West of the Mississippi

wp-1465251175947.jpegIt has been such a good day today.

First of all, we crossed the Mississippi! (And I took zero pictures because there was no place I felt safe to do so…) We are in Missouri and have begun our climb into the Ozarks. There were so many little rolling hills today, the perfect kind where if you sprint really hard on the downhill you can fly up the next hill without even trying.

Noah is more a fan of gradual grades, so I don’t think he was quite as delighted as I was but we both broke our personal speed records on one glorious downhill slope and I think he would agree it was mad fun.Β He broke the 40 mph barrier for the first time and got up to 40.7 mph and I made it up to 43.6 mph. I have a feeling we will be setting new personal bests again soon, the Ozarks have some great hills to fly down.wp-1465251329215.jpeg

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The state routes in Missouri are marked with letters not numbers and the signs look like scabble tiles! Noah didn’t believe me until he saw the signs. Kept us chuckling all day long.

The scenery is insanely beautiful, sometimes even biking seems way too fast to take it all in. We also saw armadillos for the first time today. There were three of them and they were all dead. Thank you, vehicles.

That is the roughest part of cycling for me, seeing all the roadkill every day. In the past week we have seen dozens of smashed turtle shells each day. But we do help some cross the road successfully so that makes us smile!

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The entire point of bike touring is to make friends with animals along the way.

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This cat was something else! While we were petting the horses, it dashed across a field to steal the spotlight. What a friendly kitty!

Another thing that made Noah and I happy was the news that our parents have booked a place to stay in Silverthorne, Colorado for the week of June 21st and they and two more of our brothers are going to fly out and we are all going to meet up together there. So exciting!!

The only bad event of the day came when I met a beautiful collie as I was passing a farm. I thought he was friendly, so I kept up a medium speed and just said, “Good dog!” as I passed him.

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This dog on the other hand, was a good dog. He never barked at us, just joyfully ran alongside us for half a mile before running home. (He did run right in front of Noah’s wheel and both of them got a few scratches…but it was an accident.)

But he was not a good dog. He bared his teeth and bit into my pannier, snapping one off my clips and pulling the entire bag off the rack. He tried to drag it off the road but I yelled at him and then Noah came to help me as well. Of course, the owner was mystified that her dog would cause that sort of damage.

“He always chases the cyclist’s but he never hurts them!” Hmmm. I love dogs, but I really wish more dog owners would understand that dogs instinctively chase and bite things that move. Bicycles are the perfect dog magnets! Whether they mean real harm or not, it always puts me on edge to see a dog running across a field toward my bike. I asked the owner to please restrain their dog because I knew that one of the cyclists we have met on the Trans America Trail would be passing by later and I didn’t want the dog to take out his panniers as well! (He and his family are awesome, here is their website if you want to check them out.)

Noah rigged up a couple of bungee cords to keep the pannier in place and we rode the rest of the day without anymore problems.

And now we are at a nice little campground and the only thing I can think about is how I never, ever, ever, want this trip to end.

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Camping a few nights ago on Crab Orchard Lake

 

 

 

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37 thoughts on “West of the Mississippi

  1. I am so sorry about your pannier…whatever that is. I hope it can be repaired. I knew you were going to love the views. Just be careful about chiggers and tics in any wooded area and the grass, I used to visit the Ozarks in years long passed, but those were the things I didn’t care for there.
    Enjoy…so very happy for you both for this wonderful trip and your exciting news about family.

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    • I should have taken a picture of it…it is just one of the two giant yellow bags that hold all my stuff. And apparently some dogs think it is a chew toy πŸ˜‰ Thanks for the bug advice, Marilyn, sounds like you learned from experience 😦

      Hugs to you my friend! I hope all is well with you back in good old NY!

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      • Aww- that pup in the pic looks so much like my gal JoJo!! As I was reading I was like please let that dog be nice! πŸ˜πŸ˜€ haha! Glad it was!! Safe travels!!

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      • That dog would make a great pal for your JoJo, I am sure, the thing was literally dancing beside us…getting to run with us made its day, and you know it made ours πŸ˜€

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    • Haha, it’s true! But I think we are both guilty of wanting to do big mile days too much, we chomp at the bits like impatient horses πŸ™‚

      Today while we were at a gas stations to refill our water a guy yelled out of a car window to tell us…”they do make those things with engines you know!!”

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  2. The joy of your journey is so incredibly infectious that it makes me wish that I could just jump on my bike and do it too! I am so glad that you are on this trip with your brother Noah and so good to see in a picture today! What about seeing you? About those doggies! So sad that the collie had such a violent reaction to your truly bright beautiful yellow pannier! It must have other issues too! I think the dancing dog who raced alongside you today would love to be your mascot but you are going way too fast for the dancing dog! As for thinking about your trip never ending don’t forget about your own little dancing doggies at home!! Only teasing! They are doing fine. Just so thankful that you are having a fantastic time doing what you love and enjoying our all that God has made and His amazing provisions for you along the way!

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    • Mom, I love you so much!! And I love my own little puppies very much as well πŸ˜€ (Noah tells me that I stare longingly at every dog I see..) And that is why when I get back that you need to come on a mini tour with me, it would be the best fun!

