Have you been wondering where we have been?? You would not be totally wrong to think we may have just melted into the scenery in this sweltering heat of Missouri! But actually we have been having fun!
Let me go back to yesterday (Thursday) morning . . .
Thursday morning we were happily settled in to a sweet little hunting lodge/cyclist accommodation in Everton, Mo after a gruelling long hot day! Good thing we are early risers as a ready mix truck showed up at 6:00am! To say it was a surprise would be an understatement! It was barely even light, but he was sure he had the right address! I told him the homeowner wasn't even home which confused him even more. He just does what he is told I guess, didn't know the details! Anyhow we sorted out, a contractor arrived who should have been there to meet him!
We worked our way back down the gravel road I had feared would be such a deterrent the day before. When we rode up to the lodge in the rain the road was turning it into a sloppy mess, on the way out it was soft but not recoating our bikes with fine silty mud as it did on the way in! Before we got to the main road, the last house had dogs that came rushing out at us, the lady of the house yelled out that they were ok, just barking and would not hurt us, but what Mike and I both noticed was she never called the dogs back, just stood there and watched them follow us the full length of the property and around the corner. A bit unnerving to say the least, and I am not afraid of dogs normally, but I don't like it.
There was a nice cloud cover in the morning which definitely kept the temperature a bit lower. Even a small breeze! The hills . . .well, they were tough, I don't think they were quite a bad as the first day but as the clouds burned away and the temperature rose, it certainly was more and more discouraging. Not fun any more!
We had set Marshfield as our destination for the evening. The reward at the end would be an air conditioned hotel room! Knew that from the outset, just too hot to try and camp and there was really only city parks in between Everton where we started and Marshfield. So we struggled on, filling up water bottles at every opportunity!
We worked our way thru each little mini-destination, there are more little towns out here in the back roads of Missouri, unlike Kansas, that we can stop and snack or refresh water. Breaking the day into 15 or 20 mile blocks make it feel like you are making progress much more than just flat out riding for 75 miles and no landmarks!
Progress was a lot slower than what we have become used to, those hills knock you back a few miles per hour even tho we reach some pretty big speeds on the way down. And I might mention at this point, some of these hills are so silly that when you are at the top, you can't see the bottom because it almost curls back under itself! Never seen anything like it!
We left Everton about 6:15 am and by 1:00 pm we still had not reached our destination of Marshfield, but we did make it to the last little town before it, Fair Grove. We ducked into the first restaurant that we came across, we were hot and in desperate need of cold water and cool air! We knew we were in Fair Grove, but did not realize at this point that we had not actually reached town itself, we were on the other side of the interstate. Doesn't make any difference what side of the interstate we were on when you are hungry and in a restaurant and AC, you eat! What I didn't expect was Sushi!!! Really, how quickly things can change and suddenly you forget all the other stuff! When the waitress asked me what i was having i told her I didn't even know that I wanted Sushi until right now! Sushi was the last thing I expected to be sitting down to eat today! So exciting!
We had a nice lunch, quickly cooled down, gots lots of information about the town of Fair Grove and headed out the door. Talk about walking into a furnace!
We knew ahead of time that the town of Fair Grove had a city park available for camping, we didn't want to camp but the options were camp here and get off the road or risk more heat and hills and get to air conditioning! We knew we had to make a smart choice and stop in Fair Grove. There did seem to be a bit of a breeze that helped to make you comfortable if you could just get out of the sun! We followed the information we were given and stopped in at the convenience store to check in and let them know of our plans to camp! You can imagine our delight when the young lady broke out into a beautiful smile and said Great, here is the phone number, call Lisa and she will come down and unlock the restrooms and showers!!!! SHOWERS!!!!! We did not expect that! Water, a huge covered area where we could use as protection from the thunderstorms headed our way! The convenience store had all the food we needed and was practically next door; it wasn't going to be such a bad night after all!
I left a message for Lisa and said we would be waiting at the park then we went down and made ourselves comfortable! Under the huge awning, it was in fact very comfortable, the breeze was wonderful just as we thought it might be! We started to spread out and make ourselves comfortable, washed socks and shirts so they could hang in the sun and dry out, no point in wasting time!
While we are sitting there a car pulls up and as she approaches us I call our, "oh are you Lisa??" She said no I am Gail. Of course I thought Lisa sent Gail to open up for us, but this is where it gets fun! No, Gail had noticed us sitting in the park when she went into the pharmacy across the street and came over to invite us to stay with herself and her husband!
The first thing we noticed when Gail spoke to us was the bicycle charm hanging from her necklace! She said, we love hosting cyclists, you can come to our house if you like, its just down the road! You can relax in the pool, get out of the approaching storm and rain, sit in AC and make yourself at home! I told her she had me at the word POOL! What an incredible offer and how things can change so quickly!
We had an absolutely wonderful evening and not only did we have a wonderful comfortable place to stay but we have new friends! We all got along so well, and Gail thinks it is because we are all about the same age and have bicycles in common. They are very avid tandem riders, traveling to different locations in the country to ride in groups. So exciting to hear their adventures! We spent a great afternoon cooling off in the pool, sitting under the umbrella watching the clouds blow in as the approaching storm system darkened the sky above. It finally hit with huge gusts of winds and torrential rain. We all had a bit of a laugh as we tried to guess how disastrous it would have been had we been in a tent in the park! The wind gusted up to 60 mph, and I am sure would have made a quick mess out of us! Even tho we were under an awning, there would have been nothing to protect us from the wind. Being on concrete, no tent pegs would have been holding us in place. That would have certainly given me something to write about! We were lucky enough to be sitting at a dinner table sharing a meal, a bit of wine and great conversation as we enjoyed the hospitality of new friends! The evening ended all to quickly, that's what happens when you have early wake up calls! But we will see them again!
A few cups of coffee, some breakfast and all packed up we were ready to hit the road. One last rain shower to wait for and it was time to say "thanks for everything!" We had a very short day planned for today. In fact so short we only rode 15 miles. It actually was a very pleasant 15 miles in the cool of the morning and hills that were reasonable and achievable! We had planned on reaching Marshfield last night but getting here today actually works out better! I had a great surprise when I got a message from a friend and old roommate (well, she is not actually old, we just used to be roommates in Breckenridge!) Laura, and she is in Branson, only about an hour south of here. So we stopped in Marshfield for the night anticipating a visit from Laura. First they are floating down the James River so we are hoping to see them later this evening! So much excitement in just 2 days!
But tomorrow we get back to the real world and the hills of Missouri. They are a bit discouraging I must admit. And I am really on edge about running dogs! Heard so many stories, its not like me to be nervous about dogs but it has been said by cyclists ahead of us that it is sort of a sport as we travel thru some of the states ahead . . . People sit on their porch and watch the dogs chase cyclists!!
But there are so many great things happening, I focus on the good stuff! There is certainly plenty of that!!
Thanks for checking in!