Day 55: (78 miles) After waffles and cereal, we were off to Springfield. We had connected with a warmshowers host and were looking forward to meeting them and hearing about their cross country tour in 2005. Today’s route took us through the country side of Missouri. It was beautiful, quiet, and surprisingly flat for the most part. The day was cloudy and a bit chilly, but it was an enjoyable ride through tree tunneled roads and farmland. Our biggest obstacle for the day was dodging dogs. We passed about half a dozen homes with unleashed pups, one even had FIVE (3 large dogs), all unleashed, barking, and boisterously skeptical of us passerby’s. Luckily when we stopped pedaling the thrill of the chase seemed to disappear. They sniffed our bikes and let us pass. Also, at one point, we thought we would be adopting some dogs. Two small collarless pups, a Jack Russell and a small black dog, “chased” or followed us for a good 1.5 miles down the road. Every time we stopped to shew them home they wagged, jumped, and continued in our shadow until we reached another house with large dogs that distracted them. We continued on and stopped in Miller at the Burger Shack for lunch and to warm up. Like most of the small towns of Route 66 we’ve passed through, the food was good and the people were friendly. Next, we stopped in Paris Springs at Gary’s Gay Parita- a historic family gas station turned museum. We met the current owner, Gary’s son-in-law, who, with his wife, adopted the popular attraction after Gary’s Passing in 2015. He showed us around and rattled off history and dates about the cars, and antiques they had. They’ve done a really great job displaying the history of the station. We easily could have stayed longer but it was getting later and we were running behind schedule. We thought it was a 65 mile ride to Springfield but we had already surpassed that and had 10+ miles to go. Fortunately, our hosts, Doug and Rae, understand all too well the inconsistencies that can arise while cycling. Once, we finally reached their place around 7:00 pm they warmly welcomed us and gave us a quick tour of their beautiful home including our room for the night –decorated with vintage images of Scotties. While we showered, they walked their three dogs and continued to prepare dinner for us all. At dinner, we had learned that they were lawyers but Doug didn’t tell us he was also a master chef. Dinner was SO delicious. We had a fresh salad that accompanied a chicken, tomato, olive dish over cheesy polenta with asparagus from their garden. We were in heaven. We thoroughly enjoyed sharing stories about our adventures cycling. It was wonderful to hear about their experiences and the humorous similarities they shared with ours. Rae served us tasty brownies and ice cream for desert- I did say we were in heaven right?! And when we realized it was nearly 10:30 pm, we all settled in for the night.
Day 56: (28 miles) We awoke to the mouth watering smell of breakfast. Doug was at it again, and we were equally as impressed with breakfast. Eggs with tomatoes, asparagus, peppers and onions, and something we had never had before- a Dutch baby! Essentially, a pancake cooked in a cast iron skillet, the trick is heating the pan before-hand because it causes the mixture to climb up the sides. He topped it with a homemade blueberry sauce and Greek yogurt- So GOOD! We had a fresh fruit salad and tasty pour-over coffee. With Rae and Doug having work to tend to, we packed up, extended our many thanks, and headed out, but not to far. We stopped and waited for the local bike shop to open so we could replace some more tubes, and we were on our way. We didn’t have many miles to conquer today as the weather forecasted thunder storms and our two options for motels were either Marshfield or Houston which was 80+ miles away. That wasn’t happening so Marshfield was the destination. Today was our last day following the main street of America. It is bitter sweet to be leaving the road we have called home for the last one and a half months, but we’re excited to see what the other routes will offer. We opted to pass on the Holiday Inn for the slightly cheaper option of the Dickey House Bed and Breakfast. We were soon glad we did! Upon arriving we were given a tour that included the history of the old mansion. Built in the early 1900’s the Greek Revival mansion has private rooms and cottages. Larry and Michaelene run the B&B and the house is immaculate and grand. While there, we met another cyclist that was also staying there- Walt. He invited us to join him for dinner at the one restaurant in town and we were happy to do so. He is biking from North Carolina to Seattle where his daughters currently live (you can check out his blog here: Sound2Sound ). We learned he has done some international touring with his wife and soon we were day dreaming about doing the same. He had obviously been experiencing the bad weather the same as us. Unfortunately, he had been stuck in Houston (our next destination) for a few days, and then here. We all continued to look at the weather and talk bike talk throughout dinner. We walked back to the mansion, exchanged info, and thanked him for the delightful company. We curled up in our warm comfy bed and were soon fast asleep.
Day 57: (0 miles) Last night we awoke to the clap of thunder more than a few times, so we knew we would have some decisions to make today. As we walked downstairs for breakfast, down the grand staircase with a gorgeous chandelier overhead, we knew there were worse places we could be stuck for a day. Larry had prepared a delicious breakfast- a generous fruit bowl and an apple caramel Dutch baby. Boy oh boy was it good! Between bites the three of us (including Walt) watched RADAR and peered out the windows at the shifting clouds, trying to decipher how the day’s conditions would progress and whether we should try to log some miles or avoid the potential for misery or disaster by staying put. Walt had recently discovered and contacted a cabin available for cyclist about 55 miles west of the B&B. Knowing he would have a tail wind and being a bit stir crazy from his past week, he decided to bundle up in his rain gear and head out in the weather toward the cabin. We, on the other hand, are headed toward areas either currently or threatening flooding with rain and thunderstorms forecasted throughout the day. Needless the say we were leaning toward staying put but knew we had until check-out (11am) to make a decision. So, we focused on enjoying breakfast and chatting with our pleasant company (hosts & Walt). After retreating to our room to talk it over, we soon made the final decision to stay another night and promptly informed our hosts. Soon after, we heard Walt checking out so we went downstairs to share well wishes and goodbyes. By this point we were already feeling slightly trapped and could easily understand that Walt must have been itching to hit the road. While we were downstairs Larry very kindly invited us to dinner that evening which was exciting knowing his skills in the kitchen. Most of the day was spent reading, blogging, and watching movies (Shayna had never seen the Matrix!) Before we knew it, it was dinner time. A bountiful spread of salad, pasta, eggplant, and meatballs made up the feast and it was stupendous. Loise, their friend and Inn keeper while they’re away, joined us for dinner as well. We all laughed and shared stories. It was wonderful. Dessert (of course there was dessert) was pound cake and ice cream smothered in brandied fruit. It was amazing and Larry excitedly shared the simple process of brandying fruit with us so that we can give it a go ourselves once we settle. Not only is Larry an extremely talented cook but he is also an impressive painter. After dinner he gave us a tour of his art studio which is also becoming a sewing/quilting room for Michalene’s talents. They are very skilled and Larry’s acryllics, watercolors, and portraits fill the walls of both the studio and the rooms of the house, each with its own story. It was such a treat to see and hear the joy that creativity brings to his life. The rain continued into the late evening, as it had all day, and we were happy to be dry and warm in a comfy bed for another night.