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Day 25 - 32 Coast To Coast 1999 by Eric K. Andersen (click on images to see larger pictures)

Day 25 Carbondale, IL The bike shops, which are across the street from each other, didn't open until 10 so I found the nearby library and sent an e-mail. I went back to the shop, got what I needed and headed towards the river. After a nice downhill to the Mississippi floodplain I headed north towards Chester.   Here I experienced the first strong headwinds of the trip. They slowed me to about 6 miles an hour for several miles. Then I crossed the Mississippi at Chester, the birthplace of Popeye.  There is a statue of him at a park overlooking the river. I crossed the river on a tight, long bridge with no shoulders and when I got to the other side I opened a card a friend had given me.  He had instructed me to open it at this point in the trip. It contained a great message about life's challenges and the words inspired me and gave me further resolve to complete my journey. As I was going up and down the eastern bluffs of Missouri,  I had my first dog scare.  There had only been a few instances so far where dogs ran barking up to me, but none of them were threatening.  As I was coming down a hill, a pack of 5 dogs started running towards me.  They weren't just barking, but were growling with a fierceness I hadn't heard before. They were running so fast that they ran right passed me and had to turn around to catch me. I could hear their paws scraping on the pavement.  I heard a shout and they backed off as I started up a steep hill. I had heard about the "Chase dogs of Kentucky" and had missed seeing them since Tennessee apparently is more civilized.  Now it was time for the dog days of Missouri. Total Miles: 62

Day 26  Ozora, MO The terrain so far was rolling hills through farmland.  I pedaled past huge hogs that would someday end up at one of the many BBQ joints in the area.  As I was coming up a hill I passed two riders coming down.  They were going too fast to stop.  I wished I had a chance to meet them.  I had not spoken with any other cross country riders at all on the trip. Then I felt a wobble in the trailer that I hadn't felt before and I looked down to see that the metal hitch had broken. It was hanging loosely off the skewer.  As I came over yet another rise the trailer came off the hitch.  At the top of the hill was a roadside mowing crew and I stopped to ask them if they knew any welders in the next town about 10 miles away. They gave me directions and I was happy to see that a welder was on the route.  I rode slowly with the hitch dangling off the hub.  It came off only a couple times before I found Wilke's Welding outside of Farmington. I showed Wilke my problem and with barely a word he mended the metal together.  5 minutes and 5 dollars later I was back on the road.
Total Miles: 48
Day 27 Pilot Knob, MO More rollercoaster hills today. As I came into Ellington, I met my first riders going coast to coast.  There was an older gentleman who had started in San Diego going east and a couple on a tandem going west. The couple called themselves "The Tandem Teachers".  Hob and Deb were from Connecticut and started their trip at the beginning of the route in Virginia. They had just finished lunch, so we made plans to meet later that evening at a campground in Eminence. After lunch I passed another rider going east bound.  He had started in Colorado and was going to Florida. Later, I met up with the TT's at the campground.  It was a dumpy place with rocky riverside sites and dirty bathrooms.  Since we came in late the office wasn't open so there was no one to pay.  A note said to go to a nearby house and the person at the house told me to come back in the morning. Total Miles: 70
Day 28 Eminence, MO We snuck out of the campground early in order to avoid paying since the place was such a dump.  The TT's left ahead of me and as I approached the owner's house, one of their dogs that I met the night before started following me. I felt a tug on the trailer and I looked back to see the jaws of the big black dog latched onto the the plastic lid of the trailer container.  I yelled back "no!" and he let go after putting a small hole in the lid with one of his teeth. On the route we stopped at Alley Springs and then "The Dragon Lady's" House.  She is known for letting bikers camp on her lawn.  She recently purchased the property from the original "Dragon Lady" and has continued the tradition of making bicyclists feel welcome. There are many people along the route that open up their homes to bicyclists. The TT's wanted to camp in the city park in Houston. They had heard rumors of mischievous kids in town who rolled automobile tires through the park at campers tents. I opted to avoid a restless night and got a motel room. The TT's did the same. (Later I heard that the kids were still up to their old tricks). Total Miles: 43

Day 29 Houston, MO I traveled with the teachers again today.  We stopped for lunch in Hartville where the waitress looked like Drew Barrymore.  We took a break at a store that was very "Deliverance".  Some old men were playing pool and drinking beer as we sat on the porch of the store/bar/poolroom with our snacks.  A lawnmower under repair dripped gasoline onto the wooden deck. The long bearded owner slowly started to warm to our conversation.  We were definitely out of our environment. That evening I camped in my first city park.  Many small towns along the route allow bikers to stay in their parks and will even open up bathrooms and sometimes showers for them. A local cyclist stopped by the park and chatted with us. Total Miles: 69

Day 30 Marshfield, MO I wanted to ride on historic Route 66 which passes through Marshfield, so I said good-bye to my riding companions and headed towards Springfield on the old road. We planned on meeting each other the next day in Golden City. There were only a few reminders of days gone past: an abandoned drive-in movie theater and a few motels in town. I explored Springfield for a little while and then refound the route heading out of town.  I got a cheap motel room just off the interstate and had a great and also cheap meal at the restaurant. Total Miles: 52

Day 31 Halltown, MO It was raining as I headed out but it soon cleared. I got off Route 66 and headed back to the Adventure Cycling Route.  I got into Golden City at lunch time and went to Cookies, the only cafe in town.  It was Sunday and the whole town was there after church services.  The line snaked out the door.  While waiting in line, I met Ralph and Alan who were in the area looking for rare plant species.  They invited me to join them for lunch. I had a meal of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans and of course apple pie ala mode accompanied by interesting conversation. Ralph generously picked up the tab.  I met the town undertaker who happens to run the bicycle hostel in town.  He even gave me the keys to the door.  As my new friends were getting ready to leave Hob and Deb appeared at the door. I quickly got them to take the empty seats at the table.  After another slice of pie (Hob ate a slice before and after his meal) we found the hostel just around the corner. The hostel was a complete house including air conditioning, TV, washer/dryer, kitchen, two beds and two couches.  It was a bit musty, but we had the whole place to ourselves for just nine bucks a piece.  Later that evening we went back to the cafe for another round of chicken and pie. That night back at the hostel I got a chance to catch a Knicks play-off game too. Total Miles: 45

Day 32 Golden City, MO It was raining again this morning but it cleared as usual. Just as we crossed the border into Kansas, we found a long, black dead snake lying on the road.  Hob picked it up and we posed for pictures. It was Memorial Day and when we got to Pittsburg, Kansas there was disappointedly nothing going on.  Every window in every store in every small town has posters of upcoming events. They just never seem to occur when you are in town. We got rooms at a motel, took a dip in the pool, went to see "Star Wars" and ordered a pizza which we had delivered poolside. Vacation time. Total Miles: 39


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