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TRIP 2014

Update #17 - July 12th
Tell City, Indiana
6,486.59 miles (10,378.54 KM)





My plan was to spend an extended period of time helping out with the rebuilding effort in Baxter Springs but his didn't happen. On April 27th (2014) at about 5:30 PM (CST), an EF2 tornado hit Quapaw, Oklahoma doing damage to 50 structures (homes and stores) and injuring 12 people. The same tornado hit Baxter Springs and caused damage to 100 structures (mostly homes) and injuring 34 people and killing one person. The tornado remained on the ground for 13 minutes along a 11.25 miles (18.11 km) path.

There wasn't a disaster program. I found out that the First United Methodist church was designated as the "disaster relief center" but I was the first volunteer there in months. After the initial clean-up that took at least three days, the number of volunteers dried up. A lot of the reasons was that FEMA didn't reognize Baxter Springs as an area worthy of disaster funds. The percentage of area damaged wasn't proportionately large compared to the actual size of the town. Also there weren't any important infrastructure or buildings damaged. I was in Baxter Springs for two days and I helped in the shutting down of the disaster program.

From Baxter Springs and Quapaw, Oklahoma, I was going to be cycling to Vilonia, Arkansas. On April 28th (2014) an EF4 tornado caused major damage to Vilonia. Most of the damage was in the Parkwood Meadows subdivision at the Northeast side of town. Before heading out, I did some extensive internet research to see if there was still a volunteer program in the area. here wasn't. The most recent information was a little over one month ago. Because of this, I decided to ride across Missouri mostly along US 60 and either head up to St Louis, Missouri and then turn Eastward to Cincinnati, Ohio or cross both the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers at Cairo, Illinois and then follow the Ohio River to Cincinnati, Ohio.

From Cincinnati, I'll be riding to Lexington, Kentucky where I hope to hook up with the
Christian Appalachian Project (C.A.P.) and maybe volunteer the rest of the year and possibly over the Winter. If C.A.P. doesn't work out, there is another ministry in Georgia that I might want to check out and maybe volunteer with. From Sabula, Iowa to Lexington, Kentucky (where C.A.P. is headquartered), my tentative route was going to be about 3,000 miles (4,800 km) long.

June 27 : Fort Scott, KS to Pittsburg, KS - 33.43 miles (53.49 km)

I had an okay night at the motel. I went to bed around 9:30 PM. I woke up early around 4 AM.
I left the motel around 6:40 AM. There was a couple of a mile climb to the top of a plateau. Once on top, I got slammed by a stiff headwind coming from the South. The wind must have been close to 30 mph (48 kmph). It was a struggle to make 7 mph (11 kmph). Instead of making 41 miles (66 km) by noon yesterday, I only made 30 miles (48 km).

I got into Pittsburg around 12:20 pm. I stopped for some lunch. Because of the strong wind, I didn't feel like going on to Baxter Springs. I rode into the downtown area. I stopped at the First Presbyterian Church. I caught the pastor in the office. He was just in the office for a short time because he was photocopying some health insurance papers so he could take his son to a boy scout camp in Missouri this afternoon. The pastor was really friendly. He was originally from Ghana. His last church was in Alliance, Ohio near Akron. Instead of letting me stay in the church for the night, he offered to get me a room at a motel that I had passed.

I'm about 30 miles (48 km) away from Baxter Springs.

June 28 : Pittsburg, KS to Baxter Springs, KS - 34.77 miles (55.63 km)

I had an okay afternoon and night at the motel. Around 4:30 PM, I left my room to leave the motel and go across the street to a grocery store. At the motel counter was an older guy in cycling clothes. His really loaded upright bike was outside. The bike had more gear on it than mine. The frame was built really sturdy. The guy was from the Netherlands and he was going across country. He had to have been either ten or fifteen years older than me. His English wasn't that good but I learned that he had left the San Francisco area the first week of May and was riding to Virginia Beach, VA. He has been following the Adventure Cycling TransAmerican (Old BikeCentenniel) Route.

I went to bed around 9:30 PM. I woke up early around 4 AM. I left the motel around 6:20 AM. I backtracked through the downtown area. In the downtown area, there were quite a few statues of large footballs that were painted up differently. Pittsburg is a college town. On the Southern edge of town, I had to follow a detour to get back on the main highway. Once out in the open, I got hammered by some more strong wind coming from the South. It wasn't as bad as yesterday but it did slow me down some.

I got to the outskirts of Baxter Springs around 11 AM. I rode through the main part of town through the downtown area. There were signs saying that the old Route 66 came through the area. A couple of blocks South of the downtown area, I started to see damage from the April 27 tornado. The path of the tornado was diagonal from the main road starting through town in a SW direction and leaving the town in a NE direction. The damage was hit and miss. I saw some houses that were really damaged and some that were not. There were several lots along the main road that had slabs. These were several businesses that were destroyed. I learned that five businesses were destroyed. The main grocery store was damaged some and some of the fast food places were damaged. Some of the houses had blue tarps on the roofs. After lunch, I did some more investigation. I saw where some of the houses were being rebuilt but these were by professional companies. I didn't see any evidence of any activity by either the Fuller Center or Habitat.

