Nick on the bike 2005: Oregon to Virginia
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Day 38: Watkins Mill SP to Marshall, Missouri
August 21, 2005, 8:59 PM
Where am I now: Marshall, Missouri (39.10433N by 93.19453W at 711 ft.)
Today's distance: 93 miles

It was foggy this morning at Watkins Mill State Park, I was up as usual at first light. I took my time cooking breakfast & breaking camp, giving the sun a chance to burn the moisture off a bit. There were squirrels in the oak above my campsite, "who cooks for you" is going off somewhere nearby. Tonight I'm collecting my thoughts at a great Mexican restaurant in Marshall, Missouri.

Rather than busting my tired butt first thing in the morning retracing the several miles of steep up and down the way I came in, I've looked at the maps & elected to head south out of the park to Excelsior Springs & rejoin the ACA route to the east at Wood Heights. That way, among other things, I bypass the town of Lawson where, according to the cyclist I talked to in Holt, police write parking tickets on bicycles parked on Main Street. I can eat breakfast in Orrick instead, thank you.

There are either a lot of people on the road going to church at 8AM on Sunday in Excelsior Springs, or the traffic is much worse during the weekday rush hour, or both, or something like that, but there were a lot of people out and about when I went through. I had to concentrate on navigating & not getting run over, so I couldn't take in more than a smattering of the sights.

At Wood Heights I rejoined the ACA route on a country road that did some great rolley polley stuff then a long descent to the Missouri flood plain, and clear sailing into Orrick.

At Orrick, 20 something miles into the day, it didn't look like much was going on, and I was beginning to think I'd have to go another 20 to Lexington to get a sit-down restaurant break. But eventually I found my way off the highway to the sleepy bypassed main drag, and there was a cluster of pickups. Mostly Chevies, but those people have to eat too.

The proprietress was doing the Sunday crossword as the gathering of locals finished their coffee, it was now after 10. I enjoyed great food and conversation, as usual they were fascinated with what I'm doing & outgoing. As I was getting ready to leave, the lady in charge made a point of telling me to be careful around here, some people are not nice, "they'd just as soon kill you as look at you".

I went on my merry way, and 10 miles down the road a lady, or maybe I should say woman, drives up 2 feet behind my trailer in a red 1989 or so Ford pickup and leans on her horn. This is a flat, straight, two lane road with no shoulders and a steep water filled ditch right off the pavement, no place for me to go. There was traffic in the other direction, it was obvious that if she hung back for less than a minute, she could get on to church safely. I pulled my rig into the middle of the road so that I wouldn't get side-swiped, the traffic clears and she guns it past me horn still blaring. The back of the truck was emblazoned with "support the troops" ribbons and stickers, I did not get the license number. I'll refrain from further comment.

About half hour later, as I was negotiating a heavily traveled detour to a new Missouri River bridge just opened south of Lexington, a black mid 90's Chevy Suburban passes and throws a bag of fast food trash out the window at me. Looked like mom & pop in the front, kids in the back. The stuff came out of the back window. A little while later, a pickup going the other way deliberately swerves into my lane and leans on the horn for fun. Welcome to America's heartland? These things could have happened anywhere, but they didn't.

I finally make it to the new 4-lane bridge crossing the river. It has a full-width shoulder, which is nice. There's a touring cyclist headed the other way on the bridge (he got the downhill, I'm going up), we waved but couldn't talk because of multiple traffic lanes and a concrete barrier between us.

bank full Missouri on a grey day

bridge-construction toy

I was in a sour frame of mind by the time I navigated back to known roads from the new bridge, none of it was on the maps or in the GPS database. I'd ended up above Lexington on the bluff, without going through town which I'd looked forward to. The sun had finally come out and it was getting hot. I decided to press on toward Marshall rather than going back down all the hills into Lexington.

It's about 45 miles from Lexington to Marshall. In Missouri, that can be a death ride with killer hills, or something less than that if things are more favorable. Turns out the roads had been given the cut-and-fill treatment making the grades reasonable, the sun went behind some clouds & kept the temps down. The afternoon ride was good. There were no bad incidents except when on a straight clear road, a guy in a little car of some sort going in the other direction pulled out directly in front of me to pass a truck. The truck driver saw what was happening and pulled his rig as far as he could off his side, the car driver never yielded an inch, I had no choice but to run my whole rig off the road into the ditch. The dust settled, I dragged everything back onto the road and went on. This ought to be just a pleasant Sunday ride, what's happened?

Marshall, Missouri

has a great town square, I'll get breakfast there tomorrow and take some pictures. Then I've got about 30 more miles of Missouri roads before I get on the KATY bike trail, which will take me all the way to Illinois. I'm ready.