Oh the Humidity! (Part 5/8)
I entered Missouri on August 31st around 7:00 P.M. The sun was going down but I was on my way to the Rock Port RV Park so I did not have to worry about finding a place to camp for the night.
I entered Missouri on August 31st around 7:00 P.M. The sun was going down but I was on my way to the Rock Port RV Park so I did not have to worry about finding a place to camp for the night. By the time I hit the RV park it was already dark but I was able to talk to the owners (a nice older couple named John and Edna) who seemed to be really interested in my journey. I sat in their RV and talked with them a while before they led me to my campsite. They informed me that only a few spots had electricity and that they did not have a bathroom on the premises. The reason for this was a massive flood that had wiped out their park a year ago. They said that they just recently reopened their park and were in the process of rebuilding. So much was wiped out due to the flood (supposedly caused by a mess up at a dam up north) including trees, cabins, the office, campsites, and so much more. The bathroom issue wasn’t a big deal because there was a McDonalds down the street. The owners were kind enough to let me stay the night for free, and after I informed them of a wobbly tire on my cart they offered to help me fix it the next day. The final stretch through Nebraska along the Steamboat Trail was peaceful but really messed up one of my tires. It looked like the bearings needed replacing. So the next day we did some driving around to different hardware stores until we could find the necessary peaces to fix. John was able to fix my wheel for me after we acquired the necessary parts and that helped out greatly because I wasn’t sure where I would go to get it fixed.
When I left I headed for Mound City. I had to do a bit of research on Google maps to find a good route that would take me diagonal through the state. The problem is that most highways went horizontal or vertical, so I decided to take some side roads instead. While the side roads helped cut out some mileage, they weren’t the easiest to walk on. Many were gravel and I was worried that this may screw up my cart tires right after I had gotten them fixed. Regardless, I pressed on.
September 4th presented one of the hardest days of walking. After passing through Mound City, I had found a campsite that was 39 miles away, located north of St. Joseph. I decided I would aim for that since I figured that I could make 39 miles if I woke up early enough. I did not expect to hit miles of rough road. Staying off the highway I continued my trek down county roads and side streets. A man stopped to ask if I needed help. I told him of my journey and that’s when he informed me that to get to St. Joseph from where I was I would have to travel over an area known as Monkey Mountains. This road was only about six miles long but it was extremely tough to maneuver. The road was steep and completely gravel which made pushing my cart nearly impossible. When I had to ascend a hill I would have to pull my cart up it. When I descended I would have to hang on as the cart yanked me forward making me skid down the length of the decline. I repeated this process over and over. It slowed my pace to two miles an hour. I knew I wouldn’t make the campsite until well after it was dark. Oh well… I would still press on.
I ended up reaching the campground around 10:30 P.M. I was extremely exhausted. I found an open campsite, bought a soda from a vending machine, and sat down at a picnic table. I relaxed a bit before setting up camp and quickly falling asleep. The next morning I paid for my site and noticed that my cart’s front tire was torn apart. The gravel really messed it up. I did a search of the area and found a Lowe’s and Walmart about two miles away. I headed to Lowe’s but they did not have any small metal, lawnmower tires so I went to Walmart. I found a replacement tire but I had to tools to fix it so I went to the automotive department behind the Walmart and a nice, young feller helped me replace it. I tried to give him some money for the trouble but he declined.
The next few days weren’t too bad. The weather was nice, in the low 80’s. When walking I found I start getting tired around 1 P.M., probably because that’s the hottest part of the day. But after a couple hours I get my second wind and continue on happily. When possible, I would try to find a restaurant or gas station to buy lunch and rest for about an hour or so to help prepare me for the heat. September 8th and 9th I stayed in a cheap motel that had wifi. The motel was in Brookfield and near a McDonald’s, Walmart, and Laundromat; all places I needed to hit. I restocked on food, did laundry, and completed some homework.