I saw a sign in front of the Methodist church designating it as being the disaster relief center. There was some activity at the church because there was going to be a benefit disaster relief concert and dinner in the fellowship hall. I had about a couple of hours wait for the pastor to show up. He was pretty friendly. He gave me permission to stay in the church over the weekend and maybe a few more days next week. I was given several phone numbers to call. The main person in charge of the disaster relief came up from Oklahoma city, Oklahoma every once in a while and they are part of the UMCORP program. I was also given the number of a person in town.

One a side note: while I was waiting at the church an older couple on a tandem recumbent stopped at the church to talk with me. They lived in town. The recumbent had been built by Rans Recumbents in Hays, Kansas.

There isn't much in the way of any rebuilding effort now. Right after the tornado hit, several thousand people mostly from the Joplin, MO area came here to help out with the initial cleanup. They had the debris pretty well collected for haul away in two days. After that, no real high number of volunteers showed up. The town's churches had set up feeding stations for the volunteers but they weren't needed. The number of volunteers had dropped down to 30 or 40 and then down to zero. The Methodist church rearranged some of the classrooms as living quarters but they weren't needed. A trailer was brought to the church for taking showers and doing laundry. The church had sustained some roof damage and the roof will soon be reshingled. The town pretty well has been forgotten and is on their own.

The governor of the state had declared Baxter Springs as a disaster area but there are no Federal funds. FEMA was here but after a four day assessment no federal funds were given to the town because the amount of damage didn't exceed the minimal amount. The area of destruction wasn't big enough even though homes in possibly ten blocks were destroyed. Pilger, Nebraska would have a better chance in getting federal funds because 75 to 80 percent of the whole town was destroyed while between 12 and 15 percent of Baxter Springs showed damage. Most of the people have to rely on their own home insurance. The federal government did give some homeowners low cost (2.5% 30 yr loans) to help with the rebuilding. The American Red Cross was here less than a week. There wasn't even a big support given to Baxter Springs from Joplin even though there were a lot of people from here went there after the major tornado hit 4 yrs ago.

I'm going to try and make contact with the people that I was given phone numbers Sunday afternoon. Monday, I'll probably start the trek to Vilonia, Arkansas. I was going to go check out the damage in Quapaw, Oklahoma but I learned from the pastor that there weren't that many homes damaged and they are in a standstill themselves because of lack of rebuilding funds. Quapaw is in better shape because it has a casino and is the outskirts of the Peoria Indian Reservation. I haven't decided whether I'm going to make a return visit to Joplin. I saw on tv commercials saying that the city rebuilding is about 80% complete. Over 80% of the homes that were either destroyed or damaged have been rebuilt or repaired. The 27 churches either damaged or destroyed have been re-opened. The new high school and the new hospital will soon be open.

June 29 : Baxter Springs, KS to Baxter Springs, KS - 0.00 miles (0.00 km)

I had an okay afternoon and night at the church. The benefit dinner started around 5 PM. There was a pretty good showing of people even though it was raining outside. I didn't stay for the music because I don't like to be around amplificaion much. I went back to the parlor was to read some and I fell asleep on the sofa. The pastor had gotten me a folding cot but it was too hard. I woke up around 10:30 PM to some bright light through the stained glass windows from lightning. I stayed up maybe a half hour and I fell back asleep till around 5:30 AM. I got cleaned up, dressed, and had some breakfast.

The pastor showed up around 7 AM and I helped him get the room that I had slept in ready for a Sunday school class. I got invited to take part in the class and I got to share. During the service, I was introduced and I got to speak a few words. Afterwards, a guy took me aside to slip me a GH.

I took about a 2 hr nap. Around 4 pm, the pastor came by to see how I was doing. I was shown how I could get out of the church for a little bit. Around 4:40 PM, I went out to walk around the neighborhood some to take some pictures of the tornado damage and also to go to a McDs to get some dinner and also to check my email.

June 30 : Baxter Springs, KS to Aurora, MO - 88.89 miles (142.22 km)

I had an okay afternoon and night at the church. I am a little disappointed that I had come so far and there is nothing to do. After his afternoon meeting, the pastor came by to see how I was doing. He told me that if I wanted to I could stay over for a few days but I told him that I'll probably head out early tomorrow morning. Around 5 PM, I left the church to take a walk around the neighborhood to take some more pictures and go to McDs for some lunch and to also check my email. I went to bed early around 10 pm.

I woke up around 4 AM. It didn't take too long to have breakfast, get cleaned up and dressed, and packed up. The sun came up around 5:30 am. I left the church around 5:40 am. The temperature was already in the upper 70s and the high was going to be in the low 90s. The saving grace was that there was some wind to keep me cool.

It was about a two mile ride to the Oklahoma State Line. From the state line, it was about 6 more miles (10 km) into Quapaw. I took some pictures of the tornado damage. The fire station was damaged along with some other buildings.

