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Katy Trail 2003

Fall, 2003

Clinton to St. Charles, Missouri and Back to Clinton

 map link  to the Katy Trail

Story by Laurie Allshouse

     We have a long history with the Katy Trail, starting from a stay at a Bed & Breakfast in Augusta, Missouri in the fall of 1997.  The H. S. Clay House had two old bicycles they let us use to explore the Katy Trail with a ride to Defiance, just seven miles away.  We fell in love with biking and bought our first two from Jerry at the Bicycle Store in Oklahoma City. 
     The following April, my mom, Virginia Capron, and family friend, John Reasoner, rode with us from Columbia, Missouri to St. Charles, staying at B & B’s along the way.  We had a vehicle parked at each end of our route but that really was a hassle to set up and get regrouped again.
     In the fall of 1999, Jim and Arletta Webster, Steve and Cynthia Wade, Susan Walker and my mom rode from Sedalia to St. Charles and then back to Washington to catch the train to Sedalia.  We noticed something funny.  The ride from St. Charles back to Washington looked different or at least, we noticed different things.  An idea was born to ride the Katy again but take two weeks and start in Clinton.  We would ride to St. Charles and spend two nights before turning around and riding back to Clinton.
     In September of 2003, we were ready to put those plans into motion.  Jim and I started riding from Clinton, Missouri on a cloudy, overcast Sunday morning.  It had rained during the night but the weather forecast predicted a warm week ahead of us.  We were able to park our van long term just one block south of the trailhead at the Clinton Community Center.
   We checked in with the receptionist, who told us that not only was the large lot lighted but also patrolled several times a night.  There was no charge for this service, just wishes for a safe and wonderful journey.
     It felt good to be back on the Katy trail, our old friend.  With two front and two rear panniers (saddlebags), we were prepared for anything.  Jim was carrying 44 pounds and I carried 43.  Our Bianchi touring bikes each weighed 33 pounds before they were loaded down with our belongings for a two-week credit card trip (we weren’t camping).  The terrain felt a little hillier than I remembered.  Visually you didn’t notice any hills but it definitely wasn’t flat as a pancake either.  There wasn’t much traffic on the trail.  We saw ten turtles, one squirrel and one jogger.  Right out of Windsor we ran into two backpackers who had spent the night in Windsor and returning to Clinton.  They were training for a much longer hike in the coming weeks.  After we left these two, it started sprinkling on us for all of five minutes.  Our next excitement came when we saw six horseback riders near Green Ridge.  We stopped as they went by so we wouldn’t scare their horses.  They had ridden from Sedalia for a little Sunday jaunt.
     Six hours later at a blistering speed of ten mph, we arrived at the historic Hotel Bothwell in Sedalia http://www.hotelbothwell.com  As we came back out to collect our bikes after registering, it really started raining.  We timed our arrival just right!  We were told we could keep our bikes in our room so we didn’t even need to unload our panniers.  As we settled in, it began to lightening and rain in bucket loads.  Unfortunately the dining room at the Bothwell wasn’t open on Sunday night but they did have menus from area restaurants that would deliver.  We decided to eat Chinese in our nice, dry, warm room.
 

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A little rain to keep down the dust out of my eyes when Laurie takes off.

Laurie is ready to hit the trail

Trail information

See the skid mark? That was Laurie doing a burnout.

This turtle looks like his back has been hand painted, doesn't it?

The first bridge of the day

One of my best pictures, it is all in the wrist.

It is like riding thru a tunnel in places.

The "Pride of Windsor" a former MK&T caboose # 130 now restored to it's original appearance as the Katy Railroad's Spirit of 76.

They sure have nice trailheads

Laurie waiting for me a bunch as I stopped to take pictures.

A nice red barn.

There was a lot of water in places.

Laurie and Jim on the bridge, our first picture with the timer. It looks like it worked.

This is one of the original bridges that the trains used

Laurie waiting for a train.

