Archive | August, 2013

Tuesday, August 27, 2013 Katy Trail

28 Aug

As promised here are a selection of pictures from the Katy Trail in Missouri.

The start of the trail in Clinton, MO

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The high point of the trail:

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The trail along the Missouri river bottoms:

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Sandstone bluffs along the Missouri river often mentioned in the Lewis and Clark journals:

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Sedalia station

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Boonville station (named for Daniel Boone)

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Exiting a tunnel on the trail:

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University of Missouri, Columbia

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Lunch stop:

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State capital:

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Sunset over the Missouri river:

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A dirty bike at the end of the trip:

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Tuesday August 27, 2013

27 Aug

Today we are traveling east across Illinois.  The landscape here is even flatter than Missouri.  Corn and soybeans are the predominant crops, and the farms appear well maintained. We did make a stop in Springfield, IL to visit the Lincoln Library Museum.  The museum was very well done although not a lot of new information since a lot has been written about Lincoln over the years. In fact they made the claim no one has more written about them other than maybe Jesus Christ. I think that this country was very lucky to have Lincoln in the White House during a very difficult time. The many quotes in the museum show his wisdom in the true meaning of liberty for all.

Otherwise, the ride across Illinois was uneventful. We did take back roads most of the way thru small towns rather than zoom by on the interstate. Hard dip  Ice cream was hard to find, but we did find one shop with a few flavors late in the day. However the highlight for small town Illinois was this Historic two story outhouse in Gays, Il.

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We are definitely getting closer to home as after 4 months, we returned to the eastern time zone today.

That is it for Illinois.

Manny and Marsha

Sunday August 25, 2013

25 Aug

Hello All,

This week we bicycled the Katy Trail in Missouri.  The Katy Trail follows the old Missouri-Kansas-Texas rail road for 276 miles across Missouri.  We started on the western side of the state in Clinton, MO. Traveling east the trail followed some ridge lines which mark the boundary between the Ozark mountains and the prairie.  Although following the ridges made for some up and down the hills were nothing like those in the Blackhills of SD. Following the ridges also had the advantage of keeping the railroad and now the trail out of the swampy flood plain along the Missouri river. The scenery in this section was mostly open farm land with intermittent tree lines along the trail. On the second day we came to the town of Booneville where the trail crosses the Missouri and then drops down onto the river flood plain for the remainder of the trip to St Charles. The flood plain is of course very flat and the trail was often very straight for miles. Again it was mostly farm land (corn) with intermittent tree lines to offer shade. Thankfully there was more shade than not because it was a very hot/humid week. This is the first time we have run into hot/humid weather this summer and I cannot say that we missed it.

The trail passed thru many small towns along the way, and the history of most towns was the same. The town grew with the railroad or river traffic and then died with the railroad or river. The towns in the river flood plain have the additional problem of dealing with floods. Over the last 100 years there have been nine major floods. As a result many of these towns are depressed and offer few services (food or lodging) to cyclists. Unfortunately many of these towns have not embraced the trail for the bicycle tourism dollars it could provide. However there are a few bright spots along the trail for which we were very thankful.

Polly’s B&B in Pilot Grove was a great stop at the end of our first day. The house was clean and comfortable and well stocked with snacks and drinks for the tired cyclist (good thing because there was not much else in town).

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The Katyrest Caboose in Hartsburg was certainly a unique experience that one does not want to miss on the Katy Trail. There was not a lot else to do intown but it was a relaxing afternoon. Fortunately these was a very nice fine dining restaurant in town which provided a great dinner.

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Joey’s Birdhouse in McKittrick was also another bright spot (sorry no picture). Joey’s was the only game in town, but the two small cottages were clean and comfortable. Also Joey made us a fantastic dinner when we got in which was a real treat. The town of Herman which is a winery  town is located across the river from McKittrick. Joey gave us a ride over to Herman where we caught Saturday evening Mass, walked around the town, and ate another dinner. Riding 60 miles a day in this heat and humidity has certainly built up a appetite.

The last day from McKittrick to St Charles certainly saw more bicycle traffic on the trail. It was a Sunday morning and we were getting closer to St Louis. Several towns seemed to have stores and restaurants near the trail, but many were not open yet as we were riding early to beat the heat. We arrived in St Charles about noontime, cleaned up us and the bike at our hotel and then headed out for a brewhouse burger and ice cream! Note that this was the first hand dipped ice cream we found on the trail since Clinton.

