Thursday, July 31, 2008

Chester to Harrisburg

We left Chester (Birthplace of Popeye the Sailor) under an overcast sky and for awhile we thought we were back in the Ozarks, up and down, up and down... but eventually the country became gently rolling as in the picture above. The two churches in the picture (click on the picture to see better) are Lutheran churches way out in the country. Now why on earth are there two Lutheran churches within sight of each other way out in the country? Inquiring minds want to know. At day's end we rode into Carbondale where we visited The Bike Surgeon bike shop for some adjustment to the headset of Dave's bike which had become loose. We were also shopping for a new tire for the dog cart, but the right size tire was not to be had. So we have to hope our one badly worn cart tire makes it to the next bike shop.

Needing a mental break from hills, we took a detour from the Adventure Cycling Trans-Am route, and left Carbondale on Hwy 13 which runs due east and flat. This deviation will save us about a day of travel as well. In route we passed Crab Orchard Lake. Tomorrow we will enter Kentucky and stay at a biker only hostel in Sebree.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Well blow me down.. Chester had a little surprize for us.. Toot, Toot!

Farmington, MO to Chester, IL

Tuesday morning we left Farmington and headed east on county road F. Our last day in Missouri was to pass through the wine country. We passed 4-5 vineyards in a gently rolling landscape east towards the Mississippi. We changed roads several times and had traveled east on county roads B, P, N, Z and H. After several tough hills that reminded us that we were still in Missouri, we topped one and looked out on the floodplain of the Mississippi River. We rode approximately 6 miles on Hwy 51 over the floodplain which was planted with corn and soybeans. Then in the distance we could see the bridge we had to cross. It was an old cantilever bridge and was roughly 1/2 mile in length. We marvelled at the river as we crossed over. The flow was tremendous. We felt a sense of accomplishment since we had crossed Missouri in 8 days of cycling, had passed the 2800 mile mark and crossed the Mississippi River.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Eminence to Farmington,MO

Soon after entering Missouri we noticed more farms with horses. As we have ridden through the Ozarks it is clear that horses are very important in this rural area. There are local saddle clubs associated with every moderate size town (500-1000 people). There are horse shows every weekend, there are horse trails in the state parks, and we have seen a variety of horse themed mailboxes. The meadows are lush with grass since an average of 4 inches of rain falls during each of the summer months.We spent Friday in Eminence and experienced a full blown Missouri thunderstorm while camping on Friday night. The fireflies had just come out and then the rain began to fall lightly. We secured everything under cover and got in the tent and about 1/2 hour later the wind and heavy rain began. Lightning was constantly flashing in the clouds for hours and later on two enormous thunderbolts hit the quarry above the campground and sounded like bombs. It rained over 1.5 inches and there was a heavy ground fog on Saturday morning. We waited until the fog lifted and headed out east on Hwy 106. The hills and humidity were extremely challenging as we crawled out of the river valleys in the Ozarks National Scenic Riverways Park. We finished the day in Centerville with a nice campsite on the lawn in front of the courthouse.
We continued east on Sunday on Hwy 21 and found this sign quite amusing at one of our intersections. What way ARE we going, Honey? The naming of roads in Missouri is unusual. The counties all use letters for the local roads and can change the letter for a road at any point and seem to do so at the county borders. We turned off of Hwy 21 onto N which turned into W and then turned back into N just before Hwy 32. However, we got back onto W as we entered Farmington. Today, Monday, we have been researching the road ahead into Illinois and will cross the Mississippi River tomorrow.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Marshfield to Eminence

On Wednesday we left our motel and got about 100 yards when the heavens opened with a cloud burst. We took shelter under the awning of a Sonic Drive-In. When the rain let up we continued out of town on Hwy 38. Luckily that was the last rain we saw, and luckily the day remained overcast, holding the temperature to reasonable levels. We decided to go long, and set our caps on Houston (no.. not Texas). We went 67 miles that all looked pretty much like the picture above. Periodically we would top out on a beautiful large plateau of rich grassland, then begin a rolling descent followed by a rolling ascent. Over all it was a very pleasant day topped off by a great steak dinner with a wonderful fresh salad (something we have come to crave) AND a martini, a real rarety on the back roads of Kansas and Missouri. If you find yourself in Houston, Missouri, eat at The Legendary, you won't be disappointed.