I got on SR 137 and then I turned East on SR 10. The ride East was through several small Indian reservations. The ride to the Missouri State Line went okay. Traffic was mostly light along the way. From the state line, it was a couple mile ride into Seneca. At a gas station in Seneca, a local guy on a bike stopped to talk with me. He gave me directions to US 60 that avoided having me go up a steep hill. The route passed his house. When I got to his house, he flagged me down. We talked for a few minutes and he slipped me a GH of $20. Once on US 60, it was about a 9 mile ride into Neosha.

I got into Neosha around 11:20 am. I stopped at a McDs for lunch. I was having second thoughts about riding to Villonia Arkansas. After making the long trip to Baxter Springs, Kansas and finding nothing happening with regards to a volunteer program I didn't want to make the long trip to Villonia, Arkansas and finding nothing was happening there. I did an extensive internet search but I could not find anything going on. The most current information that I found, which was on Facebook was at least a month old and from what I read the volunteer programs were shutting down. There is not a practical way for me to get to Villonia Arkansas from here but through the Ozarks. US 71 would be a dangerous ride with major hills, switchbacks, and in some places with little or no shoulder. I don't want to take a risky ride for nothing. I'm going to be heading East across the state along US 60.

It was in the upper 80s so I rode into the downtown area to see if I could connect with a church. I rode around the downtown area. I found several churches but the offices were closed. There weren't any contact numbers. They wouldn't have helped because my cell phone wasn't working. I stopped at the police station but it was closed. You had to talk to the dispatcher over a phone. There wasn't an officer available. I found the fire station. I talked with the chief to see if they had a chaplain but they didn't have one. I was directed to the sheriff department a couple of blocks away. The lady at the counter told me about a ministry that had guesthouse/ shelter. The directions were sort of vague but I found the place. It didn't look too safe.

I got on Bus US 60. After a short break at a park I headed out towards Monett. It was about a 20 mile (32 km) ride to Monett. I got into the downtown area around 5:45 pm. I found two churches but nobody around them. It took a long time finding the police station because it wasn't in the downtown area. The station was at the extreme Eastern edge of town on BUS US 60. The lady in the communication center didn't know of a chaplaincy or ministerial program. There wasn't an officer available and there was a suggestion to keep on going to Aurora. About 5 miles (8 km) out of Aurora I got on BUS US 50. I hit some road repaving with fresh tar and loose stone.

It was almost 8 pm when I got into Aurora. I saw a sign for the Methodist church. On a whim, I decided to go to the church instead of finding the downtown area. I was happy to see some cars in the parking lot. A deacon's meeting was going to start. There wasn't a way for me to stay in the church for the night because there was an alarm system so there was an offer to get me a room at a local motel a couple of miles away. I got to the motel right before dusk.

July 01 : Aurora, MO to Ozarks, MO - 36.11 miles (57.78 km)

I had an okay night at the motel. I stayed up a little later than what I should have but I wanted to get some things done on the internet. It was almost midnight when I fell asleep but I woke up about 3:45 am. My mind didn't like the fact that I didn't update my website last night. Instead of getting on the road at dawn, I waited till around 7:20 AM so that I could watch some of the national news. The first tropical depression is in the Atlantic near Southern Florida. Tropical Storm Arthur has formed and is going to go up the East coast. It might become a hurricane near the Outer Banks Friday.

I had about a 12 mile (19 km) ride to Billings. The ride went okay because the terraign for the most part was flat and there was a paved shoulder to ride along. There were signs saying that I was riding along the "Trail Of Tears" (the route that Native Americans followed to the reservations in Oklahoma.

After taking a break at a gas station in Billings, I turned Eastward on MO 14. The ride was kind of rough because of twists and turns, rolling hills, and long stretches of constructions zones of repaving. The newly paved sections of road made the ride enjoyable because I was able to go pretty fast. I got into Nixa around 11:40 am. I still was able to make 31 miles (50 km) before noon. I stopped for some lunch.

From Nixa, it was a 5 mile (8 km) ride into Ozarks. Along the way, I went over a high bridge over a river. I got several glimpses of some kayakers rowing down the river. In Ozarks right passed US 65 was the First Baptist church. It looked like it was getting ready to storm so I decided to stop. I talked with one of the assistant pastors. The church had a policy that allowed groups to stay but not individuals. An offer was made to get me a room at a nearby motel.

July 02 : Ozarks, MO to Mountain Grove, MO - 74.56 miles (119.30 km)

I had an okay afternoon and night at the motel. The plus for me was that there was a guest washer and dryer with a reasonable rate. Also there was a Taco Bell next door so I got a couple of burritos for supper. I went to bed around 10 PM and I woke up around 5 AM. There wasn't much of a breakfast.

I left the motel around 6:30 AM. The first obstacle was to get up a steep and long hill to get back to the top of the plateau. The rest of the ride to US 60 went okay. US 60 was a divided 4 lane highway with a wide paved shoulder. The ride East went okay because the terraign was mostly flat. About seven miles out of Seymour, I saw signs for Amish wagons. I started to dodge horse turds on the shoulder.

