Day: 52; Daily Mileage: 64; Total Mileage: 2,784.7; Stopping Point: Everton, MO
We packed up with no thunder storms. We put on sun block and were ready to leave when the sky opened up into a down pour. We laid under the pavilion at the park and fell asleep. Around seven o'clock we rolled over and it was still pouring. Since it didn't seem to be letting up, we went to a café for a second breakfast. It looked like we were in for a whole day of rain, so we gave up stalling. After five miles it quit, but by that time we were soaked to the skin. Shoes are the worst when wet. When you push down the water goes on top of the foot and when you pull up it goes underneath.
The road names are very entertaining, but then again the smallest things are entertaining after two months on the road. In Kansas roads had numbers like 600th Avenue or 65.75 Road. Now in Missouri they use letters, like A or JJ.
We've reached the dreaded Ozarks. The last fifteen miles were up and down, and all steep. We'd go racing down at 35 miles an hour and back up at three. Humidity was the other issue. We've made it through everything else and we'll make it through this.
Day: 53; Daily Mileage: 9.7; Total Mileage: 2,793.4; Stopping Point: Ash Grove, MO
After waiting for two hours to be let into the bed and breakfast last night, we decided we would have liked to spend some time there. There were five bedrooms, a living room, two kitchens, and a hot tub. The building was originally a hotel built 1880. It was bought by this family for family reunions in the 60's. A few years ago they finally started fixing it up. After 8 months of basically gutting the place they finished it and opened it for a bed and breakfast. The place is filled with antiques, homemades, and collectibles. In each of the beds is a black doll. One room was all mounted game animals. We slept in this morning and took our time getting ready-enjoying the hot tub, reading magazines, catching up on mail, etc. It was three o'clock when we left. We didn't want to spend the money for a second night, but we only rode to the next town. We're counting today as a day off.
We enjoyed a wonderful breakfast of cereal. When we opened the curtains to see the rain (yes, more rain,) we saw a bicyclist. After a good week of not seeing anyone, we really wanted to talk. All four of us sprinted to the door to flag him in. He saw us and waved, but didn't stop. We think he stopped in at the café.
We were going to spend the afternoon in a pool here in Ash Grove, but when we got to town the pool was closed. It looks like we won't even get a shower. Oh well, it's been worse!
There are forecasts of rain, lots of it. Three inches were predicted by morning. It will be interesting to wake up with that much water.
Day: 54; Daily Mileage: 50.6; Total Mileage: 2,844; Stopping Point: Marshfield, MO
I looked out of the tent this morning and saw stars. Rain was nowhere in sight and didn't appear to have come last night. We packed up and left without our morning showers. It remained overcast for most of the day and even threatened rain a few times, but never actually rained. The temperature continued to be very warm-maybe 90 degrees. And the humidity was near 100%. Sweat drips off of us like water. Our hair looks like we just took a shower. We are getting closer to the heart of the Ozarks. Up and down all day long.
Dogs are more plentiful as we go east. Many of them are chained or fenced in, but there are a few that are loose and think bicyclists are there for them to chase. There was a golden retriever standing in the road and we could see him from far away. As we got closer we prepared to be chased, but he did something I've never seen before. He turned and ran under the barbed wire. From there he watched us ride by. We figure he was young and had no idea what to do with us. We rode by Greyhounds one day. The pens were long, a good hundred yards, but only a yard or so across. They came out of their kennels and ran beside us. A ten mile an hour pace was hardly more than a walk for them. Not one barked, they just ran and watched us. It was neat.
The radio once again announced flash flood warnings. There is also rumors of thunderstorms and tornados. We'll see what happens.
Day: 55; Daily Mileage: 38.7; Total Mileage: 2,872.7; Stopping Point: Mansfield, MO
Although, there was no rain last night, it thundered like mad. We waited before we got up to see if it would rain, but it never did. The second we got on the road, it poured. It was a cold rain. It was just warm enough that you didn't want to put a coat on, but the rain was cold enough to chill you.
By ten o'clock, we were soaked through. We stopped by a church to get out of the rain. A skittish beagle wandered over. He sat by us through our lunch break, but he never begged. He was a welcomed guest.
