Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Day 31 - St. Joseph, MO to Chillicothe, MO
Mo' MO in sto' fo' sho'! After a great rest day in St. Joe, MO, I was ready to ride! Yesterday, I spent the day doing very little outside of the hotel. I spent the morning catching up on my blog and photos while watching the Tour de France in the lobby, then walked to the mall for lunch at the Ground Round, a haircut, and some postcards. Did a little more in the lobby on my computer catching up on some graphic design work while watching a replay of the TdF (can't get enough!), and then walked to dinner at Cracker Barrel, then enjoyed the hot tub before turning in to bed. Ahh. A good day of not much.
Today, however, we DID do much! I was looking forward to seeing what Missouri would unveil for us today and I wasn't disappointed. Maybe it's because I'm still a Midwest boy at heart (birth to 18 in Ohio), or it's because I like to discover what's around the next corner. Today's ride was fun, interesting, and humorous, not to mention scenic.
Our day began on Rt. 6 East under blue skies with high, wispy clouds. Very quickly, we turned off the highway and rode the next 20 miles on county roads. These were like roller coasters, but without standing in line or shoulder harnesses. I love cycling on rollers. You go up, you go down, and then you go back up. It's best when the rollers give you enough momentum on the descent to get up the other side. These sure did, but occasionally there was a good ole' climb thrown in the mix for good measure.
We passed mostly corn and soybean farms in the morning. On the right of the road, behind a United Church of Christ founded in the late 1800s, was a baseball field. And that baseball field's outfield was bordered by a corn field! Can anyone say, "Field of Dreams"? I was watching the corn stalks intently waiting for Shoeless Joe Jackson to walk out of the corn or Kevin Costner to ask if I wanted to "have a catch." Neither appeared, so I continued down the road.
On one of the turns, a very large, wide-wheelbase tractor pulled behind us. I later found out it's known as a sprayer and applies nutrients to the crops with long fold-out boom arm applicators. All I knew at the time was that it's big, tall, and could probably drive right over the top of us if we didn't get out of the way!
The county roads we were following were lined with wildflowers: blueish, purple Chicory, sunny yellow Black-eyed Susan, and bright pink Sensitive Briar. (My mom will be suitably impressed after reading this paragraph and will likely email me a comment mentioning it.) Our first SAG stop was at mile 31 in the town of Maysville and it came all too quickly. I guess I was enjoying this ride too much.
About 7 miles up the road, we passed through Weatherby. Unlike Maysville, which was cute and lively with brick buildings along Main Street and attractive "Welcome to Maysville" signs posted by the Chamber of Commerce, Weatherby would have been more appropriately named "Weatherbeaten." We passed a two-story brick building with knocked-out windows and an overgrown lawn. Above the door, it read "Public School." Obviously, school is out for more than just the summer.
The humor in the day came from several signs I saw along the route. The first one was a reader board with removable letters in the front yard. The owner probably wanted to communicate two ideas: a gospel message, and that he had eggs for sale. Unfortunately neither message was clear. He had posted,
"WHERE DO YOU WANT TO
SPEND ETERNITY IN NON
SMOKING OR SMOKING
The second sign we passed was a rustic wooden plank painted with "EL RANCHO BANKRUPTUS." I wasn't sure what would be more interesting, learning the story behind the sign or why the signmaker chose to use a Spanish verb with a Latin modifier. A couple more interesting signs of the day were an Interstate sign directing me to Bethany, MO. I love it when I see cities named after my kids. A business--maybe it was a business--with a lot of junk and discarded stuff out front had the moniker "Dysfunction Junction." But the foremost sign of the day was over a the door of a second business with all kinds of farm implements, tchotchke, knick-knacks, and junk. It read, "BOBMART." I thought twice about riding over and going in, but decided against it. Probably way better than that WAL-MART I see everywhere.
Up ahead was the town of Jamesport, MO. It's known for being the largest Amish settlement west of the Mississippi. It wasn't long at all before I saw a horse and buggy pull out of a farm and onto the highway shoulder. I pedaled up behind it and surreptitiously took a photo, then passed on the left. Usually, I say "On your left" when I'm passing a pedestrian or another cyclist. One of my friends back home suggested I say, "To thine left!" Hmmm... I just waved.
