Monday June 15, 2009, 56 miles (90 km) – Total so far: 1,610 miles (2,591 km)
If the states had three-letter abbreviations instead of two, Missouri’s should be MOH for More Oppressive Humidity. But maybe I’m getting ahead of myself.
There was a rain shower when we awoke this morning, but the weather radar looked like it would be gone shortly, which it was. Still, we lingered eating the continental breakfast, and repacking everything that was spread out through the hotel room. Tent, rain fly, sleeping bags — they all needed to be dried last night. So it was after 8:00 when we started rolling.
Weird road configuration: right across the interstate, the road came to a T, and our route turned left. OK, so we were rolling on the shoulder, until Virginia saw the shoulder was running out and (quite properly) took the lane. Only problem was, there was a garbage truck behind her, and it couldn’t get past. So for the next quarter mile, Virginia led the garbage truck, while I trailed it in the lovely garbage truck fumes. I, for one, was glad when he turned off!
It was a nice cruise into Fair Grove. Virginia had finished her book (that she got in Carbondale), and we were going to mail it home. Only, she couldn’t carry it in her panniers, but dear old dad had plenty of room. Then the little squirt has the nerve to lead me all the way! For her next book, I’m thinking of some graduate school text for some light summer reading. In three volumes. With depleted uranium covers. Only, when I mailed the book, I STILL had a hard time keeping up with her!
There were a number of culverts with “Impassable during high water” signs. Basically, they were culverts where they probably should have put a bridge in. What I found amusing, in a twisted sort of way, was the high water signs about half of these had; when you got there, you could see if there was one, two, or three feet of water over the road. I’m not sure if this is a sign of “Show me” stubbornness, or don’t blame the state or county if you try to drive through a creek.
Back to some nasty hills headed into Walnut Grove. We watched a thunderstorm moving east from outside Walnut Grove, sitting on the porch of a convenience store. It was north of us, but the lightning and thunder were impressive enough I didn’t want to ride through it. I was ready to make some snarky comment about how they always name a place after what they remove to make it, except that Walnut Grove had two walnut trees in the Methodist church yard, and another one across the street, and, well, lots of walnut trees, rather like a grove! So I’ll give them a pass on that one.
Back to that humidity thing. We hit Walnut Grove after noon. The rain had stopped before 8:00 that morning, and as far as I could tell, the roads we were riding hadn’t been rained on since. Still, the roads were wet until 1:00 in the afternoon. About then, a southeast wind came up, but until then, it was still. Nothing moving except two bikers without any better sense. The temperature only got up to about 80 degrees, so if we had been sitting still, it wouldn’t have been a big deal. But it was hot, sweaty work pushing up those hills. Maybe a frog would like this weather. Of course, there were the flowers off the road to look at when you didn’t want to see how much farther it was to the top of the hill.
Naturally, when we got the SE wind, we had to turn south. It wasn’t really that bad, because the wind cooled us off, since the sun finally came out. Looking at the map, though, I was curious about the politicking that had to go into locating some of these roads. For instance, if we had gone south straight out of Walnut Grove, we’d have crossed one river. But go a mile or so west, then cut straight south, and you get that same river plus two or three more tributaries, including at least one impassable during high water. Who wanted their farm on that road? Maybe the great-grandfather of the guy with the hay field…
We made it to Ash Grove, then headed west to Everton. There’s lodging available for cyclists at Spring Hill Farm, which I highly recommend. Where else are you going to find cheap but good lodging, fully stocked kitchen, air conditioning, showers, and beer in the fridge on the honor system? No cell phone service (text only from the edge of the porch), but Bill has wireless that works fine. I didn’t expect to post until tomorrow, but this is a great setup!