With us running out of day, we crossed the Wabash River and found ourselves crossing into Illinois – known as the Land of Lincoln. We picked our path south on Highways 1 and 45 through to Harrisburg. From there we cut west to Marion – a city of 17,000 plus on Highway 13. An interesting observation pretty much as soon as we entered the state was the number of what appeared to be oil derricks pumping away in the paddocks – there were loads of paddocks and therefore more derricks than we’d anticipated. As we’d seen passing through lower Indiana, Illinois was a hive of harvest activity. With darkness well and truly upon us, we pulled south onto Interstate 57 and made a run for the nearest rest area – some 25 miles south – we’d run around 300 miles this afternoon from the RV Park in Greenfield so a solid run for us. We got on the road early on Friday morning in order to try and get going before the traffic built up too much on the Interstate, and because we had some states to cross today. The day started off grey and overcast, but there was darkness on the horizon. Our time in the state would be short this morning and within and hour we came upon the mighty Mississippi River and yes, another state border crossing – goodbye Illinois.
Crossing the Mississippi on Interstate 51 we travelled west an intercepted Interstate 55. Crossing the river, we found ourselves in ‘cotton country’ – paddock upon paddock of cotton. As we drove south besides the landscape changing to fluffy fields for us, we found the weather change to the opposite – heavy clouds and then heavy rain. Our time in the state would be short – we needed to keep running whilst we could – whilst Romin was hanging in there. We only got to experience around 65 miles of the lower section of state and again all too soon we were across and out of the state – no rivers to cross this time around.
The landscape from Interstate 55 didn’t vary from the thick fields and bales of cotton (Arkansas is one of the nations largest cotton producers) with the weather getting worse / heavier rain. We stopped just across the state at a Visitor Centre and have a good talk to the team there on the state and what he had to offer. ‘Celebrities’ to come from the state include Johnny Cash, Glen Campbell and Bill Clinton was Governor here before his time in the White House. Aware of keeping Romin running whilst we could we pushed back on the Interstate – the 55 would take us around 75 miles through to the Tennessee border and Memphis. Interspersed with fields of cotton we also found fields of rice – apparently the state’s No 1 crop, followed by egg production, and cotton coming in No 3. The rain got heavier the closer we got to the border. Memphis is another of those cities that seems to span state borders – we would cross through West Memphis, but Memphis also spans south into Mississippi. In the meantime we had another river to cross – here comes the Mississippi again – goodbye Arkansas.