Day 2
June 6th, 2007
Mark Twain State Park
Northeast Missouri

It usually takes a couple of nights to adapt to sleeping in my tent, but not this tour.  I slept really well on the first night, and didn't want to get up when my watched sounded off at 6:30am.  I didn't have a long ride today, but I still like early starts on a cross country tour just to put some time in the bank.  Besides, it takes 30 minutes or so to strike camp and load the bike.

The morning was cool and partly cloudy.  I was hoping to cross the jet stream today, and get on the cool side of the natural weather patterns.  My last trip through Iowa the stream took a freakish trip north and I spent the day riding across Iowa in 99 degree weather.  That was not going to be the case for this day.

I was on the road by 7am riding north on SR 107 across the lakes.  My route today is a pre plan custom route, created in my study  with my pc and software, then downloaded to the zumo.  It was nice being able to skip getting the atlas out each evening to scope out the next days ride.  I didn't have to worry about the route, I just sat back and rode.
​Connecting a series of county roads like this one, I worked
my way slowly, but steadily to Iowa.  Good riding.

A number of today's roads were county, and as such may not be in your atlas.  If you like to follow along, just note the direction I'm heading and eventually it will come out on a state or federal route, and you can pick it up from there.

SR 107 dropped me off on CR V, and the riding was good.  The small local road, took me past rolling farm land and trees.  It was early morning and I was in deer country, but I didn't see a beast all day.

County Road V took me to CR Z, as I continued to link obscure local roads to one of the main highways.  On the narrow, sometimes unmarked pavement, I held my speed down to 50 mph.  Z deposited me on SR 168 for a brief ride to Shelbyville where I went to CR K.  Why Missouri uses letters to mark county roads I don't know.  I guess just to be different.  Many of the roads this day in Missouri and Iowa were far off the beaten path.  They brought me in up close to the land and culture.   It was fun riding them after the 700 mile slab ride of the day before.

In a small town I failed to note I went to a Casey's con store parking lot to check the weather.  I called Peter Menard.  "Hey bro what's it look like in Iowa."  "Line of rain in the Des Moines area, working east."  "Dang that ain't good, that's where I'm going."  "Try to stay close to Des Moines, and by the time you get there it should be past."  "Ok thanks."  My friends are a valuable resource when on a trip.

I was working my way to Iowa by riding west awhile, then north.  My goal for the day was Big Mayre State Park, near Albert Lee, in southern Minnesota, same park as day 2 in 2001, only this time I wanted to change the route up a bit.  In 2001 I took a more direct route through Ottuma, today I wanted to ride different roads.  The GPS said it was a 421 mile ride.  I find 4-500 mile days on backroads to be a good day.  Far enough to get you somewhere, while allowing you to sample the ride along the way.

A few miles west of Shelbyville the Zumo directed me to CR KK.  "I hope I knew what I was doing back in my study when I created this route, I feel like I'm going in circles," became my first thought.  The road changed to CR M in the middle of no where.  Why I don't know, no intersection or such, it just changed names.  I kept the faith and stayed on the course I plotted so long ago, confident it would eventually bring me to civilization.

Where it did bring me was a construction zone.   I pulled the clutch in and shut the Honda down at a junction of county roads.  A resurface project was in progress and 3-4 large trucks were about to get started.   I spoke to the crew, 'Look here, my GPS says I need that road right there."  "Can't do it, besides you don't wanna, lots of fresh tar, it would make a mess of your bike."  "What do you suggest?"  "Take this road, and follow it through a place called 10 Mile, it will eventually loop back to the closed road, further west of here." 

I tabbed out of the custom route and took the detour.  The road followed the hills and a few creeks.  A farm house with goats in a pasture was the only thing of substance I saw on the 6 mile detour.

Somehow or another, I got back on my route.  The detour dropped me off just where the guy said it would.  In a community called Atlanta, I briefly got on U.S. 63, "well at least I know I'm getting somewhere," but left it for another county road after a very short ride.
​​The backroads of Northern Missouri offered great landscapes
The county road grew twisty, so tabbed the Zumo to check elevation.  Almost 1000 ft.  "Dang, pretty high for this part of the country."  I leaned the Honda well on the curvy road, GPS compass said I was riding west so I knew I was in the right direction.

I was a little worried about this days route.  It was complicated, and with a lot of changes.  I had checked and rechecked it, making sure I didn't make a bad mouse click that could shoot me hundred miles off course.   I know how precise GPS is, it is going to take me exactly where I tell it to take me, even if its the WRONG place.
By 9am I was on CR J, and on the road for almost 100 miles, and getting hungry.  I hadn't eaten since lunch the day before and my stomach was growling.  When I arrived in New Boston, I glanced around to see what my options were.  The town was a quiet place, and consisted of a few houses, a volunteer fire station, a post office, with a store called Jim Bob's the center of attention.  The burg was so quiet, the ST 1300 sounded a DC 10.

