Tuesday, May 7, 2013

5/6/13        Up and out of the soggy campground about 7:30, I smeared peanut butter on half a cinnamon-raisin bagel as breakfast for each of us.

           We headed through Tiptonville on our way north to the peninsula and the lowest point of Kentucky cut off when the Mississippi River meandered. We speculated the meander occurred in 1811-1812 as a result of the New Madrid earthquakes.

           Flooded crop fields foreshadowed the Mississippi out of its normal banks. On the last stretch of road, we passed a truck headed out.

          "There's water on the road up ahead," the guy said.

          "We'll go check it out," Dr. Bobo responded.

          Dr. Bobo stopped the car where the water flooded the road, consulted his GPS and computer software for our exact location and the KY border. "The border's about 60 hundred yards ahead," he said.

          "Let's wade there," I replied.

          Water footwear on and calves exposed to the world, we waded our way down the road. The cold water chilled my feet, but I wouldn't be deterred.

          "The border should be right here," Dr. Bobo said, the water about 18 inches deep.

          I pointed. "That looks like a dry patch ahead. Let's check that out."
Connard at KY Low Point.

          At the minor high spot, we considered we were on dry ground in Kentucky, the lowest dry point we could get to in those flooded conditions. We decided not to bushwhack or get off the roadway, our position about one-half mile east of the official low point. Dr. Bobo marked our location with a waypoint on his GPS. Photos and latitude/longitude coordinates testify to our best effort.

         Two deer bounced across the gravel road ahead of us, their long, white tails waved, bid us farewell.

          We turned north under cloudy sky, zigzagged our way through western KY towards Cairo, Illinois. Waters at the confluence of Mississippi and Ohio River covered much of the tiny peninsula where Fort Defiance once helped the Union maintain domination over those stretches of waterways. We stood at the water's edge on a paved ramp, looked out about one mile to where trees marked the true, dry, low point of Illinois. We considered our position the low point of Kentucky at North 36 degrees 29 minutes 54.8 seconds, West 89 degrees 31 minutes 4.9 seconds.

         Our sights turned towards Indiana, some two and a half hours drive away.

         Scenery began to blur. Road numbers fused, mixed in my mind. Where are we? What road is this? How far until we turn? The next stop a high point or low point?

         Clouds thickened again. We drove through Muddy, IL.

         "Good name," Primate said.

         We expected to pay a toll on the bridge across the Wabash, instead had our photo taken. Across the river in Indiana we turned right and south, followed directions to where the gravel road terminated at a large muddy field. A further tramp of 3/4 mile brought us to the conflunce of the Wabash and Ohio Rivers.

          Dr. Bobo checked his GPS device. "The low point is out there about two-tenths of a mile."
Dr. Bobo at the IN Low Point.

         We stood as close to the low point of 320 feet, on land, that we could get, touched the water for commemorative photos, slogged back through mud to the car.

         Primate posed for our picture at the Wabash River toll bridge on our way west, across Illinois towards Missouri.

          Clouds turned ugly again, darker, unfriendly.

          Where would we camp?

          "We could go until 6 PM.," Dr. Bobo said.

          ”Let's go to the Shawnee National Forest on this side of the Mississippi, then decide what we want go do," I suggested.

          We passed a Sonic in Anna.

          "Milkshake," Primate said.

          Dr. Bobo turned the car around. Our dinners hit the spot, but the car battery died in the process. A jump-start from an AAA response got the car going and we stopped for the night at the Pine Hill campground in Shawnee National Forest shy of the Mississippi River and Missouri border.

          An additional 362 miles traveled today.

          Low point - twelve; high points - eight.

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