August 20th, 2012: Middlebury, VT and Cockeysville, MD. Well it has been a week since Molly and Skip flew to their respective homes. Molly has reunited happily with her husband Bud and their 21 year old daughter Rachel. She spent the first five days recuperating (and sleeping) in the Adirondacks on a tiny island that has been in her and Skip’s family since the late 1800s. They will drive to Maine tomorrow to watch their 15 year old son Spencer perform in a play and to bring him home from summer acting camp. Skip is happily home with his wife Janice and his children and grandchildren. Janice is relieved to be able to get a good night’s sleep again. Skip and Molly slept easily and well on the trip. They both fall asleep the minute their heads hit the pillow and they swear neither snores in spite of their spouses’ declarations to the contrary. Skip has been waking up with a start since he got home wondering what town he is in, how many miles they are riding today, and when Molly will get up and out of the tent! Molly and Skip just got off the phone discussing when they might pick up again in Missouri to finish the trip – with Janice yelling “Oh no you don’t!” in the background.
August 3rd, 2012: We called a taxi and Antoine picked us up and took us to the Best Western near the airport. Skip’s flight left at 5:40 AM. Here he is about to go through security. I went back to the hotel for a nap and then back to the airport to wait till my 6:30 flight.
August 2nd, 2012: Upon disembarking from the train, we rode 12 miles through St. Louis including Forest Park to Mesa Cycles where they gave us boxes for our bikes and welcomed us in to relax for the afternoon. Yet another wonderful bike store!
August 2nd, 2012: A wonderful new library in Washington. We checked our blog one last time. We are hugely appreciative of all of you who followed our blog and chimed in with encouragement and humor!
August 1st, 2012: Our last night along the trail. The trail map indicated that Dutzow had a campground but there was none to be found so we set up out tent beside the trail and used these public restrooms. At my request, Skip rescued a tiny toad out of the toilet – the only water it could find.
August 2nd, 2012: We got ready at 6 AM for our last ride from Dutzow into Washington, MO where we caught the train into St. Louis. They let us wheel our bikes right onto the train for the hour plus trip.
August 1st, 2012: Embarrassingly enough I ran into yet another stationary object, this time a gate along the trail. That brought my total of self-inflicted wounds to 5: tw0 bridges, one gate, one gravel gaffe, and one stuck cleat… After this last one, I hired Cody (who usually makes his living mowing grass but is out of luck this summer since there is none to mow) to drive me and my bike to Dutsow where Skip and I planned to camp. Skip decided to bike to Dutzow. He went on the road instead of the blasted boring Katy Trail which he had begun to curse, but when Cody and I drove by, even he had been reduced to walking a couple of the hills due to their grade, the overwhelming heat and the fact that he was hurrying so he wouldn’t keep me waiting. Miraculously he accepted a ride!
August 1st, 2012: We took a break along the trail.
And called big brother Butch to check in. I was feeling overwhelmed and ready to come home but I didn’t want to disappoint Skip who has been so nice to me my whole life. His wife had made it clear that if I came home, he had to too. We all agreed that if I was that strung out, it was time to come home. I felt relief… and sadness… and thankfulness that none of my brothers accused me of being a wimp!
Skip along the shores of the Missouri. It was oh so hot but the river was oh so dirty so we didn’t jump in.
July 31st, 2012: Another highlight of the trail: we met a wonderful couple Rick and Julaine riding along the trail and they invited us to spend the night at their home in Jefferson City, the capital of Missouri.
Although the city was beautiful and the couple was warm and welcoming, I couldn’t sleep. I had been terrified by the truck in Dighton, wounded by the spider, and Skip and I were both beat from riding in the incredible heat so many days in a row.
July 31st, 2012: The highlight of the Katy Trail for us was our night at the home of Holly Hughes (Todi’s daughter) and her husband Charles Stegner. They are both artists and their country home is a whimsical collection of their art work, a screened porch, decks, railings made out of tree branches, a body work room, studios, etc.
Skip and Charles – fast friends after one evening together!
July 31st, 2012: More along Katy Trail.
A tunnel that was actually cool and refreshing, but not long enough!
And the Mighty Missouri. Skip kept talking about the Mighty Mississippi but it was a actually the Missouri…
And historic train stations. Unfortunately, with the demise of the railroad most of the towns have shrunk. Even the few tourist cafés and bike shops that have sprouted along the trail are talking about closing because the heat has kept the number of cyclists to a minimum.
