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Old 07-25-2010, 10:26 PM   #1
drewbuddy OP
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Laugh A weekend of Missouri (Miz-ooo-ree)

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

I arrived at St. Louis airport after living the last year in the PNW. I think I lost my tolerance for heat about 2 months after moving away from California--and that was DRY heat!

My friend and coworker happily loaned me his Honda 250 Rebel, the only two-wheeled vehicle I could get my hands on while visiting the midwest for the first time, but hey-- who am I to complain about such a sweet deal? Borrow a bike for 3-4 days in a foreign place and all I have to do is bring my own gear? Sold!

It will certainly take more than one CAGER to keep me from riding for more than 2 weeks (http://www.advrider.com/forums/showp...&postcount=868) and getting a replacement bike for my XR650L. (http://photos2.meetupstatic.com/phot..._10281632.jpeg)

Well, I hadn't seen my cohort, John, for the last year so I think he forgot how big I was. Don't get me wrong, I knew what I was getting in to. I test 'sat' a Rebel in the show room to make sure it was feasible, albeit comical. He assured me that he was a tall guy too, and it worked for him. Also good news-- he wore a large helmet. One less thing to fly over.


Does this bike make me look fat?
Turns out my friend John is about 6' even and slightly thicker than a rail, so for me being a bit bigger in every respect, it was a very "cozy" fit.

I took off from his place in St. Louis around 9:30 PM heading for a spot I had researched. I wanted to see a few things in Missouri, not just blindly cruising, while also promising my wife I would try to limit my time spent on the interstates and large freeways as much as possible. With these things kept in mind, I set off for Onondaga Cave State Park to camp for the night. The map below was my original plans made before my accident, so some of the heavy highway riding was rerouted.

View Larger Map

After a few wrong turns and 100 miles later, I show up around 11:45PM at the camp ground and hastily threw together my tent as best I could by moonlight & my headlamp. I borrowed the backpack, tent, sleeping bag, and mat from my brother-in-law. Thus, I have no idea how to pitch HIS tent, as is visible from the picture in the morning.

....TBC....my laptop battery is dying and I don't want to hunt for the cord or stay up longer.
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Old 07-25-2010, 11:07 PM   #2
markwoodlief
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sweet Andy, staying tuned to hear more of your adventures!!!... have fun!!!
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Old 07-26-2010, 08:33 AM   #3
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Nice ride Looking forward to the off road portion of the RR..
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Old 07-26-2010, 11:07 AM   #4
drewbuddy OP
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Thumb Saturday, July 24th

Saturday, July 24th


Did I mention I had never set up this tent before? My brother-in-law gave me fair warning: one of the poles was broken. So here I was with a 2 pole tent and only one pole. I also couldn't figure out how to put any tension on it to make it stand up on its own...so I ended up leaning it part way against a picnic table and using it as a bivy sack more than a tent. Oh well! It worked enough to keep the bugs off. Except for this one huge spider..sorry no pic of that one...he was squished very quickly.

So I woke up with the same sound in my ears as I went to sleep with: Cicadas. Millions of them, it seemed like. Something to get used to if I was going to be in Missouri for a while.

After packing back up, I decided to cruise around the campground for a little bit since my first stop cave tour wasn't going to happen until 10 AM. I found some ladies jogging and stopped to ask them for more details to make sure I didn't run late and found out that the cave i REALLY wanted to visit was Cathedral Cave, not Onondaga. Luckily, the Cathedral cave was right there as well, so I thanked them and took off for some riding. I had seen a few roads leading off from the campground when I came in the night before and I was anxious to see if they went anywhere, as any good ADV'er would do.


Well, it didn't take long before I was reward with some gravel roads. Perfect! I snapped a few pictures for you guys back home.


I explored for a while, finding that eventually this road led to a river that was popular in the summer time for rafting, tubing and relaxing in general and then continue on to a paved road and highway. I didn't know it yet, but this is the road I would need to continue on later. I backtracked to the camp site and found a good 2.75 mile trail. Unfortunately the sign said no motor vehicles, so that was a bummer--though I think the Rebel didn't want to take on much more than gravel anyways...oh if only I had my old XR for this trip! (the seat of the rebel isn't much more comfortable, let me tell you!)
So I took to the trails on foot, reluctantly leaving the bike behind. No one is going to steal stuff from my bag...right?

Apparently the park service has a sense of humor.


that's my best pose while covered in sweat. 90 degrees and humid at 9 in the morning...gross!!


Found a nice overlook section of the trail. the river is down below and the view stretches out over more of the Mark Twain National Forest.


