Journal May 21-May 27--Missouri
May 21 Freeburg, IL to St. Louis, MO
St. Louis is huge if you include the entire metropolitan area; we haven't even been down to the city proper yet, but in the outlying maze of interstates and highways. We were warned that the city is not bicycle friendly, but we have found the people to be friendly, and that's what counts the most for us. The kids had a good day though: the hotel has a pool, and that makes up for a lot.
May 22 St. Louis, MO to St. Charles, MO
Downtown St. Louis was beautiful. Since we wanted to reach St. Charles that evening, we were going to skip the tourist scene and leave from there, but Susan Featherstun, from a few days ago in Mt. Vernon, had a better idea. She met us in St. Louis, watched our bike while we went up in the Arch, and arranged for two TV stations to do stories on us. That took up the afternoon, and we had a lot of fun riding around for the camera in the downtown area. Susan then took us out to dinner in a great place (we could see the arch from our table), and drove us through the maze of streets and interstates to St. Charles, where we would start across Missouri tomorrow. Then, after stashing our bike at friendly Jenny and Dustin's house, Dr. Jeff Hoese came and brought us to his house for the night. We spent the night swapping stories with this very interesting family; Jeff is a former policeman, and Lynn is a nurse, and they are raising Alex, who is three, in the town where Jeff grew up.
May 23 St. Charles, MO to Augusta, MO
In tiny Augusta, MO, our camping plans gave way to the hospitality of Mark Wilson, who offered us his apartment, even though he would be out of town. The nearby White House restaurant was apparently the only one for miles, and we enjoyed the company of Jeff, our waiter, who seemed to know everything about the area, history, geography, economy, the works. Good food, too.
May 24 Augusta, MO to Jefferson City, MO
A hotel guest, Steve, insisted that we join him for dinner, which he drove us to after our showers. A wonderful family man in town on business, Steve shared more of his life story with us over dinner than most folks do in a weekend.
Today there is plenty of reason to be proud of our family. We rode hard on an unpaved surface for 12 hours, in hot and muggy weather, without a complaint. The kids were willing to push on to 100 miles in the dark. They still had energy for a swim at the hotel. Mom and Dad had considerably less energy left, but we had high spirits and happy smiles.
May 25 Jefferson City, MO to Hartsburg, MO
A big 14 miles brought us to Hartsburg, and that would be as far as we got this day. First the bike shop in this tiny town delayed us with their coffee and fruit smoothie bar, and great reading material. It was a "boutique" shop with lots of clothing, antique bikes on the wall, and posters from the early days of cycling. Then we found out that the restaurant in town, a little place with outdoor tables and a red caboose for a dining room, had a great menu and was the last chance for food for many miles. We spent several hours talking with the patrons and the owners (one of whom was Kimberly Romph, no doubt a long-lost cousin.) The mayor of this little town came by and offered us showers and insisted that we camp on the town green, adjacent to the red caboose. So that we did, and enjoyed a good 8 hours of sleep.
May 26 Hartsburg, MO to Pilot Grove, MO
May 27 Pilot Grove, MO to Kansas City, MO
Dr. Ken was a professional football player himself, and he treated us to dinner and gave us the spare bedroom in his nice Kansas City home. A nicer fellow you will never meet. Happy Birthday, Dr. Ken!