May 21, 2001

5/21/01 Columbia, MO

52.4 miles

Again, I'm so thankful to have been under a roof during a full night of thunderstorms. Later, I learned of tornadoes in Southern Missouri.

As I packed up, the skies were still covered in a blanket of clouds, and a lot cooler. I dug out my rain gear, just in case. The roads alongside the trail were pretty busy this Monday morning, so I was glad to be on a separate route. Besides the threat of rain, I was riding against a stiff headwind. So what do I do? Start singing, of course. "Rain, rain go away!"

And up on the horizon, I see a sliver of blue sky. The wind is pushing the clouds past me! Now my morning is looking up. And off to my left, I see rising up over the farm fields, the Missouri State Capitol building. What a view!

The farther west I go, the warmer it gets as the sun comes out. Added a few more critters to the Katy Trail menagerie - a skunk and a few black snakes. I think I just surprised the skunk. As I stopped to get my camera, he couldn't be bothered from his rooting among the brush so I could take his picture. This despite all the noise I made (I drew the line at actually approaching him).

Big Muddy

In many places, the trail is literally touching the Missouri River. I am in awe of the immense power that is flowing past me. I'm surprised that it hasn't carved a Grand Canyon right through this state.

Thought I'd stop off in Hartsburg to get some breakfast, but no luck. Seems that Monday is an off day for those businesses along the Katy Trail that cater to the weekend cyclists. So it was back on the bike for a few more miles.

In front of Riverview Traders

Still looking for a morning snack, I stopped at the Riverview Traders General Store in Wilton. I talked with owner Maggie Riesenmy about all the Indian crafts for sale, 80% of which she makes herself. "We're also busy getting ready for Memorial Day weekend," she says. "There will be 30 campers here plus another 30 family members." The store also rents teepees in the campground across the street. After a quick candy bar break, it's back on the bike.

Sometimes a guidebook can be wrong. Such was the case with Cooper's Landing, which had a big "Open" sign outside, while the guidebook said closed on Monday's. Mike Cooper was full of enthusiasm today. He's expanding his river business to become a full-service marina with some grant money he's gotten to prepare for the Lewis & Clark Bicentennial in 2004. "These days, there just aren't many places on the river to service the average boater," he says. He's expecting a lot more river traffic to celebrate that bicentennial of the famous expedition.

As we got talking about bikes and Kansas City, he writes down the name of a KC. cyclist who is practically "one of the family" he's seen so often on the trail. It's Jim Fogle, the very cyclist I'm supposed to meet on the trail today. We keep playing phone tag. That is, whenever I find a phone. But as I come out of the store, the wind has picked up and more clouds have moved in.

I make a quick decision to take the side trail into Columbia to visit my cousins, Matt and Brian O'Neil. Once into town, I stop by Cyclextreme to get help with directions. Turns out my cousins' place is easy to find, just down the street from Stephen's College.

Matt & Brian, my cousins

Matt is at work, so Brian makes me feel at home. After a quick shower, he recommends the "International Café." By the time I get back, Matt is home. I've only met my cousins last Christmas, but they were glad I decided to stop by on my cross-country trip. Later, all three of us would go out to eat at Flat Creek Brewhouse. Great, great food and I even tried a Katy Trail pale ale.

As the evening progressed, along with some of their friends, we played a little "friendly" ping pong. If you're ever in Columbia, Brian could use some competition. The guys have gone out while I sit here catching up on my journal. I think tomorrow we're aiming for Sedalia, some 70 miles away. Then, after that, it's home to KC.!