We rode from Perry to Macon on Tuesday and from Macon to the lovely town of Moberly in the rain Wednesday. We woke Tuesday in the Perry town park and had a large breakfast from the local food truck (which has been traveling with us and feeding us well.)
We rode west, through Mark Twain State Park and by the large, meandering and beautiful Mark Twain Lake and near his birthplace in Florida, now part of the park. I would like to have stopped in, and maybe we’ll swing by when we get back in the car. That, or go to Hannibal for a growler of his namesake beer.
We wound up day two in Macon and camped by a small pond in the fairgrounds. A shuttle was taking people into town for dinner and after showers, we rode in. Macon is bigger and also less charming than Perry, the downtown full of abandoned buildings and a little sad. We couldn’t find a place to eat and ended up shuttling to the edge of town, and got fried chicken, potato salad and a bottle of wine for a picnic by our pond. We later heard that there was a good restaurant out there on the strip, but it was too late for us.
Every night, the BAM organizers have a regional band for us and they have been great. We’ve noticed that the evening shows bring out the neighbors and townspeople, which is fun to see.
At our lunch stop on Tuesday, we struck up a conversation with a guy and mentioned that we were from St. Paul. He asked if we knew of a venue in Minneapolis called the Hook and Ladder. We do, and have been there often. He (Dennis) said he was in a band called the Haymakers out of Wichita, Kansas that did a show there in December. I remembered the show immediately – and when I asked him what he played – baritone mandolin, a huge, guitar sized mando – it came back to me even more clearly. His band is awesome and did a bill with our friends Dusty Heart, and Molly Maher and Erik Koskinen. Because I can be/am corny, I remembered going to their merch table just to tell them that my favorite album title was “As Falls Wichita So Falls Wichita Falls” (an old Pat Metheny record) and the guys in the band at least pretended to be amused. Anyway, if you get a chance to hear the Haymakers out of Wichita, do – they are great and they have a long distance cyclist and a real nice guy playing a very large mandolin.
It is the nature of a ride like this that you meet interesting and nice people. We also rode for a while with a fine man named Steve who had recently been treated surgically for thyroid cancer – I couldn’t believe he was already out doing such a physical event so soon. He and I talked for a long time and I learned that his wife was the masseuse traveling along with the crew. Lisa and I will be seeing her at the end of Thursday’s ride for massages.
We began this week not knowing a soul and now feel like we have made great friends.
The next day (Wednesday) was predicted to be rainy and it didn’t disappoint. Fortunately, we were mostly packed up before it got bad, but it did rain pretty much the entire way to Moberly, which is the biggest town on our trip. Riding in the rain isn’t terrible once you accept that you’re going to be wet. We dressed warmly and wore our bright orange Showers Pass jackets, the closest we’ll probably ever get to matching his and hers apparel.
Lisa and I rode closer together than is typical for us and had long conversations. We stopped ten miles in for breakfast at the 3 36 cafe, and sat with the local farmers who gawked at us briefly and then went back to their morning chat while Fox News played on the tv in the corner. Several guys greeted us as they left.
It turned out to be a very nice, very wet day, our favorite of the week so far. The rain ended midafternoon and after a hot shower, we shuttled into town for dinner at Lula’s, a tiny diner with amazing food. We ate at the bar served by the charming Dana and shared a grilled tuna steak and the biggest baked potato I’ve ever seen.
After dinner, waiting for the shuttle to come around, we chatted with a young family from Centralia who’d come to Moberly for their eight year old son’s baseball game (rained out.) The dad ended up offering to drive us back to the park where we are camping and we accepted, rather than wait for the single, very busy shuttle.
We returned to hear a three piece bluesy band playing “Big River” just as we walked in, and we cheered as the singer sang “St. Paul Minnesota”
What an awesome day, the last one of this sixty seventh year of my lovely and blessed life.