D Rex: the Lost Chronicles, Vol. 2: Discontinuation

-5/18/09: Cuivre River State Park to Louisiana, MO

Not another camper was stirring when I pulled out of the Cuivre River State Park campground.  Not that I was eager for more travel, not after the previous day’s low-hum labors.  But I was up, so it was wallow or get moving.  The road out of camp was merciless and I had to hop off to shove the bike up its steepest hill.  In all my loaded touring experience, I’ve only had to give up the climb one other time: in deepest, steepest Appalachia.   Stopping to breathe and rest your legs is acceptable, but to have your legs refuse to go again is akin to heartbreak.  I was off to a very bad start.

By a dirt road just outside of the Park, nearly obscured by weeds, I saw a well-weathered sign for Nota Lota Acres, and stopped to take its picture.  The lack of guile in that name and its presentation was an antidote to the bad taste left by the prior day’s sprawl.  But my body needed more than better vibes.  I made it another mile, then collapsed in the grass before a spec-metal rural fire station after leaning my bike against the flagpole.  Some dogs were barking at me from a little further down the road.  A few cars passed; their passengers gawked.  I drained my Gatorade bottle and blankly chewed down another 400 calories of Pop-tart: my second package in less than an hour.  I started to wonder who I could call, and how long I would have to sit there before they arrived to pick me up, and whether anyone would take offense to my bike leaning against their flagpole.

Then the Gatorade pushed whatever liquids my stomach had been holding onto into my bladder, and that was encouragement enough to push on toward the barking dogs behind a fence, behind a house that was also a gas station, just another 100 yards down the road.  They didn’t allow the public in their bathroom though, so they volunteered the bathroom of the Laundromat at the trailer park, a hundred yards back down the road, across from where I’d been sitting.  By the time I got relief, I was finding that particular locale disagreeable, so I got back on the bike and left it.

Then Route W swung out into glowing, gently blowing, rolling hills of grass and cows and horses.  Blue skies, fluffy clouds, the whole bit.  Scenery is nourishment; and I was filching from the Mississippi River’s ample garden.

But by the time I met the river proper in Clarksville, I wanted something I could sink my teeth into.  Searching my way down SR 79, someone called out to me.  I stopped and they asked if I had a moment.  So, hoping they could point me in the direction of food, I turned around.  He was leaning against a white Chevy Cavalier, wiping his hands on a rag, and he asked where I was heading.

I told him and a big smile spread across his face.

“No kidding?” he said, and he sort of guffawed.  “How long’s that gonna take you?”

I told him I wasn’t sure, but that I had a lot of time and wasn’t really worried about it.

“Now that’s what we like to hear, people living their dreams!” he said, and he introduced himself and his partner.  Partner in glassblowing and kayaking, it turned out.  The shop behind the Cavalier was theirs, and they had another along the Missouri River in New Haven, MO.

I asked how one comes to be a glassblowing kayaker along the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.  And he told me, but honestly, I spaced out.  I needed to eat again.  So, at the next pause in the conversation, I asked where I could get food in Clarksville on a Monday afternoon.  They directed me to the Clarksville Station Restaurant and said it was either that or stale fried goods from the warming box at the gas station.

“But before you go, I wanna give you something,” he said and ran into the shop.  He was back a moment later with a small glass figurine, small glass head tucked between arms raised triumphantly, legless trunk marbled orange and blue.

“We call them ‘dudes’,” he said.  “Maybe you can hold him up to celebrate when you get up to Maine.”

“Hey, that’s great!” I said, examining the dude.  “Really, thanks a bunch.”  Then I looked over my gear, puzzling over how to safely carry the dude all that way.  “I’m not really sure…”

“Oh, you need something to cushion it?  Hold on.”  And he ran back in and came back with a little blue bubble wrap bag.

I stowed the dude in his sack and tucked him into my handlebar bag.  “Thanks again, guys, really.  The dude’ll be a talisman.  It’s perfect.  Good kayaking to ya!”  And I rode back the way I’d come, to find the Clarksville Station.

And then I ate and talked to a waitress who lost interest as soon as she had moneyed customers to cultivate.  And rode back by and didn’t find the glassblowing kayakers, and passed a rusting scenic chair lift perched on the bluff side.  Watched the shabby industrial buildings pass as I cycled parallel the river on into Louisiana, MO.  Found the bluff-top John Brooks Henderson Park that I was to camp in, and took pleasure in Wikipediaing that name on my iPhone on a park bench overlooking the river.  Made the first of three phone calls to the city police, trying to get permission to camp in the park.  Wandered back down from the bluff to eat a sub-Sysco slice of cake a la mode, in a tiny, dirty diner with a TV blaring Dr. Phil, and an uncomfortable tension between the young black proprietress with extensive burn scarring and an older white man who came in for coffee as I ate: excessively polite and attentive to one another, to a point bordering on absurdity.  Went to the river and exchanged smiles and hellos with a few little girls out for a walk.  Met the previously mentioned Chinese waitress.  Made the second phone call to the police.  Loafed.  Made the third phone call to the police, finally receiving permission to camp.  Got dinner—pizza—from a restaurant that was like a big, empty Elk’s Hall.  Listened to the prater at a table of eight or nine, glowing Greek Week-shirted, hometown-visiting co-eds, who not-so-secretly seemed to hate each other.  Went back up to the bluff, ate the rest of my pizza and blogged.

… And that’s what happened that day, and this is what I’ve been working on for entirely too long.  Not very satisfactory.  Sticking too close to a chronology: I’m telling, not showing.  Back to the drawing board.

What’s time got to do with experience anyway?


One Response to “D Rex: the Lost Chronicles, Vol. 2: Discontinuation”

  1. Mom Says:

    There is great potential in this posting. It could be a very good story.

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