This morning we left Houston on Hwy 17 under a blissfully cloudy sky which prevailed all day. The countryside is beautiful and as we roll east we begin to notice some pines and other conifers mixed in with the prevailing hardwoods. Also as we move deeper into the Ozarks, the communities are becoming less affluent than in western Missouri. When we get to Summersville we head east on Hwy 106. About five miles west of Eminence is Alley Spring which has a daily outflow large enough to irrigate 24 thousand acres of Salinas Valley crops. Near the spring a state of the art mill was built in 1897 with the idea of importing wheat and exporting flour all over the nation. There was one glitch, the railroad decided to route elsewhere. The mill shortly went bust. The State took it over in 1927 and has maintained it as part of the park system.

After visiting Alley Spring, we climbed over a steep ridge and descended to Eminence, a tourist destination in south central Missouri in the heart of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Everton to Marshfield

The roller coaster of Missouri continues as we leave Everton on Monday. Every small creek has a descent and climb; some are so short we launch ourselves down the hill and can make it up the other side without much effort. Some of the descents are so steep that the rider ahead disappears at the middle of the hill! The entire day is spent on county roads which are all named with letters, A, B, C, etc. So we headed east on BB, which became CC and as the day wore on the temperature and humidity increased until we had to stop every 5 miles to rest in the shade. Around 4 pm we reached Fair Grove and decided we were done for the day. We contacted the local historical society and one of the members came and unlocked the bathrooms and showers at the local historical park. At that time, around 5:40 pm, it was 95 degrees and the historical society representative said it had reached 100 degrees on the heat index. The heat index is a combination of the temperature and humidity that reflects the effect on living things like the wind chill factor combining cold temperature and wind. No wonder we had felt so hot!

Soon after we entered Missouri (or Missoura as the locals say) we began to notice differences in people and places. Arkansas tuxedos (overalls) are becoming more numerous and Jack Daniels is available at convenience stores. This morning we left Fairgrove on E with a slight headwind (deliciously cool) and cloudy skies. We reached Marshfield in a couple of hours and had lunch. After lunch we came out of the restaurant and the winds were raging. Dark storm clouds were approaching. As we headed out of town, we passed the police station and Belinda thought we ought to check on the weather ahead. Two police officers reviewed the weather conditions and said the storm was heading right to Hartville, today's destination. We took shelter in the shop of the police station as the thunder, lightning, and rain came down. So we checked into a motel and let the weather pass.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Pittsburg, KS to Everton, MO

We crossed into Missouri today. It was warm, some of you Salinas natives would call it hot! But, it wasn't as hot or humid as it was yesterday in Pittsburg. The terrain has become rolling to hilly. It's kind of nice for a change, but we hear from other cyclists that it will become downright steep in the Ozarks... something to look forward to. In Kansas we never got out of our middle chain ring or exceeded 30 mph, our first day in Missouri we used the small chain ring and exceeded 35 mph. We're not in Kansas anymore Toto! In route, a man in a beatup old pickup pulled up next to us and shouted that if we needed good water to follow him. He shortly turned into a driveway and lead us to a well on his farm. While we filled our water bottles and slaked our thirst with cool sweet water, he told his life story. We thanked him for his thoughtfulness and rode on. Dave said he reminded him of his grandfather who grew up on farms in Oklahoma. Well tonight we have landed in the lap of luxury! Just outside of Everton is the Running Spring Farm, a bird hunting resort run by Bill Cork. For forty bucks we have a stocked kitchen, dining room, living room w/ satellite radio (listening to the Bluesville channel), and a great bed.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Chanute to Pittsburg

