3 - Tuesday,
It rained through the night so everything was very wet in the morning. We cooked up our oatmeal and headed out around 9:30 a.m. We had a blessedly short riding day planned, only 25 miles to our next campground at Coopers Landing with an 18 mile sidetrip to Columbia on the MKT trail. Craig's two oldest kids attend MIZZOU so were were going to be meeting them for lunch in Columbia. After lunch Gerry would be saying goodbye and riding on to the Amtrak Train station in Jefferson City to head back to St. Louis.
The morning ride was overcast but nice and uneventful. The rain the night before had packed down the sand so we had no trouble heading back over the extra trail we'd struggled with the night before. Squished frogs littered the trail, evidence of my previous night's murderous rampage. The skies threatened us all morning and finally opened up around 11:00 a.m. We stopped underneath the I-70 overpass to escape the rain along with three other trail riders. One a strange but friendly fellow on a recumbent and a young couple from Kansas City riding the entire trail in just a few days.
After about 10 minutes or so the rain lightened up a bit and we decided to keep going. We were completely soaked by the time we arrived at the MKT Trail to Columbia.
The MKT Trail was a new adventure. We thought it was for bicyclists but the first section was covered in very deep gravel... impossible to ride in. We walked and struggled for about half a mile. Eight and a half more miles of this?! Craig called his son and daughter to tell them about the condition of the trail and that at this pace we wouldn't be able to make it there before Jimmy's afternoon class. But Jimmy's class had been canceled and Amy sounded so disappointed that we might not make our lunch date that Craig was determined to continue plowing through the gravel. Fortunately the gravel soon was replaced by a much more rideable surface and the rest of the trail was quite nice and very pretty.
When we got to Columbia we called the kids again, found a meeting spot and had a great Cajun lunch at the Jazz Bistro. The three of us were covered in mud and still soaking wet but the waiter was nice to us anyway and the food was fantastic. I went into the bathroom and washed my dirty shoes and socks in the sink.
After lunch we said goodbye to Gerry, then the sun came out and our ride back down the MKT Trail to the Katy Trail was perfect. The gravel wasn't quite so bad this time around because we were expecting it. By the time we reached Coopers Landing we were completely dry and ready to enjoy a nice evening campsite.
I expected Coopers Landing to be an interesting place based on what I read about it on their website and I wasn't disappointed. It mainly caters to boaters who use the boatramp there. There is a little camp store and a Thai man who cooks Thai dinners for the campers. Musicians hang out there most nights and play music. I was really hoping to jam with musicians there that night. We got there and met Mike the owner. He said there wasn't going to be music that night. Dang!
We walked our bikes over to the neatest campsite overlooking the river. I couldn't wait to get set up. Craig started unpacking the tent and I began wiping all the dried dirt off my sleeping bag.
Craig had been nervously watching a wicked looking cloud just a ways down the river. I couldn't believe how quickly the storm was upon us. Craig had just staked the tent down. "Here it comes!" he yelled and the cold wind and rain smacked into us. We were instantly drenched and the tent began filling up with water. Craig and I tried frantically to orient the rain fly and stake it down but the ferocious wind whipped the rain fly up into the air like a sail. We finally twisted the thing down over the tent and ran into the store, sopping wet, freezing and miserable.
Mike showed us where the shower was and even let us wash all our clothes in the washer and dryer. The hot shower felt glorious and afterwards we joined several weathered looking men watching a large screen television in the "The Gathering Room" adjoining the store. It was kind of like a big old garage with an odd assortment of tables, office chairs, music equipment, books, videos and exercise equipment scattered around. But it was warm, dry and cozy and they had beer so we were as happy as could be. The Thai cook, Chim, was still there for the evening and cooked us up a huge plate of delicious wontons and crab rangoon for dinner.
We met another Mike, who was camping there for a couple of weeks working on some reviews he was writing about Missouri campgrounds. See his website at www.49-reasons.com. He was working on his website and told me there was free wifi there. YAY! I got out my laptop and did a very needed email check. I brought my laptop with me on this trip hoping to find places along the way to check email once a day. I've never gone more than a day without checking in. No I'm not an email junkie so much as I've got lots of customers with my website business and I need to make sure no one is having any problems. But so far on this trip, I hadn't had any time to try to get an internet connection.
We enjoyed the warmth and odd company in the Gathering Room for a couple hours. First they had been watching a National Geographic special about greenhouse gases and then someone flipped over to the presidential debate with Barak Obama and John McCain. We quickly discovered that our fellow campers were a very verbal group of Democrats. One salty old fellow worked himself up into an angry frenzy every time McCain spoke and kept stomping out of the room and slamming the door.
We explained our flooded tent situation to the men hoping to receive an invitation to fold out our sleeping bags in that wonderful dry, warm room. The invitation never came but 49-reasons Mike invited us to move our tent and belongings under his tarps. We had seen his tarps when we were first riding into camp... yards and yards of blue tarps covering about two campsites worth of ground propped up at odd angles in various spots by picnic tables and camping gear. We had no idea that was going to be our home for the evening.
So we moved in with Mike! We set up all our stuff under his tarp. It was kinda' weird having to lean over and push the tarp over my head to get to the tent. But it was certainly dry and after another couple of hours when we went to sleep the tent was nearly dry inside. Thanks Mike!
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