     The next morning as we were enjoying our continental breakfast in the adjoining coffee shop, we met six people from Ohio and two from Washington DC.  This group was also heading to Rocheport for the next night’s stay.   The weather was bright and sunny.  The trail made of crushed limestone soaked up all the rain and was in great shape.  Lots of vegetation sheltered the trail.  Being the first riders out in the morning, I kept running into cobwebs.  It felt like hair across my face.  When we stopped, cobwebs were clinging to my bike.  Jim had a flat rear tire.  As he stopped to fix it, dinner call went out to every mosquito in the county.  Jim pulled on a jacket to protect his arms from attack while I frantically searched for my bug spray.  Success at last after three had already feasted on my blood.  Unfortunately, I unknowingly sprayed my bite valve.  Ugh.  Not only did it taste awful but also my lips went numb.  I was hoping I didn’t go into convulsions and wondering if Jim would even notice if I did.  While Jim was busy changing his tire, another rider stopped to see if we needed help.  His name was Gene Getty.  He was taking only two days to ride from St. Charles to Clinton (250 miles).  He had spent the night in Hartsburg with Jeanette at the Globe Hotel.  His wife and another couple were meeting him with food and water every so often.  He was joining them for lunch in Pilot Grove at 1 o’clock.  He still had 60 miles to go after that.
     Before reaching Boonville, we could hear the whine of traffic that only continued to get louder.  Miles would pass before we crossed over I-70.  As those sounds began to fade, the air was filled with cattle bellowing . . . .and the customary smell that accompanies a feedlot.  Smells like money to me, as Johnnie Lerma would say. 
     At the New Franklin trail head we met Bob Rogers from the Phred touring list.  He knew or had been in contact with Jim Foreman and was planning to join the Geezers on their next adventure.
     After 51 miles we finally arrived in Rocheport at the Katy O’Neil B & B.
   Rodney showed us the boxcar we would be staying in.  We had a bathroom, kitchen and loft with extra sleeping areas.  Rodney and Sherry asked us if we’d like to drive up to the Les Bourgeois vineyard.  http://www.missouriwine.com  It was several miles away with a lot of hills.  After our long ride, sitting in a car seemed like heaven.  We ran into two of our Ohio women, who were staying at the School House B & B.  We bought a bottle of wine to take back to our room.  Since none of the three restaurants in Rocheport saw the need to be open on Monday nights, Rodney heated a DiGiorno pizza for us.  Where were all the good meals I’d envisioned eating?  We had Chinese takeout for dinner one night and frozen pizza the next.  Seems like someone in Rocheport could have coordinated their services a little better.  But as Brett Dufur later told me, that would have made sense.

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This old bridge is quite a site.

This bridge was built in 1931, it has a 408 foot lift span that was,at the time it was built, the longest in the United States.

At first sight of this casino, I thought I was in Oklahoma but no, it was Missouri.

Bob Rogers, from the Phred Touring list.

The Ohio group we met at the Hotel Bothwell in Sedalia.

Laurie starting into the Katy's only tunnel.

The 1893 MK&T train tunnel.

The Katy O' Neil B&B garage sports a bicycle built for two.

Our boxcar home for the night.

Would you believe this was in the boxcar?

Loft over the bathroom and kitchen

Rocheport train depot replica turned into bathroom for trail users.

The Cracked Crab, Rocheport's newest restaurant.

Unfortunately not open on Mondays.

    

Tuesday morning dawned bright and sunny. As we rode along the bluffs, we met another rider who seemed to be hunting for something.  We stopped to chat and he said there was a MKT train symbol embedded in the rock somewhere.  I looked for a while but there was so much vegetation, I didn’t think I would see it.  But all of a sudden there was a clearing and there it was.  Jim snapped a picture for posterity.

     We spotted a new gravel trail that went up a little canyon in the bluffs.  Leaving our bikes on the trail, we hiked up in anticipation of seeing a waterfall.  The trail meandered and then crossed the ravine.  We decided maybe we should go back to our bikes and give up this wild goose chase.  At the trailhead, there now was a man putting more fresh gravel down.  We asked him where the trail went to and he replied the winery.  It was Les Bourgeois winery that we had visited the night before.

     We had made plans to ride the MKT trail (8.9 miles) to Columbia and have lunch at the Flat Branch Micro Brewery.  http://www.flatbranch.comThe MKT is a beautiful wooded trail with lots of small ponds and a lot more variety of terrain than the Katy.  It is very popular with runners, walkers and other cyclists from the Columbia area.  It was a beautiful day and lots of people were out enjoying the fine weather.

    The Flat Branch has great sandwiches and I never can resist one of their handcrafted beers.  But I will never learn.  The rest of the afternoon was spent fighting sleepiness and  all I wanted to do was find a nice bench on which to take a nap.  We stopped at Coopers Landing for ice cream treats in hopes it would revive me.

     We pulled into Hartsburg about 3:30.  Jeanette greeted us with a big hug and “Welcome Home!”  She offered homemade lemonade.  It really hit the spot.  I would have hurried more if I’d known that cool treat was waiting for me.

