Pat and Sari's Honeymoon Bike Ride
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Another sunny, warm day with calm winds. We left Higginsville at about 5 minutes to 8:00 and passed a neat mural of the Confederate Memorial State Historic Park on a building in town. We also passed the Confederate Memorial site itself a little ways out of town, but didn't see anything besides a fancy gate. It apparently was the site of a Confederate Soldiers Home, an old-age home for Confederate veterans until the last one died in 1950 at the age of 108. It still houses an 106-year-old chapel and a cemetery. Missouri was a Confederate state that was the site of some very difficult battles (e.g. the Battle of Lexington) during the Civil War. We stayed on Rt. 20 from Higginsville through Marshall, our mid-way lunch spot. It started out very rough but we later came to a long smooth stretch of new concrete paving. The road was hilly (of course) but nothing as steep as yesterday morning, just a constant up and down. But we must be getting used to this - it seemed pretty routine. Pat's worried that we'll be bored to death on the supposedly flat Katy Trail which we'll start on tomorrow. I could use a little boredom about now.
Nothing too exciting before Marshall - we passed through a lot more crop fields (maybe it's too hard to farm those much hillier places), mostly corn and soybeans and hay. The farmhouses looked more normal today as well, no mansions like we had been seeing (must have been the proximity to Kansas City, the state's largest city). We also saw a few more cows and a lot more horses, including a farm with a riding stable and some very cute little colts. Marshall was a pretty city with a gorgeous city hall in the middle of an attractive square. We rode around the square looking for a good place for lunch and finally asked a local. He directed us to a little diner that we practically didn't see even with his good directions. It barely had room for a lunch counter - no tables - and a grill. The cook was grilling our cheeseburgers about 2 feet in front of us, and they were very good. The place was full of locals - we were lucky there were two seats open - and of course they asked us about our trip. As we were leaving, waiting to pay at the register, another woman came in to pick up an order and she wanted to know about our trip as well. She was so impressed that she insisted on paying for our lunch! Which reminds me, I neglected to mention another friendly Missourian who flagged us down yesterday as we were passing by his front lawn and asked us if we needed anything - water, bathroom, whatever. We had just come from Lawson where we eaten and topped up our camelbaks so we didn't need anything as it happened, but we chatted with him for a while before going on our way. So that makes three days in a row that we've been in this state where a local has extended a courtesy to us - not a bad batting record, Missouri!
After Marshall, we got onto Rt. 41, a rougher road generally, but not terrible. We came upon another historic town, Arrow Rock, which was once a thriving river port on the Missouri River. There is a restored village there which we did not visit, although we did see some of the houses along the road, including the Lawless house which had a historic marker in front of it. Arrow Rock was also a point on the Santa Fe Trail which went from Franklin, Missouri to Santa Fe, New Mexico and was an important trade route until the Santa Fe railroad took its place. But the most fun came about 10 miles later near the town of Lamine. Pat heard some train noises ahead and I joked that a train was probably crossing our road, shades of Atchison, KS, where we were held up 3 times by trains. Well, we turned a corner and saw a line of cars stopped at a train crossing with a train stopped in front of them. There were some trucks and a bunch of railway workers milling around, too. We were due for a rest anyway, so we pulled up to the tracks and got out our bananas for a little snack. The train vehicle that was blocking the roadway soon moved, however, and the traffic moved on. It occurred to us that the train contraption might have moved just to let traffic through and then move back again, so we hurried through ourselves and then parked on the other side to finish our snack and watch what these guys were up to. We didn't really figure it out, but it was interesting to watch the bizarre contraption they were working with.
We then moved on to the next obstacle. Just beyond the tracks was a bridge that was being worked on. The bridge was over the Lamine River which flows into the Missouri, a pretty river that we could barely see through the bridge and the work that was being done on it. They had closed one lane on the already narrow bridge and were letting cars through by a traffic signal. I think we went across later than they would have liked but we couldn't get across any faster. The bridge, as you can see in the pictures below, was in dire need of repair - we were nervous going across it. It was similar to one we'd crossed a couple of days ago on our first day in Missouri, though. At least they were working on this one. After that, it wasn't far to our hotel, and we made it a little shorter by slipping onto Interstate 70 for a 3-mile stretch between exits. The road was very nice and smooth but there was a lot of traffic so it was a little frenetic. But our hotel was just off the Interstate so it seemed worth it. We arrived at the hotel at 5 minute of 5:00, having done 66-1/4 miles in 6 hours and 40 minutes, just over 10 mph average which, given all the hills, we were pretty pleased with.