Thursday, August 6, 2009

Johnson's Shut-Ins and More!

Tuesday August 4

What a treat it was to sleep in air-conditioned comfort! And in a bed! Whoa! I don’t believe that any of you truly appreciate what you have! We have a new found sense of enjoying the smaller things in life and sleeping in a bed is one of them. We all over slept (intentionally) and woke up to have a breakfast of sausage and eggs and toast and coffee that Betsy prepared. Donna vistited with Betsy for a while which allowed me to do some more searching for warm showers hosts. We had forgotten how nice it is to stay with people. I lined up a couple of possibilities and hooked up with Scott Kimmel to boot. Scott is probably going to be meeting us in Southern Illinois in the next couple of days. It is my understanding that if a buffet can be found, he’s going to buy! We’ll write more about Scott if and when we see him as we’ve had other friends who have ended up being too busy to see us when we cycled by.

We didin’t leave Wayne and Betsy’s place until after 11:00. This is a new record! It has been 10 days since we’ve had and off day. Rather than take a full day off, we’re planning on riding several shorter days in an attempt to thwart the heat that is abundant here in Missouri. Our plans for the day are to ride an easy 25 or 30 miles and stop at the Johnsons Shut-ins State Park. What has to be remembered is that there are no easy 25 or 30 mile rides in this part of the country. The temperature at 11:00 is already pushing 90 degrees. So we set off and within the first 10 minutes, were pushing our bikes back up another one of the Ozarks hills.

Our ‘easy’ ride took over 3 hours but we were rewarded with a wonderful treat at the State Park. A line of thunderstorms followed us into the park which ended up chasing away over 90% of the people there. Onc e the storm had passed, we got to enjoy the natural wonders that are found at the Shut-ins with almost no other people present. Somone else there commented on how nice it was to have the storm go through as they were present yesterday and had to put up with a couple hundred other people trying to enjoy the same space. The Shut-ins are natural rock formations that have been carved away over the course of millions of years of rushing water. The resulting formations are full of interesting reflection pools and spectacular mini-waterfalls. We spent almost 2 hours amidst the water falls, reflecting on what we had accomplished so far. The only negative to our visit at Johnsons is that their campground has not been rebuilt since the devastating flood that occurred several years ago, so we were focced to move on to find a camping space.

At a few minutes before 7:00, we left the park (official closing time 7:00). An alternate camp site was to be found just 3 or 4 miles up the road so our strategy was to relax and try not to get too sweaty during the next 3 or 4 miles. It was a good idea but it didn’t pan out; the heat and humidity were still present as were the never-ending hills. Another line of thunderstorms chased us as we closed in on the alternate campground: The county line bar and grill. We managed to pull in amidst all kinds of rumbling thunder and lightning displays. The rain only started once we’d walked through the door of the bar. We were the only patrons of the place at 7:30 so we relaxed and did what most people do in a bar. We had a beer! (Lewis had water) . And since it was now pouring to beat the band, we decided to have our dinner there as well. Lewis was welcome until 9:00 at which point he would be required by state law to exit the premises. Donna and I split a bar pizza while Lewis polished off a plate full of mini-corndogs. Boy he has eaten a lot of corn dogs on this trip. The television was switched over to accommodate Lewis as well. (photo)

Our campsite costs us all of $4 for the night so I decided to have a second beer! After I’d finished the third beer, the rain finally stopped. So we left and set up our tent out beside the bar. That was the extent of our short day after Wayne and Betsy’s. Total miles: 30

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