     All along the trail, people told us how nice Jeanette and the Globe Hotel is.  We would chuckle and tell them we knew.  The Globe was our first stay on our first trip back in 1998.  We can’t make a trip to the area without staying with her.  She’s just like family.  Her hotel has six rooms now.  Three have a double bed and three have two twin beds
     The little town of Hartsburg has it’s own winery.  From a past trip, we also knew that they served great food.  As we were leaving the Globe Hotel, we met Sean (See Ann), another guest coming in the front door.  After getting checked in, she joined us on the patio of the Thornhill Vineyards Winery for fruit and sandwiches.  We learned that she was from Kansas City but she used to live in Tulsa and had ridden FreeWheel as a teenager.  Recently she became interested in cycling again and had started training for this Katy Trail ride.  She started in Sedalia and was riding to her uncle’s in St. Louis, arriving on Friday night.  He would take her to the train on Sunday for the trip back to Sedalia.


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New bulletin boards for trail information make a nice place to rest and get out of the sun or rain.

Missouri's Big Muddy River

A memorial for the Katy Trail State Park founder.

MKT train symbol that was so hard to spot with all the vegetation clinging to the bluffs.

Now how did my bike get clear down there without me?

I-70 bridge

Bluffs tower over the trail east of Rocheport.

Watch out for cobwebs if you are the first rider in the morning!

Watch out for the wash out to the right of the trail!

Lunch at the Flat Branch Micro Brewery in Columbia.

Small caves were plentiful in the limestone bluffs.

Boat cemetary

Fishing the Missouri

Sean and Laurie in front of the Globe Hotel, Hartsburg.

Jeanette, proprietor of the Globe Hotel.

    

 

     We shared the Globe Hotel with Sean, and another couple who were headed east.  The next morning, Jim and I were the last to leave.  We were busy taking pictures of Jeanette and the hotel.

     Riding past soybean fields, we caught up with Sean at the North Jefferson trailhead. We rode to Tebbetts together.  Mrs. Turner had died and her store is now Jim’s Kountry Bar but at least it is open seven days a week.  We purchased sandwiches and took them out to the picnic tables to enjoy.  Jim noticed his front tire losing air.  At least he had a nice shady spot to change it.

     Wednesday must be the day that recumbent riders come out of the woodwork.  We saw ten recumbents, five snakes and only one turtle.

     I was a little apprehensive when we made our reservations at The Rendleman Home B & BOn our previous trip when Jim and Arletta Webster had stayed there, a fence encircled the house with large barking dogs announcing their arrival.  I wasn’t looking forward to that experience.  But when we rode up, there was no fence.  There was one large dog sleeping on the porch, who raised his sleepy head to greet us.  He slowly got up and ambled our way in a friendly greeting.  Doug Rendleman welcomed us to his home.  What a character!  With his aging hippy hairstyle and laid-back hospitality, we felt right at home.  It was like staying with a bachelor uncle.  He introduced us to Melanie Rodgers, a friend from Ohio who raises Rocky Mountain Gaited horses.  It was Melanie’s dog that had greeted us.  Sean stopped by to visit with us before heading on to Hermann for the night.    

   Doug’s door had a chalkboard where he could leave a message by checking the appropriate box.

 I’m at:

  1. Grocery store – be right back
  2. Visiting friends
  3. In Jail – bring bail money

     We laughed and had a great time as we watched Doug prepare dinner.  Melanie had told us that he was a great cook and he didn’t disappoint us.  Not only did we enjoy Beer Butt Chicken, but he also showed Jim how to make it.


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One of the many old barns we passed while riding on the trail.

Laurie going through the many gates.

Sean

Peaceful house nestled in the trees.

Soybean fields

Sturdy jail that doesn't get much use anymore at Mokane.

Flood date markings

Laurie reads about the floods.

Famous Rendleman Home B & B

      
    Thursday morning dawned bright and cool.  After feeding us oatmeal, Doug sent us on our way.  Treloar was the anticipated lunch stop for the day but when we arrived, we found that it didn’t open until 4:00 p.m.  What a disappointment!  We had eaten there in the past and really wanted to visit again.  We pulled emergency provisions from our packs and headed to Marthasville, our destination for the day.  We arrived at 1:00 and saw Sean’s bike outside Scenic Cycles
, http://www.scenic-cycles.com one of my favorite bike stores.  They have the neatest items and this year was no different.  After finding a small handlebar bag and some new gloves, Sean joined us for lunch at Loretta’s Place.  Sean headed for the H. S. Clay House in Augusta and we went to the Little House B & B.

