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.
Why is everything always closed? When we planned this trip, we’d had imagined little towns every few miles with ice cream shops and burger places. The guidebook seems to indicate that’s the case. Apparently the guidebook author was bad at his job, and has never actually tried to eat food while riding the Katy.
We have a snack before hitting the road this morning, riding along the river bluffs I remember from trips as a teenager to this part of the trail. We’re expecting to have a good breakfast in Rocheport, at the much-loved Trailside Cafe. We’ve been hearing about it all week. It’s closed on Wednesdays. Annie’s doesn’t open until noon. We find the general store, which opens at eleven. I stick my head inside the cool, dark store at 10:15 and talk to the girl who’s baking. She grudgingly lets us in and we sit in the still-dark wooden store and order beef sandwiches and quiche, and when the owner shows up he makes our breakfast.
Just outside Rocheport is the neat, dark, quiet railroad tunnel. While we were stopped taking photographs, a couple of young guys with good bikes and Ortlieb panniers rolled to a stop. They aren’t just riding the whole Katy – they’re on a trip from Seattle to Washington DC. We gave them directions to the general store and took their photo together at the tunnel and they were off again on another hundred mile day.
We’d looked forward to having lunch in New Franklin, but nobody is surprised when what the guidebook describes as a “bike camper’s mecca” turns out to be an apparently vacant blue house surrounded by a nearly abandoned seedy campground.
After Bryan nearly bonked yesterday, today is Mandy’s turn to be draggy. We wet her buff down again and dig through our panniers for the last decent snacks. Bryan rides off to find some kind of cold caffeinated something, and returns with Cokes for all of us. We rest on what looks like a broken stage near the blue house, wishing for cooler weather. It’s been nearly a hundred degrees all week.
We drag across the bridge into Boonville ready for our luck to change, and it does. We have to ask several people for directions to the Aquatic Center. “The what?” “The aquatic center.” “The WHAT?” “The pool.” “Oh.” Finally, a parks and recreation employee cames along pulling weeds and gives us good directions, and here we are.
It’s a great pool. Four dollars admission, with waterslides and a lily pad rope bridge and a giant spill bucket. The showers are clean and the drinks are a dollar. We’re enjoying the cool water and the nice breeze and the feeling of being cleaner than we’ve been for days. And more cheerful, too. And hungry again.
On the way back to the trail we stop at Glenn’s Café, in the Hotel Frederick, for supper. It’s the spot Bob’s cousin told us she’d like to try sometime. The 1905 Hotel was bought and restored just a few years ago, and it’s wonderful. Everything’s old and heavy-looking and interesting. Even the stalls in the bathroom are made from heavy old polished wood.
Glenn’s is an unexpectedly Creole/Midwestern place – their ‘crawfish beignets’ are more like hushpuppies, and they don’t have sweet tea. Mandy has crab cakes with a salad, Bryan chooses a spicy fish, and I have beautiful cornmeal battered oysters. Still hungry after the meal, Bryan orders what we call a dessert salad and we finish up with the key lime pie, recommended highly by our waitress.
We were underdressed by a mile but our waitress is perfect and the lady at the front desk smiles and charges my phone, and we laugh and laugh at our clean nails and full bellies. And then we realize that it’s eight o’clock and we still have to buy tomorrow’s groceries and ride eleven miles before bedtime. Oops.
As we stand on the sidewalk wondering what to do, an older couple out dog-walking stop to say hello. We ask if there’s public camping available in town, but they can’t think of a place. Sam goes inside to use a phone book and comes out a few minutes later with permission (from the police office) for us to sleep at Harley Park, next to the ballfield.
And so here we are, in our tent on the floor of Shelter House Four. There are ball games going on up the hill, but down here it’s pretty quiet. The mosquitors are huge and hungry. The lights in the shelter house probably turn off with the other lights at eleven. Our trip mojo has improved. Mandy says it’s because she hasn’t been brushing her teeth.