horses, basketball hoops (almost every house has one!), ferocious dogs of small size (most of which are leashed so it’s okay), excellent fried chicken, endless corn, and wide road shoulders (you start to judge a state by the width of its shoulder when you are biking long-distance). Also look at these long-horn cattle! I wanted to get closer but then the big one in the water started to get out of the water...

We have different tasks in the morning (such as filling water bottles and packing the car) and my favorite one is finding a lunch spot! Having heard some interesting stories about Old Shawneetown right across the Ohio river, we headed to the Fiedlerland RV Park & Campgrounds there.

Tim, who has run the park for 9 years, sat down with us and shared about the hundreds of people who have come by from almost 35 states but not Massachusetts. We were thrilled to add a couple of new states to the wall art of sharpied signatures.

Our conversation made me realize that even though biking across the country sounds huge, we are actually only passing through 9 states and there are still 26 other states I’ve never seen (I’m including Iowa because even though I was born there, I don’t remember anything!). It’s funny and a bit sad how people often travel to other countries without realizing hat there’s already so much to see in America itself. Because of this trip, America the beautiful (the land, the people, the abundance of friendly fireflies) is slowly becoming a reality to me.

So back to the lore of Old Shawneetown. The first bank of Illinois was established here and the story goes that back in the 1900s two businessmen came down from Chicago and asked for a loan at this bank. Apparently the bankers there declared that Chicago wouldn’t amount to anything and refused the request. Now it's 2022: Old Shawneetown is mostly empty and Chicago is well, Chicago. This is the bank pictured below (featuring Franklin in our beloved bright blue Ford). I think this might be our first picture with the car!?

After lunch, the roads flattened and straightened through endless farm fields and mounds of Queen Anne’s lace. Some of us also tried biking without hands - Mariela is really good at this. I guess these roads are a foretaste of what is to come in a few weeks when we hit Kansas.

Running low on water and missing the curvy mountain roads of East Kentucky, we arrived at the lovely home of our warm showers host, Sherie, and were welcomed with a huge bowl of perfectly ripe watermelon and cantaloupe. Nothing could taste so good at this moment! Looking at this photo makes me hungry again haha.

Sherie also made an amazing sourdough loaf and we ate some delicious BLTs for dinner.

During dinner, we found out that our hosts, Sherie and Brad, were experienced cross-country bikers themselves, journeying from Oregon to Maine last summer! Big difference was that they didn’t have a sag wagon (cycling term for a support car) so all their food and tents were strapped to their bikes!! I thought biking up hills was hard in general. Now when I see a hill, I think of Sherie and Brad powering up with all their gear and this thought is very inspiring.

There was an ominous promise of thunder and lightning the next day, so we hit the hay with intentions of rising at 6am in hopes of out-chasing the storm. Tune in to our next post to find out what happens next.

For now, enjoy a glimpse of one of our many water/snack breaks :)

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