Since Will and Cody conspired to lose our thermometer yesterday, we have no idea how hot it really is; we have to rely on Bank T&T signs, which are about as reliable as bankers' hours these days.
We do have occasional reports from the NOAA weather radio. Hannibal and Quincy have a station, and last night we heard the forecast, and the heat advisory. The official temp from Baldwin field was not available at 8 PM, though. Anyway, the NOAA guys had this to say: "A heat advisory remains in effect for Hannibal, Quincy, and the surrounding areas. Persons are advised to stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise. If you must work outside, try to limit your work to the cooler times of the day, such as the early morning hours [?!], take frequent rest breaks, stay in the shade, and drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids." I kept repeating this to myself the next morning, every time I was tempted to hammer up a hill.
We beat the heat last night at "Mark Twain Cave", 2 miles south of downtown Hannibal. Sam Clemens is said to have frequented this cavern as a youth. Supposedly, he based the cave scene in Tom Sawyer, and the discovery of Injun Joe's treasure by Huck and Tom, on this cave. It looked like most other Missouri show caves, and had one major benefit - it has a constant year-round temperature of 52 degrees. No matter how good the air -conditioning, there's no substitute for mother nature.
This morning, we drove back to Payson, IL, where we stopped the evening before, and Cheryl, Will, and I started up again from the city park while Annie and Shaine played on the swings. Leaving 90 minutes after sunrise, we didn't save any cooling degree days, or whatever the measure is. The T/T sign which read "103" the night before, was at 88 when we drove by at 7 AM. I didn't believe it either time, but I did believe the signs in Quincy saying "86" at 8:30 AM. After that, who cared? Just drink water, douse yourself in fluids whenever possible, and avoid strenuous exercise.
The last hour was a great blessing. The road from Hamilton to Nauvoo follows the bends of the mighty Mississippi; the road was newly asphalted, with a two foot wide shoulder, and shaded by trees even at noon. The river, wider at this point than the Puget Sound Narrows where we live (crossed by a 1.5 mile long suspension bridge) gave off a cooling tail wind, and Will and I cruised along between 20 and 25 mph. We stopped at "Historic David's Chambers", a rock-ledge 5 foot high water fall (actually, trickle). I showered, Will demured, and we both limped another mile to the State Park in Nauvoo, where Cody and team had already set up camp.
Nauvoo, of course, is the site from which the Mormons made their final passage to freedom after persecution in New York, Ohio, and Illinois. That history is well documented elsewhere. In Nauvoo, the two churches based on Joseph's Smith's "Book of Mormon" each have "restored" some of the home sites of their forebears' settlement. The "Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" (my aunt and grandmother's church) has the Joseph Smith concession, having restored his homestead and Mansion house. Their movie and tour is light on the evangelism and brief, but open on the history. The LDS (Mormons) have the rest of the town site, having transformed it into a Midwest Williamsburg, complete with period dress and craft demonstrations. Each mini-show is accompanied by a not-so-subtle plug from the old testament connecting to the task at hand.
Mark Twain, in "Roughing It", describes his visit to Nauvoo when it was in full flower, a year or so before the Mormons left. As usual, his commentary on them and their works is most insightful. I believe its Chapter Three; worth reading, if you have a chance. For instance, he quotes from the front pages and the prophet's words of the Book, and lets them speak for themselves. If I could only write like him, I'd feel fulfilled (I guess it;s good to have an idol for one's avocation, though).
In the end, though, our memories of Nauvoo will be mainly the heat/humidity. The family has asked that I give a few examples of just how hot it is. Each one is impressed by how the sweat comes out of his or her body at rest. Cheryl says, "tomorrow we should try to fry an egg in the sun." Shaine: "Just lay it on the asphalt". Will: "But we gotta eat it." Other examples: at six AM, driving in the RV, the AC was on; open the window and you start to sweat. Go outside after being in the AC for an hour, and your glasses steam up. Business cards wilt within fifteen minutes. Beer is gone in an instant. Shaine, as usual, has the last word: "I told my friend that the weather you're having in Washington is what we would say here, 'Ah, air-conditioning'."
Bicyclist's note: on the way into the Reorganized visitors' center, we saw a biker with panniers. Manny, from Queens, had just finished RAGBRAI (the grand-daddy of cross state bike trips, seven days in Iowa, with 15,000 cyclists). We met him again in "downtown" Nauvoo, and finally at sunset, when we shared a beer, weather stories, and route advice (he'd been where we're going, and vice-versa). As a librarian, I know he'll be able to check our web site, so I hope I've done the day justice from his point of view. He's on his way to St. Louis, and back home from there. He gave some inspiration to Cheryl with his decade long history of summer bike trips, to places like Denmark, Sweden, Germany, and, next month, Holland. Good luck, Manny!
Miles: Will, 59; Al (single) 59; Cheryl (single) 49
Total Miles: 1505
**Next Day's Journal**