As a side note, we did take a side trail one day to ride 10 miles into Columbia, MO which is the home of the University of Missouri. We stayed in town that night and enjoyed a nice walk around the campus. Nice campus in the old southern style with lots of old brick buildings and a central mall with lots of trees and flowers.

All in all it was a good trip on the Katy Trail. We completed 260 miles of the trail over five days. Tomorrow we’ll add some additionl pictures of the trail when we get them off of Marsha’s phone.

Fairwell to Missouri and on to the east this week.

Love Marsha and Manny

Sunday, August 18, 2013

20 Aug

This morning we had time to visit the Minuteman missile national historic site about an hour east of Rapid City. In 1961, because of the Cold War, our nation leased land from the local ranchers and built 1000 Minuteman missile silos throughout The Dakotas, Montana and Wyoming. This project was built within 2 years and were manned 24/7 by armed forces personnel called missiliers. These silos were able to launch within 5 minutes and the missile would reach Moscow in 30 minutes. The Russians were well aware of our capability and knew that if they released a missile aimed at us; we could then fire our missile aimed at them. The acronym, MAD, mutual assured destruction, is the best description. With the STAR treaty, many of the minutemen silos where emptied. However, there are still many minutemen 3 missiles that are active here in the Midwest. We saw many of these silos when we were biking with Candisc (North Dakota cycling trip). Initially, we did not know what these sites were but were informed by other cyclists. Now the missiles can be launched remotely – no missiliers in the silo. It is of note that today, our nation and the world is threatened more by what can come in a small package or by plane than by a large missile. Here is a picture of one of the silos we rode by, which is about as close as we got.

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As we head east today, I am reflecting on this extraordinary trip Manny and I have been so blessed to be able to do. We have seen appprox. 13, 000 miles by car and additional 3000 miles from the seats of our tandem of our country’s vast, diverse and often awe -inspiring landscape. What have these distances offered?  Yes, certainly panoramic views, historical places that recall our nation’s struggles, triumphs as well as failures, and our national parks that strive to preserve this landscape and natural occurring phenomena for future generations not just of Americans but the world.  In every national park there were an enormous number of  visitors. We heard languages and saw people from every continent. It certainly shows what a mobile world we live in. At Mount Rushmore, in front of me as I was waiting to stamp our passport for the national parks, there was a family of 4, of Asian descent. The father was smiling broadly as he photoed the rest of his family stamping their national passport. The family all dressed in red, white and blue with obvious joyous faces all seemed so pleased. I was struck by their joy and delight in visiting one of our national parks. We also were enthusiastic to see the diversity of our landscape preserved in the national parks but also in the national forests and many bike paths.  It is a treasure to enjoy and marvel at God’s beautiful creation.
This trip has also afforded Manny and I the opportunity to share these experiences together. It also gave us many opportunities to meet new people. The people we met and the welcome attitudes are certainly an enduring aspect of this trip. we look forward to our last few weeks of this adventure as well as returning home to friends and family.

Love Marsha

 

Saturday August 17, 2013

18 Aug

Finished our bike tour of the Black Hills of South Dakota today. The hard work earlier in the week paid off today as we had mostly a down hill ride back to Rapid City. We had a net loss of about 3000 ft in elevation and again the scenery was great. We also passed the 3000 mile mark on the tandem bicycle this week.

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In a park in Rapid City we came across another animal sculpture.

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Flash back to North Dakota: We had mentioned on our ND bike ride that the fields of sunflowers and flax looked like colorful carpets across the fields, but we really did not get a good picture of these fields. This week we received an email from one of our friends we met on the ND ride with an excellent picture of the sunflower and flax fields together. Thanks to Carol and Steve for taking the time to capture this picture and sharing it with us.

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We will again turn the car east tomorrow across South Dakota in route to Missouri.

Love to all – Manny and Marsha

 

Friday August 16, 2013

17 Aug

Yesterday we had a good ride from Hill City to Mt Rushmore National Monument. There were some pretty good climbs, but we had no problems. The weather was clear and not too hot. Mt Rushmore was a very interesting site to see and very striking as you ride around the mountain and see Washington’s outline for the first time.

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We spent a few hours touring the visitors center and walking the trail under the faces.

