Saturday, August 1, 2009

And we were just starting to like Kansas!

Friday July 31

We aren’t in Kansas anymore. Boy do I miss Kansas! Not the heat. Not the humidity. I miss the flat terrain. The very first day in Missouri and we’ve already climbed more hills and bigger hills than we could find in the entire state of Kansas! But at the same time, we are now one day closer to our destination. That is how I have begun looking at each day. Any forward progress is a good thing, and the more progress, the better. Today was a pretty good one for progress. 73 miles worth of progress!

But let’s start at the beginning. While I could swear I heard the rumblings of thunder overnight, we awoke to perfectly blue skies and temperatures in the upper 60’s. It doesn’t get any better than this in any part of Kansas in late July. Once again the tent was wet with due but we’ve gotten used to putting it away wet so we did just that, after prying Lewis out of his slumber. Totally packed and ready to roll by 7:30. Wow! So what’s the first thing we do? Find a sit down restaurant to waste some of the best part of the day away! This breakfast didn’t take too long as the service was very speedy. Otto’s café in Pittsburg get’s a golden star for expediency. Forty five minutes after we left our overnight campground (city park) we departed Otto’s en route to somewhere in Missouri.

Our first stop in Missouri was to snap a picture of the welcome sign. Once that was accomplished, we didn’t stop again for almost 2 hours. And in those 2 hours we rode almost 30 miles. There was no appreciable wind this day hence no discussion of or lamenting about the stupid headwinds! This initial pause of our ride was just before we came to the end of the road, literally. Three miles previous Donna and I chose to ignore a sign that said “DETOUR” and “ROAD CLOSED AHEAD”. What we discovered at the end of the road though was no obstacle for team Jackson. We are nothing if not ingenious and clever and just a little too lazy to pedal the additional miles that a detour would entail. While our road did in fact end, it was only temporary as they are constructing an overpass so that our road can safely cross over a busier divided lane highway. Unfortunately this won’t be completed in the next hour or two so we chose to push our bikes through the construction. Yes, we win! We are smarter than whoever tried to discourage us with those wimpy “DETOUR” signs!

The first legitimate town that we stopped in was 34 miles from Pittsburg and is called Golden City. We bought some lunch meat, a few bottles of gatorade, a bag of chips, some dip, a few bananas, and a candy bar for each of us. We polished off this stuff at the park in town before heading off again. Just 4 miles down the road as we were turning a corner, we ran into Lewis’ girlfriends again. They had taken the detour like most good bikers should! We rode with them for another 10 miles before they dropped off to have a late lunch. Perhaps we’ll see them again later on.

This is when the hills of Missouri began to assert themselves. We handled each one with stubborn determination, but the cumulative toll was felt before the day was done. But with the absence of any wind, our attitudes remained positive right up until the end of the day. We found out from reliable sources that the city of Ash Grove Missouri does have a community pool so that would be our destination for the day. We pulled into town just a bit after 4:00 and right away found the pool. The free swimming for bikers policy is in effect here so we are starting to like Missouri just a little more. The super duper bonus special of the day came about due to one of the lifeguards at the pool. She mentioned that the house next door was occasionally used by bikers as well. So when I called the Local Police to check in as all good bikers are supposed to do, I asked about the house next door. Yep, it was available!

The Barnum house is used by the people of Ash Grove for a multitude of occasions. Bridal showers, meetings, perhaps even Bingo night. While there are no bedrooms here (that’s where I’m doing this journal), there are 2 large meeting rooms and a working kitchen and 2 restrooms. The showers at the pool are open all night so that’s where the bathing takes place. I’ve just cleaned up and now Donna is taking her turn. While the water in the shower comes out cold, it’s way better than no shower!

Once we had settled in and made ourselves comfortable (we have folding cots to lay our sleeping bags on) we decided to hit the grocery store for something that might be heated up for dinner. While shopping we happened to run into the Mayor of Ash Grove whom I had met previously while picking up the key to the Barnum House. She saw some bicyclists at the burger joint in town and assumed it was us. It turned out that Lewis’ girlfriends, Mia and Rebecca are here in Ash Grove. They had talked about doing a hundred mile day, but looks like 73 was all they could handle! Lewis found them in the park and later Donna invited them to join us in our house. Another friend of theirs, Andrew, also showed up so now there are 6 of us in the Barnum House. Food has been shared and laundry washed. Soon it will be quiet time and then the next thing you know it’s morning and time to ride. And do it all over again.

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