I got into Seymour a little after noon. I stopped at a McDs for some lunch. I rode into the downtown area to see if I could find somebody at one of the churches but I didn't find anybody. I rode around the courthouse square and stopped at the police station. I talked with the chief of police. He gave me directions to the First Baptist and Nazerene churches. I went to the Baptist church first that was in the SW corner of town. It didn't look friendly and inviting. There were cameras everywhere and the door where a car was didn't have a door bell or intercom. I tried for about 10 minutes but I couldn't get anybody's attention. I rode over to the Nazerene church. I caught a guy in a tank top t-shirt coming out of a church door. He might have been the pastor but he was all excuses. He told me that he couldn' do anything without the board's approval.

There wasn't much to do but to get back on the road to Mansfield. Mansfield was the home of Laura Ingalls Wilder. About a mile out of Mansfield, I stopped at another Nazerene church because I saw a car there. A lady was cooking something in the kitchen. She told me that she didn't have a way to contact the pastor. It would have been a two hour wait so I passed on it. I rode into town to see if I could find another church but I didn't. After a short break at a gas station, I started the ride to Mountain Grove.

The ride was a lot harder because there were a lot of hills and the shoulder was really rough. I was hoping to get into Mountain Grove before 7 PM but it didn't happen. About 10 miles out of Mountain Grove, the front tire went flat. I found a piece of steel belt wire. I thought that I had a spare innertube but I didn't. It took a while finding the hole, putting a patch on, and getting the tire inflated. It took me about an hour to get on the road.

It was almost 7:30 PM when I got into downtown Mountain Grove. I checked out a churches that might have had a Wed night service but nobody was around them. I stopped at the police staion. The lady dispatcher was friendly. I had to wait a while for an officer to come back to the staion from a traffic stop because he was a pastor. He contaced the minister who was the head of the ministerial alliance and he was supposed to have come to the staion to talk to me but after nearly a 90 minute wait I found out that he wasn't coming. This didn't go well with the officers at the staion. The lady dispatcher offered to let me camp out in her yard but I would have to wait till she got off work at 10 pm. While I was setting my tent up she went inside to make me a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches. Over all, I was on the road for almost 15 hours.

July 03 : Mountain Grove, MO to Mountain View, MO - 41.61 miles (66.58 km)

I had an okay afternoon and night at the motel. I took a walk to the shopping center near the Baptist church to get a few things. I got maybe seven hours of sleep. It was around 7 am when I left the motel. Before leaving town, I stopped to take pictures of the horse statues made out of scrap iron. There were eight horses. The neatest trio were of three horses. Two of them looked like a mother horse and a young colt. They were looking at each other.

The ride East through the Mark Twain National Forest went okay. I took a break in Winona. There were a couple of sections of hills where I had to walk up them. I was able to get around 32 miles (51 km) in by noon time. A few miles East of Fremont, I started a long downhill run. Hopefully, I will be getting out of the Ozark Mountains. There were a couple of signs near some long curves warning truck drivers to slow down or their trucks could tip over.

I got into Van Buran around 2:20 pm. The county seat had a population of a little under 900 but there was nearly double the size. The town is a tourist town because there is a scenic river, the Current River. There were lots of people camping out along the river bank and inner tubing or floating down the river. There were quite a few motels and they were full. I stopped to get a few groceries.

After the store, I rode around town to see if I could find somebody at one of the churches. From the neighbor next to the Baptist church, I had missed the pastor by a few minutes. I was given directions to his house which was near the ball field East of town off of BUS US 60. I didn't understand the directions fully so I stopped at the police station to see if anybody knew where the pastor had lived or if there was any other minister that I could connect with. I was told that there was a ministerial association in town and I should go to the sheriff department.

The office was small so I waited outside while two guys were being served. When I was able to go inside, I didn't get a good reception. The lady behind the thick glass window was eating and she didn't stop while she talked to me so I saw the mastigated food whenever she opened up her mouth. She didn't really want to help me. She told me that she couldn't give out any information about the ministers. Instead of contacting somebody with the ministerial association, I was told to connect with a local homeless shelter but I had to go to this thrift store that was in a closed skating rink that was halfway up a steep hill back across the river between South Van Buren and Chicopee. There was no way that I was going to do this because I had my tent, food, and water. If a minister couldn't take time for me, I wasn't going to give any more time to the town.

I didn't really want to stay in town because of all the drinking and fireworks. People were already launching off ground fireworks. I did stop to get some more water and something to eat and check my email at a McDs on the East edge of town. In all, I must have wasted 90 minutes that I could have been riding. I'm about 45 miles (72 km) away from Poplar Bluff.

It was almost 4:30 pm when I headed out. The ride was okay. For most of the way was downhill. I felt like I was making good time. It was around 7:20 pm when I got into Ellsinore. There wasn't much in the town. I stopped at a Dollar Store to get some water. People were gathering across the street to watch some fireworks.

I rode till around dusk before I turned on my headlights. Traffic was pretty light so I felt comfortable to keep on going for a while. I rode a mile or two more until I found a place to camp out near Brush Arbor. Before getting off the highway, I saw a glimpse of fireworks in front of me.

I was able to get my tent up without using any lights. It was around 9:30 pm when I crawled into my tent. I estimate that I am at least fifteen miles (24 km) away from Poplar Bluff.