Did I mention I saw no one on this trail? I think all the campers came to swim, not get sweaty on a hiking trail. so being the only one, on the trail, I was left with spider web clean up duty. I had no choice as they littered the trail the whole way. I think I had about 300 yards worth of spider web wrapped around my body by the end of it.

After finishing the hike, I got into the tour with a group of cub scouts, one of which decided that his large flashlight should be a camera and he held it on his shoulder as if he was filming the entire excursion. Me on the other hand, I just took some pictures with real camera.

A cool 57 degrees down in the cave felt amazing after sweltering topside. "Just like home" I told them, as some others began donning sweatshirts.



I stayed busy, so after the beautiful cave tour that last 2 hours I was off once more! I had received some direction from the campground host (who apparently volunteer to be in their RV here 4 months a year, dripping sweat) and they told me that the road I had taken earlier would get me to the road I needed. They didn't have to pull my leg to get my to go back on those great gravel roads shaded by trees and bluffs.

On the road for a while, I noticed that every town I passed, it seemed like no matter how small, there was a "Sonic." It only took seeing one or two before I decided I just had to get a limeade. You see, we only have about 2 sonic restaurants within 100 mile radius in the PNW Seattle area, and neither of them are less than 60 miles away.


later on, I stopped to get cell phone service and a bite to eat at a local grocery store.

I know, my head looks tiny...strange. I normally wear an XXL helmet. Maybe the L helmet is crushing my skull.


More beautiful countryside I couldn't pass up. I love green hills with trees and pasture land. If only they had some mountains to travel on! Highest point in MissourI: 1,722 feet. That isn't what is pictured here, but I'm just sayin'.

I never thought about it before I left, but after seeing my first Armadillo, splattered on the ground, I realized-- oh wow, look at that! A real live-- I mean, real dead Armadillo! Til now, I had only seen pictures. It looks like an armored opossum. I guess i was in their country now...so I began to count. Not just armadillos, but how many road kill sitings would I find in the 700 miles I was driving this weekend. Here is the final tally. Yes, I counted, and I remembered:

4 Armadillos
2 Opossums
1 Squirrel
1 Fox
3 Raccoons

Sorry folks, I don't have pictures of these...it's probably for the best.



The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.


I took a pit stop again around dinner time. If I kept going, it seemed that my plans would bring me to my destination around 10 PM...I couldn't have any of that, that leaves me a good 2 hours compared to the night before! So I grabbed some mexican food, which was surprisingly delicious for being in Missouri, and then sat down for the new movie SALT, which was OK. I give it a C+. It ended with Jo running off to pursue "the people who took everything from her." The problem being, in my mind, we never know who ELSE was involved if anyone, and WHAT is 'everything' that they took from her? What was supposed to be a cliff hanger, left me not caring...but I digress.

By this time It's past 'civil twilight' as my friend John called it. Back in Washington I would've still had an hour of sunlight, but not here! With some monstrous looking thunder clouds on the horizon, I speed toward my destination. I was really worried that the storm would hit me before I made it to my campsite, so I didn't stop for a picture of the lightning in the distance...that stuff is pretty epic and always makes me think of God's power and how small a measure of it is shown in things like that.

Like I said, it is getting dark, right? So dark...funny thing, I pass another dude on a cruiser, probably a little bigger than my Rebel, but he is packed up like me too with his stuff tied down, no panniers but still ready for adventure. I gave him a good wave and wondered if he might be going the same place as me, but it turned out he kept going towards Springfield Missouri, when I took my planned detour south toward the Glade Top Trail, a national scenic byway, I might add.

To shorten this up a bit, I got down in the general vicinity, followed a few signs, misread 1 sign, found some high school boys going 'gigging' (yes, I knew what that was due to my past college room mate being from Ohio) They pointed me back to a different road, where I got confused again, checked my useless GPS, and turned around, only to see the sign i saw early and read it correctly this time, heading back to where I JUST WAS and found out that where I turned around last time was about 150 yards from my destination. Go figure.

I hastily unpacked with NO ONE near by, unnerved by the possibility that the heightening wind would bring about a heavy storm, or that some pack of ravenous wolves might jump out of the woods and attack me, or a bear would come steal my breakfast for tomorrow-- some krispy kream donuts holes.

I feel asleep to the sound of heavy rain and with the last few oxycodone left over from my accident entering my bloodstream. My butt still hurts from riding. I was hoping that the wind wouldn't rip off my tent fly and leave me soaked...

...TBC, Sunday July 25th...
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Old 07-26-2010, 11:50 AM   #5
oldenuf
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weekend of Missouri

6 years ago, made the move from Ava, Missouri to the PNW. Rode a SV650 then and have to say the Ozark back roads are fun to ride if you like the curves. Enjoyed your report.

