Love this place. It's green, and there are flowing rivers and wildflowers (including daisies and Black-eyed Susan's), and the people are incredibly kind. Like, over the top kind. Yesterday I entered into MO, so it's been a little over 24 hours and so far, I'm in love. With Missouri. My ride yesterday was long, but that was my choice. I left Pittsburg KS and crossed the border within 3 miles (see border photo below... I'm a hill, since it's opposite of Kansas here due to the Ozark Mountains). It drizzled on me most of the morning, but I didn't care! It was warm out and green and NOT flat and NOT windy. I passed 'J' road (many of their roads are letters) and loved seeing the farm silo's, pigs, cows and horses. The sun came out by afternoon as the hills got steeper. I stopped in Golden City at the famous Cooky's, a place for pies. The locals in Cooky's were so kind and asked me a ton of questions about my trip. I had fried chicken (3rd time in past year, which is more than I've had fried chicken in 20 years combined), and a slice of Reese's Pie a la mode. I had to have it a la mode... Yesterday was National Ice Cream Day. My friend Ginny in NYC reminded me today that August 2 is National Ice Cream Sandwich Day... hoping I'll have access to sandwiches in Kentucky on that day!
I continued on in the afternoon and pulled into Ash Grove around 5pm. Found the group of cyclists I've been with the past week, however, had the energy to continue on, so went on to Willard. Had dinner in Wilaard and realized I was only 6 miles from Springfield, so decided to continue on! Who cares if I'm 15 miles south off-route? I have never been to MO (other then the St. Louis airport), so why not check it out? Heard from Bill Potts-Datema, a colleague and friend who lives in Atlanta and works at CDC. His son and daughter-in-law Tim and Jinny live here. They gave me a call and wanted to know if I wanted to grab ice cream with them. Um, duh! They didn't even know it was a day to celebrate ice cream! They took me to Andy's, a local favorite (See photo. As you can see, I'm incredibly overwhelmed with what to order).
I decided I wanted to do a layover in Springfield. I just had an inkling I'd enjoy seeing the downtown. And, I realized after chatting with Tim and Jinny that I hadn't had a day off my bike since Breckenridge, on July 7. That's a lot of riding in heat and wind without a full day break. So, I looked at my mileage for this week and determined it was time. I'm also such a city-girl. I love cycling through these small, even tiny towns, however, I do miss the city. So, I fell fast asleep and slept better than I have in over a week. And, I slept until 8, about 2-3 hours later than usual.
Today has been a great day. I took a cab into downtown. No bike-day, remember? Not even for 3-5 miles. And from airport area, not a fun ride into town. I got dropped off in the square (even Don, my cab driver was so kind) and began my exploration of downtown Springfield. I immediately loved it. Coffee shops, trendy boutiques, alternative people... Hey, am I in a smaller Portland? I passed a spa and thought... I super under-budget on my trip, maybe I can pamper myself a bit. So, I got my nails done (the most ridiculous thing ever on a bike trip because they will be covered in grease by midday tomorrow) shellac pink! The first time I've ever in my life had pink nails. It sounds silly, but I'm so sweaty and dirty all day, most days, that there is just something about having painted toenails. I stand in a shower (sometimes disgusting showers in parks or campgrounds, sometimes nice showers) and rinse/scrub the bug spray, sunblock, sweat, dirt, grease, dead bugs off my body every evening. When I look down at my toes (currently purple with sparkles), it's over the top, but allows me to feel feminine. I smile every time I see them. So, I decided to get my fingernails done today when I walked by a salon. Pink. Outrageous! Eliza at Moda Salon was fabulous and took care of my nails. The owner Larry even gave me a spray (in a very small bottle) that will protect my hair from heat and sun damage.
I left the Salon and had sushi for lunch, seaweed salad and sushi rolls. I never get sushi in these small towns, no access. Mexican food or burger joints is about it. I rarely even see chain restaurants. The towns on this route are that small (most are under a few hundred people). After sushi I had some errands to do, like find a new bathing suit, since mine is literally falling off of me, but no luck there. I did find Five Pound Apparel a great local clothing shop and even bought one of their t-shirts - see photo below. That's how much fun I've been having the past 36 hours in MO... Enough to buy an article of clothing unrelated to a bike kit!
I spent some time in Mudhouse, a local coffee shop making calls to friends who have relatives hosting me in MO this week, or they themselves are hosting me. I spent some time meandering on Missouri State University's campus and walked to Hammons Field. I felt that I'm in the mid-west so I went to see the Springfield Cardinals play the Tulsa Drillers! Me! I'm not a baseball fan, but love sports and get into any live sporting event (Except maybe cricket). Two guys behind me (both named Andy, by the way) starting chatting with me. Hence the quote of the week, "Who knew I'd meet a crazy cool Jewish girl riding her bike across the USA to fight childhood obesity?" He was a physician. They even looked at my entire photo album of my trip on my iPad during the game. It was cool. It made me think about companionship again. Will I always intimidate some men? Will my powerful personality and strong spirit ever be considered sexy and not overwhelming to men? Will some men think, "she's cool", but not consider me a tomboy, but actually see me as a feminine, sexy person? Just questions I pondered on the way home.
Today was one of my favorite days of the trip. And that's ironic since I wasn't on my bike. Because I love the cycling- it's my favorite part. I haven't had a day when I've woken up and didn't want to ride. I was impressed with Springfield and I loved every moment of my experience here today. Hope you enjoy my photos from my first two days in Missouri.