The first hurricane Arthur made landfall at the Outer Banks as a cat 2. It was going to skirt the Atlantic sea coast and go passed Nova Scotia.

July 04 : Mountain View, MO to Brush Arbor, MO - 78.89 miles (126.22 km)

I had an okay afternoon and night at the motel. I took a walk to the shopping center near the Baptist church to get a few things. I got maybe seven hours of sleep. It was around 7 am when I left the motel. Before leaving town, I stopped to take pictures of the horse statues made out of scrap iron. There were eight horses. The neatest trio were of three horses. Two of them looked like a mother horse and a young colt. They were looking at each other.

The ride East through the Mark Twain National Forest went okay. I took a break in Winona. There were a couple of sections of hills where I had to walk up them. I was able to get around 32 miles (51 km) in by noon time. A few miles East of Fremont, I started a long downhill run. Hopefully, I will be getting out of the Ozark Mountains. There were a couple of signs near some long curves warning truck drivers to slow down or their trucks could tip over.

I got into Van Buran around 2:20 pm. The county seat had a population of a little under 900 but there was nearly double the size. The town is a tourist town because there is a scenic river, the Current River. There were lots of people camping out along the river bank and inner tubing or floating down the river. There were quite a few motels and they were full. I stopped to get a few groceries.

After the store, I rode around town to see if I could find somebody at one of the churches. From the neighbor next to the Baptist church, I had missed the pastor by a few minutes. I was given directions to his house which was near the ball field East of town off of BUS US 60. I didn't understand the directions fully so I stopped at the police station to see if anybody knew where the pastor had lived or if there was any other minister that I could connect with. I was told that there was a ministerial association in town and I should go to the sheriff department.

The office was small so I waited outside while two guys were being served. When I was able to go inside, I didn't get a good reception. The lady behind the thick glass window was eating and she didn't stop while she talked to me so I saw the mastigated food whenever she opened up her mouth. She didn't really want to help me. She told me that she couldn't give out any information about the ministers. Instead of contacting somebody with the ministerial association, I was told to connect with a local homeless shelter but I had to go to this thrift store that was in a closed skating rink that was halfway up a steep hill back across the river between South Van Buren and Chicopee. There was no way that I was going to do this because I had my tent, food, and water. If a minister couldn't take time for me, I wasn't going to give any more time to the town.

I didn't really want to stay in town because of all the drinking and fireworks. People were already launching off ground fireworks. I did stop to get some more water and something to eat and check my email at a McDs on the East edge of town. In all, I must have wasted 90 minutes that I could have been riding. I'm about 45 miles (72 km) away from Poplar Bluff.

It was almost 4:30 pm when I headed out. The ride was okay. For most of the way was downhill. I felt like I was making good time. It was around 7:20 pm when I got into Ellsinore. There wasn't much in the town. I stopped at a Dollar Store to get some water. People were gathering across the street to watch some fireworks.

I rode till around dusk before I turned on my headlights. Traffic was pretty light so I felt comfortable to keep on going for a while. I rode a mile or two more until I found a place to camp out near Brush Arbor. Before getting off the highway, I saw a glimpse of fireworks in front of me.

I was able to get my tent up without using any lights. It was around 9:30 pm when I crawled into my tent. I estimate that I am at least fifteen miles (24 km) away from Poplar Bluff.

The first hurricane Arthur made landfall at the Outer Banks as a cat 2. It was going to skirt the Atlantic sea coast and go passed Nova Scotia.

July 05 : Brush Arbor, MO to Dexter, MO - 44.71 miles (71.54 km)

I had an okay night camping out. It didn't get that cold so I just slept on top of the sleeping bag. I got about six hours of sleep. I woke up around 5:20 am. and I got back on the road around 6:45 am.

The ride to Poplar Bluff went okay. I got into Poplar Bluff around 8:30 am. I stopped at a McDs for some sweet tea and to check my email. As I was tapping out a message, this guy stopped by my table and slipped me $20 in a GH. He told me that he had seen me on the road yesterday. The ride through Poplar Bluff went okay.

Right after going down a hill, the terraign became flat. I was now in the Mississippi River Valley. Along the way, I rode passed rice fields.

I got into Dexter around 12:45 pm. I stopped for a late lunch. After lunch, I found my way over to the police station. I got a better reception than what I got yesterday. The officer on the desk was quite friendly. He gave me the phone number of the pastor in charge of the ministerial association. The pastor was friendly and he approved to get me a room at a local motel.

I was thinking about staying in town for church but I'm going to get on the road early so I can get to a church in Sikeston. I want to make sure that I get across the Mississippi River at Cairo, Illinois. The flooding along the Mississippi River has already reached Cape Girardeau and they have blocked off access to MO 34. East Cape Girardeau, IL might be experiencing flooding. I'm about 60 miles (96 km) away from Cairo, Illinois.