On Thursday, the 17th, we passed the half way mark for our intended destination of Amherst, Mass. Our goal is to complete the Trans-Am route in Yorktown, Va., and then ride to Dave's cousin Bob's house in Amherst. Belinda figures this trip to be about 4600 miles and as of Thursday we had 2300+ miles, putting us just over the half way mark. Yesterday we rode south out of Chanute on Elk Rd. The day was overcast with light winds from the SW. After four or five miles we turned east on 160th Rd. Near the Neosho River crossing we saw this box turtle crossing the road. As we have seen many of these squashed by autos along the roads we decided this guy wouldn't be run over. Belinda put him safely in the grass on the side of the road he was heading towards. We passed through the town of Walnut where we ate lunch and continued east on 680th Ave. By the way, Bill, we passed just three miles north of the town of Brazilton, KS. On Hwy 7 we turned south to Girard, where we stopped at the post office to pick up Daves saddle cover which had been left behind at Ray and Brenda's camp. They kindly mailed it ahead to general delivery in Girard. Thanks again guys! From Girad we zigzaged east and south on various roads the last 15 miles to Pittsburg.

The country side has gotten more rolling as we moved east. The crop land has given away to predominately very rich grazing land. We haven't taken many scenic photos due to the unchanging nature of the landscape, but other details catch our eye. These mailboxs tell something about the nature of the land and the people.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Cassoday to Chanute

Note: Due to weak broadband connections, pictures were not posted on the Halstead to Cassoday post until today. If you read a post and there are no pictures, check the post again within 1-2 days for pictures and additional text.

After leaving the world renowned town of Cassoday on Wednesday, we traveled south on a county road into a headwind to Rosalia. In Rosalia there was a restaurant called The Old Hat where we stopped for lunch. The proprietress brought out the guest register for us to sign. This was a log of all the cyclists who have stopped there since 1992. It was really neat to the see the names of cyclists we have met on the road. After Rosalia we turned east again and were on U.S. Hwy 54 and had a southwest tailwind. We rode through a rolling landscape with creeks and wooded areas until we crossed the Verdigris River where we turned south on Kansas 105 to Toronto. We camped at Cross Timbers State Park near the bathhouse at the swimming beach. We had one of the best showers of the trip at the bathhouse. We were hot and sweaty after 60 miles, the water was just the right temperature and the bathhouse was open to the air and the cool air felt divine. The sunset over the lake was a gorgeous end to a long day.

This morning we headed south on Kansas 105 throught lovely rolling country in the floodplain of the Verdrigris River as it heads southeast through Kansas. We soon turned on a county road to connect us with Kansas 39. After so many miles in Kansas, we have come to realization that Kansans love to mow; every farm and every house has a lovely mowed yard and all the shoulders of the road are mowed. No matter how big the yard it is lovingly, neatly mowed. We have seen huge lots or areas around farmhouses perfectly mowed. Now we know where all those riding lawn mowers are sold. As we approach the Missouri border, we have also come to realize how many creeks, ponds, lakes and rivers we have seen. Southern Kansas is a fairly wet region, much wetter than we thought. Hay baling is in full swing in southeastern Kansas and we have ridden many miles with the following view.

A county road brought us into Chanute and we will continue south tomorrow on another county road as the adventure continues.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Halstead to Cassoday

We've had a great visit with Ray's relatives and friends in the Halstead/Moundridge area. On Sunday Ray's brother Leslie joined us for a barbecue at Spring Lake. He has ridden over 70,000 miles on his bicycle. Monday was a day for sightseeing. We went to Hutchinson and saw one of the world's largest grain elevators that was over 1/2 mile long. We also went to the Cosmosphere, a space museum which is rated as one of the 8 wonders of Kansas. On Tuesday we headed east from Halstead on Hwy 50 and Raymond accompanied us the first 12 miles.