     After giving Rita a call, she showed us our own little house for the night.  We had two bedrooms, a full size kitchen and living room AND a washer and dryer.  Apples and oranges, crackers and cheese were waiting for us.  Rita also had blueberry muffins, a variety of cold cereals with milk and juice for the next morning.  Cute decorations adorned every room.  After spending several nights chatting with hosts, it was nice to have a house all to ourselves.  Now what goes with apples, cheese and crackers?  Wine, of course.  We took our showers and then went on a hiking quest for wine.  Our first stop was Loretta’s Place that also included a bar.  But alas, there was no white wine.  We were sent down the street to a bar but they didn’t have any white wine either.  We were pointed across the highway to a convenience store.  A convenience store?  Yes, in Missouri they sell liquor at the convenience stores.  Success!  We found a bottle of Missouri Chardonnay and went back to enjoy our night’s repast while watching Survivor.  I was so excited to see Survivor while on vacation and to enjoy apples, cheese, crackers and wine.  It just doesn’t get any better than that.
     Thunder and lightening storms awakened us about 2:00.  The weather report had said they would be scattered and moving on through.  After a leisurely breakfast, we waited for the latest rain to move on out.

 


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I stopped because the sign said NOT to stop. It made a nice picture.

Caution: Entering an area where adjacent land uses may conflict with trail use and aesthetics. Please be alert and maintain your progress as you travel through this area.

The Little House B&B in Marthasville. We were under the porch the next morning watching the rain.

    

 

    We finally left about 9 a.m.  It was hard to leave such a cute little house.  I could easily envision living there.

     Right before we got to Augusta, sprinkles started hitting us.  We humped it up to get the last two miles to the trailhead.  By the time we made it, the storms had moved north of us.  At 11 o’clock, the sun came out in spurts.  We stopped in Defiance for a light lunch and as we were finishing, who should walk in but Sean. What a pleasant surprise!  We had assumed she was in front of us but she hadn’t left until 11:00 when the storms had passed.  We leap frogged into St. Charles.  We ride faster but we stop for pictures more often.  The trail had become mushy with all of the rain and riding became hard work as the earth tried to grab on to our bike wheels.

     As we passed the Events Center facility shortly before entering St. Charles, the smell of fresh cut wood caught our attention.  A host of cars and trailers were parked around the buildings.  Woodcutting chainsaw sculptures adorned the parking lot.  It was amazing to see the intricate handiwork done to a piece of wood to produce such life forms.

     At the mile marker post in St. Charles, we took pictures of each other.  Our next stop was the Trailhead Brewery http://www.trailheadbrewing.com for a victory beer to celebrate Sean’s completion of her journey and our halfway point.  Her uncle joined us and our kind waitress took our picture together. It came time to part ways but we exchanged e-mail addresses.  We hope to see Sean again.  FreeWheel, maybe?

     We still had a mile and a half to ride to Sundermeier RV Park http://www.sundermeierrvpark.com/cottages_event.html towards the end of the trail.  Small cabins are available along with the RV sites.  The woman who checked us in was a full time RV dweller.  She and her husband travel all over and get jobs through Workamper News.  They are citizens of Texas since that state doesn’t have any income tax.  She seemed so thrilled with their lifestyle it made me jealous.  Sure hope I can talk Jim into living in a travel trailer when we retire. 
     After showering we walked in the rain next door to the Beefeaters Grill and Bar.  We were really looking forward to a good steak dinner.  As the lights flickered we prayed that the electricity didn’t go out until after our steaks were cooked.  Rain and lightening entertained us while we consumed every morsel put in front of us.  We hadn’t had this much food available to us all week.  We enjoyed every bite.  We walked back to our cabin to hunker down for the night with promises that Saturday would have drier weather for our investigation of the St. Charles area.


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Some grain silo's on the bluff ahead. One of the few places where fall colors were beginning to show.

Laurie at the nice winery.

BUT, not up that hill!! We had been there before and the portion of the hill you see is only half of it.

A bicycle with a home made rider

Sean calling her uncle to tell him where to meet us in St. Charles.

Flowers on the edge of St. Charles

A brand new bridge

The St. Charles Events Center.

Amazing what you can do with a chainsaw.

Sean getting close to the end of the trail.

And here is the end of the trail.

Laurie and Jim at the end of this leg of our route.

Now, this is really what we were riding for - a tall cool one.

Buggy rides going up main street stop there for more riders.

NOW, here is a bike for a big family.

