Thursday, 10 June 2010

Ohhhh Zarks

We departed Al’s Place in Farmington after our forced dental day off.

Chatting with Martin and Case, the Dutch father and son cyclists, they informed us that they wake very early to cycle before the heat of the afternoon and Keith from New Jersey, another member of the new west bound posse, agreed. So with this in mind we made another attempt at an early start.

This time it was successful, out of bed by 6 and on the road, Keith had already headed off, but after a few miles we were beckoned in by the lure of the golden arches. Not long after that Case and Martin pulled in too and then a bizarre thing happened….. the barber who cut my hair the day before walked in and said he had seen us riding out of town and wanted to wish us the best for our trip. How nice was that!

We were advised by Greg the City Manager to take a different route out of town to get into the Ozark Mountains, he reckoned the route on the map was suffering from a crumbling shoulder and was dangerous, so we listened to his advice and it paid off with a smooth fast route up to Pilot Knob MO.

We passed Martin and Case in a drive way fixing a puncture and took full “Wacky Racers” advantage by offering no help whatsoever and overtaking. This was immediately followed by three big dogs including an Alsatian and a Rottweileresque thing racing out of a driveway at us. A rarity for Missouri, dealt with by loud yells of “go home”, I must admit I was close to deploying pepper spray but resisted. Case told us that he deals with dogs by talking to them in a very low voice in Dutch, they can’t understand a word he says!!

Later we pulled into Johnson’s Shut Ins State Park, a strange field of boulders strewn about haphazardly after a dam burst. There was more geological importance to it than that, but I get bored reading display boards, especially when it’s hot and I need some lunch!!  Martin and Case had turned up so we joined them for lunch, the interactive displays making great bike stands!

The riding in the Ozarks is different to the Appalachians, shorter, steeper peaks, sometimes stepped but almost as energy zapping. There have also been a lot of log trucks on the road that travel at high speeds, making things a bit hairy at times

Arriving at Ellington we asked an old guy for directions to the city park. This turned out to be the Reynolds County Historian, Gerald Angel; he proceeded to lead us the mile to the park in his jeep as we followed behind in a cycle convoy.

The park seemed great and we set up in a typical timber pavilion; Keith was already there and he guided us round the freshly laid tarmac walking track. Soon the park was alive with people as a Little League baseball match kicked off and the flood lights came on. The concession food booth proved a great food stop, although Tony and I boiled up instant noodles and tuna just to lower the weight in our panniers!

A little later we were joined by a young lad called Jim on his BMX bike, he was obviously a regular visitor of Trans Amers camping in the Pavilion and he preceded to ask 101 questions. His red hair and close together eyes denoted him as a probable member of a local vertical gene pool and when I renamed him Redneck Junior, he replied “That’s what my Daddy calls me”!

The next minute Mr Angel turned up in his Jeep and drove straight over the still tacky tarmac. “I told my wife I’d come up and see how you boys were settling in”. Jim Redneck Junior and myself sat around a table listening to the 70+ year old local history buff tell us tales of when he found the Confederate fort on the hill, finding Indian arrow heads and tomahawks in the creek, “I found me an arra head to, din eye Mr Angel” interrupted Jim Redneck Junior with pride. “You did son and it’s now in the museum” Mr Angel replied.

After an hour of tales Mr Angel and Jim Redneck Junior went on their way and I wandered down to the concession stand with Case to get a round of Shaved Ice, the ideal night cap for a muggy Missouri night. Case had been watching the Little League Baseball as he’s a huge fan back home in Holland.

3 Turtles rescued today
In the early hours lightning flashed far off in the mountains but we avoided any storms, it’s eerie display lighting the night sky.

Keith woke around 5am and shortly after a car pulled up and a large man got out carrying a radio, he started to walk around the new walking track. He spotted us and killed the radio but carried on with his Doctor prescribed park work out. Keith was giggling away as he had witnessed similar work outs where the park walkers are either smoking as they walk or finish their laps and go and buy a fully justified donut!!!

At breakfast in the local diner we were warned of our days ride ahead, gesticulations from the locals in an uphill and side to side fashion seemed to say it all and it did. Our ride was extremely hard and for the first time on this trip all five of us didn’t make our destination, in this case Houston MO but had to cut short at Summersville MO after 50 miles.

Me and Tony were last into town after spotting a swimming hole on the Jacks Fork river at Alley Springs and spending a good 45 minutes chilling in the fresh mountain water. The $45 Motel was a welcoming if not basic sight but after a day of being tortured by the Ozarks we felt we had earned it.

1 comment:

  1. Another great post, reading these sure beats doing proper work. Thanks Stu. Loving the swimming cap btw, at first I thought you'd had some creative banana bunch designs dyed into your hair.

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