Sunday, May 2, 2010

Project Destination

Project Destination
Missouri slow down

Between some nasty spring weather that make us dig out our cold clothes, dodge some eerie looking thunderstorms,  fight some down right ornery wind, and a nasty eye problem that manages to almost close my right eye, the tiny part of Missouri we had to pass through has been a bit slow in getting through. Our 34-mile trek to Sikeston we make 22 miles of in about 3 hours against a headwind and although we are not defeated, even as it begins to rain. But, we really don’t hesitate to take a fellow’s offer to give us a ride in his truck the last 12 miles.     


Decadent indulgences

A few days back, we were told that if we go through Sikeston that we should eat a Lambert’s, a restaurant that is famous for its waiters throwing bread rolls to you from across the room and it’s huge portions.  Now Kamala and I have begun to form correlations with certain foods and the type ride that we will have the next day.  A fatty, juicy cheeseburger with fries will most likely produce hills for example.  No, really, it’s true!  So it was with some trepidation that left our hotel room to walk the mile back to Lamberts. We had been forewarned that we would NOT be able to ride the bike after eating there. How true it was.  It was a huge barn-like place, decorated all country and rustic. The waiters, indeed tossed buns across tables to patrons ready for another roll.  The crowd (on a Tuesday at noon) was loud and happy (a group of old ladies apparently from the funny hat club chowed down with gusto and a group teenage boys vied for each other like opposing football players to catch the tossed rolls sat across from us.)  Our order of catfish was huge.  We got a couple of sides with our fish, but waiters kept coming around with fried okra, macaroni and tomatoes, potatoes and black-eyed peas.  We left stuffed and happy with a big doggy bag--and the warning was right: we wouldn’t have been able to ride. We were also wondering if our indulgence would lead to hills or wind on tomorrow’s ride. Our video inside didn’t take but you ought to take a look at their web site:


A break in the weather   

With one major storm system which held us up for a few days in Missouri and with another due to arrive soon, we opt to turn it up a notch and make a push to get to our final destination of Southern Illinois. 


Finally, the Mississippi River lets us across

We had intended to go to Memphis, but alas, the two bridges at Memphis forbids bicycle traffic so we would have had to go south 50 or 60 miles to Helena, Arkansas to cross and then come back up on the Mississippi side of the river to Memphis. Anyway you guys in Memphis either lost out or lucked out by our failure to get there and Graceland will have to wait for another day (and that’s a shame, because 1950's Gaudy is one of my favorite styles).

Cape Girardeau, Missouri gave us a really nice bridge to cross with wide shoulders which gave us time to look around as we crossed the big water.  



I would have expected to see these guys in Roswell, not Illinois.




Only 5 miles to go 


A warm day leads our quest in search to quench our thirst with something cold. We secure the bike against the convenient store's wall and take off our armor (helmets, gloves, etc). We sit inside watching our trusted ride and people pass by, curiously glancing at the bike.
"Where are ya'll headed?" came the familiar greeting as we turn our gaze back to reality.
"Well, here!" Charley responds.
"Here? Really? Well, then, where'd ya'll start from then, I guess is the question?"
"El Paso, Texas," I proudly respond.
"Wow! Really? What made you come here?
"Our son, daughter-in-law, and grandkids live here."
"Here? In Carterville?"
"Yeah, we thought that we would get a coke and stall for time to make sure the kids were home from school."
After Missouri held us in its grips for more than enough days we finally saw a window open that last two days with favorable winds to help us change a schedule two-day ride into one and we were finally able to put a close to "Project Destination."
Filled with a sense of accomplishment and anticipation of hugs we get on our bike and complete the last two miles of our trip. We made it! Last day of 57 miles--done! Wow! This was Thursday. So here's the breakdown:
  • How many miles did we travel? 1,550
  • How many days have we been gone? 44 days
  • How many rest days did we have? 9 days
  • How many flats did we have? Only ONE!
  • How was the bike this year? Our ride was smooth thanks to Mark and Brad at Outdoor Adventures in Alamogordo, New Mexico!
  • Are there good hearted people left in the world? ABSOLUTELY! While the news would like you to believe otherwise, the world is full of wonderful people!
  • What was the number one road kill of the trip? (not by us, but by cars) Possums
  • Are we homesick? Yes, it's finally hit and we're ready to return to our family of pets and friends back in El Paso! A deep sense of accomplishment and completion fills our spirits.
  • Why do we do it? It's is the ultimate way to travel, become intimate with the landscape, move through areas more slowly so as to discover their secrets and meet people and some other mysterious element that we just haven't figured out how to put into words yet.