Day 58: (66 miles) Another one of Larry’s tasty creations kick started our day. Today it was a savory pastry with eggs, spinach and ham. We didn’t want it to end, nor did we really want our stay to end, but the weather was on our side so on we went. Shortly after we left, we began noticing the differences between our new route and Route 66- traffic was slightly lighter, but the shoulder was nonexistent. Luckily the cars along this route seemed use to having cyclist and for the most part, were patient and respectful with passing. Hopefully this trend continues. About 30 miles into our day we stopped in Hartville for lunch where we shared a Subway sandwich and Chris made a phone call regarding storage arrangements for our possessions back home. Heading on, we continued passing lush green fields, trees, and beautiful farms. Our next quick stop was at the general store in Bendavis. We used their bathroom and chatted with the employee and her son about the recent flooding, roads that we closed, and the calf that washed up in their possession as a result. Feeling the fatigue of our already 40+ miles of pedaling, we were happy to only have a couple significant climbs as we pedaled the final 20 miles into Houston. Due to the saturated grounds, we checked into the Lazy L motel, got a quick dinner from Casey’s General Store, and settled in to watch a bit of Star Wars and celebrate the May 4th “holiday”.
Day 59: (48 miles) We had oatmeal and coffee in our room to start the day. We headed to the store to pick up some cards for Mom’s day coming up and we were off. Shayna’s knees were giving her more trouble and pain than they had been lately so it was a bit of a slow start pedaling through the rolling hills. The Missouri countryside is beautiful. Green and lush with rolling hills and puffy clouds. We stopped in Summersville for lunch from our bags. We could have camped there, but decided to push on. About six miles out of town we came to the junction between 106 (our route) and D. seeing there was a sign that 106 was closed eight miles ahead, we were contemplating if that meant because it was underwater, or just road damage, unsafe for cars but still useable for a couple of light bikes. Before we could resolve our best guess, a passerby saw us staring at our map and stopped to inform us it would be best to reroute and take D to 19 into Eminence, so we did. An extra five miles, and many rolling hills later (some so steep they looked like walls). We coasted into eminence and checked into Shady Lane Motel, your basic room, but it was clean and dry. We headed to a local Mexican place to celebrate Cinco de Mayo and slept well after a few margaritas.
Day 60: (27 miles) Many of the locals had told us yesterday that we would have to reroute again today because 106 was closed ahead, but instead of five extra miles it would be closer to 10. Feeling discouraged, we asked around some more to see if the road might be passable. After hearing more than one person say we could make it through with our bikes we decided to go for it and hope for the best. It was another beautiful day, but hot. We climbed into the forests of Missouri and soon realized why the Ozarks were considered tough to conquer. The grade of the roads were like nothing we’ve seen before; they were practically straight up, and they were long. We knew it was going to be a short distance but a long day none-the-less. One of the positives of the road being closed meant there was less traffic, and less logging trucks!! Considering their ‘shoulder’ was the 10 inches between the ground and the rumble strip, we were happy to see less cars on the road. A few people kindly stopped to inform us of the road closure, and we expressed our hope that we would make it through. We continued on and up. The downs were equally as significant, but sadly were not close enough to the ups to allow for transfer of downhill speed into climbing power. We made it to the road closure and it was our moment of truth. Did we just pedal 21 miles through hellish hills to have to turn around?! We passed the barricade, and then the next one. We saw surveyors doing their surveying on the left side of the road, or what used to be road before it washed into the river. Lucky for us the right side of the road was almost fully intact. We passed through the road closure without a hiccup, we didn’t even have to dismount. Ellington wasn’t too far away and we contemplated pushing to Centerville, an additional 14 miles, but figured it would be best to give Shayna’s knees a break because an end to the climbing was nowhere in sight. Plus, Ellington had a bike hostel. So we showered and set up our cots. The contact for the hostel stopped by to be sure we made it in and to let us know what was still open in town. They had been hit hard with flooding. The grocery store, dollar general, and a few restaurants were destroyed. One business that remained was a Mexican restaurant so we did it again. On our walk to dinner we saw the damage the flood had left. A convenience store had been opened up and turned inside out to allow all of the shelving and other salvageables to dry in the outside air. The motel had its doors open to air out and you could see where they had to cut the drywall about half way up the wall. It was a sad sight. We can only hope these businesses are able to recover. After dinner we headed back to the hostel that we were now sharing with two Canadian cyclists pedaling the Trans America Trail from Virginia to Washington. They had been rerouted several times due to the weather and flooding as well. We settled in for an early night to attack those hills again tomorrow.