Short day today … so after leaving the shack (which had wifi!) and sending Steve off eastwards with all our tips for free overnights, Paul and I headed west with young Ian … for about a minute … before stopping for breakfast in the local diner opposite a lifesize(?) bronze statue of Popeye. (Olive Oil, Pluto and Grandpa were dotted around elsewhere in town.) As was the norm now, we were happily delayed by chatting to folk and one man, the Superintendent of the school in Chester, just wished us well as he left, nothing more. Five minutes later as we went to stump up, it turned out that the check had been settled … by the Super. How nice was that. Now would that happen in the UK? I think not.
Over the bridge, even the mist and murk that was Missouri didn’t dampen our joie de vivre after that farewell to Illinois and Chester. It was a bit of a heads-down-and-get-up-and-over-those-hills for a few hours until we met Bruce and Paul coming the other way. They were about our age (well OK, about Paul’s age) and doing the TransAm too. They were travelling incredibly light … one small
pannier each. Then it transpired that Paul’s dad was a few miles back in a car … they had a sag wagon! Sort of cheating in our purist (stupid?) books and they were only going from Pueblo to Yorktown, so our ‘we’re-doing-the-whole-route-and-carrying-all-our-own-gear’ smugness was still intact.
Ten minutes later, whilst eating a mouth watering lunch of pappy, peanut butter and jam sarnies by the roadside, coming up the hill towards us were Faye and Melissa on carbon road bikes. They were also doing the TransAm, but with no luggage at all! Due to the timing, we instantly assumed they were the wives/partners of Bruce and Paul. Wrong …they had no idea fellow cyclists were so close. And they went one better than the boys … these ladies had a sag wagon each! … their husbands were some way back in a mobile home and an RV no less … with their dogs. But luggage or not, everyone is doing the miles.
Most of the hillsides in the latter end of the ride seemed to be owned by the Crown Estate Company and they had vineyards stretching miles with their wine caves and beer brewing sites blotting the otherwise beautiful countryside. In the modern capitalist spirit of diversify and survive, CEC even offered ‘tiger tours’ … they have a hilltop lodge/hotel complex which incorporates a tiger breeding programme! We’d had enough of the dogs that day, so seeing something else that was vicious with large teeth wasn’t on anyone’s bucket list.
We arrived in sunny middle-America Farmington mid afternoon and immediately bumped into Lours who we hadn’t seen since Virginia (that seems so long ago!). He showed us to Al’s Place, the converted town jail, where we stayed in luxury … beds with mattresses, hot water, fluffy towels, a laundry and even a free beer that someone had left. We then spent the next few hours trying to satisfy our growing audience … by updating the blog.
Most of this duty falls to Paul as he set it up and he has to upload everything. … those lovely photos take forever! And so we get a backlog as most ditches, barns and graveyards, where we usually bed down, don’t have wi-fi. We eventually set out into the setting sun and after a quick once round town and a couple of beers in a Mexican bar, we found ’12 West’ which even had options for the trip veggie. Thank you Jennifer (our waitress) for being so helpful, understanding and patient with two inquisitive, indecisive Brits. Fully carbo-loaded, bed beckoned and we hit the hay knowing that those 6 hours sleep really weren’t going to be enough. Hey ho.
Miles today: 47
Miles since First Landing: 1315