Sunday, September 30, 2018

Katy Trail Day 3: Boonville to Hartsburg

Another day in the bag. Today's ride was 44.9 miles, which also included about a half mile hike up to get up to the Les Bourgeois Vineyards in Rocheport. 

We knew that we were going to get to relax this morning because the Boonville Museum we wanted to see wasn't going to open until 10am. So we sat in Kemper Park enjoying our coffee and talking to a couple who walked by. Took a bike ride around town looking at the historic buildings, but our real intention was to get a donut. I found something called Yummy Donuts, but was a little skeptical because the maple bar I got for a $1.40 was awfully small. But one bite, and I was a fan. Delicious. We also picked up a few things at the grocery store across from the donut place.

Finally made our way to the museum and then took a little side trip to see the Katy Trail bridge, which is partially restored and will cost quite a bit to do a complete restoration. Was kind of neat to look at it.
Stop or you'll end up in the Missouri!

Had a nice ride to Rocheport, which was an extremely cute little town, and if I were going to do this again I would probably stay there.
Rocheport Tunnel

About a mile down the path there was a little trail that went up to the winery. So we pushed our bikes up the trail until we could do no more and then walk the rest of the way up. They had some pretty good pulled pork and a kind of vinegary BBQ sauce. The best part though was the old guy sitting next to me. I asked him how the wine was he says, "oh pretty good; I'm going to have a beer when I'm done." I thought he might perhaps want to enjoy a craft beer that they made at the vineyard, but no. The next thing I see is him ordering his Bud Lite at the counter.

Cyclist TIP: I had to do this all over again, I probably would have just had a glass of wine at the place right on the trail, enjoyed the cute little town of Rocheport and skipped the steep hike up the bluff.

We continued along the trail some more and  found quite a few people out today. It turns out we were getting close to Columbia Missouri which is a big college town. It was an 8.8 mile spur that you could ride to go to Columbia. We did not do that but instead continued on our way. The trail was rather flat, slightly downhill, and we finally got rid of that headwind. I will say after 3 days of 40-plus miles on our bikes, my legs are pretty tired. T told me that I needed to, "suck her tire," which actually means I need to get really close so that I could draft behind her. I couldn't believe how easy it was to ride my bike in that position. Kind of like when you follow somebody else in the snow. I'm a convert to this style of riding, it saved my legs today.

After a while, we found that we were pretty much the only ones on the bike trail and the only towns that we saw were essentially old rail stops where there might be one or two houses. At one of these houses we saw our first Confederate flag waving proudly on the flagpole next to the US flag. That in and a small Trump sign have been the only things we've seen in this red state that reflect people's political beliefs.

We continued riding and suddenly came up on boathenge! That was something. A little longer and we came up on something called Cooper's Landing where they were playing music. Let's just say it was kind of like the Eugene Country Fair meets the south, on a very, very small scale of course. Even the outhouse was painted in some kind of funky psychedelic pattern.
Boat Henge

Headed to Hartsburg

Finally pulled in to Hartsburg around 6pm and found the wonderful Lions Park.

We were tired, hot, and sticky and went to check out the bathroom and found one teensy-weensy sink. That was not going to do, and then I saw a hose going around between the Lions Club building and a little shed. A couple of well positioned trash cans did the trick.

Cyclist TIP: You can make arrangements to camp in Hartsburg at the Lioms Club ball park by calling ahead. 

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Katy Trail Day 2: Sedalia to Boonville

Going to bed early means that you get up very early the next morning. Today we woke up around 5am, had some leisurely coffee in our tent and eventually made our way. Of course we couldn't leave the fairgrounds until I found the final geocache, which was only about a hundred and twenty feet from where we were camped.

The first day took a lot out of us, and it was clear that Therese was not eating enough. So as we rode out of Sedalia, we stopped at the Burger King for her to have a second breakfast. From there we passed by the Katy Depot and then took the detour which the lady at the Depot Museum had told us about. It added an extra couple of miles to our journey which we were not expecting, and they were hilly. Rolling hills through farm country; I will say that I was not particularly thrilled at this point in our ride, because I definitely did not sign up for hills!
Therese takes advantage of a red light in downtown Sedalia to eat more breakfast. 

View from the bridge.

When Roz, our neighbor and friend, asked if we would be traveling through Pilot Grove, she told us that she had a dear friend who lived in an historic home in the area. After a few e-mails back and forth, we found ourselves set up to visit her friend Vicki who lives in the historic Burwood home and Vicki's neighbor Winky who lives in the Pleasant Green plantation house. So we set a date for 10am this morning. We arrived about 10:05am at the little church right down the road from their houses, locked up our bikes, hopped in the car with Vicki and rode up to see Winky. 
The road to the little church.