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  3. Or to the half gallon of chocolate milk, we have been downing the stuff like it’s illegal:-) SHH!!! That’s my secret weapon, and egg salad sandwiches.

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    • Sorry, man! I will try to be more discrete in the future, after all if everyone knew how magical chocolate milk is the demand would skyrocket and so would the price! Yikes!!

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  4. I’m glad I checked to see what you are doing. How brave you are! So many dangers on the road, but so many treasured experiences too. I’m praying for a safe journey for you both.

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      • Are they not biking on a road in close proximity to vehicles going at high speeds with drivers who often don’t even see them? I’ve both biked and nearly hit someone on a bike – didn’t seem like it would hurt to have a prayer for safety. (But maybe I’m misreading the situation?)

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      • Shirley, thank you so much for your prayers, it means so much to us! Believe me, it doesn’t hurt at all πŸ™‚

        I believe John is trying to point out a misconception that people often have about bike touring…many people I talk to seem to think it is really dangerous or really hard, when the reality is that bike touring is just one huge adventure! Just like “everyday life” it isn’t perfectly easy or safe 100% of the time, but it is completely awesome and fun every single day.
        I wish more people would realize what an incredible avenue bikes are to explore the world!

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  5. Oh no bad dog…we don’t get that quite so much here fortunately but we do get a lot of roadkill but nothing as exotic as armadillo

    Been meaning to ask is this a 2 way trip ?

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    • Great question…Noah is flying back but I am not 100% sure on my plans after Colorado. Too many possibilities that I haven’t been able to narrow it down yet! And I love the freedom of being able to make my decision once I get out there, but when I know I will let you know πŸ˜€

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      • John, that is a tough question! And I have to answer honestly!?!?! You have me backed into a corner πŸ˜€

        Nothing compares to the joy of meeting new people and seeing new places each and every day and the freedom of touring is awesome. I am having the time of my life!

        I really do enjoy every season. But there is always a part of me that is wistful in summertime…the world is missing something when there is no cold, no snow, no blizzards. I wouldn’t miss out on winter in Northern New York for anything!

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      • Really? It’s better than climbing a mountain in stifling heat on a loaded bike with broken spokes in a strange land? How can that be? 8>)

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  6. Great progress. I missed pics of crossing the big river too – the bridges all seem to be huge and busy. Good call re the chocolate milk, by the way – it’s in my box of secret weapons too (actually sipping some on the Croatian coast as I write!). And the dogs… There will probably be a lot of loose farm dogs until you get to Colorado. My experience in the US was that most are pretty well trained to stop at the edge of the road. But… All the way round the world so far, I’ve only had one dog so agressive that it didn’t stop when I squirted water at it. It’s obviously harmless and painless, but it works a treat on 99% of pannier-attackers…

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    • Nice! I feel like someone should tour with the theme, “Chocolate Milk Around the World.” It would be the best tour of all time πŸ˜€

      And thank you for the water advice…I always have problems getting my water bottle out and aimed effectively in time though, or I just forget in the heat of the moment…I have no skills!

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  7. Just dropping you another comment of encouragement! Sorry about your pannier – it is really unfortunate that the dog’s owner didn’t offer to replace it! When you get around to doing a wrap-up post, I would love to know what your setup looks like. You’re inspiring me to do a (much shorter) tour of my own when the weather cools down in Texas! πŸ˜€ Happy travels!

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    • Thanks for the encouragement, Mer! You make me smile πŸ˜€ I have been meaning to put a post together about our gear, but I do have a feeling I won’t actually do it until the very end of the tour, haha!

      Yay! That is exciting news, I hope you have a perfectly splendid tour. Waiting until the weather cools down is a wise move…I am sure Texas heat is brutal!!

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  8. I’m glad you saw different road signs too – I didn’t expect that within the US! I crossed the border from Northern Ireland into the Republic of Ireland on my ride and the signs went all strange with lots of yellow, speed limits and distances changed from miles to kilometres (totally making a mess of my ability to judge distances between places), and currency change too!

    I had some epic hills on my ride, but my bike seemed to be just too heavy to take advantage of them for me to acquire a new personal best; like it insists on feeling sluggish going down them if I made it feel sluggish on the way up; that or I was conserving energy and didn’t want to go crazy! Although, it turns out the highest speed I recorded on my trip was 43.9mph, and that was coasting (if you want to break your speed records, Scotland is the place to go!). Whilst climbing hills was obviously hard work, there were a couple where I felt so amazing by the time I reached the top (more so than speeding down them, although that is fun) – I’ve not felt like that about hill climbing before; grinning from ear to ear for the last stretch and cheering at the top πŸ˜€

    I don’t know what ‘B’ and ‘WW’ score you in the world of Scrabble.

    Shame for the armadillos, I saw badgers in only that condition too 😦

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    • Every state has its own take on road signs, but Missouri has been the most unique so far! Hill climbing is tough work but I have found it exhilarating as well although only occasionally, haha. So cool that you were riding in Scotland and Ireland, it seems like a neat place to ride a bike πŸ™‚

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      • Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland πŸ˜€ Scotland was the best, I only did a short dash down part of the east side of Ireland…. everyone says the west coast of Ireland is the best place to be… I’ll have to go back some day πŸ˜‰

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