Indiana and Illinois
17.07.2015 - 18.07.2015
After a visit to the Indiana Welcome Center, I realized that Lewis and Clark actually started their journey from Clarksville, Indiana on the Ohio River. As many months ago I had stood on the spot where they wintered on the west coast. I thought it was befitting that I stand on the spot where they started and ended their expedition.
This point is where William Clark's brother, George Rogers Clark, had his cabin. Clark was staying here and they designated it as their meeting point. Although this was not the complete contingent and is not generally recognized as the expedition kick-off, it is where L and C first met and signed up a few men and set off with the first boats and some supplies.
It took me at least an hour of wrong turns, closed roads, no signs, and nothing on Google to help me find this spot. Finally when I was stopped at a closed road, a local was kind enough to say "Follow me!"
The cabin site volunteers were very friendly and knowledgeable. I was their only visitor on this hot and humid day. It was nice to sit on the porch in rocking chairs and while away the afternoon.
I think I motivated her to hit the road in a camper truck she had inherited from her mother.
I was told some historical information that I was either never taught or had forgotten:
George Rogers Clark l led American Revolutionary War battles in this territory. We must have learned this in Indiana history in 7th grade, but I certainly don't remember.
Jefferson ensured slavery was not allowed in the new territories. GR Clark was given land in Indiana territory for his service during the Revolution and was allowed to take 12 slaves from his property in Virginia. However, they were given free papers and then made to sign as indentured servants. Consequently, there were slaves in Indiana. William Clark also brought his slave with him who embarked on the expedition here in Clarksville. GR Clark's indentured servants who did not live on the hill behind his house, lived on this spot on the Ohio. This was the first African American community in the North (so it is claimed). The Ohio flooded in 1937 and only the park remains.
Although my old classmate Jane Alter Yohe sent me several enticing links to keep me finding wonderful things in Indiana, I decided I really needed to keep heading west. With all the possible things to see in Indiana, I could have ambled here for another six weeks.
I headed West on I64. At some point I picked up a brochure on following the Quilt Trail of Gibson County.
What fun! I had seen the large quilt blocks painted high on barns throughout the country in Tennessee.
I had to use GPS to find the spots in Fort Branch, Indiana.
Somehow, I decided this adventure was not worth the gas and time and crossed into Illinois.
I didn't see much of anything on either side of Interstate 64 in Illinois that struck my fancy.
I relaxed in a rest stop.
I drove through some great downpours.
I kept on driving after the sun went down and saw the most amazing orange crescent moon with Venus just above it. I didn't know what it was until I just now Googled it. I hope you saw it.
As construction started popping up for miles and miles and I approached St Louis, I thought I should stop. I don't see well at night and am a hazard to impatient drivers as I try to find my way on unknown highways. It seems that every time I have driven through St Louis, the highways are a maze of construction. I decided to pull off and find a place to sleep for the night.
Truck stops are usually a good bet. There are always people sleeping there; food and restrooms are easy to reach.
There was a Love's at the intersection with a Hardee's. That seemed like a good choice.
I drove up in front of the Hardee's to get my bearings for a place to park for the night. The lot was really bright and designated for autos.
Then I noticed the Hardee's was packed. There were a few women out front. Everyone was wearing what appeared to be rather inexpensive "best clothes."
Love's has a reputation across the country for allowing all types of truck driver services. Oh well, I thought, no big deal. I needed a salad and some chicken, so I pushed my way through the crowd.
These African American ladies didn't seem like hookers on closer look. I finally asked someone what was going on.
They had chartered a wine tour bus to celebrate someone's birthday. On the way home, the bus had some kind of electrical problem. The air conditioning went off. Nothing worked except the emergency lights. They had to force open the emergency windows to exit. Apparently, some of the women had panic attacks during this ordeal. Here they had been for almost an hour in this Hardee's waiting for the tour company to find another bus to get them back to St Louis! Now, that is what I call a bad end to a nice day.
I forgot to get a picture of them.
I drove around back where the trucks were parked to see if I could find a spot out of the bright lights.
There was one other camper parked there, so I decided to park near it.
That is until I decided it was a camper for the special trucker services.
I pulled out of the lot and Googled parks. A community park was identified about 5 miles away. I headed for it and found a spot that was fairly secluded with only one light that for some reason flashed on for a brief period about every five minutes.
I finally was able to eat my salad and chicken tenders with a vodka drink mixed with Sprite and settle down for the night.
Oh no! I see a police car approaching from the other side of the park. I hopped into bed and pretended to be asleep.
After about 5 minutes of the flashlight shining in my window, I decided to sit up and wave to the policeman.
He seemed like a real Barney Fife in this little Illinois town of just a few hundred people.
He said "Well, the problem is you didn't let us know you would be sleeping here."
I didn't bother to tell him that even my own family has not really known where I would be sleeping on any night for the last year and a half. Instead I told him, "I'm sorry. I didn't know I was supposed to report this to anyone" and that I would probably be leaving at first light around 5 AM.
He said he supposed it would be okay and he would let the next shift know I was here.
It was a miserable night. At least 80 degrees and 90 percent humidity. I finally fell asleep around 3 AM.
At 6 AM, I awoke to another policeman. Apparently, Barney had not included me in his report.
I think the Colorado license plates on an old van made the officers think I might be a traveling doper. I guess my appearance helped them feel a bit less concerned.
I forgot to get pictures of this event also.