Pat and Sari's Honeymoon Bike Ride
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Well, today was hardly boring and we have a bumper crop of pictures for you. Most of them are Lewis & Clark historic markers - there were lots of them along the trail. But there were also plenty of interesting things about the Katy Trail itself. We left Boonville this morning at 7:30, having had the continental breakfast at the motel since they told us, correctly, that nothing in town opened until 10 or so. We went through rush hour traffic on narrow, no-shoulder roads for a few miles before reaching the bridge across the Missouri. Everyone was very considerate though, and we did our best to get off the road when large trucks or school buses wanted to get by (school is already in session out here!). The bridge itself, thankfully, had a wide shoulder and we turned off for the Katy Trail soon after that. The Katy Trail was easy to spot - there were tons of welcome signs and historic markers at the trailhead. The trail doesn't start there; it is about 265 miles all together and starts in Clinton, MO, more than 75 miles to the southwest. It's a rail-to-trail converted from the Missouri-Kansas-Texas (MKT, or Katy for short) railroad line that ceased operating in the mid-1980's. We picked up the trail at about mile 190 at the Franklin Trailhead, as instructed by Adventure Cycling, but noticed that we could have picked it up in Boonville 4 or 5 miles sooner. As we went across the bridge, we saw an old railroad bridge a little to our left and wondered if the trail went over that bridge. At any rate, we got on the trail and found it to be both flat and relatively smooth (for an unpaved trail); it was lots smoother than the C&O Potomac River trail we were on almost 2 years ago, and even a little smoother than the Steamboat Trace Trail we were on in Iowa. We were very impressed at how well maintained it was, especially given how long and how prone to flooding it is. There were some rough spots and it was slower-going than a paved road, but overall was not as difficult as we thought it might be.
We started off with crop fields on either side of us and continued to see them intermittently through the day. The Missouri River was close by to our right, but it meandered in and out of sight. We were right next to it in a number of spots, and in others, we were next to marshy or bottomland areas that clearly got flooded by the river often. The mosquitoes were bad in those areas; they didn't bother us while we were riding, but as soon as we stopped for a rest or to take pictures, they were all over us, so we didn't stay in one place for long. To our left, there were the Missouri hills we're so fond of. Like the river, they were sometimes very close and sometimes in the distance with farms or towns between the hills and the trail. Much of the time that they were up close, they had impressive cliffs, with interesting caves and other formations. There was one short tunnel on the trail, which we went through. There were also several towns along the trail, some of them with train stops converted to information booths. Unfortunately, most of the restaurants or cafes in the towns we went through today were closed for one reason or another. We did find a good diner in McBaine where we had lunch but weren't able to stop anywhere else for a soda or snack - most disappointing. The trail has mile markers and has an Adopt-a-Trail system where donors can support the trail by "adopting" a mile of it. There were also several benches along the trail, each of them donated in memory of someone.
The trail is well-used by Missourians. We saw several other bikes, some solo, some couples, and some families. There were also a few walkers; the first fellow we saw on the trail was John Hutch from Kansas City. He was standing by a small box turtle as we approached, to make sure we didn't run into it. We stopped to chat with him for a while. Most of the people we spoke to were from various towns in Missouri and were doing day trips on a part of the trail. We didn't see any other long-distance cyclists on the trail. NOAA had predicted rain this afternoon and, sure enough, it started to sprinkle when we still had about 10 miles to go on the trail. We got off the trail at the North Jefferson trailhead and had to wend our way over to Interstate 54 to get on the bridge into Jefferson City. The interstate is a divided highway with separate bridges in and out of the city. We had to get on the east-bound bridge going the wrong way; it was the only side with a shoulder that bikes were allowed on. Jefferson City is the capital of Missouri and we could see the capital dome well before we got on the interstate. As we came into the city, though, we went right by it, so we got an even better look.
We really splurged tonight and stayed at the Doubletree near the Capital Building. It was very elegant and very welcoming, even to two bedraggled-looking bicyclists. They gave us 2 delicious chocolate chip cookies (Ghiardelli chocolate!), fresh from the oven, as a check-in treat. We got some laundry done and had a wonderful meal in their restaurant. Then we had to get to work sorting through all our pictures and getting the web page up. We're a little concerned about the effect the rain will have on the trail. It didn't rain much today, but it's expected to continue for the next 2-3 days, so we could have a pretty muddy path. Today, we went just under 57 miles (about 47 on the trail) in 5-3/4 bike hours, arriving at our hotel at 3:50. Tomorrow should be a little bit shorter but may be tougher because of the rain.