A Motorcycle Trip to Pensacola

Dispatch 4

Quincy, Illinois to Pensacola, Florida

May 17-21




I spent a day in Quincy.  Larry and Darlene drove me to Nauvoo, Illinois, a preserved Mormon settlement on the Mississippi which dates to the move of the Mormons to Salt Lake City.  The drive gave us glimpses of the Mississippi and one of its sizable locks.  

Brigham Young's home in Nauvoo, Illinois.  It was from this settlement that the Mormon's 

started their pilgrimage to Salt Lake City.

Team of oxen in the restored Nauvoo settlement.



My sister, Darlene, and husband Larry Sorensen.

Raft used to float wagons across the Mississippi.

My day in Quincy was stormy, with rain bouncing off the pavement.  However, as I started out the next morning it was clear and cool, a large cold air mass having moved into the area.  I rode back down to Hannibal, MO, and caught Hwy 54 which parallels the Mississippi to St. Louis on the Missouri side of the river.  I took the 270 beltway around St. Louis and caught Hwy 55 south, again on the western side of the Mississippi, for 129 miles.  Soon, I crossed the nation's three largest rivers in the space of an hour.  I passed south over the Missouri River.  I then took Hwys 60/62 east which turned north eventually and crossed the Mississippi River.  That put me in the very southern tip of Illinois.  I was only in Illinois about 500 yards, when Hwy 62 turned east and I crossed the Ohio River into the tip of Kentucky.  At this point, the Ohio is actually a bigger river than the Mississippi. This confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers is an important junction and a  good deal of barge traffic was tied up along the side.  

Mississippi River as it flows into the larger Ohio river.  The conjoined rivers retain the Mississippi name.


Crossing the Ohio River, looking south.  The Mississippi runs into the Ohio just beyond the barges at right center in the picture.


Tug maneuvering barges from southbound Ohio River to travel north up the Mississippi River.


I wound through the cute little river town of Wickliffe, Ky, and took a pleasant two lane road, Hwy 286, eastbound 25 miles to Fwy 24, which would take me through Kentucky, and Western Tennessee. 


The rolling hills and red earth that I had been experiencing west of the Mississippi, gave way to rolling, heavily wooded hills and mostly limestone on the eastern side.  I was clearly riding through what had once been a sea bottom.  Where the road cut through the hills, the horizontal, stratified layers of limestone were clearly visible.  Very little tilting of the layers due to compression seemed to have taken place here, very unlike the convoluted geology in the western mountains.  
Kentucky is pretty, with large mature trees in abundance and small rolling farms.  I rode through Paducah, the largest city in this part of Kentucky, and stopped in a rest area off the freeway that was more of a historical estate than a traditional rest stop. 
Soon, I crossed into Tennessee, although the scenery did not change much.  The suburbs north of Nashville had some communities with enormous homes on acreage estates, probably reflecting the success of the music industry in that city. 
I hit Nashville at 3:30, so rush hour was picking up.  In heavy freeway traffic, I like to ride the right side of the leftmost lane.  The leftmost lane keeps me out of much of merging traffic and gets me into HOV lanes if they exist.  Riding the right side keeps me visible in the left side-mirror of the cars to my right, hopefully minimizing the chances of them changing lanes into me.  I always try to pass through their blind spot briskly, sometimes moving a bit to the left if I cannot ascertain that they have seen me. 
Past Nashville, Fwy 24 wound through small mountains and then started gaining altitude as it worked its way to Chattanooga, TNChattanooga is a beautiful city, but I turned south onto Fwy 59 ten miles before getting there.  This freeway paralleled some north-south Appalachian ridge lines and lead me into Alabama.  I was riding a wooded valley with ridge lines on both sides.  Eventually, I reached Hwy 68 and turned east to ride a gap through the ridge.  I was in dense woods of elms, oaks and other deciduous trees.  I rode along Weiss Lake and passed some very picturesque horse farms. 
I turned south onto Hwy 9, then Hwy 21 for the last 20 miles into Jacksonville, Alabama. It was a 671 mile day, my longest daily ride on the trip.

Western Kentucky, leaving the Mississippi River.


Doug Nelson at his home in Jacksonville, Alabama.

Doug and Jojo Nelson were my hosts in Jacksonville, Doug is a childhood friend from China and Taiwan days.  Doug spent a career as a chemist doing projects for the various military services.  Although semi-retired, he is an adjunct teacher at Jacksonville State University, teaching an instrumental analysis chemistry lab and quantitative analysis lab for their chemistry department. Jojo is a special education teacher in the elementary school and she takes real pleasure in seeing the progress that can be made with handicapped children.
Jacksonville is a picturesque town, nestled among hills on all sides.  It has a proper town square with a traffic circle and tiny park in the center of the square honors one if its Confederate soldiers.  Many of its homes are brick, and all its neighborhoods are shaded by big trees.  The nearby McClellan Army National Guard base and Jacksonville State University provide the small town with the income it needs to keep it looking tidy.  Living is affordable, with a typical 2,500 square foot brick home selling for less than $150,000. 

Looking down on Jacksonville and Alabama's rolling hills. 


Jacksonville Park, commemorating a confederate soldier.

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