September 4, 1992 Golden City to Marshfield (85 miles, 3480 ft, $34)
We had pancakes at Cookies and got the skinny on the local roads. We also learned that the strange “short” corn crop we’d been seeing a lot of was actually milo, a common feed used for livestock. We were pedaling by 8AM.
We stopped in Everton for a snack. When we got ready to leave, we discovered another flat tire. Glad they are not happening on a fast down hill or in the middle of a rain shower. In Ash Grove, we tried to get some more cash, but there were no ATMs and the bank would not cash advance on our credit card – felt like we were in the south now. Stopped for another snack anyway, walnut pie in Huffman’s Café. We rode onto a lunch stop in Walnut Grove where we still could not find an ATM but were able to convince the bank manager to give us an advance on our credit card.
Today’s route was very hilly. Very steep downhills, followed by very steep uphills – we’re in the Ozark Mountains now. A real roller coaster ride. It didn’t take long to figure out that if we rode as fast as we could on the downhill, we could coast part of the uphill. Still we did a lot of big ring to granny shifts. Dave only slipped up on a couple of them.
In Everton, we called ahead to Marshfield to ask about camping in the park. They said it was ok. On the way into town we stopped a Wal-Mart and bought supplies for dinner and headed for the park. When we arrived, we found the bathrooms locked and no one around. Of course the people we’d called in city hall had gone for the day. We rode a little way up the street to see if we had the right park. We couldn’t find any other parks so stopped to ask a guy mowing his yard for directions. He said that we had the right park and that he would call the city manager at home to see if he could help us out. Before long the manager was unlocking the bathrooms and we were setting up camp. Of course, now the word was out and a number of locals strolled by to chat with us. It was well after dark before we ate dinner.
September 5, 1992 Marshfield to Houston (67 miles, 2900 ft, $54)
We got up early, had cereal for breakfast, and were on the road by 7AM. The sky was clear but it was very humid. We had more rolling hills throughout the day. We saw a lot more turtles on the road today, even stopped a couple times to help several of them get across the road. We were stopped once on a ridge but before we could help a slow moving turtle, a big truck came by and crunch, poor turtle.
We stopped for a snack in Hartville then didn’t stop for lunch until we got here. After a bite and some ice cream, we went to check out the city park. It was not very nice and the showers were a mile away. Since it was Labor Day weekend, we opted to get a hotel room – it was only $25 can’t beat that. Had a quiet afternoon and made sandwiches in the room for dinner. We’re both tired tonight – I think the Ozarks are getting to us a bit. They are much harder than the Rockies because the constant rolling nature of them. You don’t get a chance to settle into a climbing rhythm – it’s just up and down.
September 6, 1992 Houston to Ellington (71 miles, 3700 ft, $61)
We were up early for pancakes and on the road by 7AM to try to beat some of the holiday traffic. The hills to Summersville were not too bad but from there on they got extreme. Lots of very steep downhills with an immediate uphill on the other side. Some were over 10% but pretty short. We rode through Ozark National Scenic Riverways and stopped at the Devils Bend Visitor Center for lunch. Lots of tourists around, looks like a big canoe and rafting area. It is pretty terrain.
We rode into Ellington around 2PM, stopped at the store and asked about the park. No showers, no bathrooms, lots of cars revving it up and the drivers milling round drinking away the holiday weekend. We opted to get a hotel room. The hotel was new and very nice, only $35 to boot.
We took showers and I crashed on the bed. Woke up to the sound of a cloud burst outside. It had been pretty clear in the morning but it was dumping now. It rained very hard for 2 hours, glad we were not in the tent! We set the tent up in the room, as it was still wet from two nights ago.
For dinner, we hit the restaurant next door then took a stroll around town. Not much to this town, though the party in the park seemed to have survived the storm and was gaining momentum. Tomorrow we’re off to Farmington and a rest day. We need it as the Ozarks are starting to tire us out.
September 7, 1992 Ellington to Farmington (63 miles, 2890 ft, $95)
We got up early and had breakfast at the restaurant next door. We were riding by 7:15. It was foggy this morning so we both wore our bright jackets and put on the rear flashing light. It was Monday of the holiday weekend so traffic was light starting out. Lots more climbing and roller coaster riding today. We stopped for a quick snack in Centerville. Interesting people running the joint, very friendly, full of local stories they shared with us.
Traffic picked up as the day went on. We stopped in Pilot Knob for another snack. From there it was only 20 miles to Farmington. Five miles after our lunch stop we stopped to use a bathroom. We ran into a woman there from Portland who had lived in the same apartment building that I had, small world.
In Farmington we stopped at the police station to check on camping in the park. They told us it was allowed but that the pool had closed for the season and there were no showers. We ended up at a Day’s Inn a little ways from town up near the freeway, it was the only choice. Showers, laundry and dinner at the hotel restaurant, follow by celebrating passing the bar with a beer in the hotel lounge. We then took a dip in the hot tub and called it a night.
September 8, 1992 Farmington rest day (11 miles, 210 ft, $81)
Slept in – Yeah! We got up, walked across the street and had biscuits and gravy, plus lots of coffee. Back in the hotel, Dave changed the rear tire then we rode to town to find a place to clean the chains. We couldn’t find a bike shop so Dave asked a mechanic at the local Ford Dealership. They let him use the shop solvent tank and gave him run of the shop. Gotta love these small towns.
We then rode / walked round town looking at antique and craft shops. We spent a fair amount of time looking for Missouri post cards but there were none to be found – I guess this is not a real tourist town. We had lunch at Pizza Hut and headed back to the hotel for our afternoon nap. Tomorrow we head for Illinois and get to cross the mighty Mississippi River.
September 9, 1992 Farmington to Murphysboro (91 miles, 3150 ft, $71)
We ate breakfast at McDonalds and stopped at the post office to mail some post cards that we found back at the hotel. We were on the road by 7:30. Once we got out of town, traffic was light. Really pretty county, rolling hills with lots of big farms. Lots of pig farms.
We cross the Mississippi River on a fairly narrow bridge but traffic was light. The river was not as impressive as I thought it would be, pretty narrow here and very muddy. We stopped for a snack on the far side in the town of Chester, Illinois. It was very hot and steamy. We had lunch in Campbell Hill, and from there it was only 18 miles to Murphysboro. We had planned to camp but heard that there were severe thunderstorm warnings for the afternoon. We decided a hotel was better than a tornado.
We stopped at the Chamber of Commerce where Dave got the skinny on hotels. There were 2 – one was full, so we tried the other. They had a room and we were safe from the storms. We showered and headed to the all-you-can eat at KFC. Yet another restaurant owner disappointed after thinking they’d get a good deal on the two skinny cyclists. Not sure how good they are for you but those KFC biscuits are a great treat after a long day in the saddle.
Tomorrow we’ve mapped out another long day. We shooting for Cave-in-Rock State Park, it doesn’t seem like there is much choice other than a town at only 45 miles.