Hey guys. It’s been a while, huh? I’m glad that I had time this last spring for one last ride before beginning a new job. What a milesy year it’s been!
I looked at the map and my wallet trying to decide where to spend the last five days and scant fun-funds. Florida? not enough travel time. Michigan? Too cold. California? Not enough dolla dolla bill, yo. I settled on Amtrak accessible and slightly warmer St. Louis.
I boarded a train to fair Mound city on Monday morning. By the time I made it to the arrival station, a chilly downpour inspired weak confidence in me. After confirming lodging with a host closer to my route head near the Missouri River, I hopped on a city bus to meander my way Northwest out the city.
Lemme splain my route a bit more. The Katy Trail is the country’s longest rails-to-trails conversion, snaking alongside the great Mizzurah, amidst bogs, woods, prairie, cities and farms, it’s 240 miles of crushed limestone, therefore very vulnerable to the weather, and for the next four days it would be my home.
I met with my host near his suburban home and he gave great advice on routes and brekkie for tomorrow. This evening temperatures that had hovered around 45 dipped below freezing and that chilly rain from earlier turned to mushy snowflakes. Quite the inauspicious start to a wilderness tour! I set out anyway and found a magical diner where I consumed a formidable base of calories and coffee. Given the cold weather the server didn’t think twice about filling my insulated water bottle with even more hot coffee. Sweet!
Off I rode, and caught the trail soon enough on the other side of the river. Woohoo! I’m doing it! It’s cold. Most of the trees are still barren except for the tiny buds that you could expect this time of year. I’ll keep the description of this trip simple. Just cold enough for it to be uncomfortable, still beautiful geological features, tasty wild onions, nice people, good trail conditions, friendly dogs.
Well I think that last note deserves a more detailed note. A farm dog decided to play chase with me. Usually when this happens the pup is pretty hostile in a “Get off my turf” sort of way. This guy kept pace with me even when I stopped. And when he revved up he’d peek over his shoulder to check if I still had the pepper to keep up. We kept this game up for a few miles. Then as we approached a neighbor’s lot where a different dog stood watch, my companion stopped abruptly. A line separated us, even though I couldn’t see it. I waved farewell and kept rolling on.
I spent a night in the woods. The next day I kept riding West. About midday I encountered a great reason for a river crossing. Jefferson City, the Capitol, where I could surely find great food and cultural attractions. I wasn’t wrong (mostly). In Jeff City I was immediately confronted by a procession of newly whitecoated doctors. It was lunchtime, surely anywhere near this throng will soon be infested. I found my oasis, that transcended both my ample caloric needs and service that wouldn’t mind an extra hundred customers at the local pizza buffet. Hell yes.
After lunch I explored the state capitol building in a food-coma daze along with hundreds of school children and senators. I gotta hand it to those lawmakers, if someone looking like me stumbled into my workplace, I’d probably find out what their deal was. But non’em batted an eye. Such professionalism.
After Jeff City, home of Jeff Tran, either the local bus system, or a prominent local Vietnamese guy, I headed farther West to Columbia. There I met with some hosts that were running a very cool college town housing thing. Collective gardening, and cooking in a rambling victorian relic. I wish I could’ve hung out more but I got places to be! I decided that due to lame weather and nothing much more interesting to the West to turn around here.
This morning starting Eastbound was a figurative turning point also. I now had better tailwind, ambient temperatures were higher, and I had stronger legs. It’s on like Tron. I made quick work of the return riding all the way back to the hoods of STL by early afternoon two days later. There I met some new friends and shared suds with old buds. We spent a lovely weekend together at the Botanic Gardens, park strollin’, and some outdoor dinnin’.