I told this bartender that she would be on the net, so here she is. She was the only friendly one there.

Laurie, Jim, Sean and her uncle that lives in St. Louis.

    

     We were up early and cycled to the St. Louis Bread Company for breakfast.  We window-shopped before the stores opened.  It was very quiet.  There were a few people out but it wasn’t at all busy yet.

     We walked over to the Lewis and Clark Museum.  For only $1 per person we viewed interesting exhibits and watched a 45-minute film produced by National Geographic about the Lewis and Clark expedition.  For the 200th anniversary a group of re-enactors is following in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark.  http://lewisandclark.net/ They will land in St. Charles on May 14, 2004 before continuing their journey. 

     After a light lunch we rode back to our cabin with our book purchases and changed into cycling gear for a ride to the end of the trail.  It ends right after passing under Hwy. 270.  We went down a small hill to another park and picked up a quiet road that had MRT signs (Mississippi River Trail).  It ran a long ways beside the undeveloped Katy Trail but ended with a gravel road that said no trespassing.  We went back to the last paved junction and started following MRT signs again.  That ran into a VERY busy road with a wide shoulder.  We opted not hassle with it this trip. 
     For dinner we decided not to take our bikes and walked to the main street in historical old town St. Charles.  Everything seemed quieter than we expected and nothing special seemed to be happening.  Our dinner was adequate but the service was lousy.  Maybe the party animals don’t come out until after 10:00 – when we are in bed.


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Lewis and Clark statue by the river.

Creek behind the Trailhead Brewery. Wonder if this is where they get the water for their beer.

Laurie walking down by the boat dock.

Here is one of the rebuilt keel boats that will make the journey on the Lewis & Clark re-enactment tour in May, 2004.

I was too slow taking this. He had bent down and was putting a ticket under their wiper blades. I thought he would fall off. What talent!

Laurie at the Lewis and Clark campsite sign.

Jim's turn at the same sign.

    
     Sunday morning was bright and sunny but cold.  We loaded up and rode downtown to the Winery in the Little Hills for breakfast.  We were offered the option of eating outside but decided we’d be warm up for as long as we could and stay inside.  Jim had the buffet and I had a wonderful spinach & artichoke omelet.

     The trail had dried out since Friday but the wind was very cool.  We saw a ton of people on the trail.  While I was putting on another layer, we met a Dr. Corwin, who told us to tell Jeanette that he’d be out to visit after hunting season was over.  No matter where we went, people knew about Jeanette and the Globe Hotel in Hartsburg.

     In Defiance we stopped by the bar to get some hot coffee and thaw out a little.  One of the guys we had seen in there on Friday was there again.  Must be his neighborhood hangout.  We found a little Cheers bar in the small town of Defiance, Missouri.

     We climbed the long hill in Augusta about 1 o’clock.  The Red Brick Inn http://www.redbrick-bb.com would be our home for the night.  Gary and Corrine were ready for us.  We showered and walked to the Augusta Winery.  We had a case of port and other wines shipped home for us.  One girl asked if we wanted to take it with us.  I reminded her that we were on bikes but she thought we might have a little trailer to haul it in.  Yeah, right.  I’d like to haul a case of wine around.  Jim did carry one bottle from there all the way to Sedalia before we finally opened it.  We had an early dinner of bratwurst at the Augusta Brewery with one of their local brews. 

     Back at the Red Brick Inn, we chatted with Gary and Corrine.  Gary is a pilot instructor and he had a student that needed night experience.  He left about 7 p.m. to meet his student.  The next morning he was flying to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester to return a local resident back to Augusta.  I chatted with Corrine while Jim took a nap.  The house used to be living quarters on one side and a grocery store on the other side.  They took the plaster off the walls.  Horsehair was used with plaster and another material I can t remember.  Once they got rid of all that, the musty smell of the house disappeared.  Most of the walls were brick, hence the Red Brick Inn.  Jim woke up about 8:00 and we borrowed swimsuits to use in their backyard hot tub.  The back yard was a paradise with terraced deck and grape arbor and even a little pond.  The hot tub felt good on tired, sore muscles and it wasn’t long before our eyelids began to droop.

 

 

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Man, it was cold this morning AND Laurie is in shorts. We are leaving for Augusta.

We hardly ever saw anyone without a helmet while riding the whole trail. So, I am guessing there are not as many donors in Missouri as in Oklahoma.

There wasn't much fall folage out yet.

Backyard of the Red Brick Inn, Augusta

Hot tub area off the deck

Red Brick Inn's beautiful backyard.

