The Cannonball Run…

Today was another fantastic day. We left home just after 11am, and it was a damp 62 degrees with thick clouds in the sky. I started the day with the liner in my jacket, with my heated grips and seat on low. I could have easily done without the heat, but if you’ve got them, might as well use them, right?

We retraced our tracks from Monday for a bit until we veered off in a slightly different direction. The first part of the day was much like the first part of Monday, not much to see, but just happy to be riding. Eventually we turned onto Hwy 50/150, which is one of Indiana’s Historic Pathways. The road gets a bit curvy here, and I had no sooner remarked how much fun I was having that we rounded a corner and a semi pulled out right in front of the Jeep that was just ahead of us, ‘causing them to have to nearly come to a complete stop to keep from hitting it. I really should know better than to say out loud how much fun I’m having by now, as it seems like every time I do, someone pulls out in front of us and goes slow.

We were finally able to get around the semi in the next town, but the curvy section of road was over by then, and it was more of the same open fields and farm land the rest of the way to Vincennes, but surprisingly the skies started to clear up a bit and we were rewarded with increasing bits of sunshine. Once in Vincennes it had heated up to 70 degrees, so we stopped to remove our jacket liners and to double check our route to the Wabash Cannonball bridge, our intended destination.

After finding that our planned route was closed (it was a gravel road that cut through straight to the bridge) we had to detour around on the main road instead. Once we got to the bridge, we found that there is quite a lot of traffic that goes across it, even mid-day on a Wednesday. I parked and hopped off my bike to take some pictures of the bridge while we waited for the on-coming traffic to get across.

The bridge was originally constructed as a train trestle, and the three existing spans were constructed at three different times, the oldest being from 1897, and the others 1904 and 1924. Eventually the trestle was abandoned by the railroad and a farmer named Frank Stangle purchased it and converted it to a toll bridge for vehicular use. He took up the rails and used them as guardrails, and he placed wooden planks longways across the bridge for vehicles to cross on. The bridge is now owned by the State of Illinois, who claims that it will maintain the bridge and keep it open.

When it was our turn to cross, I took the left set of planks while Dwayne took the right set, and I stopped about halfway across to snap a quick picture before hurrying to the other side to allow the next person to cross. Once on the other side, we turned around so that we could go back across the bridge instead of going on into Illinois both because we wanted to, and because there is still a toll booth on the Illinois side in St. Francisville.

As we were nearing the end of the bridge, there was no on-coming traffic for a moment, so I had Dwayne stop and I hurried to jump off my bike and snap a quick picture before more cars started across the bridge behind us. It is amazing that a bridge that is so old, and seems to have had little done to maintain it over the years, can withstand the heavy amount of traffic that crosses it. It was a pretty neat experience, especially on a bike.

After the bridge, we went back into Vincennes and had lunch at a Steak n Shake because we *thought* it was conveniently on the road that we intended to take to Jasper, but it turned out after lunch when we started down the road, we quickly realized it wasn’t the road we thought it was after all, but rather than backtrack, we decided to follow it for a bit before hitting a road that connected us to our intended road. This would prove to be the theme for the rest of our trip, but more on that later.

Once we got to Jasper, we stopped by another meat processing business named Merkley’s (yeah, we are definitely not vegetarians, haha), where we picked up some bacon and sausage and tucked it away in the cooler we had packed in Dwayne’s side cases again.

We intended to take Hwy 164 out of Jasper, but we forgot exactly where it was and we ended up on 162 instead. Again, rather than backtrack, we just went with it for a while, and then took a back road that took us up to 164 at Celestine, where we had been on Monday. We followed it over to Hwy 145 and went North instead of South this time. We found a back road to the East, and decided to take it and see where we ended up.

We followed the road until we made a right turn and realized we had been on that road before back in the fall, so we turned off onto a new road. As it turns out, we ended up coming out on Hwy 37 directly across from where we had come out on Monday after our detour down the road with the iron bridge. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, since this portion of 37 is pleasantly curvy, and there was no slow traffic to keep us from enjoying it.

The rest of the trip home was almost exactly the same as it was on Monday, except for a bit of a detour when we thought we would check out a road we hadn’t been on before, but it ended up being straight and boring, so we turned off of it and ended up circling back to the road we had been on. Sometimes turning down random roads doesn’t work out as well as  we hoped, but most of the times it does.

In the end, although the weather had predicted cloudy skies and 70 degrees for the high today, most of the day ended up being 74 and sunny, so it was an even better day than we had expected.

Tomorrow’s forecast is also for cloudy skies and 70 degrees, so maybe we will get lucky and be treated to some sunshine again instead. Unfortunately we have an appointment to have our taxes done around mid-day tomorrow, so we won’t be able to venture very far on the bikes, but hopefully we will be done around 2 and we will still have about 5 hours of daylight to enjoy.

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