I went to Jim Bob's to see what was going on.  The store was rustic looking but warm.  Inside I found a lady behind the bar with 2 guys at a nearby table.  I parked on one of the stools and ordered a can diet coke to go with my peanut nut butter and jelly sandwich.  The situation reminded me of the store in Texas a few months ago.
​The scene at Jim Bob's Store,  New Boston, Missouri
"So where ya from, " one of the men called out.


"so what are ya doin here?"

"Don't rightly know, but on my way to Iowa today, but ultimately I wanna get to California."

The lady asked how my trip was going.

"So far been pretty good, I was detoured about 10 miles back, but worked it out ok, I told those boys I was trying to get west and they helped me get here."

"yeah one of them was in here a few days ago, and said they were gonna be working the area all summer."
I was about to leave when a heard a bike pull up.  The rider came in wearing leather chaps.  He asked, "is that your bike with the Alabama tags?"


"Man where ya goin?"


"Dang I'd like to do that one day."

I finished my sandwich and loaded up.  No cell signal, so any of that stuff was out.  I went back outside followed by the rider in chaps.  He was riding a Triumph.  I fielded a few more questions and he went back inside.

Back on the road I was on SR 129, it would take me all the way to Iowa.  As the highway neared the state line, I was seeing less and less timberland.  Replaced by cornfields and other crops.  In Iowa I went to SR 5.  Dark clouds were in the north, but I was hoping to avoid them by sticking to my route.
​A nice morning for a ride in North Missouri.   Somewhere 
along CR K.

Somewhere along here I slipped through the jet stream, and the temp and humidity dropped noticeably.  The change felt good.

My gas gauge was blinking and I grew a little concerned, because it didn't seem to be much around here in terms of con stores.  By the time I reached Green City the Zumo gas thing was even flashing (set to go off at 300 miles) so I was glad when I found a con store with pay at the pump.  Price this fill up-3.21 a gallon.

Crossing the state line into Iowa was without fanfare, so when I came through Cincinnati, I cruised the town square just for the heck of it.  Didn't see much though. 

I've ridden through and across Iowa several times.  No roads to lean, but I can make most any ride interesting.
The temp gauge on a Albia bank read 75 degrees.  The normally dead accurate gauge on the ST said 72.  "What the hell?  Must be hanging around the RT too much, now it doesn't wanna read right either."  All trip long the ST wanted to read 2-3 less then everybody else.  Just like the RT.  But WHO knows, maybe the Honda is correct and everybody else is wrong.  There were a few times it did match, and it made me think the latter was the correct hypnosis. 

I thought about eating lunch in Lovilia but the town was in shambles.  Everything was boarded up and closed, so I kept riding north.

The wind really began to pick up.  It was blowing hard out of the south, just like my ride here in 2005.  Only this time I was riding north and not west, and it made for a awesome tailwind.  Flags were full out, and I could see signs rocking.  Keeping the ST in check with such a strong tailwind was hopeless.  On the open highways of Iowa I was cruising 80 mph effortlessly.

I ate lunch in Nashville at a Sonic drive-in.  I like Sonic.  Good grilled chicken and I get to eat outside.  It had been a good morning, on a beautiful, but windy day.  After eating I put some notes in the Axim and called Debbie.  

Again, I found myself in a place from a previous tour.  I'd been through here in 2002 on a regional fall tour.  I recall it had been a cool but dry morning back on that day.  I took SR 14 out of Nashville and crossed the Red Rock Reservoir, the only large body of water I noted all day.

The farther north I went, the more straight the highways became.  By now the landscape was pancake flat.  If I stood on a chair I'd be the tallest thing around.  In Monroe the route shifted to SR 163 and then to SR 117.  Past the fields I rode lost in thought, and singing songs.

A pick up came to the highway from a long driveway, all I could see was the top of the vehicle, because it was hidden by a slight hill,  I slowed to check things out.  "He can't see me, and he might pull out in front of me."  I came around into view and he was still sitting there.  No harm, no foul.  

I dropped another 100 miles or so and decided to take a break in a small town called Mingo, located on SR 117.  I checked my phone and saw I had a text from Chris.  He got the job in Mobile!  More money, better conditions etc.  A nice vertical move for him.  I immediately called him.

"nice going son, that's great."