Looks an awful lot like Laurie's grandmother's machine.

I guess I had driven her to drink today. We ate at this German outdoor bar in Augusta just up from the trailhead. Good brats and good beer. We had the heater by us. It was a chilly afternoon.

View from the Augusta Brewing Company. Through the trees you can see the bathroom at the Katy trailhead.

Augusta Brewing Company

The Red Brick Inn B&B in Augusta

I am loading the horses to travel, this is a lot of work.

Corrine, Red Brick Inn proprietor

    
    The next morning we awoke to coffee and tea and mini pecan muffins outside our door.  Corrine treated us to a scrumptious breakfast of stuffed French toast, maple bacon, scrambled eggs with dill and a fruit cup with yummy topping.  We chatted with Corrine for hours and didn’t leave until 10:00. It was sunny but only 45 degrees.  We sure were glad we’d brought all the layers we did.  We ended up using every one of our clothing items.  Sean had packed only one small pack.  I think she thought we were crazy for having everything that we brought.  But over the two-week period we were hot, cold, wet and wind blown.

     Being quite chilled, we stopped in Marthasville for some coffee and tea to warm up.  We were better prepared on our way back through Treloar this time.  We stopped for lunch and brought our own grub.  Using their out door picnic table that sat in the sun, we enjoyed fruit, buffalo sausage and cheese.  It was one of the better lunches we enjoyed on the trail.

     Riding along we met another loaded tourer coming towards us and heading east.  We met Stefan Roshardt from Switzerland.  He had started in Anacortes, Washington two months earlier and was headed to Key West, Florida.  He had ridden 2800 miles when we met him.  He happened on the trail at Boonville and was getting off at Dutzow.  He spent the previous night in the hostel at Tebbetts.  I gave him my card and he said he’d e-mail me when he made it to Key West but we haven’t heard from him.

     Arriving at McKittrick, Jim called and Jerry Brown from Gretchen’s Haus picked us up and took us across the river to their place in Hermann.  Upstairs was a sitting room with three bedrooms radiating to the sides.  I chose the one that would have morning sun.  Wine, cheese, and grapes awaited our arrival along with a most welcoming hot shower.  I washed my shorts and took them down to dry on the backyard clothesline.  As we were getting ready to go out for dinner, I took a look out the back and one of their big dogs had pulled my shorts off the line and was chewing on them.  I screamed and Jim ran down the back stairs yelling at the dogs.  Jerry came out of his office.  They captured my shorts – no worse for wear.

     We went walking a couple of blocks to the Wild Grapevine that Sean had recommended.  It was closed on Mondays.  Several other options were also closed too.  We finally found a bar down by the river that served food.  I had a burger and Jim had chicken and ribs.  We felt lucky to find food on a Monday.  I guess Missourians don’t eat out on Mondays and they don’t want their guests to eat out either.

                                         

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Stephan Roshardt from Switzerland

Our one and only barge this trip.

    
    Tuesday morning Gretchen made us a great breakfast of omelets, biscuits, hash browns and fruit cups.  I enjoyed a special treat of a German tea with sugar cubes and cream in a tiny cup.  Gretchen told us we were her first cyclists to stay in their B & B.  She didn’t know what to feed us (like we were from outer space maybe?) She had talked to her friend who owns the Meyers Hilltop B & B and hosts a lot of cyclists.  Her friend told her that cyclists are easy to please as long as you feed them lots Jerry and Gretchen were great hosts and they both drove us to the trailhead and watched us ride off into a morning of mist and light rain. 

     As we passed one farmhouse, a dog came out to run with us.  He took the lead and started to tire after awhile, but he couldn’t stand not being the lead dog.  He was traveling anywhere from 10 to 12 mph.  We stopped in Rhineland for some new camera batteries and he wandered off while we were inside.  As we progressed the rain started falling and became heavier the further we went.  The trail was mushy and made progress difficult.

I seemed to be having more and more trouble keeping my speed.  I asked Jim if my tires were up and he assured me that they were.  Finally as I slowed to a crawl, Jim looked back and saw that yes, in fact, I did have a flat front tire.  As he was changing it, one of the trail rangers drove up and asked if we had everything we needed.  When we assured him we did, he told us that it was supposed to snow.  It was cold but not THAT cold.  Jim told him if that was the case, he better scoot over because we were climbing in with him.  We started riding again and I hadn’t gone half a mile when I yelled that my tire was flat again.  Jim had used one of his previous flat tire tubes to fix mine.  As Jim changed it for a second time, I became chilled all over. 

