12 Counties in Southern Illinois and Northern Kentucky

It has been a while since I’ve visited any new counties. It was last September when I took my last county collecting trip.

Winter will definitely do that. I pretty much holed up during the short and cold days. Now that the days are getting longer and a bit warmer, I was itching to take a trip. I have also been buying a lot of gear on Amazon. I wanted to test it out and see how well it worked.

I figured my best bet would be to stay close to home. Things have recently settled down, but we’re still a bit tired. I planned to make an overnight trip to Southern Illinois and return within about 24 hours of leaving.

Upon planning, I found I’d be able to visit 2 close counties in Northern Kentucky. These would be my first counties collected in Kentucky, so I was excited. I was also excited that the combination Family Dollar and Dollar Tree was now open in Belleville.

I went in there like a kid with $20 to spend on road trip snacks. The funny thing is that the total came out to around $20.

After picking up snacks, I picked up Austin from daycare. Victoria then came home, and we all had supper. Shortly after, I hit the road. I knew it was going to be a long drive. Luckily, when I got done with work at noon, I was able to take a nap, so I felt energized.

I’ve always struggled with GPS. It works well enough, but I run into so many glitches. This time, I noticed it was giving me questionable directions. Remember, it’s winter, and you want to stick to the main roads. Besides the bad directions, the GPS locked up. I noticed I was never getting closer to King Rd.

I whipped out Apple Maps, and it seemed to work a little bit better.

After a little more driving, I was finally on the interstate.

I made it to the Illinois Welcome Center a little before 2 AM. I got about 4 hours of sleep and was up again at 6. I see it had remained cold enough on the entire drive to keep the caked-on snow on my car.

The first county was Massac County, Illinois. It was only about a 10-minute drive from the rest stop I stayed at.

Massac County is in the city of Metropolis. They really played up their name, and there was a cool Superman statue and museum.

I was soon crossing the Ohio River and into Kentucky.

McCracken County had a stately-looking courthouse.

I had already went over the river, and now I was going through the woods to Ballard County.

I knew gas would be much cheaper in Kentucky than in Illinois. Near the courthouse was a gas station, but it looked super sketchy.

I skipped that gas station and found a less sketchy one near the Kentucky-Illinois border. They made a pretty good breakfast biscuit.

I was soon back in Illinois and in Alexander County.

Now people had mentioned how run-down Cairo, Illinois was. It almost seemed post-apocalyptic with the sheer amount of decaying buildings.

I got out of there and made it to Pulaski County.

Up next was Union County.

I fought the sun a little to make it to Johnson County.

Soon I made it to Williamson County.

I got some popcorn chicken on my way to Franklin County.

The square around the Franklin County Courthouse in Benton was super busy. So it took a bit to get on the road to a much quieter Jefferson County.

I took the southern branch of the Lincoln Heritage Trail to get to Marion County.

My final county was Washington County.

For the counties further on my list, I made sure to be within 6 hours of home. That way, I’d easily know when it got to be around noon I had to stop my trip and head home. It was a “trigger” I could use to minimize the thinking I’d need to do to figure out if I could go to another county.

In this case, I was about 5.75 hours from home.

I gassed up and headed home. If I were lucky, I’d get there before Austin went to bed.

On the way home, the GPS struck again. Why stay on a salted and free-of-ice US Highway when you can take your chances on W Butts Corners Rd?

Luckily, I knew where I was going, so I ignored the GPS. I was mainly using it as an ETA to coordinate supper with Victoria. I followed the main roads home. Austin was tired and had gone to bed, but Victoria and I were able to enjoy supper together.

I’d say this trip was a success. In the 24-hour period, I technically only visited counties for 6 hours. The rest of the time was either getting back and forth or sleeping. I’d say 12 counties in 6 hours is pretty good.

I did test out some of the gear I ordered. It's going to be another 6-8 weeks before I take another trip like this. My next series of writeups will probably go into more detail on my gear. I’ve learned a few things and have some improvement ideas. I’m always looking to make my road trips more efficient. Stay tuned for more to come!


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