Winky was a delightful hostess! She had prepared little snacks and coffee for us and we all sat around chatting and having a wonderful morning. After our visit, Winky shared her home with us, giving us the history and showing us a number of artifacts. It was very interesting; she also showed us the little house where the enslaved people had lived. We said our goodbyes and she sent us on our way with pockets full of apples and bananas and good wishes for our trip.
Perfect riding snacks...sweet and salty.

Pleasant Green Plantation House

From there, we went to see the Burwood home. Again extremely interesting, with very high ceilings and 8 fireplaces! Vicki also showed us the little house out back where the enslaved people had lived. One of the rooms had been restored, while one had not. You could see how the walls had been constructed where the plaster had fallen away. One of the things I found most interesting was that the plaster had hog hair in it to give it some strength. Vicki took us back to the little church where we hopped on their bikes and were on our way.
Slave Quarters

New friends at Burwood.

When we arrived in Pilot Grove, we stopped to read the sign at the trailhead, where we learned that we would be coming up to the part that some people considered the most difficult part of the trail. It was interesting to ride that portion of the trail; we thought that there were parts yesterday that were much harder. For the most part the trail was slightly uphill with some slightly downhill sections. Overall, we would probably rate it as a flat trail. We took some time to look around Pilot Grove, including the old jail, had snacks and drank chocolate milk.
Trail Art

Arriving in Boonville around 4:15pm, our first stop was the YMCA, where we took $5 showers and then pitched our tent out back in Kemper Park. We cooked up our dinner, which consisted of chicken breast, potatoes and broccoli and then took a two mile bike ride around town. All told, our day ended up being 42.7 miles.

It was a good day.

Camping at Kemper Park

YMCA and the old Kemper Military School

Cyclist TIP: Contact the Boonville Visitor Center and museum to get a permit to camp at Kemper Park. It's free, the bathrooms are great, and you can take a shower at the YMCA for just $5.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Katy Trail Day 1: Clinton to Sedalia

We had a great day riding the trail. We left our hotel this morning and rode our bikes a mile to the car rental place in Warrensburg. From there we drove down to Clinton and dropped the car off.

We left the Enterprise rental place at 10:20am and headed for the trail. Our total ride from Clinton was 42.8 miles, which included a couple extra miles when we doubled back from the Katy Trail Depot and Museum to the campground at the state fairgrounds.
Westernmost Terminus: Clinton, Missouri
Official Trailhead Starting Point
Ready to Ride!
We only saw about a dozen other cyclists on the trail today. We were pleasantly surprised by the diversity of the scenery, everything from Prairie Grass to farmland with a few small towns mixed in between.

Highest Point on the Katy Trail - Elevation: 955' 

We arrived at our campground around 4:30pm, set up our camp and cooked a small dinner. The fairgrounds are absolutely beautiful, and we were super happy to find that there were several geocaches here.
Cyclists TIPS: If you are thinking of staying at the  campground at the fairgrounds:
  1. Bring earplugs. There is some kind of plant nearby that is very loud.
  2. Bring a something to cover your eyes with....there are a lot of lights here. You won't need a flashlight. 
  3. Wait a VERY long time for the shower water to heat up. It never heated up for either of us, but the campground hosts claims it will get very hot. You just have to wait (we ran the water for more than 5 minutes before giving up on it getting hot.
  4. Geocache! 
  5. The fairgrounds were absolutely beautiful, so be sure to look around while you are here. 
  6. You can do a one way rental through Enterprise. Cost was about $35; the Clinton location is not open on the weekend. 
Missouri State Fairgrounds in Sedalia

Barnyard Fun

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Welcome to Missouri

Today was a lot of sitting, and not in the saddle. We are however, slowly making our way to the Katy Trail. 

