I got the rental car earlier this time, so I thought I'd get out a bit earlier this time. But when I went to load up the car, I found out that my hands-free cell phone earpiece was missing. I thought that I must have left it up in my car up at work, so I decided to drive up to Mason to get it. Of course, when I got there, it wasn't there either....
So then I drove down to church to score a free breakfast, said good-bye to the fam, and then (after a trip to Meijer) was on the road. I ended up officially "starting" my trip at 9 AM EDT.
The first part of the trip was the same as last week - down I-71 to Louisville. But this time, instead of turning west across southern Indiana, I continued southwards into Kentucky. After looping around "the 'Ville", I headed west on US-60. I passed by Fort Knox and the city of Radcliff, where I used to live back in the dizz-ay. That picked me up Meade (#1) and Breckinridge (#2). Near Hardinsburg, I got on to KY 261, which cut the corner of Hancock (#3) and then into Ohio (#4). KY 261 dead ended into KY 54, which I took southwards into Grayson (#5) and then to KY 79 and then the Western Kentucky Parkway. The WK Parkway did another cool corner-cutting, this time of Butler (#6), then back into Ohio county and then Muhlenberg (#7). Kentucky has a lot of these parkways. They all used to be toll roads (and some of them still are). But in a pretty cool thing, once the tolls have paid for the construction costs, by law, they must be turned into free roads. In another little tidbit, by law, free limited-access roads are not allowed to have commercialized rest stops. That is why rest-stops on I-71 for example only have bathrooms and picnic benches, rather than McDonalds and Shell. By federal regulations, commercialized rest-stops are only allowed on toll roads (more info here). But, the WK Parkway was grandfathered here because its rest stop was built when it WAS a toll road. When I saw that the rest stop contained an Arbys, I knew I had to stop! Tragically however, the shake machine was broken.
Back on the road, I soon exited the parkway onto US 431 South into Logan county (#8). Immediately after the county line, I went SW onto KY 1293 and then west on KY 107 into Todd (#9) and Christian (#10). I turned off of 107 onto KY 800. At this point, my route had me taking the Pennyrile Parkway north and then back on to the WK parkway. But in looking at the map, I thought that if I took KY 1348 to KY 109, I could cut off a few minutes (by going diagonally NW instead of N and then W). Since the state roads had been a pretty good quality, I decided to go for it. It turned out pretty well - but I don't think it saved me much time. I did pick up Hopkins (#11) and then moved west on the WK parkway into Caldwell (#12). I got off on KY 91 and then in Fredonia, transferred north on US 641 into Crittenden (#13), and then back south on 641 into Lyon (#14).
Next was an out and back on I-24 East to KY 139 south into Trigg (#15) and then back on I-24 west into Livingston (#16) and Marshall (#17). After crossing over the Land between the Lakes, I headed south on the Purchase Parkway. At Benton, I got onto US-641 Spur. After a few miles, I was supposed to turn onto KY 783, but I apparently missed that. I was then supposed to get on to KY 80. Strangely enough, KY 80 is now called KY 402, though luckily both routes were signed. I went west on that and then an out and back on KY 299 to Calloway (#18). Back on KY 80 into Graves (#19) and then after a brief jog on KY 131, I rejoined the Purchase Parkway into Hickman (#20) and Fulton (#21). The original route had me taking KY 307 North here, but instead, I took it south through the town of Fulton. Why would I do something so crazy? More counties of course!
I had noticed a few days ago that my route would take me right here towards the KY-TN border. So I thought hey, bonus county in Tennessee! But then a careful examination of the map showed that not one, but TWO counties in Tennessee. I had a bit of trouble getting lost in Fulton, KY (or was that South Fulton, Tennessee?), but eventually I did make it into Obion and Weakley counties, Tennessee (#22 and #23). I was on KY state route 129, which runs along the border, but because it was a Kentucky route, it only gave me Kentucky county markers. KY-129 was quite the king of roads - in the 2 miles or so I was on it, it went through 5 counties (3 KY and 2 TN), though you'd have to of course travel British style to pick up all of them. After retracing my steps (well only the steps that weren't part of the time I spent getting lost) back through Fulton, I did take KY 307 north back through Fulton and Hickman counties and into Carlisle (#24). East on US-62 got me into Ballard (#25) and McCracken (#26) and then KY-286 took me back to the Ohio River.
At Wickliffe, KY I joined 3 US Routes: 51, 60 and 62. I crossed over some river which I thought was the bridge over the Ohio, which freaked me out because then I thought I had missed my turn. But it all worked out. About 3-4 miles later, I actually crossed over the Ohio, into Illinois and Alexander county (#27). Although I wanted to head north, I instead headed south. Why? Say it with me everybody...."MORE COUNTIES!!" A quick turn south crossed over the Mississippi (as the crow flies, approximately 482 miles further south from the last time I crossed it) and I was into Mississippi County, Missouri (#28).
That picture kind of looks like it was taken out the car window with one hand while the driver was going over a big bridge at 50+ mph. Hmmmmm... Anyways - back into Illinois, I went through Cairo, Illinois, which Wikipedia told me is pronounced like the syrup, not like the city in Egypt. The one thing I knew about Cairo is that it was the site of the confluence of the Ohio and the Mississippi, which I thought was picture-worthy. I-57 got me into Pulaski (#29). I got off at Exit 18 and went eastbound through various county and state roads through the city of Karnak and Massac county (#30). Then I took US-45 into Johnson (#31) and then I-24 north one exit and on county roads back west into Union (#32). Then I took I-57 North into Williamson (#33) and Franklin (#34).
At some point here I had just gotten gas (and dinner) and I was talking on the phone to Carolyn and she got a call on the other line. She got a call on the other line and clicked over. After a few minutes she clicked back and told me that it had been Citibank. Apparently she had just gone out and gotten gas for the van, using my same credit card. Since it is probably not very common that the same card is used to buy gas in 2 states a few hundred miles apart within an hour of each other, it had been flagged as potential fraud. She had told them that it was all good, but I was impressed that they had taken the time to call, so.... Yay Citibank!
Anyways, I took the IL-149 exit and headed west through Zeigler and Royalton, where I turned on to CR 13 and into Jackson (#35), where it became CR 14. In scenic Elkville, I turned on to CR 8. One annoying thing about the difference between Mapquest and actual roads on the ground is that Mapquest likes to call roads things like "CR 8". Whereas there are very rarely signs for county roads with their actual numbers - county roads have actual names (like, in this case, W Board Street). Now, to be fair to Mapquest, if you zoom in far enough it does say that, but the wide-out view just has the little square 8. I took CR 8 west and then got onto IL 13/127 northbound, following IL-13 when they split, getting Perry (#36) and Randolph (#37).
One good thing about driving around on rural roads in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night is that nobody seems to care if you just stop in the road, get out of your car and take (a few) pictures. Not that I know anything about that, of course. Of course, as you can see, it still didn't really help my picture-taking skills. If you scrunch down and kind of look at the picture from the bottom, you can kind of tell that it says Randolph County. The rest of the night was just heading north to get to the Tocco's in Peoria, where I stayed the night. I was awful tired, but not too tired to get a chuckle out of the sign they put on my room.