Our second encounter with dogs come towards the end of the day. We were climbing what's called a gradual hill in this area. Todd and I were ahead with Mom and Dad close behind. A dog ran out from behind a building. He ran to me, and I noticed he stood as tall as my bike. After I yelled at him, he decided to try Todd. The dog chased Todd all the up with me following close behind. He appeared to be friendly, but when he bite at Todd's arm, we got out the water bottles. They didn't seem to faze him. We reached the top and had to stop. At that point, we could pick up rocks and throw them at him. He finally backed off.
We visited Rocky Ridge Farm home of Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of "Little House" books. The house was left the way it had been when she had died. All the furniture arranged the way it had been. One thing that I never realize was that Laura and Almanzo, her husband, were both short. The cabinets were lower that normal because they had built the place themselves. It's one of the best places to visit if you are interested in the "Little House" books.
We went looking for a place to stay. City Hall recommended the pool. We rode over and got to talking with the manager. We took showers and discussed camping in the park, but the pool manager insisted we come home with her. Todd got his fried chicken and we all enjoyed being indoors.
Day: 56; Daily Mileage: 56.1; Total Mileage: 2,938.8; Stopping Point: Houston, MO
We slept in till six o'clock because last night was so late. (Remember, we went home with the manager of the pool in Mansfield) Dinner was late and then we waited, half accidentally and half on purpose, for their daughter to come home. It was past ten o'clock when we went to bed. At five o'clock, we were awakened by a thunderstorm that was directly above us. I laid there, glad that we were indoors. Pancakes, eggs and bacon were the breakfast menu. We went back to the pool and were soon down the road.
This kind of generosity is greatly appreciated by bicyclists. To be invited in off the road and have a person open up there home is something that is not quickly forgotten.
We arrived at the Houston City Park tonight and found the bathrooms not that pleasing. The motels were both full. We rode until we found the Sheriff's Office. When we asked if they knew of another place for us to stay, they began calling all the pastors in town for a church. Everyone was out of town or didn't answer the phone, so we figured they were at the county fair. We ended up in the same place we had started.
Day: 57; Daily Mileage: 58; Total Mileage: 2,996.8; Stopping Point: Owls Bend, MO
I think we hit the really steep part of the Ozarks today. There were some hills so steep that we wondered if we could crank our pedals hard enough to keep moving.
For every kind driver that waits behind for you to climb the hill, there is a jerk wanting to honk his horn. We had a few run ins with trucks being rude. They gave us some scares, but no damage was done.
We met bikers today for the first time in a long time. First, there was man and a woman, Mike and Chapel. We talked for quite awhile and they told us we should meet another man a few days behind them. After twenty miles we met another man. He was the man that was supposedly days behind the others. He had ridden 170 miles in the last 24 hours trying to catch up with them. He had only had four hours of sleep.
We are staying in a campground (National Park Service) for the first time in a long time. Unfortunately, this is the third night without a shower. We washed under the water spigot.
Day: 58; Daily Mileage: 57; Total Mileage: 3,053.7; Stopping Point: Pilot Knob, MO
After a pretty normal day of riding, we took a sightseeing expedition to Elephant Rocks State Park, near Graniteville, Missouri. The area is all granite and various geologic forces have formed huge, mostly round boulders that are scattered around the park like so many elephants standing around. We walked our bikes around a 1 mile interpretive trail.
Upon arriving in Pilot Knob, we called friends of ours, Bill and Debbie Pointer, who live about 7 miles south of Pilot Knob. They picked us up in their pickup and we spent an enjoyable evening reminiscing about old times and catching up on new times. Debbie is a friend of Carla's from way back in high school.
Day: 59; Daily Mileage: 20; Total Mileage: 3,079.2; Stopping Point: Farmington, MO
We visited late into the night, so we got a late start this morning. We had a breakfast of pancakes, eggs, and bacon. We visited some more, packed up, and drove into town. By the time we left it was two o'clock.
It was an easy 20 miles with only a few steep grades. The ride was pleasant once we got used to the heat. We found the pool first thing when we got to town. The showers were like any other we have taken at pools. I set my sun glasses down near my stuff and when I picked up my stuff the glasses were gone. It's really awkward riding without sun glasses after having worn them all the time.
At seven o'clock, our friends Debbie and Bill showed up with pizza. We ate and then went to Wal-Mart. Again I was down to the deadline for buying a T-shirt. After a few stores we found a shirt I could settle with and Todd found an Elmo beanie baby. He plans on strapping it to the front of his bike like he has seen other riders do.
We went back to camp and all enjoyed an Ice Cream Cake from Dairy Queen. It was again a late night.