Just got a message from someone in California who couldn't figure out the business with Peoria and St. Louis, figuring that maybe Peoria was a suburb of St. Louis.
Basically, you should all ERASE Peoria from your minds. I had originally planned on basing Gail's home in Springfield, the capital of Illinois. However, I did a mental slip and unconsciously changed it to Peoria. But Peoria is almost all the way to Chicago, about 4 hours from Alex's home. When I looked at changing it back, Springfield is even smaller than Carbondale is, so having them travel there looking for new followers made NO sense.
Casting about, I finally figured out that St. Louis made the most sense. It's close - roughly an hour from Carbondale and 2 hours from Alex's school - it has a decent population of about 3.5 million, larger than New Orleans, and the direction made sense for a side issue that you'll learn soon (chapter 32). The only problem was that I had to go back and modify the reason why Gail happened to be in the area.
So, just forget I ever mentioned Peoria. Gail is, and always was from St. Louis. Nobody lives in either Peoria or Springfield. It was just a mistake I made while trying to put the story together.
Hope that helps clear the point up.