While we haven't put in many landscape pictures, the landscape has changed from west to east. Western Kansas was dry grazing lands that changed into intensive dry land farming of wheat which was in full harvest. Then the irrigated agriculture started and corn became the dominant crop. Around Halstead there was a mix of dry land wheat with irrigated corn. Halstead to Newton was intensively irrigated corn and soybeans. The wheat seed grown in this area was introduced by Mennonite farmers from the Ukraine. The statue below honors the farmers who (by good luck) brought seed that was perfectly adapted for the Kansas climate.

After Newton, we headed east on a county road and are back into the grasslands with cattle grazing in lush pastures and hay harvest in full swing. We ended today in Cassoday in a lovely city park.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Ness City to Sterling, Kansas

In Ness City the Ness County Bank Building (above) is billed as the Skyscraper of the Plains. It is a beautiful sandstone building with loads of architectural interest. Built in 1890 it is the pride of Ness City. We left Ness City with a helping wind from the southwest. We fairly flew along for the first 33 miles to Rush Center on Hwy 96 averaging 13.6 mph. Along the way we visited with Gabby and Cesar again. They have been going at our pace and route for several days, but were going to deviate from the route today as Cesar needed to get to a bike shop for new tires. We stopped for lunch in Rush Center before turning South on Hwy. 183.

Once going south we needed all our strength to ride into the gale that had increased while we were eating. For 19 miles we struggled. At one point we realized that we had never worked so hard to go 6 mph downhill before. Dave told Belinda that if he ever complained about our River Rd. headwinds at home again to remind him of this day. But this struggle eventually came to an end as once more we turned east on Hwy 156 and rolled into Larned where we made camp in a beautiful city park. The next day we rode east out of Larned with a tailwind along Hwy 19 which eventually became County Road 484. It was a fast (ave. 13.0 mph) ride of 56 miles to Sterling. We once again camped in a beautiful city park where we swam and showered at the local pool for free. Yesterday, having an appointment for noon dinner at Ray's ancestral farm we didn't have time to ride, so Ray and Brenda packed us all up and we drove out to the farm to meet his nephews Rodney and Ryan and their families. Today we are camped at Spring Lake RV Campground (owned by one of Ray's boyhood friends) outside of Halstead. Ray and Brenda have just lefted to fetch Ray's brother, Leslie, for a BBQ. here at the campground.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Scott City to Ness City, Kansas

We got a late start this morning but it really didn't matter, we had a good day cycling. The winds were light, there was a light cloud cover keeping things cool, and we just spun along Hwy. 96. Mid morning or a little later we noticed a trailer pulled off the road ahead. As we drew near a young lady hailed us and let us know that she was setting up a snack break for a group of cyclists and offered us refreshment also. We accepted a crisp cold apple each with thanks. We continued to Dighton and stopped at a grocery for lunch makings which we took to the city park for our picnic. There was the same young lady, setting up lunch for her cyclists. This time we got to meet them all. They are a collage group riding to raise awareness for the world water crisis and to raise funds for water systems in poor countries. We left before them so they passed us a little while later. In the meanwhile we spoke with a rider going west, Eric from Quebec, who is riding the Trans-America route and then returning home on the Trans-Canadian Hwy. Eric is carrying the lightest load for such an ambitious trip! He's got just one change of clothes, camera, cell phone, and GPS. He is staying every night in motels and eating in resturants for every meal. This often means long days in the saddle when motels are far and few. In Ness City we met up again with Ray and Brenda and are camped with them in the Ness County Fairgrounds. Tomorrow they are going to take Jack and the trailer so we can put in some long days in order to have time to visit Ray's folks and old stomping grounds near Moundridge, Kansas.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Tribune to Scott City

Today we continued onward through bands of yellow and green fields on Hwy 96; the yellow fields were mature or harvested wheat while the green were corn fields. A weather front was passing through so we had a headwind most of the day, but the temperature was cool. About 12 miles out of Tribune on Hwy 96 we saw some other cyclists headed west.