Our second SAG stop was in Jamesport at a school. After briefly stopping there, we rode into the town center and found a great frozen custard shop, "Wholly Cow Frozen Custard." (Great name.) Inside, we met Amanda Bohannon, the proprietor of the establishment. In addition to providing me and Leigh with the best frozen custard I'd had all day, we had a great conversation with her about Jamesport, the Amish, and life in Missouri. She likely gets a lot of questions about her Amish neighbors (there's 1,600 Amish living in the Jamesport area, if I heard her correctly.) Like, "Can we talk to them?" What was refreshing was when she said, "You just forget after awhile that they're Amish. They're just neighbors."
There was a young Amish man ahead of us when we walked in, I learned his name is Joe. I was struck by how friendly, amiable, and well... regular, he was. She agreed. They're just great folks to live around. She described one of the more amazing aspects of the Amish faith: community. When Joe's home burned down a few years ago, he had a new home within a year built by his Amish neighbors. They dropped what they were doing and helped him rebuild. Other aspects she shared, they don't have a common church building. They have house church and rotate among different families' homes. A wagon carries the pews to the home hosting that week's church meeting. She also shared that unlike the Christian faith in which we can have peace and assurance of salvation through Jesus Christ by asking Him to forgive our sins, Amish do not believe in assurance of salvation and must live a life of perfection to enter Heaven, abiding by rules and regulations. Before we left, she encouraged us to check out a park in Chillicothe--our day's destination--that featured a lionhead fountain. It sounded impressive. More on that shortly, but think about what a "lionhead fountain" would look like to you. We said our goodbyes and I told Amanda I'd be blogging about our ride today. So, she's probably reading this now. If so, "Hi Amanda! Thanks for our frozen custard. Hope your wedding is great! God bless."
After Jamesport, we rode along more county roads. Saw more signs of Amish life, like a produce auction with several horse and buggies parked along the road. One woman, dressed in Amish clothing, was putting two sacks of onions in... the trunk of her Saturn sedan! (I think she might have been Mennonite.)
Finally, we pulled into Chillicothe and I found the Simpson Park that Amanda had suggested. She said her fiance had proposed to her there. I thought this lionhead fountain must be really magnificent. I'm imagining something classical, maybe Roman or Greek. Nope. I looked all around the park, asked a gentleman walking his dog, and he pointed to the children's play area where, sure enough, there was a lionhead fountain. I stuck my head in its mouth and drank from the fountain and asked a young girl playing nearby to take my photo. See for yourself. It's a lionhead fountain!
Two more quick stories and I'll wrap this up. In Chillicothe, I stopped into a bookstore / cafe and was intrigued by two walls of travel photos. In each photo was a small stuffed beanie baby monkey. I saw a sign on the counter, "Take our monkey on vacation, earn a free latte." It seems this monkey has traveled the world over with the store's customers. They take photos with the monkey and bring him back home. They offered him to me to take on my ride, but I thought he'd be away too long. "He was in Afghanistan for six months!" they countered back. Well, I just took my photo with the monkey instead.
Finally, I learned that Chillicothe, MO is the greatest thing since sliced bread. In fact, it's the home of sliced bread. The mural on a town building highlights that in this beautiful town back in 1928 a world altering event took place, the first sliced bread from the bakery was offered for sale..that’s right, in Chillicothe the bread slicing machine invented by an Iowa inventor, Otto Rohwedder, was installed in a bakery that was on the verge of bankruptcy and changed how the citizens expected their bread to be prepared for purchase! You can read about it here!
So, from Chillicothe, MO, we'll head further east to Kirksville, MO. Tomorrow's ride is just 83 miles, but I'm told it will be a long day. We're heading into "Thousand Hills" country. If today's rollers were good, tomorrow's should rock! (see what I did there? Rockin' rollers!)
For more photos from today's ride, visit http://gallery.me.com/eternaldesign2#100345
For more about the Ride for Impact, visit http://www.rideforimpact.org
Cumulative Miles: 2,293
Cumulative Flats: 5
Elev Gain: 3,648 ft.
Max Elev: 1,198 ft.
Avg Climb: 2%
Max Climb: 7%