With my tent set up just a few yards from the Mighty Missouri River I could hear the sound of water rushing as the river parted around a large rock. Before falling asleep last night I was laying there, wondered if the sound of cascading water all night would make me thirsty or make me want to pee. Well both happened. I drank about half a liter of water before walking to the restroom at 2:00am.
Poking my head out of the tent this morning I was surprised to find the river blanketed by a heavy layer of fog. After my oatmeal breakfast and getting everything packed away for today’s ride I was on the very chilly trail. Rode for miles with the Mighty Missouri off to my right, but a look that way one would never know it was there due to the dense fog. Kept waiting for the sun to break through because my hands and feet were feeling the chill, having become very uncomfortable. Note to self… Buy better biking gloves before the next adventure.
As the sun burned off the fog, I was able to start shedding some layers, until I was down to my cycling shorts and shirt. Weather became sunny all day with temps reaching high 60’s.
About 25 miles into today’s ride I came across a young couple with a set up I’ve never quite seen before on the trail. Both were pulling homemade trailers made of PVC pipe with a car top carrier mounted in the middle to stow their gear. From Buffalo NY they had been on an adventure for a couple of years now to cycle cross-country. Spent some time talking with them, sharing biking adventures, hearing about where they’ve been and some of the experiences they have encountered. After parting ways with Garrett and Jackie I continued think about them and their approach to life. Here they are on Walmart bikes, pulling grossly overweight homemade trailers to abstract destinations. Couldn’t help but admire their life style of living day-to-day not knowing what the next day brings. Essentially taking what I can relate as a “Great Divide” adventure, and making it a way of life. As much as I miss being on trail, I haven’t been inspired to sell everything and ride just yet. However their story did strike a chord, making me realize I need a bit more carefree in my life. I had been letting difficulties of life become much bigger than they need to be. I’m a firm believer that chance meetings are hardly that. We crossed paths for a reason.
The Katy trail passes Jefferson City, Missouri state capital. With time in my schedule to explore. I made the few mile detour to cross the Missouri river, visit the Capitol and find some lunch. After spending a couple of hours in Jefferson City, it was back to the Katy which instantly transports patrons back to uninhabited lands that one would never recognize as just a couple of miles outside a Capitol city.
Planned my stop for the night at the town of Mokane. The guide-book indicates that camping is available at the Lion’s Club Park, with picnic shelters and no reservations are required. Sounds perfect. As I rolled into Mokane the Lion’s Club Park is right next to the trail with “town” and I use the term town loosely, just a couple hundred yards up the main road from where it intersects the trail. As I rode toward town to see what was available, I found a little general store on the left. Waiting for a couple of cars to pass for me to cross the road, I see the owner has posted signs in the window of the store that read, Do not lean bikes against glass. Pulling up and being respectful of the owners wishes I parked my bike at the far right side of the building where store was brick. However I did keep the bike a bit forward so at least a portion of it would be visible while I’m shopping. Just then I hear a knock on the window with a guy saying; “Read the sign.” Through the glass I reply, “Its leaning against the brick.” He says again, but putting his hand between the sign and glass for emphasis as if I don’t see it right in front of my face. “Read the sign.” Again I reply, “It’s leaning against the brick.” If this had not been the first store I had seen for miles, despite the many so-called ‘towns’ I passed, and if this were not my intended stay for the night, I very much would have responded with my own “READ THIS SIGN!” and peddled on. Instead I moved my bike a whole six inches and begrudgingly bought a couple of items from this blockhead who obviously sees cyclist coming through his town as a menace, rather than helping is bottom line.
With the soup I just bought, I headed to the Lion’s Club Park and proceeded to have dinner for the night. Looking around I’m trying to figure out where I can set up camp and remain inconspicuous. Was going to be a difficult task because the area is wide open for several hundred yards in all directions. This whole thing just wasn’t feeling right. In fact I think I heard dueling banjos.
Checking the map, the next camping available was 15 miles away and daylight was fading. Reluctantly I decided to get back on the trail and said a little prayer to find a safe place to camp for the night. With the energy of dinner inside me and sense of urgency to find a place to camp before nightfall, I’m peddling at a fairly good pace. As I ride along I’m keeping an eternal eye for places I could set up my tent upon full night fall, rest my head for the night to be up and packed before first light, if absolutely necessary.
Surprisingly I made it the additional miles to the town of Portland with just a trace of daylight remaining. Found the small campground situated right next to the trail and lucky the gentleman who runs it, was there as well. I instantly felt much better about my surroundings for the night, and to add to my good fortune, there was a bar right across from the campground. Not only did God lead me to a safe, comfortable place to stay for the night, with a shower, he wanted me to have a beer as well. Confession time. I did go to the bar but didn’t have just one beer. I had two, and a burger, and fries, and chocolate cake.
Note: Today’s total mileage of 54 miles includes the side trip into and around Jefferson City. It is NOT the distance between Cooper’s Landing and Portland.