Journal May 21-May 27--Missouri

May 21 Freeburg, IL to St. Louis, MO
A tough day. The 25 miles to Columbia felt like 50, and the soaking rain we got didn't help. There, Dave of the Columbia Bike Shop drove us across the interstate bridge to St. Louis. After much traffic and struggle, we found a motel near tomorrow's Chiropractic appointment, and put a meal together from the not-so-nearby health food store. Days like this make us appreciate the easy ones.

St. Louis is huge if you include the entire metropolitan area; we haven't even been down to the city proper yet, but in the outlying maze of interstates and highways. We were warned that the city is not bicycle friendly, but we have found the people to be friendly, and that's what counts the most for us. The kids had a good day though: the hotel has a pool, and that makes up for a lot.

May 22 St. Louis, MO to St. Charles, MO
Today was a crazy, wonderful day. St. Louis really showed us a great time. Our Chiropractor, Dr. Jeff Hoese, gave us a warm welcome, with his staff, associates, family and clients there to greet us under a big "WELCOME ROMP FAMILY" sign. We all got massages and adjustments, and it was hard to leave. Riding into St. Louis from Dr. Hoeses outlying area, we went through some interesting ethnic neighborhoods, some fine areas and some areas with lots of abandoned homes and urban decay. The people were out in the mild weather, and we got lots of hoots and hollers from the residents.

Downtown St. Louis was beautiful. Since we wanted to reach St. Charles that evening, we were going to skip the tourist scene and leave from there, but Susan Featherstun, from a few days ago in Mt. Vernon, had a better idea. She met us in St. Louis, watched our bike while we went up in the Arch, and arranged for two TV stations to do stories on us. That took up the afternoon, and we had a lot of fun riding around for the camera in the downtown area. Susan then took us out to dinner in a great place (we could see the arch from our table), and drove us through the maze of streets and interstates to St. Charles, where we would start across Missouri tomorrow. Then, after stashing our bike at friendly Jenny and Dustin's house, Dr. Jeff Hoese came and brought us to his house for the night. We spent the night swapping stories with this very interesting family; Jeff is a former policeman, and Lynn is a nurse, and they are raising Alex, who is three, in the town where Jeff grew up.

May 23 St. Charles, MO to Augusta, MO
Breakfast with the Hoese family and shopping at a health food store gave us a late start today. Our family can spend a lot of time in a health food store!! We were preparing for the next leg of our trip: 180 miles on the Katy trail, a converted railroad along the Missouri River from St. Charles to Sedalia. We made 35 miles after our late start. The surface is finely crushed limestone, very smooth and hard except where rain has washed out the surface here and there. We had some light rain and heavy mosquitoes in this area of lowland flood plain agricultural fields, with the occasional dike or levee the only interruption from the level terrain.

In tiny Augusta, MO, our camping plans gave way to the hospitality of Mark Wilson, who offered us his apartment, even though he would be out of town. The nearby White House restaurant was apparently the only one for miles, and we enjoyed the company of Jeff, our waiter, who seemed to know everything about the area, history, geography, economy, the works. Good food, too.

May 24 Augusta, MO to Jefferson City, MO
The idea today was to ride a century (100 miles) on the Katy trail, a goal we almost reached. We arose at 4:30 and were on the road by 6:00. We pushed through rural Missouri all morning at 11.5-mph average speed, following the swollen river upstream. Afternoon headwinds slowed us, and the more frequent, and longer, rest stops ate into our plans. In Mokane we realized that 80 miles was a more reasonable goal, and we crossed the river into Jefferson City, the state capitol, at dusk. The manager of the Capitol Plaza, a big downtown hotel but the first we came to, gave us his last suite at half price, a nice gesture.

A hotel guest, Steve, insisted that we join him for dinner, which he drove us to after our showers. A wonderful family man in town on business, Steve shared more of his life story with us over dinner than most folks do in a weekend.

Today there is plenty of reason to be proud of our family. We rode hard on an unpaved surface for 12 hours, in hot and muggy weather, without a complaint. The kids were willing to push on to 100 miles in the dark. They still had energy for a swim at the hotel. Mom and Dad had considerably less energy left, but we had high spirits and happy smiles.

May 25 Jefferson City, MO to Hartsburg, MO
After our century attempt, an early start was not part of our plan today. Newspaper and TV reporters slowed us down in the morning, as did a gentleman who flagged us down on the way out of town to tell us that he also had a quad. We talked by the roadside for 15 minutes before crossing the Missouri to resume the Katy Trail.

A big 14 miles brought us to Hartsburg, and that would be as far as we got this day. First the bike shop in this tiny town delayed us with their coffee and fruit smoothie bar, and great reading material. It was a "boutique" shop with lots of clothing, antique bikes on the wall, and posters from the early days of cycling. Then we found out that the restaurant in town, a little place with outdoor tables and a red caboose for a dining room, had a great menu and was the last chance for food for many miles. We spent several hours talking with the patrons and the owners (one of whom was Kimberly Romph, no doubt a long-lost cousin.) The mayor of this little town came by and offered us showers and insisted that we camp on the town green, adjacent to the red caboose. So that we did, and enjoyed a good 8 hours of sleep.

May 26 Hartsburg, MO to Pilot Grove, MO
The trail today was hot and dusty, but enjoyable nonetheless. It left the Missouri River valley and did some climbing and descending. After several days of dead level, the grades were a welcome change. A fellow named Jim Brown met us at a supermarket and caught up to us later on his homemade recumbent. He rode with us for a few miles, and gave Henry a ride on it. In Pilot Grove we camped in the town park after asking the chief of police for a recommendation.

May 27 Pilot Grove, MO to Kansas City, MO
We had breakfast in a diner, where the owner, Warren, told us of his days in Alaska. Thirty-five miles down the road the trail ended in Sedalia. The road from there to Kansas City was narrow and busy, and we were late for a Chiropractic visit, so we hitched a ride in a pickup into the city. John Tait, an NFL linebacker with the Kansas City Chiefs, was at the chiropractor's to meet us for a media opportunity that never happened. He was a nice guy and we enjoyed meeting him.

Dr. Ken was a professional football player himself, and he treated us to dinner and gave us the spare bedroom in his nice Kansas City home. A nicer fellow you will never meet. Happy Birthday, Dr. Ken!

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