Monday, August 8, 2011

It Looked Easy on the Map... - Chesterfield, MO


Amazingly, the morning air felt cool. Almost chilly. I was glad for having worn long pants to bed. Maybe this is a mark of inexperience, but I still wake up and breath a sigh of relief every time I wake up in a town park, having lasted the night without any trouble from the local law enforcement. Most touring cyclists I talk to say they've openly camped in city parks across the entire states and never had trouble. Me, I've had it happen twice just in Minnesota. Still, places like this are my favorite sort of camping spot. I've got everything I need, and often small town parks are better maintained and more pleasant then campgrounds. Fewer incidents of destructive raccoons, too.

The days I've spent follow the Mississippi south have impressed me with it's significance. For all it's pretty forested banks and bluffs, it's a river of commerce, full of lights and signs, docks and tugs and barges. Mississippi riverfront towns have a special feel to them, I'm not so sure I'll find that in towns along the other great rivers. It's also a thread of familiarity; I bathed in water that came down the St. Croix and Namekagon, cooked with water from under the stone arch bridge. Part of me wants to just keep on down the River Road, but I don't think I'd fit in too well down there.

Anyway, time to leave the Mississippi. From here, the road veers away from it, and doesn't rejoin until south of St. Louis. For the next few hours I road alongside train tracks and under bluff faces. I entered the St. Louis metro area sprawl in O'fallon, where I promptly greeted by some ass in a car, waving the universal gesture and laying on his horn for no apparent reason. At least he was going in the opposite direction, and probably wouldn't have had time to throw anything at me, had that been his intention. The rest of the ride through St. Peters and St. Charles was unpleasant, but uneventful. I had to walk most of the way - with my trailer, most folks are hestitant to pass me on a crowded street, so every time I'd get on the road, I'd develop a tail of impatient motorists. No one actually got nasty, to their credit, but if I'd stayed on the road I don't know how long that would have lasted.

After another struggle with road construction, I popped out on the other side of the river, where the landscape turned back to corn and soybean fields. My destination was Chesterfield, where I stayed with warmshowers host, his daughter, and a few of her friends. I was well fed with chicken and spinach pasta, taken out for ice cream(Candied pecan hot fudge frozen custard - thought I would burst by the time I downed it all!), and given a room with a big comfy bed and attached bathroom. Man, why was I ever skeptical about warmshowers? If you be reading this, Matthew - Thanks again for your hospitality!

Clarksville campsite in the morning.

One more glimpse of the river.

So far, in Missouri, I've never been in a place I could not, at least, distantly, see these bluffs and green hills.

Seems like a sound investment!

After trudging through the suburbs, I was elated to see this ten lane highway - with a nice smooth shoulder!

Hello, Missouri river. I'll be seeing more of you along the Katy.

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