The next three days of walking were nice because I was able to aim for a campground/RV park each night. On 9/10 I walked 28 miles and hit an RV park, but the office was closed so I ended up staying there for free since I could not find the owners. On 9/11 and 9/12 I stayed at the Cottonwood RV Park in Columbia. I finished up some homework and relaxed because the next day I planned for a long trip. The next morning I left at 5 A.M. I headed south through Jefferson city, which wasn’t too hard to walk through since I took a lot of neighborhood roads, and walked 47 miles to the Osage RV Park. This is the furthest I have walked so far. I have found that it isn’t too tough as long as I take breaks and have a decent amount of light, although it was starting to get darker earlier. I missed the days in Wyoming when the sun would rise at 5 A.M. and set at 9 P.M. When I reached the RV Park around 9 P.M. the owners were waiting outside for me. I had called earlier and given them a rough estimation of when I would arrive. I was pretty much right on the money with my estimation. I paid for a site and quickly fell asleep.
The next few days weren’t as easy. It started raining every day and a lot of the roads had hardly any shoulder. A few times over the course of the week I had cops stop me and offer assistance. Many of them though what I was doing was cool. On 9/17 I headed from Rolla to Salem. I was trying to find a faster route than following highway 63 south because that highway went west before it went east again. I found a smaller road that cut diagonally through Salem and south toward highway 60. While walking to Salem it began to pour. It was raining so hard I had to pull over and huddle under my poncho. I waited out the storm before moving on again. I was trying to hit a campground just outside Salem until I met the Sheriff who informed me that that campground did not exist. Thanks a lot Google Maps!! So instead the Sheriff told me of a park I could camp at that had a small pavilion. That’s where I headed and around 9 P.M. the Sheriff arrived to check up on me and give me a burger from Sonic!The next day I checked the weather and found another storm approaching. My goal was to take a small road from Salem all the way to highway 60. This road was only two lanes and did not have a shoulder. It was also 60 miles long. I did not want to travel on it in the rain so I ended up finding a motel. After talking to the owner, she informed me that she would not charge me for the room so I decided I would stay there two nights and work on homework. My homework consisted of working on my thesis which ended up taking longer than I thought. Kim, the owner of the Ranch Motel, told me that I could stay as long as I want so that I could finish my homework. So I did. I stayed for five days! My thesis turned out to be twenty pages long. Kim was really nice for letting me stay there, but not only that, she showed me around town, brought me to a fishery, bought me food and supplies, and brought me to her house for dinner and to meet her son and husband. Also, she realized that the road I was going to travel on was really unsafe so she offered to take my cart and deliver it to me when I reached the highway. So the next two days I walked along the curvy road through the woods carrying a small backpack filled with Gatorade and protein bars. This really helped out because it would have been hell pushing my cart on that road.
On 9/27 I reached highway 60. This highway went all the way to the Mississippi River. This road did not have many RV parks or campgrounds so I had to camp in the woods. The good thing about Missouri was that there were woods everywhere. One day I stopped in a gas station to restock my Gatorades when I began chatting to the cashier girl. I told her that I was walking across the country and she was shocked. Her husband, who was also in the gas station, was also intrigued. They offered me a plate of biscuits and gravy, so I sat and ate with them. They also gave me a jacket and t-shirt because of a cold front that was fast approaching. We became Facebook friends and then I was off once again.
September 30th was another hard day of walking. I was heading for the city of Sikeston where I had located an RV park. While walking, my tires started to wobble. It probably didn’t help that every time I reached a bridge I had to run across because there was no shoulder. As night fell it became harder to travel. I donned my reflective vest and pressed on. As I reached another bridge my tires really started to give out. I ran across the bridge before any headlights appeared around the bend. Suddenly one of the spokes busted and my tire nearly broke in half. The frame of the tire bent and I had to stop to inspect it. Because I was only about four miles from the RV Park I decided to press on… slowly though. I finally reached the park around 11 P.M. I quickly set up camp and fell asleep. The next day I asked the owner of the park if he knew of any bike shops. He knew of one and drove me there around noon. Sadly, the people working in the bike shop told me they couldn’t help because I had solid tube tires and it would be too hard to remove them. Instead I headed to Walmart and, reluctantly at first, bought a whole new cart. I needed one anyway since the one I had was really beaten up. The owner of the RV park helped me fill my air tires with Slime that way I wouldn’t have to worry about them popping. I would have liked to put the solid tube tires on but they really are a pain.
Anyway I wasted the whole day assembling my new cart that I decided to stay at the RV park one more night. I continued following 60 and on October 3rd I finally made it into the next state of Illinois!!