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Old 07-26-2010, 05:20 PM   #6
JED
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Even on the cool Sunday I thought it was toooooo hot. Come ride when the temps are a little more reasonable. I do think you rode the right areas however. We just can't get you above tree line.
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Old 07-28-2010, 10:35 PM   #7
drewbuddy OP
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Talking Sunday, July 25th

Took me a while to get down at a computer and type this up, sorry!

Sunday, July 25th...

I woke up in the morning feeling quite refreshed. I had survived my first midwest thunderstorm, thankfully the brunt of it avoiding my camping area. There sure is nothing like waking up at 6-7 AM on a riding trip with no obligations in the foreseeable future..ah!

After a few chapters in Hebrews (always a good way to start the day) I got up to observe my surroundings. My fly had stayed on nice and tight, so that explained my being dry in the morning. Despite the heat and humidity, the early mornings remain a nice, cool time of the day (relatively) even when midnight is still 90 degrees.


This time I was able to get the tent to stand up on its own! Well, in the evening when I went to bed, the smaller pole halfway stood up when I had coated it almost completely in duct tape. By morning it had fallen over, but the main part remained!! I will have to get one of these tents in the near future.

My breakfast of champions today consisted of more krispy kreme donut holes. Mm! I took a shot of the map showing the first leg of my journey this day, "Glade Top Trail."


This was a good 20 miles of gravel and dirt with some beautiful views--the best on this trip so far-- of Missouri and Arkansas in the distance. There were a few stopping points and forks in the road.






I eventually made it out to pavement (unfortunately), but with plenty of gas to spare and onto the correct highway...that's what they call them here. They are just large country roads.

I had a good number of miles to travel to get to my next destination- "Round Spring Cave." Now the cave was gorgeous and very unadulterated with lights or pavement or anything inside. It was great. BUT, the road GETTING there was by far my favorite of the trip. If the "Glade Top Trail" had the best views so far, this road had the best scenery and best segments of riding, for pavement. (highway 19 for reference, right in the middle of the state roughly)




Finally these beautiful roads led me to a road block. There had been an overturned 'tractor trailer' in the road a mile or two up, and they had blocked it off! The good news? Well, no one was hurt...and the road block was set up *exactly* at my turn off for the cave!! Good thing too, because I was pressed for time! Due to the lack of tourism in these less visited caves, they only provide tours (ie. let people in period) during 4 months in the summer, and then only on weekends at 10AM and 2PM. I made it with 5 minutes to spare to the 2PM tour, and we had one Russian family and another family of 3, the ranger and myself. Not a bad deal.



the colors in these rocks is due to different minerals or material that the water is passing through when it comes out different porous rocks to make these formations. In case you were wondering.


So that's the end of my pictures, but not the end of the road for me. I took 19 to 32/72 all the way to 21, and took 21 until I found 'old 21' and rode that into St. Louis...punching in my final destination in the GPS I had to whip out at the last minute to find John's house once more. The ride was great, very interesting and relaxing despite some aching rear pains. John-- get a new seat on that baby! I used a map I borrowed from him almost the whole time, it was invaluable when I didn't have any actual destination.

Total miles: 712. Not too far, it might seem...but it was plenty long 15 hours of riding in 3 days. 2 hours the first night, 6 the next day and 7 the last. The bike topped out around 60-65 happily, and left me scooting over and waving the occasional fellow driver past me...but no worries. I had no where to be. It was just me, a bike, and miles of open Midwest road.

hope you enjoyed it! my next long trip should be mostly dirt on the TE450...but not any time soon. we'll see!

-Andy
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Old 07-29-2010, 09:09 AM   #8
keyster4
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Nice report, but man you came when the humidity couldn't be any worse. I'm in St. Charles (just outside of St. Louis) and rode down through Washington, Potosi onto Elephant Rocks and Johnson ShutIn's 2 weeks ago. Never done the Glade Top Trail but it's now on the list, thanks.
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Old 07-29-2010, 12:41 PM   #9
stimmer6253472
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missouri caving

Good report. Been to many of those places. If you like caving one of my favorite places in the area is the big cave at Haha Tonka State Park. It is not a guided cave but I bet it would be hard to get lost. It is only open in the late winter early spring time frame but is really fun to explore. It is in the Lake of the Ozarks area.
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Old 07-31-2010, 07:59 PM   #10
drewbuddy OP
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sounds like fun. I would have to find a few others willing to go with me! I would be sooo freaked out in almost any cave by myself. and of course, that's unwise from the get-go.

-Andy
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