We boarded the Amtrak at the Summit station, located in the Chicago suburbs. It's one of those train stations where there is not a depot or attendants. All of the passengers were lined up on the platform on the east side of the tracks, so we toted all of our baggage across the tracks. We see the train coming and it is pulling up to the other platform...the engineer stops the train and we all scurried back over the tracks. Thank goodness that we had some help getting our bags onto the train. There is nothing like dragging around panniers, camping gear and bicycles.
Gear on board.
The train ride to St Louis was rather uneventful. Of course we had to get off the train, walk over to the station, wait, and then walk right back to where we were to get back on the next train. It all worked out, especially for T, as a nice Amtrak employee picked her and the two bikes up with their little orange cart.
Rolling into St Louis
In the process of boarding the Missouri River Runner Amtrak train, one of the train attendants was helping us figure out where to put our bikes. He was black gentleman named Martin and was probably around 50. From down the way, the white conductor, about the same age, was yelling out suggestions on what we should do... he was a regular buttinsky, and in fact ended up making us drag those darn bicycles around more than we needed too! I ended up walking towards his end of the car, the bike over my shoulder. He looked at me and I just said there wasn't room at the other end. So he yells back at Martin, something to the effect of, "SON, you need to learn how to stack items into that space," which came across as very belittling.  I was horrified because it was clearly racist. These two men are the same age and that black man was certainly not his son. I said something to Martin on the train, and he just basically said that the guy was how we was. I told him that in Oregon this was not how we did things, and it was not okay.

The whole episode did not sit well with me. When we got off the train in Warrensburg, the whit conductor helped us get our bags off the train. Before we left, I told him that we observed what had happened on the platform in St Louis and how when he referred his colleague as "SON," it came across as racist, that it was not ok, and that it didn't feel safe. He looked at me, wondering what I was talking about. He made some comment, and it was clear that he had no idea that he actually referred to Martin as "SON." I also told him it was a great welcome to St Louis, Missouri.

So there we were in the tiny little Warrensburg depot at about 8:45pm putting our gear on to our bicycles. There's a young black guy (20ish) on the phone, but he stops his conversation to ask us about our bikes. We asked him if he was waiting for the train. He replied that he's waiting for a taxi and proceeds to refer to someone as a retard. Sigh... I already called out the guy on the train; I let this one go. Not next time. 
Night ride from the Warrensburg Amtrak Station to our hotel.
We rode our bikes two miles to the hotel and spent the next hour and a half deciding what we should mail home. In the end, we kept it all and were glad we did. We used everything we brought except first aid and tools (a very good thing!).

Selfie taken with phone in the handlebar mount.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Fermilab: The Neutrinos Passing Through Us

Today we took a tour of Fermilab where we learned about particle acceleration and the worldwide collaboration in the study of matter and energy.

Paula, a retired AP Physics teacher, was our fantastic tour guide. Our group had lots of questions and she did a great job of answering them. Anyone who could guide unruly high school students through AP Physics surely could deal with a bunch of 50+ year old tourists.

One of the things Paula talked about was the "Standard Model," which presents the fundamental particles. I took physics in school, but I had never heard of this. AsPaula said, this is to physics what the periodic table of the elements is to chemistry.

Standard Model

We learned about neutrinos, "a neutral subatomic particle with a mass close to zero and half-integral spin, rarely reacting with normal matter. Three kinds of neutrinos are known, associated with the electron, muon, and tau particle." 


But what was REALLY cool was that these little particles are accelerated and then TRAVEL THROUGH THE EARTH and are collected and counted up in Minnesota! And some other places. Wow. Actually, there are neutrinos passing through us all the time from the sun (did I get that right?), which makes that whole, "Beam me up, Scotty!" not sound so outlandish.

The other interesting tidbit is that the Fermilab had the third web site on the world wide web. Let's be clear, we are not talking internet, but rather world wide web, meaning the graphical, user-friendly www that we all know and love. [The internet goes way back to the days of (D)ARPANET.]


Overlooking the Beginning

A Peek at the Accelerator (blue)

There was even a cancer treatment program at Fermilab, where electrons were used to treat cancer. The person who ran it, ironically died of breast cancer.

Unruly Tourists

After the tour, we were pretty hungry, so we stopped by the cafe for a bite to eat.

Cafe: Freshly Prepared Veggies, Quinoa and Cheese Ravioli ($4.50!)

After lunch, we took a tour of the grounds. On the left, you see the power lines. And yes, those poles are specifically designed to look like pi. Turns out the original director, Robert Wilson, was all about art, nature, and the environment; you see his impact throughout...everything from the native prairie grasses to the Bison Bison (meaning pure bred bison) herd. On the right of the photo is a little blue building beside a mound of earth. This is all part of the accelerator.

We ended up at the Lederman Science Center, which had some hands-on exhibits, a small gift store, and a Geocache. While in the store, I noticed a plaque honoring another woman-- once again, another person I have never heard of who made great contributions to science.

"Helen Edwards, one of the most vital contributors to the success of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory over its five-decade history..."

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Views to Volleyball

Today's adventures are many and varied...and started with a trip to the North American Baha'i Temple in Wilmette, IL near the Lake Michigan shore.

On the way to the park.

View from the bridge. 

Lake Michigan

#11 rocked it. 

T gets groovy @ the Arlington Public Library.