07/03/2004

Day 34 - 7/3
Johnsons Shut-Ins, MO to Alley Springs, MO
71 (1848)

It poured last night. I stayed nice and dry in my hammock and I hid my gear and bike away behind the covered pit toilets so they stayed dry too. Everything I own is really starting to stink. With the sweat, dirt, and constant humidity-and frequent rain-nothing every gets dry. It's all dank-hammock, sleeping bag, clothes, backpack, stuffsacks. If it's bothering me, I can only imagine what strangers think when they catch a whiff.

Because it was raining, I skipped breakfast at camp and decided to head for a restaurant 13 miles down the road. I stopped at Diner 21 and had a big, warm filling breakfast indoors.

I enjoyed little traffic until about 10 when everyone with their ATV trailers, horse trailers and RVs hit the road. Everyone was towing something. I saw a pickup pulling a jeep and a RV pulling a camping trailer. So many people yelled out the window at me today. Ya know, when you drive by at 60 mph and yell something, I can't understand more than half a second of what you're saying. Anyway, I don't know if Missourans are always like that or if they're just drunk and rowdy for the 4th.

Aside from the people yelling, the Ozarks are amazing. The land is much more scenic than Appalachia and more wild. The rivers are scenic and the hills go on forever...

Two things I did not expect to see in Missouri: a cactus growing on the side of the road and an armadillo (not in as good of shape).

I passed a sign that pointed down a dirt road towards Blue Springs. I had remembered Joel-one of the eastbound cyclists-telling me about some amazing spring off-route. Could this be it? I couldn't remember, but I took my loaded road bike down the dirt road to find out. After about two miles with no end in sight and increasingly difficult terrain, I gave up and struggled back up the dirt road to nice, soft pavement.

Many tough hills, but I made it to Eminence, the center of outdoor-living for Missouri. I was ready to cough-up some money to get a motel, but being a holiday weekend, everything was booked. I headed out of town another 6 miles to a nice campground. All day, storms have been rolling through, soaking everything, then revealing the sun.

The next couple of days are going to be different. I'm renting a canoe for 2 days and floating down about 35 miles of the Ozarks National Scenic Riverway. No traffic, no campgrounds, no bike. Just floating and swimming in the middle of the wilderness then camping on a gravelbar. It's not fireworks and bbq, but a fair way to spend the 4th nonetheless.