"yeah, I always land a good job when you go on a trip, first Wells Fargo, then Progressive, and now this one."

"When do you start?"

"week from Monday"

The only drawback- he will be 4 hours away from his mother and I, instead of 30 minutes.
I called Debbie and we talked about it.

"Look you'll have to take care of it from your end.  He'll be moving to Mobile, but don't do all the work for him about getting a place down there.  Leave that to him."

"But you know how I worry"

"He's 27, I'm NOT cutting this trip short to come back and tend to this, he'll make do."

I celebrated my son's new prosperity with a Mountain Dew and fig bar.  I called him back to remind him to be thankful, and to be ready to work hard, and to make the most of this opportunity.

It ought to be a law for EVERY con store to have a BIG restroom (couple of you know whats to use) I had to go bad but some joker beat me to the draw and locked it down.  Ten minutes went by and I was STILL waiting.   I had my legs crossed, so I took a chance and dashed in the ladies room.  

I wanted to hang around longer but a lady smoking a cigarette near the door chased me off.

Beware of thoughts that come on the open roads of Iowa like U.S. 65.  They can be pointless, like most of mine on this day, or they can be important, like the few I had near a place called Zearling.  The hamlet was just off the main highway, and it seemed everyone had just loaded up and left.  On old garage, with swing out doors looked to the highway.  A few crates and buckets were scattered about the dirt parking lot, but no signs of life could be seen anywhere.  I needed to keep pushing north so skipped taking a exploratory dip in the area.  "I better keep riding, besides I don't see anyone to talk to."

U.S. 65 north was the busiest highway of the day.  Trucks shot by in both directions, and I passed SUV after SUV going 50 mph on the arrow straight highway.  I guess the drivers were trying to conserve fuel by keeping the guzzler's speed down.  "Yanno, one day we're gonna laugh at 3 dollar a gallon gas, and wish for the good old days."  I thought to myself, as I went around the up teemed SUV of the day.  I remember when it hit 1 dollar a gallon, people thought it was the end of the world.

In Iowa Falls 2 young boys in white T shirts we're trying to walk their bicycles across the busy road.  I stopped and everyone else followed suit, they crossed safely.

The highway would run straight for several miles then make a hard left turn.  Then it would run more miles and make hard right turn, why I didn't know.  I noticed a flock of birds overhead trying to fly south into the intense wind.  The wind was too much and was blowing the flock east.   No matter how hard they flapped they couldn't over come it, but true to their instinct, they kept trying.

I rode north on U.S. 65 for well over 100 miles, with the strong tailwind, but at Northwood I made a sharp turn west onto CR 105 to connect with I-35, and the once friendly wind became a hostile crosswind.  It raked the loaded 1300 over and over making me counter lean at crazy angles to keep on course.  I was glad to turn north again on I-35 to home in on Big Mayre State Park.

After a short interstate ride I followed the GPS to the front entrance of the park and went in the office.  Two older ladies were manning the desk and soon as I opened my mouth they commented on my accent.  I get that a lot, and always have when I travel in this part of the country.   "Oh my you're a long way from home," a lady said.  "Yeah I know, and I need a place to put my tent."  The second lady, dressed in all green, came out from the office.  "Put him in site 15, the trees will protect him from the wind."  "That's awful kind of ya m'am, it is windy today."

I paid my fee and proceeded to the campground down a chalky dirt road, that I still remembered from 2001.  I found my camp site tucked in a enclave of trees, which indeed cut down the wind.  I shut the ST down after a 417 mile day.

Setting up camp came quickly, and it was time to get something to eat.  The town of Albert Lee was a few miles down the road, so I would have to get the bike back out, something I'd rather not do at the end of the day.  I went to the GPS to see what my choices were.  "Hmm a Perkins 3 miles from here, think I'll go there."

The ride back into town was pleasant in the coolness of a late spring Minnesota afternoon. In the restaurant I was seated next to a family of 6.  I had a waiter for this evening so that was no fun.  Supper was a grilled chicken and baked potato.  When I finished eating I caught up on a few phone calls, and did some journaling.  On the way back to camp I topped of the 1300 at con store. 
Back at the tent, I cleaned the screen of the Honda, then took a shower.  The park was almost empty except for a couple of RVs over on their side of the campus.

By now it was dark so I went in for the night.  I got my DVD player out and popped in a audio CD of the Twilight Zone radio show.  I picked up the CDs at the local Movie Gallery in Prattville.  I thought it might be something different to pass the time.  The production was quite good.  I managed to stay awake to the end of the first episode.

The night was pleasantly cool, and I fell asleep looking forward to arriving at the headwaters the next day.