We just finished eating dinner parked on the leeward side of a very sturdy-looking highway maintenance building. Let's recap, shall we?
We started this morning just outside of Morehead, KY, in a largely treeless and slightly party-zone, but friendly and perfectly serviceable for our purposes, campground near the Daniel Boone National Forest. We took a quick run past Cave Run Lake, where we would have camped if we were more clever about making advance reservations. It's a large man-made lake, really lovely with hills and trees all around. Maybe a spot to come back to some other time?
We drove through the morning and made it to the Lincoln Boyhood National Historic Site just in time for a picnic lunch. (Side note: one of my little hobbies this week is keeping track of how much money we save by having the Federal Lands Access Pass-- IMHO the best deal in the world if you use it. Today: $5.) The site was small but had a cool living history farm and cabin. Kieran enjoyed terrorizing the chickens with tales of how he is their worst enemy.
After Lincoln's boyhood home, it was back on the road. We had a small unexpected event when I tried to charge my phone and managed to pull the connector part out of the internal socket, i.e.: dead phone. So we spent the hour we gained crossing into the central time zone at the Verizon store, and I am now the proud owner of my first Android phone. Hello, $30 more per month. But now I have the interwebs on my phone, and interested friends/stalkers can track me on Google Latitude. Rob just got an announcement that we are within 6 kilometers of each other.
So we pulled into another slightly-low-on-charm but cheap and convenient RV park in Collinsville, IL, and headed over to take a look at the Cahokia site with the last of the evening light. I don't remembe where I first heard of Cahokia, but I know I have wanted to visit for probably nearly 20 years. It was a Mississippi Indian settlement, and in about 1200 it had a larger population than London. It wasn't till about 1800 that Philadelphia overtook it as the largest city in North America. It also has the largest earthworks north of the Mayan settlements, and a solstice/equinox aligned wood henge.
It was pretty clear as we started to climb Monk's Mound, the aforementioned 100-foot mound, that we were racing a gigantic thunderstorm. Thanks to the smart phones, we were able to tell that it was passing north of us and we weren't in any real lightning danger, but we kept the time at the top brief nonetheless. Just as we got back to the camper, the wind shifted and the storm headed straight at us. Did I mention that the combination of being in a camper and being in the midwest has given me a new phobia? Tornadoes. And high winds and RVs don't really mix even when it's not technically a tornado. We noticed a large cement block building right next to Monks Mound (way to treat the Native American sacred site-- and did I mention there is an interstate just to the north?). We pulled around the other side of that so we were out of the wind. Fortunately, no tornado, and no hail either. Now we are back at camp with light rain on the roof, enjoying the 20 degree temperature drop.
More on Cahokia tomorrow after we visit the interpretive center.