Thursday – December 5, 2013
Fort Massac State Park
It is time to head south for the winter. We departed the Chicago area at 9:40 a.m. and arrived at the Fort Massac State Park in Metropolis, Illinois at 5:35 p.m. We selected campsite #12 and settled in for a well-deserved good night’s rest.
Our trip was not without a few hiccups along the way. Just south of Effingham, Illinois we encountered the onset of a major winter storm entering southern Illinois. It started out as freezing rain, then turned into sleet mixed with snow. In no time at all Interstate 57 was building up with a heavy slush, making for slow travel at 45 mph for those of us drivers who were being cautious. Some drivers, who felt the need for speed on these slippery road conditions, soon found themselves sliding off of the road into the ditch. After 110 miles of nasty road conditions, we arrived in Marion, Illinois. The freezing, slushy, rain/snow mix had now turned into a light rain, allowing us to cruise along comfortably at 55 mph into Metropolis, Illinois.
While we were traveling through a section on I-57 with the freezing rain/snow mix, a semi-truck pulled along side of us and honked his horn and pointed to the rear of our trailer. He then hailed me on the CB and told me one of our bikes had come partially off of its mount on the bike rack. Perfect! I pull off on the sleet-covered shoulder of the road and get out to inspect my mishap. Sure enough, one of the bungee cords had snapped off that secured the front of the bike to the outside mount of the bike rack. I re-secured the bike, all the while enduring the 28 degree freezing temperature and a slushy spray kicked up from the passing traffic. As I am getting back into the van I murmured to Sharon something about "we should have left home on Wednesday!"
About 70 miles further down the road, another semi-truck pulls up along side of us, sounds his horn and points to the back of our trailer. This is just great! Another adventure to the back of the trailer in this nasty weather to once again be favored with the road spray from the passing traffic! This time the bungee cord securing the back portion of the same bike snapped off. Having re-secured the bike to the bike rack, as I am entering our van Sharon innocently asks: "why don’t you just put the bikes in the van?" This is not the time to be asking me that question. It’s a guy thing!
On our past trips we carried our bikes in the van. This took up quite a bit of space in the van, so in October 2013 we had a receiver hitch installed on our trailer and mounted a bike rack onto the hitch. This is our maiden voyage with the bike rack and it is obvious I need to reengineer the method I use to secure the bikes to the bike rack. A trip to Home Depot is definitely in order to secure the items I need.
Now back to the weather! Paducah, Kentucky and most of western Kentucky is forecast to have freezing rain throughout the night and tomorrow morning with snow beginning in the early afternoon. A radio station in Paducah has been making regular announcements on school closings throughout the area. Our pretty little white trailer looks like an igloo, all covered in ice. We will see what Interstate 24 looks like in the morning. Nashville, Tennesee is 135 miles from Paducah. The forecast there is for rain with a high of 40 degrees. We can handle that!
Our original plan was to spend December in southern Texas. However, the weather forecast showed temperatures much lower then we were willing to tolerate. We decided to check out a COE campground in Montgomery, Alabama while we make our way down to Panama City Beach, Florida.
Fort Massac Camping Fee: $15.00 per day
Total miles traveled today: 380
Tomorrow another adventure begins.