East of Kansas City

Been awhile since I was excited to get behind one of these.

Been awhile since I was excited to get behind one of these.

Navigation without in Missouri is very difficult even with a map. In in Wisconsin rural roads typically go in grids so you can make your way in a particular direction without out too much side stepping. Not the case here. Roads wind East, West, North, South all in a matter of ten miles with very few intersections. I would wager that for everyone 4 miles ridden I made 1 mile forward progress. Very defeating on a bicycle. It should be noted this is a none issue in car since their interstate system is amazingly direct. Needless to say I fell behind schedule and my friend Joe had to pick me up so we could spend the weekend together.
*Before everyone freaks out and starts accusing me of cheating, Joe’s house is in Blue Springs, MO. This is about 90 miles off course for me. The plan was always to have him pick me up. I amended the route to head directly towards him to save him gas. When leaving he drove me 60 miles east, still less than the original plan. So, in point of fact, I actually rode further than the original plan laid out so everyone can just calm down.*
I am constantly taken back by the thickness of growth in Missouri. Everything is green and lush this year. Evidence of flooding abounds. Entire parts of back country roads re-gravelled having recently been washed completely away. There are trees three to five feet in diameter washed up on the banks of aggressively gouged out ditches, now dry. Needless to say I have paid very close attention I do not make camp in a flood plain. High ground, high ground, high ground is the mantra in my head as the sun sets.
As I said Joe picked me up. He’s an old friend from High School. We probably hadn’t seen each other in at least six years, but as it is with good friends, you fall right back into your old routine with ease. It was fascinating sitting and talking with someone I had once sat and dreamed with what we were going to do when our band got signed about his children, mortgages, careers, so on… not to say we didn’t discuss the latest comic book films and the merits of rock n’ roll as well.
Joe and his family live in a nice house in Blue Springs, MO. east of Kansas City. He and his wife Erin did her very best to make me feel at home, and the succeeded with flying colors. Erin is a marvelous cook. She and her mother, Rhonda, started my Saturday off with homemade biscuits and gravy. Awesome. Joe and I went to Legacy Park to throw a round of disc golf. The course was quite nice and well maintained. It’s degree of difficulty is hard to assess since we went on a very windy day and I am having a difficulty gripping things due to some minor Ulnar never damage (I had to have Joe open the twist off wine bottle for me, sad) due to cycling (I have made some made some adjustments and bought a second pair of riding gloves to alleviate this issue). Joe beat me by a few strokes and we hurried home to make it to Powell Gardens with the family.
Powell Gardens are the botanical gardens near to Blue Springs. It sports a beautiful wedding chapel, a barn and topless silo giving you a 360 degree vantage of the grounds, a trolley, many paths and waterways, of course the gardens and while we were there Lego land-esk displays. As beautiful as the gardens were I was captivated by the legos. I have been a fan since childhood and it was amazing these works of art pieced together on display. It was like living in an 8-bit world. The boys were equally enthralled by the legos, but at the end of the day the fountain was clearly their favorite. All the kids loved dashing in and out of the jets as the pulsated. It was like watching moths around a light. When the light is on a flurry of activity. When it diminishes so does the activity. So it was the fountain and children.
We left the gardens and went to Holdfast Bikes where I had dropped Ruckus for a little TLC. The mechanic gave me that “you dodged a bullet” look when I said the hubs needed work. I gave him the “I know, that’s why I’m here” look in return. Oklahoma was just so damn tough on the old man those steel rims and hubs needed to be reset. If you are ever in the east Kansas City area and need bike work definitely check out Holdfast Bikes. They were knowledgable, efficient, professional, and fair in their pricing. They even left the doors unlocked after close on Friday so I could drop Ruckus off, and when I got him back they had made some tweaks and adjustments I didn’t ask for and was not charged for. They were equally helpful when I explained my Ulnar trouble and gave me several options to stem further damage. In any case, bravo Holdfast.
We came back to Joes for some family time. They do not have a TV so the boys are always viaing for time on the PC’s and iPad. It struck how much having young children is like living in a college house. Everyone is always screaming. Emotions are swinging wildly. Someone is running about in their underwear. There are arguments about who left dishes in the living room. It’s possible someone releived themself in another room besides the bathroom. Someone probably needs a nap. I loved it. (It should be noted Joe and Erin are awesome parents and I really enjoyed their boys a lot. They were courteous, kind, and funny as hell)
The next day they went to church and very much enjoyed be alone and indoors for the first time in a while. Joe and I loaded up his little truck and headed east. Joe dropped me a at a gas station/fireworks warehouse. Strapped up Ruckus with gear and Joe and I parted ways promising to not let another six years pass between visits.
I now had my phone and GPS back, and it was glorious. I made good time and stopped after fifteen miles to get something to eat. When I came out there was a small group of locals gathered around ruckus the way people in the 1900’s would gather around an automobile or airplane. I’m not sure what all the ruckus was about (pun intended). I walked out and felt as though I should be on a soap box as I answered the small group’s questions. I actually was fatigued by it eventually and made motion I was leaving even thought the inquiry hadn’t ceased. I strapped on the helmet and the common bidding of “good luck” and “be safe” chased after me as I rode away. I returned well wishes over my shoulder looking forward to a quiet night at Arrow Rock State park.
I arrived in good time and good spirits and set up camp. My neighbor, Curtis, saw me dragging wood from the forest and brought me some dry logs from their campsite up the hill. This was a particularly kind gesture since Curtis was missing his left arm just above the elbow. He stayed and chatted about his recumbent trike and differences between that and a traditional cycle. His son Chance stood quietly at his side. After sometime had passed they returned to their camp I gratefully had the night to myself.
Arrow Rock is a historical site having been some type of port on the Missouri River early in the nations developments. Lewis and Clark went directly by that area when mapping the country. They trails were nice and wild life abundant. I even saw a large owl during the day and was mesmerized by the utter silence it moved through the trees.
The park’s sites are nice and large and the comfort stations are very nice, but the park is lacking any wow factor. If you are not a huge history buff or a local I wouldn’t encourage someone to go out of their way to visit the park.
I made a hard push from Arrow Rock for fifty miles against a stiff headwind and got to Thompson Campground at sundown. Located off Rockwell Park in Moberly MO. Thompson Campground is really an RV park. The tent area had only one fire scar, no discernible sites, and no showers. The bathrooms provided were found wanting. Better than a pit toilet, but not by much. That being said the park is very nice and has many activities including a walking path, a lodge, a youth center, a disc golf course, a water park (I believe that cost extra), many picnic and pavilion areas, and even a small train for kids to ride around the park on Sunday. It was a very nice park and you can get past the poor tent accommodations since there is only an $8 fee per night and very little to no over sight.
I enjoyed the disc golf course and went to see World War Z. Good movie. Good twist on the zombie genre. Worth seeing. That night a local named Paula stopped by my camp to chat. She was dead set on going to the Phantom Ranch in the Grand Canyon. She offered me some chinese leftovers, which I happily accepted. When a ferocious cloud burst came up, instead of running for her vehicle she ran over and helped me get my rain fly up. So kind. It absolutely poured for fifteen or so minutes and then passed. Most of gear had been saved by the tent so take down wasn’t too hindered today.
I am riding for Wakona State Park. Should make halfway today.


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