     We stopped in Mokane, had lunch in the grocery story and tried to warm up.  There were two tables in the front of the store.  One table had three local women.  They kept looking at us like we were nuts to be out in that weather and we were!  We had 18 miles to go.  We would add more clothes every time we stopped.  Finally we made it to the trailhead at North Jefferson.  Jim got the cell phone out to call the Hotel DeVille http://www.devillehotel.com for a ride across the bridge.  Just then a man stuck his head out of the trailhead bathroom and said something that I couldn’t understand.  He was wet and shivering.  I wondered if he was homeless, as we didn’t see a bike.  He came over to us and introduced himself as Tommy.  I asked him if he had a bike.  Yes, it was in the bathroom.  He was freezing and waiting for a friend that was behind him on the trail.  Just as our ride from the Hotel DeVille drove up, Tommy’s riding companion, Joe, rode up, too.  Tommy asked our driver if he had room for two more bikes.  Jim and I had 10 bags.  Tommy had a Walmart sack and Joe had a backpack.  We piled into the pickup cab, with the heater blowing hot air.  I thought Tommy was going to kiss the driver. 

     Tommy and Joe were from Houston.  Joe’s aunt lived somewhere close to Clinton and had taken them from her place to the trailhead.  The previous day had been beautiful.  They rode from Clinton to Boonville.  They hadn’t made reservations anywhere but Boonville was big enough that they didn’t have any trouble finding a hotel.  Tuesday was a different story.  They had been rained on all day and neither one had rain gear.  They were soaked to the bone and didn’t have any dry clothes to put on.  Luckily, the Hotel DeVille had a room for them. 

     As we arrived at the hotel, our driver said he’d take our bikes, wash them off and put some grease on the chains so they wouldn’t rust.  What service!  We headed to our room for a nice, long, hot shower.  I put my long johns on afterward and went to dinner in my hiking pants.  I had a long dress but I was putting on the warmest thing in my wardrobe.  As we left our room, we noticed that housekeeping was taking dry clothes to Tommy and Joe.  They had washed and dried their clothes along with taking care of our bikes. 

     We had the most scrumptious dinner in the elegant dining room.  Jim had a steak stuffed with shrimp and crawfish and covered with a tasty sauce.  I had salmon.  Also on the plate was a tomato covered with melted cheese.  It looked like a caramel apple and tasted heavenly.  As we were eating, Tommy and Joe walked in for dinner.  They sure cleaned up nice and looked like humans again.  We met them in the bar afterwards and compared trail stories.  What a perfect ending to a not so perfect day!  It could have been worse.  The wind could have blown or we could have had lightening.  As it was, cold and wet wasn’t all that unpleasant.

     We saw Susan Stewart, owner of the Hotel DeVille, in the bar and thanked her for her wonderful hospitality.  She told us, “Bikers are the nicest people.”  We think she is pretty special herself.

 

Susan Stewart of the Hotel DeVille in Jefferson City.

     Wednesday morning we had coffee, juice and the morning paper delivered to our door.  We went down to the dining room for breakfast.  Then our breakfast waiter was the one to drive us back to the trail.  It was another cold morning.  My thermometer said 40 degrees.  The sun didn’t come out until after 11:00.  We stopped and chatted with Jeanette at the Globe Hotel.  We told her a little about our trip and passed on the message from Dr. Corwin.

     From Hartsburg to Rocheport we didn’t find any places open to eat and were looking forward to the Trailside Café in Rocheport.  As we were coming around the corner, I saw them take down the umbrellas outside.  By the time we got to the door, it was locked.  The sign said they were open much later but for some reason they had just closed.  What a disappointment!  We were both starving.  We rode up to Pebble Publishing.  Brett Dufur was sitting out front with another gentleman and pointed out Abigail’s across the street for lunch.  It was very nice.  I had corn chowder and fresh sour dough bread.  Jim had a pasta dish.  When we were finished eating, we went back across the street and Brett autographed my second Katy Trail guidebook.    http://www.pebblepublishing.com/complete_katy_trail_guidebook.htm

     It seemed to take forever but we finally made it to Boonville.  We had spent 7 ½ hours on our bikes.  Victoria had given us the door code for the Morgan Street Repose and we let ourselves in.  Our room door had a note telling us that tea and cookies were waiting for us in the dining room and to leave a note on the stove telling her what time we wanted breakfast served.  Coffee and muffins would be outside our door an hour before breakfast.  Music was playing and the house smelled wonderful.  It was very Victorian and had lots of stuff everywhere. 
     After our showers we walked to the Palace for dinner.  It’s the same place we had eaten in 1998.  They had a good salad bar and the baked potatoes were really good, too.