July 06 : Dexter, MO to Charleston, MO - 52.13 miles (83.41 km)

I had an okay night. I would have been better if I had been given a room that was closer to the office so I could have gotten on the wi-fi network. Here was the case of a motel going below the standards of a motel chain and being bought by members of the Potel clan. The road signs and my mapping sofware said that it should have been a American Best Value Inn but it was the Hickory House Inn. Right close to my door was a pile of room carpeting that had been removed from some rooms. Instead of it being carted away it was haphazardly tossed against a wall. It wasn't a pretty sight.

Instead of staying in town for church, I decided to head out to Sikeston 24 miles away because I didn't know how far the flood waters were down the Mississippi River and I didn't know whether the approaches to the bridge on US 60 were under water. My intention was to get on the road close to sunrise. I wasn't able to. The front tire was completely flat and there was no room in the motel room to fix it so I had to take Alice outside. I didn't see or feel anything inside the tire so I put in a new tube. It was good that I had a back-up pump because my main pump didn't work right. I was able to get on the road around 6:20 am.

The ride along US 60 went okay. There was a bit of a tailwind so I was able to cruise along at about 12 mph (19 kmph). About 3 miles (5 km) out of Sikeston, I hit a rough stretch of shoulder. This slowed me down some. As I was attempting to ride up a low hill about a half mile from the interchange to Sikeston, the steering got really bad. The front tire was going flat again. This time I pulled out with my pliers a quarter inch long section of steel belt wire. I put in my second spare tube.

It was around 9:45 a.m. when I got in to Sikeston. I stopped for a break and then I headed North on Main Street to find a church. I rode passed a couple of churches because the services were almost over. I decided to stop at the First Baptist church because I had gotten some help from Baptists the passed week. I was just hoping to find someplace to stop for the rest of the day. The facilities were huge and the sanctuary was huge. The space was so big that it small two-story motel or senior aparment center could have been built inside it with space left over. The problem for me was that the air conditioning was really cranked up. I was freezing because my jersey and t-shirt was damp with sweat. I met the guy who was the youth minister before the service. Not too many people came up to me to welcome me. It was about ten minutes into the service that I realized that the pastor wasn't there. He was on vacation. The service went off like a stage show. There wasn't a time to welcome any visitors or special guests. There was no "passing of the peace". There was a guest speaker who was a professor at some Baptist college but I wasn't really impressed with him because he sort of rambled and he spoke in a monotone voice that in some spots was so low that I couldn't understand even though I was sitting in the second row up front. With his voice and the cold temp I was starting to go into hibernation mode and fall asleep. After the service, several people talked to me. When I talked wih the youth minister, he old me that there wasn't much that he could do because the pastor was away. The church did have an apartment set up like an Elisha's Den in the complex but it was being occupied by the guest speaker. I don't know why any of the deacons who were on call for the week were contacted. The only that I could do was to leave.

I headed back South to US 60 and the shopping area because I wanted to stop at the Walmart there to see if I could buy another pair of cycling gloves because the ones that I had were falling apart. On the way, I got flagged down by somebody at one of the churches that I had ridden passed because they were having some sort of cook-out. I think that I talked with the minister but he told me that they didn't allow people to stay overnight in the church. I stayed long enough to get something to eat. It was hard to undersand why they didn't show the compassion of the Messiah even though they had his name in the title of the church.

At the Walmart, I bought a pair of low cost exercise gloves because the cycling gloves weren't that good. I got back on US 60 but that was in error. Two miles East of Sikeson it merged with I 57 at the intersection of I-55. I should have ridden through Sikeston and go on US 62 which parrelled I-57/ US 60 to Charleston. I caught the error after riding a third of a mile down the interstate, Instead of riding clear back into Sikeston, I took a gamble and followed a service road that parralleled I-55. The road took me through the small town of Miner to US 62 near the interstate. I stopped for a break at a McDs for a break.

The ride along US 62 went okay. There was a slight detour through the small town of Bertrand because the main road was blocked by some kind of accident. I got into Charleston around 3:45 pm. I was thinking tha I was going to be able to get back on US 60 at the interstate but I was going to have to go back into town and follow another street to another interchange East of town. I didn't feel like going on to Cairo, Illinois. I decided to see if there was a church that had an evening service.

Even though I had a bad time at the First Baptist in Sikeston, I decided to go ahead and stop. I had about an 80 minute wait for somebody to come by. Around 5:35, this older guy showed up. It turns out that he was in interim minister because the former one had retired in March after his wife had passed away. The guy and I talked for about for about 10 minutes and I was asked to give my testimony and talk about my ministry. Alice was put into the gymnasium and that was where I was going to spend the night. The congregation was sort of an older group but I was surprised at how many showed up for the service. I talked for about 10 minutes. This was my 39th church for the year. After the interim minister had given a short message about the Holy Spirit and a few songs were sung, I was very surprised when he called for a love offering to be collected for me. This was the first time it happened this year. When I got the offering, I was surprised that it was over $200. I was invited to go out with a group out to a buffet. Instead of having some meat, I got a good serving of vegetables. I had a good time talking with the group. One of the guys was a farmer and he told me that he didn't have a good wheat harvest because there was a plant smut/ toxin that was poisoness to animals. Around 9 pm, I was taken back to the church. One of the ladies got me some towels because there was showers in the restroom. I was given access to the kitchen.

