D Rex: the Lost Chronicles, Vol. 1

In addition to this blog, I have a little red, hardbound journal.  I took it along with me on last year’s trip to DC, but there’s not a single entry in it from that journey.  Sure, there’s some scribblings that probably found their way out of my pen somewhere along the roads out that way, but nothing concrete: no dates, place names, or even events really.  At the time it all seemed so fresh and new and magnificent that I thought it would all remain, forever vivid in my memory.  It didn’t.  Events, names, places, mix and mingle, get muddled, and probably even slip through the cracks

This go around, I barely let a day go without an entry—for the first three weeks.  Flipping through it now, in the 5/24 entry, I see an enthusiastic, big-lettered, exclamation-marked detail nearly missed, added in the top margin: did laundry.  Then, about halfway through New York, the cracks began to form.  A couple of days between entries, then a few.  They widened as the trip went on.

So, while I’ve got the time, the inclination, and the powers of recall still at hand, I’m going back through my little journal, my blog, and my maps, to see if I can’t plug the holes—at least temporarily.  Time shakes all things loose, but the opportunity to play warden to whatever we hold dear is one of the blessings of being human.

And I’ve decided to share these recollections here on the blog as some further incentive to myself to keep at it and to keep it fun.  The adventures are still possible, even when the journey’s done.

D Rex, Coffee Zone, 8/1/2009

5/17/09 – Hermann, MO to Cuivre River State Park

Woke early with the air still cool and the sunlight visibly falling soft and wispy, across the slowly rising campers as they began to disassemble their big box retail camps.  It surprised me that so many were already stirring given the revelry I had witnessed and blocked from consciousness, passing into sleep the night before.  But then a lanky, middle-aged motorcyclist approached me, holding out a limp, grey, dismal-looking sleeping pad and asking about my own.  He’d ordered his off of eBay and it wasn’t worth a damn.   I could see that, plainly, but I didn’t tell him so; and then I remembered the miserable sleep I got while camping before I’d learned the tricks and grown accustomed to it—and especially, the misery of waking on the cold, hard ground after a night of heavy drinking—and the mystery of their waking was dispelled.  Then a couple—cyclists but not tourists—from Springfield, MO came by to say hello.  He worked in a bike shop and wanted to talk gear,  but I have to count the chain rings on my bike to  tell you how many gears I’m riding on, so I steered the conversation away from that as quickly as possible.  They had both attended college in Columbia some years ago and they were surprised at the thriving bike culture there as I described it to them .

Got breakfast at Lyndee’s Restaurant.  Had the feel of a real, genuine small town diner, but overlain with a patchy veneer of Cracker Barrel idolatry.  But the food was alright if maybe a little overpriced.  I guess they’re still paying off their antique Americana conceits.

Then it was 23 miles to Marthasville on the Katy.  As reported in ‘where I am: 5/17’ (https://bikeset.wordpress.com/2009/05/17/), Marthasville is where I left the Katy and headed north.  In Wright City, I crossed I-70 and got lunch at a Mexican restaurant called Ruiz Castillo after finding everything south of I-70 closed (and verifying in a gas station that this was, in fact, the case: it was Sunday).  It wasn’t that I didn’t want Mexican, it was that I had to cross the Interstate hungry:  Ruiz Castillo was the only restaurant in town on the north side of I-70, and the only restaurant open on a Sunday.  But I endured the noisy Interstate over my growling stomach, and it was a good, filling, cheap meal, and the restaurant, right next to the Interstate, was a place I’d driven by many times with some small curiosity over its unnecessarily grand size.  Up close, it’s still oversized, and the four occupied tables had to cope with their existential significance in the sea of open tables and empty space.

Leaving Wright City, I entered an overgrowth of residential plats and underdeveloped roadways that left me feeling depressed: sprawl 50 miles from St. Louis, an exurbs grown out of nobody’s money or good intentions.  Turning east on SR 47 in Troy, I saw that I’d be crossing Highway 61 on my way to Cuivre River, so I stopped, struck up Highway 61 Revisited on the iPhone, and the opening strains of ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ gave aural courage against that busy roadway.  I stopped it sometime before ‘Desolation Row’ though, ‘cause I was wondering hopelessly around Cuivre River State Park, looking for the campground, and finally I called the park office for directions.

The Adventure Cycling maps had described the campground as being only half a mile from their route and advised walking your bike around the barrier when you came to it.  I’d picked it as my stop for the night because I didn’t like to veer too far off of the route (a prejudice I was to overcome in the course of this trip) and because those directions led me to believe that this was a low key, un-rangered campground where I could get away with not putting my money in the collection box.  I did find the campground Adventure Cycling had described, but it was overrun with a cultish crew of children and their middle-aged wards who looked at me cockeyed and shy as I cycled through their religious rites.  Probably this campground is usually unoccupied, but it’s set aside for group reservations, so it’s luck of the draw for a cyclist.  My luck had not proved good, so I had to go an extra, very hilly mile and lay my $11 down with the rest of the schmucks.

It had been a day of subtle trials and I lay in my tent weighing my options at the end of it.  But I got up the next day and got on the bike and kept going and the going got better.  I won’t recount any of 5/18 as I already addressed it extensively in that day’s blog (https://bikeset.wordpress.com/2009/05/18/), my journal, and again in ‘still moving (in Virginia)’ (https://bikeset.wordpress.com/2009/07/03/) .


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