July 30th, 2012: Laurel drove us all the way to the Katy Trail, a rails to trails route which crosses most of Missouri. Skip and I decided to ride it instead of sticking to the more southerly TransAm route primarily because it is traffic free (and also Ozark Mountain free).
Locals had told us this hill was tough but compared to the Hoosier Pass at over 11,000 feet, this was a pretty easy climb!
The drought that is all over the news is dreadfully apparent as we ride through the countryside. We saw field after field of burned corn.
We spent 3 days on the Trail. The long boring parts were punctuated by bluffs.
July 29th, 2012: After going to the medical clinic in KC where I was given antibiotics and bandages and was assured I would live, Laurel Hughes gave me a ride south to pick Skip up. He had ridden 300+ miles to Girard, KS while I was being wined and dined in KC.
July 29th, 2012: Before heading to KC, I had called my Vermont friend, Gail Freidin. She arranged for me to stay with her childhood friends, Todi Hughes and her daughter.
Being in KC with the Hughes was like being back in my hometown of Ruxton, MD.
Including having dinner with Gail’s mother, Joyce Byers, at Bishop Spencer Retirement Community. It was the first time I’d worn a skirt in (at least) 2 months. A lot like visiting Aunt Jo at Blakehurst.
Sculptures on the grounds of the Nelson Museum of Art, a few blocks from the Hughes’ home.
July 27th, 2012: After a 5 hour trip (most of which I spent asleep), the bus arrived in Kansas City. Meanwhile Skip has been zipping along riding 80 and 100 mile days in spite of the 100+ degree heat. He almost beat me to the Kansas – Missouri border even though I was on a blasted bus!!!
July 27th, 2012: Dan (wonderfully) was willing to drive me back up to Hays the next morning for the 5:50 AM bus. Thankfully they could fit both me and my boxed bike on the bus this time. Both the mode of travel and the characters I met were a huge change from the previous 7 weeks!
July 26th, 2012: After a 60 mile drive to the bus and in spite of having a paid reservation, I was turned away from the bus because every seat was taken. Back we drove to Bazine where Dan showed me his baler and how it works.
One if the many oil pumps out in the Kansas countryside.
Three cows who have managed to be free range in spite of the farmer’s efforts to the contrary.
Sunset – Since the dust storms of the 30s, 40s and even 50s, the government has encouraged farming methods (checkerboard planting, furrows perpendicular to the prevailing winds, etc.) to reduce the loss of topsoil.
July 26th, 2012: We stopped so Dan could show me this fancy Catholic church made from local limestone. On the way out of his driveway, he had given me a book entitled “The Great Controversy between Christ and Satan.” I am pretty certain that even if I read it, it will not have the intended effect.
July 26th, 2012: Elaine, proprietor and former home ec teacher, demoing her strawberry slicer.
Panda Bear, their kitten, who was bottle fed and quite friendly. Not sure but I think she poked tiny holes in my air mattress but she was a great comfort!
This is Secret (with a new haircut), one of Elaine & Dan’s three golden retrievers. Unfortunately they are always penned up so I couldn’t sleep with them!
My bike in the back of one of Dan’s many vehicles as we prepare to drive to Hays to first go to the bike shop to get my bike boxed up (a requirement for the bus trip) and then to try to catch the bus.
July 25th, 2012: Bud got me an e-ticket for the bus ride from Hays (60 miles north of Bazine) to Kansas City (300+ miles east). Thankfully I spent another night and day at Elaine’s Bicycle Oasis learning about Kansas farming. This is Dan and his swather which cuts grains and puts the stalks into windrows.
Looking up at the swather. Glad not to be a grain!
July 24th, 2012: In the evening, we pedaled another 12 miles to Bazine where I was immeasurably relieved to settle in at Elaine’s Bicycle Oasis! That night my foot itched incredibly confirming my suspicion that my “blood clot” was actually a spider bite!
July 25th, 2012: The next day, I decided to hang out and consider going to Kansas City for medical attention in case it was a brown recluse spider (Google it if you dare.) We agreed that Skip would continue riding and we would hope to meet up later.
He is gone. I slept all afternoon and went out to dinner with the Oasis proprietors Elaine & Dan and another bicycle tourist who had come to spend the night.