Distance: 80.36 mi
Average Speed: 11.9 mph; Max Speed: 44.1 mph
Elevation Gain: 3,658 ft
Average Temp: 82.0 F; Temp Range” 66.2 F-105.8 F
I slept very well last night and, for a pleasant change, woke up feeling well-rested. At 3:30 in the morning. I made coffee, ate a cold breakfast of coffee, peanut butter on a tortilla and a Clif bar, and rolled out of the city park by 4:30. I can’t seem to get my morning rituals down to much less than an hour, but with tents and coffee, and packing, I suppose that’s not all that bad.
It was a lovely morning to start early. The temperature was in the 70s as I rolled out of town, and other than a few wispy patches of fog, the riding was good. Even when the sun came up around 6AM, there was enough cloud cover that I didn’t directly see the sun until after 8. Not a bad way to keep the temperature under control.
Sometime after I left but before dawn, I had the urge to smack myself in the forehead. Last night I had plugged in a few things at the city park, using three sockets at two different outlets. I forgot the thing that was at the second outlet. And thus goes my 3rd power bank of the trip. One died when the charging port broke, one died of unknown causes, and this one got left behind. My first rest stop at 6:30 AM was too early, but at my second stop around 8 AM, I called the number on the maps for the city park, because I didn’t want the power-bank to cause any problems due to overheating or shorting things out should it rain, or similar. I hadn’t called that number the night before because they didn’t say check in was a necessity. Perhaps I should have, though, because when I explained my issue my reply was, “Did you plug into the park’s electrical system last night?” When I replied in the affirmative, I was informed that there was a $10 fee for that, and could I please send them a check at my earliest convenience. Okay, sure, fine. The woman then asked if I wanted them to hold my power bank for me so I could retrieve it when I came back. I said that I wasn’t planning on coming back any time soon and she could keep it, sell it, or donate it for all I cared, I just didn’t want it doing damage to the facility. Part of me was annoyed that they couldn’t just take the power bank as credit for the $10. I know why they couldn’t, it wasn’t a rational annoyance. Even less rational was the feeling I had for the next hour like I had done something wrong. I suppose in the eyes of the city I had by not calling them and stealing electricity, but I had no indication that there was a charge. Sometimes my brain is just a jerk, and this morning was one of those times.
The sun came out, as I said, after 8AM, and it started to warm up a bit at that point. Yesterday, I had decided that I’ve been spending too much money on snacks the last week or so and should eat from my pannier stores a bit more. The result is that I only bought two “snacks” today, both of which were drinks. At one rest stop I bought some orange juice, and at my last stop for the day, I bought some milk.
Something worth knowing, which I suspected a few days ago and verified today, is that Missouri is not one of the states that bans smoking inside public spaces. I walked into one gas station convenience store and almost turned around and left again because the smell of cigarette smoke was so strong. I needed my water bottles refilled, though, so I stayed long enough to do that before making my escape. Instead of resting inside in the nice cool air, I sat outside in the comparatively fresher air of the gas station.
The plan for today was to ride 81 miles, but I also knew that there were a lot of hills, steep ones, between me and that goal. Also, the weather report said there was a chance of thunderstorms today. Between the hills and the weather threat, I decided it was prudent to have a place to bail earlier if necessary. That place was a campground called Alley Springs. As I rode past it, I saw people playing in the river and was tempted to stop. It was hot and the river looked inviting. Stopping there, however, would mean that my planned destination for tomorrow was over 90 miles away, so I pressed onward.
Now I’m glad that I did, but there was a time I regretted it. A few miles past the campground was a 1 mile climb. I don’t have an incline gauge, so I don’t know what it was, but I do know that I had to stop three separate times on my way up.
And I passed John, the gentleman I met two days ago also headed east. He had spent last night in Huston and was headed to Eminence tonight. The hill drained us both, so I sat down in the first shade I found after reaching the top and he joined me. Then, a few miles later, we reached Eminence and stopped to make a few calls to the various campgrounds in the area. He was considering a hotel, so he called those places while I made calls to all the places that offered camping. One was $10 per person with $10 extra for electricity. One was $10 per person with $8 extra for electricity. The third had a busy signal and the fourth number was too far out of the way for my taste. The B&B that offered camping didn’t have restrooms, and both the hotels that John called were booked. Apparently, Eminence is a popular destination for the weekend.
The third number I called, the one with the busy signal, was right across the street from where we were standing and had people entering and leaving, so they were open. They also advertised riverfront camping, and the idea of jumping in the river was still appealing. John decided to call, and he also got a busy signal. Before riding off, he tried one more time….and it went through! This one was also $10 a night but only $5 for electricity at the site. In we went.
The approach is a steep gravel road and the entire campground is covered in gravel. It’s not my favorite thing to pitch a tent on, but it’ll work. And for the serene river, it was worth it. The swimming area was just after a bend in the river, and the water was calm and almost lake-like. It was also perfectly cool and refreshing. Just picture the “aaahhhh” moment when I got in. We must have stayed in the water for an hour. At one point a baby turtle, its shell maybe two inches long, swam right up to me. I pointed it out to John and he managed to catch it for a closer look. We showed it to a little girl who was paddling nearby and then she let it go. The terrified (but still adorable) baby turtle swam down and away as fast as it could.
The bathrooms here are amusing, in that the stall doors only come up to about chest height. When you’re sitting, you’re completely hidden, but as soon as you stand, you have a clear view of the room. But the showers were hot and the weather is good, and I think that dip in the river has made everything look a little better than it did earlier today. John likes this spot so much that he’s planning to take a rest day here and went back to the office to book a second night.
I’m looking forward to getting to Farmington. I hear there’s an interesting old jail that has been converted into a hostel.
Roadkill count: 5 birds, 11 armadillos, 1 dog, 5 racoons, 1 squirrel, 3 unknown mammals, 4 snakes, 2 turtles, 2 frogs