They were Chris and Ben from Sonora, CA and they were going to finish in Santa Cruz, CA. It was one of those "small world" incidents. They knew Chuck, our neighbor in Strawberry, and were in fact going to ride over Sonora Pass on their way to Santa Cruz. We exchanged info. and headed toward Scott City. The rest of the day was uneventful until dinner when we met three other cyclists at the restaurant. A couple from France was at the next table and had ridden from Chicago and were heading to Silverthorne, CO. They had a broken spoke and Dave volunteered some tools and expertise to fix it after dinner. Jacques and Marie-Jo are from Paris and have toured in the U.S. before.
They were very grateful for the assistance and offered to help us with any touring in France. Since we are on the main east-west route now, we expect to meet and share adventures with many other tourists on the road. Today we have just passed the 2000 mile mark.

Eads,CO to Tribune, Kansas

Monday we left Eads, Colorado under a blue sky with calm winds. Happily these conditions persisted for most of the day with the exception of the last few miles when the afternoon thunderstorm began to blow in. One of the things about cycling on the plains is that you can see the grain elevator of the next town for miles and it seems like forever to get there. We passed out of Colorado and into Kansas. The road immediately seemed flatter somehow. We got into Tribune and our motel room just before the thundershowers began.

Our motel (the only one in town) is the seediest motel we've stayed in for many years but we were glad to be out of the weather. The couple in the room next to us are on bicycles as well but are heading west. They are Jerry and Lynne. Jerry has been on the Biggest Loser tv show and lost 300 lbs. He promised himself that if he lost the weight he would ride across the country, and here he is! Congratulations, Jerry! They are two of the nicest people, they are raising money on their trip for a childrens home. Visit their web site at .

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Into the Plains

Yesterday Belinda's Mom and stepfather John loaded our bikes on their motorcycle trailer and delivered us to Ordway, a little east of Pueblo, where we rejoined the Trans-America Route on Hwy 96. We are very grateful for Sandy and John's hospitality and the time they shared to reconnect us with our route. We spent a pleasant night in the Hotel Ordway, then after a hearty breakfast, set out into the Plains. At breakfast we met two other cyclists, Gabby and Cesar who were going our way. We left the restaurant ahead of them but believed they would catch us on the road as they were lightly loaded compared to us. Our goal of Eads, Co. was 63 gently rolling miles away. We made good time for the first 20 miles averaging 11 mph. But at 11:30 a headwind slowed us considerably until at Haswell our average had dwindled to 9.3 mph.

At Haswell we took a good break in a little park in the shade. When we continued the wind had moderated somewhat and we were able to make better time. As we rode on, the sky became more and more dramatic with thunderheads building to the South and in front of us. We began to wonder what Ma Nature had in store for us.

Five miles from Eads the sky in front of us becme very black, the wind was buffeting us from the South and we were seeing lightning strikes ahead. We felt as though we were in a race to get into town ahead of the thunderstorm! Well, we made it, and checked into the only motel in town (we didn't feel like camping under these circumstances). A while later we walked to a store, all the restaurants in town being closed on Sunday, and there were Gabby and Cesar just arrived. Cesar did a recognisance and found a bar open that also served food, so we joined them there for a very enjoyable meal.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Denver/Longmont Sojourn

During our stay in the Denver area, we biked to Longmont to visit Belinda's dad. With the aid of the Denver Bike Map and Bicycle Colorado we rode a 50 mile route that included 3 major bike paths and 5 bike routes. We started from south Denver and rode up the Platte River bike path along the Platte River. When we left the path, we rode right by Invesco Field where the Denver Broncos play. Heading further northwest, we joined the Clear Creek bike path and then transitioned to the Ralston Creek bike path by a very unusual bridge.

We soon climbed the ridge near Boulder and then dropped down into the farmland south of Longmont. Late in the afternoon, we reached Gisela and Peter's house where we stayed two nights. Here they are pictured with Belinda's Dad on the left. After two days and much good conversation, we headed back to Denver for the Fourth of July.

We are much impressed by the bike paths and routes in the Denver/Boulder area. We feel we could go anywhere in Denver by bike!