This is a multi-part trip report. If you haven’t already, you should start at the beginning. Remember that you can click on any of the photos to see larger versions of them.
Marthasville is quiet at night, but gets noisy very early. The trash man comes at about four am, and it isn’t long after that when farm trucks start powering up and down the highway and chains and doors start banging at the gas station across the way.
The ride to Peers is pleasant, but we’re feeling slow this morning. We eat breakfast sandwiches in the ratty room off the little store here, listening to the locals visit at the next table. Their subject this morning is the flood: it’s bad in Iowa already, and the river here is already full – it’s forecast to start serious flooding as early as next week. The talk is that this flood could be as bad as it was in ‘93, and there are photos on the wall showing the store in different years, including in ‘93, when the water came up almost to the awning on the first floor doorway.
While we eat, laundry dries on the lines strung between our bikes, just outside the door. Kids get dropped off and then picked up – the store seems to be a sort of stop along the way for pretty much everyone in town. No guns allowed.
It’s hot, but I’m feeling much better than I was before the trip. The Zyrtec is doing a wonderful job at controlling allergy symptoms, though it’s possible I just don’t have such bad allergies here in mid-Missouri anymore. I started taking ibuprofen for my chest and it’s helped tremendously, both to reduce my discomfort in breathing and to eliminate those wild coughing fits.
We share a lunch of fried chicken and various kinds of starch and giant glasses of Pepsi at the unexpectedly exciting grocery in McKittrick. We’re less than halfway through today, and already Bryan and Mandy are feeling draggy. It’s really hot. Bryan’s already lost a glove. I think I ran over a lizard. Mandy says our trip has bad mojo because I made her brush her teeth.
The cicadas are out this year, and they’re thick on parts of the trail, dive-bombing our faces and shoulders as we ride. We ride through little towns, marked on the map, but really nothing more than a house, a barn, and a couple of green signs. They’re spaced about five miles apart, so we make it our goal to stop at each one, rest in the shade, and have a drink.
It’s another really hot day. I cool myself at stops with a wet towel; Mandy’s keeping her buff wet; Bryan’s drinking a lot more even than usual. Mandy’s drooping, so we let her listen to music while she pedals west. Later, we come upon her standing in the road, over a large dark thing. It’s an enormous alligator snapping turtle. It startled her so much that she dropped the bike, trying not to hit it. We take a couple of photos, and Bryan offers it a stick to bite, but it’s having none of that – it turns around, rises up on its legs, and RUNS off the embankment, jumping (or falling) into the water.
We pull into the tiny town of Portland to find a boat ramp into the river and some other cyclists. She’s from Seattle and he’s her brother from St. Louis. They have a little boy with them, Shannon, and as soon as he sees me putting my bike on a Click-Stand, he runs across the road brandishing his own stick. It’s not until we’ve “fenced” for awhile that I realize he has a Click-Stand too. When I poke him in the belly, he says “touche”.
I have never, never, never sweated so much in a pit toilet as I do in Portland, Missouri. It’s hot. There’s a bar here, though you’d never know it from looking – it’s just a white building with windows and a door.
Along the way, we find a big rock next to the trail, with flood levels marked on the sides going back to the 1800s. Another cyclist stops to talk. He looks pretty beat and is looking for a motel nearby. We tell him to ask at the bar in Portland, but gosh, I don’t know what he’ll find. I hope he’s okay.
In Mokane, we eat supper at a ratty-looking bar. I ask what beers they have and the guy says “Bud, Bud Light, Miller Light, Busch Light … and maybe some dark stuff.” “Like what?” I have a grilled cheese sandwich, fried clam strips, and an Amberbock. Mandy eats every molecule of what she declared to be the best double bacon cheeseburger ever made, right down to the limp mustardy lettuce that falls onto her plate. I take a mouthful of chewed-up burger to the little bird we found outside: I move him to a shady spot in some grass and gave him a snack and a drink. He’ll probably die anyway, but at least I try to help.
The hostel in Tebbetts is adequate but nowhere close to clean or nice. Lots of other cyclists are here tonight – a there’s a big group from the Kansas City area, and an older man riding with three boys. I assume that these are his grandsons, and that their support driver is the boys’ dad. What a great thing to do with your grandpa.