Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Treasure Hunting - Cave in Rock, Illinois

Day 21 - Goreville, Illinois to Cave in the Rock State Park, Cave in the Rock, Illinois  66.5 miles

The route just seems to be getting better and better!  This morning we transitioned to horse country....fabulous equestrian farms across the country side.  The horses always seem curious when we pass and come to the fences to greet us.

We did a short side trip to Tunnel Hill State Trail and seriously debated changing our route again.  This trail looked amazing...yet, another rails to trails initiative - 45 miles of converted railway line, and you know what that means...NO HILLS!  We explored the trail for a few miles and found ourselves in a 534 foot tunnel.  (originally the tunnel had been 800 feet in length, but was shortened after a cave in.)  We cycled into the tunnel.  What an unsettling feeling....as you approached the half way point, it was almost pitch black.  We were forced to get off our bikes and walk because we could not see our feet.

Entering the railway tunnel - Tunnel Hill State Trail

We reluctantly left Tunnel Hill and made our way to Millstone Bluff, the site of an undisturbed prehistoric Mississipian village.  Artifacts dating back to 900 AD have been discovered here.  Our musings about artifacts were quickly brought to an end as Rob was faced with another flat tire.  (I blame the mashing)

Another flat - near Millstone Bluff

We continued to battle wind, hills and heat during the afternoon.  During our lunch break we visited a gas station and filled our camel packs with ice....welcome relief!  Thanks to team Weiss for the camel packs - they are awesome!  Our route took us through parts of the Shawnee National Forest and the Trail of Tears State Forest.  The history of Trail of Tears is quite sobering, as we learned that in 1838 the Cherokee people were forced from their homes and marched over 1,000 miles.  At least 4000 Cherokee died that winter.

Bicyclists Rest Stop - Trans America Trail
After passing an amazing rest stop outside of Elizabethtown, we finished our day looking for treasure at Cave in the Rock.  From 1790 - 1830 river pirates hid their stash in the caves.  Rumour has it that all of the treasure has not been found.........

Treasure hunting - Cave in Rock, Illinois

As we go to bed we will say goodbye to Illinois.  They say Illinois is one of the longest states at over 500 miles - WE AGREE.  We have had a terrific time in this great state....thanks to all who offered help and to those who gave us friendly honks and waves.

Giggle of the day:

Is Jane following the right road?

View Bicycling directions to Cave-In-Rock State Park, Cave-In-Rock, IL, United States in a larger map