Day 1 – Alton to St. Charles

A beautifully clear day. Also hot! We rode about 50 miles today. My Uncle Wes Peterson picked us up at our Motel in downtown St. Louis about 9:30 and took us to our starting point. With last minute packing and adjustments, we didn’t get of until almost noon. We started from the Lewis and Clark Bridge in Alton and rode along the Mississippi and then Illinois rivers. There is a bike trail which is well maintained in many places.

Approaching Gafton we saw a little Visitor’s Center and decided the appeal of a break in air conditioning was very tempting so we stopped in. After looking at the usual visitor’s center items, we spied a half completed, 300 piece puzzle on a table and decided to finish it for them. It was just the break we needed.

We crossed the Illinois River on a ferry. The area between the Illinois and Mississippi rivers is very rolling. Some of the hills are killer climbs, but fortunately short ones. The rewards and the great descents! The last one, though, we couldn’t take full advantage of because the steep descent ended in the Mississippi River. We took another ferry across the Mississippi and began riding to St. Charles.

Approaching St. Charles, we stopped for rest in the shade and met Jordan, Marc, and TJ (thanks Marc for posting a comment) on their bikes. These kids were riding to Jordan’s mother’s house nearby and had many questions about our trip and equipment. We had a fun time chatting with them.

Once we made it to St. Charles we were pretty tuckered out from riding and the heat. We looked for a place to stay, but all the motel rooms were full in the entire town and no pace to camp. We looked for stealth camping opportunities, but didn’t see anything we liked that was free of poison ivy and trash. We finally were directed to a Bed and Breakfast. The sign in the window said they had rooms. So we called and left a message. While we were waiting for a return call, two ladies stopped by and talked with us and helped us call for other lodging. We successfully confirmed that all motels in the areas were full. We really appreciated their help. It was nice to have some helpful after a long day.

We got a call back from the B&B and took the room. Shower, air conditioning, and a soft bed – with breakfast!

See GPS Track on Day 2.