I'm about 15 miles (24 km) away from the Mississippi River and Cairo, Illinois. I haven't decided to ride on the Northern side along the Ohio River through Illinois or Indiana or cross the Ohio River and ride along the Souhern side of the Ohio River across Kentucky till at least Evansville, Indiana.

July 07 : Charleston, MO to Paducah, KY - 31.03 miles (49.65 km)

I had an okay night. I slept in the hallway next to the restroom door because there was carpeting. I could have slept in one of the classrooms upstairs but the air conditioning wasn't on. I got about 6 hours of sleep. I woke up around 4:30 am.

I left the church around 6:20 am. The ride to the Mississippi River bridge went okay. Traffic was sort of light so I walked up the first third and rode the rest of the way across the bridge. The River looked like it was a little up. Instead of going into Cairo, IL, I decided to cross the Ohio River into Kentucky. Before I started across the bridge, I took some pictures of the historic plaques. The Lewis and Clark expedition team stayed at the point for eight days.

I rode three quarters the way across the bridge over the Ohio River. I was amazed at seeing all of tow boats and barges. There were at least three dozen tow boats and almost one hundred barges full and empty. Most of the tow boats might have been waiting to head up North on the Mississippi River but the locks and dams don't operate if there is high water. There was talk that the River was going above flood stage at Cape Girardeau, Missouri in the next couple of days. No talk about what is going to happen at Cairo. Last year, they had to blast a hole in the flood wall on the Missouri side above Cairo to save the town. From the bridge, it was tricky getting into Wickliffe because there was no shoulder, rumble strips, and lots of grain truck traffic going to and from the graineries along both Rivers. Because one of the rumble strips, my left headlight kept on popping off.

After a short break at a gas station in Wickliffe, I got back on US 60. There wasn't a wide shoulder like there had been in Missouri. I had to wait under some trees to wait out a brief rain shower. A couple of miles out of Barlow I started to feel something strange up front. I thought that it might have just been the road surface and the rumble strip but when I checked out the front tire I got a scare. A portion of the bead sidewall had slipped away from the rim. I had flashbacks of the accident when the front tire blew out while going down a hill in New Hampshire back in 2002. I quickly flipped the bike over to work on the tire. I was able to reset the bead. I had a really hard time getting the tire reinflated because my back-up pump had fallen off the bike somewhere. I had it when I had left the church in the morning. It took me about 40 minutes to get the tire reinflated.

I stopped at a gas station in Barlow for a short break. I had originally stopped at the store just to buy a can of soda and a snack cake. I left the store with a hamburger and some potatoe wedges along wih the can of soda and the snack cake. The store was run by a young black couple. They told me that they wanted to treat me with something more substantial to eat. I did offer to pay for the can of soda and the snack cake.

The ride into La Center went okay until I got to the Eastern edge of the town. I had a scare when the rear tube blew out with a bang. I was coasting down a small hill and braking because I was getting ready to stop so I could get over to a gas station across the highway. I was waiting for a semi-truck to go passed me. If the blowout would have happened at a higher speed or a few seconds earlier I might have either crashed and flipped over onto my right side on the edge of the road or be hit by the truck. I quickly dismounted and got off the road and flipped Alice over onto her side. There wasn't much that I could do but pray that somebody might stop to help me out because there was a hole in the tread. If the sidewall would have blown out instead of the tread, I might have been able to put a temporary boot on it. If I had tried to roll the bike over to the gas station, I might have caused a flat spot to form on the rim of the wheel.

A couple of minutes after I had flipped Alice on her side this guy in a pick-up truck stopped to see if I needed any help. After telling him what had happened, he offered to take me into Paducah. The guy's name was Matt and he told that all day long he had made several attempts to take the trip into Paducah but something got in his way each time. It was either fate or destiny that our paths were going to cross. He also told me that had been thinking about just going passed me but at the last second he sensed that something wanted him to stop and assist me. Matt told me that he was a Believer and he was a former Presbyterian and he had left the church because it was getting too liberal in it's beliefs for him especially in regards to homesexuality and same sex marriages. On the way into Paducah, we talked about his 9 year old step daughter who was having serious medical problems. There was a misdiagnosis by a general practioner about her gall bladder because the general practioner had no training on how to treat a child. She had never been seen by a pediatrician. She was finally seen by a pediatrician this morning at a immediate care center because she was having a bad reaction to a radioactive dye that had been injected and used in a medical test. The pediatrician was on all and they did an initial diagnosis of either stomach problems (Krone's Disease) or a bleeding ulcer caused by stress.

In Paducah, there was a bike shop, Bike World. At the shop, there were several Sun recumbents being sold (a lwb and several lwb trikes). They didn't have a high pressure tire with a firm sidewall in stock so I had to get a 45 psi tire. They had high pressure tires made by Kenda but they had thin sidewalls and I had problems with sidewall blowouts with them before. The Kenda tires would have cost me $15 more anyway. I was in the process of getting my wallet out to pay for the tire and tube but Matt beat me with his credit card. Matt told me that I looked like I was tired so he offered to get me a room at the motel next door. At the motel, Matt told me that if he had cash on hand with him he would have given me a GH also. I told Matt that he was my angel/ good samaritan today. Matt told me that the last person who called him an angel was his mother when he was a child. The motel is on US 60 so I can get back on it tomorrow morning.