After leaving Mt Rushmore we stopped for lunch in the town of Keystone and then made the ride back to Hill City. The ride back followed the steam railroad which runs from Hill City to Keystone. The grades were not to bad but we sure did work off the lunch. Again the Blackhills scenery was great – forests, meadows, ponds, streams, and cattle. Back in Hill City we had steak and buffalo burgers for dinner followed by ice cream.

Today we left Hill City for a short ride to Custer, SD. Along the way we stopped at the Crazy Horse Memorial. This is another mountain carving similiar to Mt Rushmore, but of course Crazy Horse riding his horse is the subject. This memorial is a work in progress and has been since 1947. In 1989 the face of Crazy Horse was completed. When completed this memorial will stand many times larger than Mt Rushmore. The funds for this work is generated from visitor ticket sales and private donations. There is no government financing although such has been offered. The sculpturer (Korschak) who began the work has since died, but his wife and family of 10 children continue the work today. Estimates for completion range from 10 to 40 years depending on financing available.

This is a photo of how the memorial looks today.

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This is a photo of the model for the final sculpture.

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In addition to the mountain sculpture, the Native American tribes have opened a University at this site in 2010 and in the future plan to have a medical school on this site as well.

Tomorrow we will complete our tour of the Blackhills with a ride back to Rapid City.

Love to all – Manny and Marsha

Wednesday August 14, 2013

14 Aug

We have spent the last two days cycling the Black Hills of South Dakota. By most folks standards these would be called mountains not hills! We are out for a 6 day tour staying at B&B’s so we are not too heavily loaded,  but we are moving pretty slow on the uphill grades. We left Rapid City Tuesday morning with sunny skies, but thunder clouds building in the distance. Although it was a hilly ride the scenery was great. It was a mix of forest, meadows (with cattle of course), streams, and ponds. As we got to higher elevations we began to see groves of aspen tress mixed in with the pine forest. The traffic was very light and we passed through a few small towns mostly just a few buildings. The town of Agar posted a sign which read population 3 and a school bus stop (Mom, Dad, and one school aged child I suppose). The town of Nemo on the otherhand supported a firehouse, two restaurant/bars, and a collection of what appeared to be vacation homes. There were a number of homes along the road after Nemo, which was a good thing because by this time the sky was very threatening. When the rain came we  quickly ducked under the over hanging roof of a garage. The rain stopped after 15 minutes, and although the sky was still black we continued on our way. As we rounded the next mountain top we got hit with the rain again this time mixed with pea size hail. With no place for cover we rode on. The hail quit after a few minutes and although cold we continued on – 10 miles to go! The skies brighten briefly as we zoomed down one mountain and crawled up the next. At the peak we were meet with the darkest skies yet and we sure hoped our B&B was at the bottom. Again we zoomed down the mountain and being a little confused on where our turn was we quickly ducked under the canopy of the nearest building. This building turned out to be the Blackhills Inn. A minute latter the rain came down in buckets and we were wet and very cold. The Blackhills Inn was not our intended destination and we determined that we still had about two miles (UP HILL). The attendent allowed us to sit and warm up in the lobby. However the rain at this point showed no signs of stopping, so we decided to call it a day right there since there were rooms available.

After a hot shower we rode the local trolley into Deadwood, SD for a steak dinner.

This morning we woke to a wonderful blue sky. Since there was the chance of more afternoon thunder showers we got an early start for our 50 mile ride to Hill City, SD. Today’s ride was entirely along the Mickelson rail trail. Again the scenery was beautiful with forests, streams, meadows, cattle, and ponds. However it was anything but flat as our experience with rail trails back east. I think this is where the inspiration for the childrens story “The Little Train That Could” came from! The trail was in pretty good shape considering all the rain, but it was a little soft for a loaded touring bike which made the up hill climbs a little tougher. Marsha grabbed a few pictures along the way which we’ll post latter. We arrived in Hill City by early afternoon as the skies were darkening, but we arrived at our B&B before the rains came by. Hill City is a tourist town for the Blackhill area so there are several restaurants to choice from which is a real treat after all the small towns we’ve ridden through in North and South Dakota.

For now the sky is blue again and we are relaxing at the B&B.

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Tomorrow we will attempt a ride to Mt Rushmore.

Love to all – Manny and Marsha