 


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Brett Dufur in front of his Pebble Publishing bookstore in Rocheport. His book, The Complete Katy Trail Guidebooks, is the definative guide to making plans for your Katy Trail adventure.

Victoria and Laurie in front of the Morgan Street Repose in Booneville.

     We finally got to meet Victoria at breakfast.  I hadn’t realized that she lived in the house next to Morgan Street Repose.  The place was so big; we never knew we had been alone in the house all night long.  Victoria served eggs benedict and we ate every bite even though it was a huge amount.  She told us we didn’t need to eat it all but it was too good not to.    Our breakfast was at 7:30 but we got to chatting and didn’t get on the road until 10:30.  It was a beautiful day.  It had warmed up and wasn’t quite so cold for our later start.  The sun was shining without a cloud in the sky.  We stopped in Pilot Grove and purchased sandwiches, grapes and candy bars to enjoy at the trailhead in Clifton City. 

     We had a lot of uphill inclines on this section of the trail.  It seemed like it was the most climbing of the whole trip.  As we were eating our lunch a group of four stopped to talk.  They were headed to Hermann but didn’t have reservations and October fest was starting that weekend.  Hmmm, I wonder if they found a place to stay.  Gretchen had told us that she was booked every weekend until December.

     Pulling into Sedalia we stopped to take a picture of the train station turned into a museum.  It was open so we went in to look around.  A very nice facility with an interactive display scheduled for the near future.

     Amy checked us into our room at the Hotel Bothwell.  The Bothwell was the only place on our trip that we visited coming and going.  Amy had greeted us on our first stay and we got our same room again.  It felt almost like coming home.  We brought the bikes into our room.  It was so nice not to have to lug the panniers off.  It was sad when we realized this would be our last night on the Katy Trail.
     We opened the bottle of wine Jim had packed from Augusta.  Our victory dinner was enjoyed in the hotel dining room with after dinner drinks in the quaint Speak Easy bar downstairs.  It was a quiet night for the bartender and we chatted with him for about an hour before going to bed.


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Round barn off the main trail. We read about it on one of the new information center bulletin boards that are being put up at the trailheads.

Amy checked us in for the second time at the Hotel Bothwell in Sedalia.

Jim and Laurie enjoy a victory dinner in the dining room at the Hotel Bothwell on our last night of our Katy Trail adventure.

     we left Sedalia at 8:15.  The wind was out of the southwest at 10 – 20 mph.  The first 12 miles was uphill and into a headwind.  It sprinkled on us near Green Ridge but not enough to even clean my glasses.  Wind was the problem for our last day.  We rode into Windsor to find somewhere to get out of the wind.  We found a great family restaurant called Raymond’s.  The place was packed.  Their special was meatloaf, peas, mashed potatoes, bread and a cup of vegetable beef soup.  It really hit the spot and warmed us up.

     As we were leaving five cyclists from Wisconsin rode up with big smiles on their faces.  They were headed east and were enjoying the tailwind ride that was giving us so much trouble.  We talked a little bit and discovered they’d ridden the Michelson trail in South Dakota as we also had done in 2001.

     It seemed to warm up after lunch.  The trees protected us in some places but where it was open prairie, we got the full brunt of the wind’s force.  It took us 6 ½ hours to ride 40 miles at a snails pace of 9 mph.  When we spotted the van, I thought Jim was going to kiss it. 
 

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Caboose at the Clinton trailhead

End of the trail in Clinton

Nice sign.

     We had a great trip but it was going to be good to go home.  Two weeks was about perfect for me.  I think Jim would have been happy with one week, although he said the cold was the problem the second week.  His favorite place to stay was the Little House in Marthasville and our best meal was at the Hotel DeVille in Jefferson City.  The wonderful breakfasts were plentiful and our hosts were all friendly and helpful.
     We left Missouri and stayed in Joplin after we could no longer stand the stench of ourselves.  A nice hot shower and a short walk to Ruby Tuesday’s for a salad bar dinner fit the ticket.
     We had a wonderful adventure and met lots of nice people both on the trail and at the B & B’s where we stayed.  The Katy is a great place to commune with nature and not worry about traffic.  As Brett Dufur wrote in my Katy Trail Guidebook, “Here’s to trails, rivers, dreams and curiosities . . . may they be never-ending!”

Damn, it is over. Back now to the real world

 


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