After several marathon days along the road home I decided to hold a little pity party. “I’m tired and ugly,” I complained as we crossed yet another state line. ”My hair needs cutting, my bum is sore from all this sitting and I’m bored!”
Not that I’m complaining about our trip. It’s been a great trip. We’ve seen so much of this big, beautiful country of ours and we’ve visited with family and friends, so I know how fortunate Reg and I are.
It won’t be long now…but if only we could just blink and be home.
We’ve had our eyes on the Katy Trail for years. First, as a potential distance walk. More recently, we wondered if we (more specifically, I) could go the distance on bikes.
Katy Trail State Park is the longest developed rail-trail in the country. It spans most of the state of Missouri, between Clinton and Machens, following 240 miles of the old Missouri-Kansas-Texas railroad corridor. Much of it parallels the Missouri River.
We had no plans (for now) to ride the entire distance, but our campground was a short drive from the cute little village of Rocheport. We read that this is known as one of the most scenic stretches and we were not disappointed. We pedaled east almost 10 miles, sandwiched between sheer cliffs and the Missouri River.
Returning to our starting point, we rode west of Rocheport, across Moniteau Creek and through a short tunnel. Although pretty and green, the terrain was fairly swampy in places and a sign warned a bridge was out 3 miles up ahead. After what seemed like a long, hot 3 miles with no damaged bridge in site, we called it a day and headed back to the car.
Reg got the worst of it as he braved the storm doing the grunt work and hitching us up. A pretty miserable start to our day. Fortunately, the weather improved as we passed through Kentucky and Indiana on our way to the Grayville, Illinois KOA. We’ve stayed at a number of KOA campgrounds over the years. The great thing about them is that they’re convenient and pretty darn dependable. Grayville, however, knocks the socks off any other we’ve ever stayed at.
But it was the Putt Putt golf course the really caught our attention. Reg couldn’t resist, so we each channeled our inner child, chose our clubs and balls and signed on for 18 holes.
Reg and I are pretty competitive so we did keep score. He threw out lots of golf terminology…birdie and bogey and double bogey and eagle. It was on lucky hole number 13, a par 4 hole at that, when I was able to shout out my one and only golf phrase. Hole-in-one!
I was pretty excited, so I took this picture of my hole-in-one ball. To be fair, Reg got one soon after I did. It was a pretty close game so Reg didn’t bother to add up our final scores… I think I must have won!
Our westward bound journey began with a two-night stop at Carter Caves State Resort Park in Kentucky. What a great family park…2,000 acres of forest and fun! We reserved a campsite over a week ago and were not disappointed with our choice.
The park has over 30 miles of hiking trails, half of which are multi-use trails for hikers, bikers or horseback riders. In addition, fishing, boating, canoeing, swimming, golfing and rock climbing offer something for just about everyone. If camping isn’t your thing, there are several overnight accommodations available.
There are plenty of caves to explore in this park. Some are self-guided (with a permit) while others require a guide. We opted to stay above ground this trip…maybe next time!
Although the day was gray and misty, holiday crowds were out in force at America’s newest national park. Chris picked us up and we made the hour drive southeast to the Canyon Rim Visitors Center near Fayetteville where we managed to squeeze through the crowds for a look at the New River Gorge Bridge.
We had time for a short hike along the Endless Wall Trail. The Wall rises above the New River and is a popular spot for climbers. Since we were walking along the top of it and not inclined to get too close to the edge, we couldn’t fully appreciate the sheer drop off that gives the trail its name.
This is our last day at the Lebanon, Ohio KOA (Kampgrounds of America), a spot we chose because of its proximity to the Little Miami Scenic Trail listed in our Rail-Trail Hall of Fame book…and because we needed the laundry. The weather has turned pretty hot and humid, not ideal riding conditions for us. Yesterday we had pretty much crossed biking off our list…that is until a wrong turn had us driving alongside the path we had chosen to ignore. The southern end of the trail begins in the outskirts of Cincinnati, Ohio and follows the Little Miami River much of the 78 miles north to Springfield, Ohio. While that might be a day’s ride for more experienced (or competitive) bikers, Reg and I were happy with a much shorter ride.
Paved, shaded and mostly flat, the section we chose was a joy to ride. I think we both would have loved to keep going, but after 13 miles we decided to turn back. The 13 miles back to our truck made it 26-mile ride…an average day’s ride for Reg, but a marathon for me!
We arrived in Ishpeming, Michigan yesterday for a two-night stay on the U.P. That’s short for Upper Peninsula and the folks who live here proudly refer to themselves as Yoopers. Those unlucky enough to live in the lower part of the state below the Mackinac Bridge are, in good fun, referred to as trolls. Why? Well, because we all know that trolls live “under the bridge.”
With a full day to fill Sunday, we drove east to the town of Marquette, located on the banks of Lake Superior, the largest of the five Great Lakes.
Tomorrow we will continue east and set up camp at Straits State Park on the north side of the Mackinac Bridge. I guess we’ll see for ourselves if there are any trolls under that bridge!
Before we left on this trip, we purchased a membership in the Harvest Hosts program. This allows us access to a variety of “hosts” throughout the country who will let us camp, free of charge, overnight on their property. No hookups available, simply a place to spend the night and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Wineries, farms, ranches, breweries and museums are but a few of the options available. Reservations 24 hours in advance are required, and as a courtesy, guest are advised to purchase a bit of what is offered.