I'm going to stay in Kentucky till at least Evansville, Indiana and then I switch over to the Northern side of the Ohio River. I am about 350 miles away from Cincinatti. I am really hoping that tomorrow will be a better day, There are chances for thunderstorms in the morning and possibly later on in the day. About an hour after I had gotten settled into the room, I went back to the bike shop and bought a new tire pump. There was also a Dollar Store in a shopping center across the street.

July 08 : Paducah, KY to Marion, KY - 48.67 miles (77.87 km)

I had an okay night even though the room was a little run down. The motel was mostly set up for long-term rentals (weekly or monthly). The lady in the office said that they didn't get that many overnight guests. I had to go and ask for some towels and a wash cloth because they usually expected the people to supply their own. The tv was messed up and I had to have the lady set it back up with a master remote. There wasn't a remote for the room. The tub was on it's last leg so I didn't want to get in it to take a shower. There were no roaches but there were crickets and flies and there wasn't a fly swatter. The bathroom sink didn't drain properly and the ballast for the light above the sink was going bad so it took a long time for the light to go on. Being that I was next door to the office, which was in two converted guest rooms, I did have a good wifi signal. The building next to the road where the original office was along with a restaurant was shut down. The guest rooms in the building especially the ones on the second floor in back were really run down wih some broken glass windows. This motel surely wasn't up to good standards and really wasn't worth the rate given for the rooms. I'd be surprised if it wasn't owned by somebody from India. This was probably the cheapest motel in the area. Most of the motels that I had seen were chain motels near the interstate west of the city.

I woke up early as usual. I finished the journal entry from yesterday and updated my website. I was hoping to get on the road early but I wasn't able to. A band of rain showers was going through the area. I didn't stop raining till around 7 am. There was talk on the tv about more thunderstorms in the afternoon or evening. I waited till around 7:20 am. The office wasn't open and they didn't provide a breakfast.

I rode US 60 through the rest of the city. I got glimpses of the Ohio River. On the Eastern edge of Paducah, There was a shopping center. I stopped at a McD's for a late breakfast and to send off a couple of emails. It was around 8:30 am when I finally left Paducah.

The terraign was mostly flat till I got passed Smithland. I got 22 miles (35 km) in by noon. I stopped at a grocery store in Smithland for something to eat. There were a lot of construction guys from a nearby hydroelectric power plant being built on the Ohio River. Once passed Smithland, it started to get hilly. Between Burna and Salem, there was a long and windy section up to the top of a hill but I was able to ride it by taking my time. here were quite a few switchbacks. Near the top of the hill there was a construction zone where they had blasted and cut out a less steep path. There were two bulldozers trying to move a large pile of stones up the steep sides of the cut out to over up a black plastic water barrier. The grade was so steep that I was really surprised that the bulldozers didn't do a cartwheel backwards.

Between Salem and Monroe, there was another long and steep section of highway. The shoulder was a continous rumble strip. I opted to walk up this section of highway. There was a lot of traffic so I wasn't comforable with trying to ride up it.

I got into downtown Marion around 4:20 pm. I didn't see anybody at the large First Baptist church so I rode over to the Methodist church. I saw a car in front. On the office door, I was surprised seeing a sign saying that cyclists were invited to stop over at the church because Marion is on the TransAm Bike Route. I was in the process of getting my cell phone out to call one of the numbers listed when this guy started to walk towards the door. He was the pastor and he has only been here a week. He had been recently assigned to the church during their annual conference last month. The former pastor had retired after 14 years here. I brought my bike and gear inside and put them in the main hallway near the Narthax. I was taken around the church. The cyclists usually stay in the youth room upstairs where there are sofas to sleep on. There is a shower in the janitor's closet upstairs near the restrooms. According to the guestbook/ register. I was the 97th cycling guest that the church has had this year since March. The church has hosted cyclists since he beginning of the original BikeCentenniel Route back in 1976. The last one here was a couple of days ago. Instead of having something cold out of the food pannier for supper, I walked a couple of blocks to the local McD's.

Around 8:30 pm, the pastor showed by with three more cyclists. They were three guys in their early twenties who were from the Philadelphia, PA area but had started in Ocean City, MD and had headed South to Virginia Beach, VA before they started their trip West to Astoria, OR. They have been on the road for three weeks and they have gotten the first 1000 miles in. I didn't want to burst their bubble by telling them how many thousands of miles that I have ridden. I didn't feel comfortable sleeping in the same room with them so I opted to take my gear downstairs and camp in one of the classrooms there.

I did get into a discussion about their tentative route. The Trans-Am heads North from here across the Ohio River and then heads West in Southern Illinois. I told them about the bridge closures because of the flooding along the Mississippi River and told them that it would be wiser for them to ride US 60 to Cario, Illinois and cross the Mississippi River there and also to maybe stay on US 60 across Missouri taking the same route that I did and getting back on the TransAm in Kansas.

July 09 : Marion, KY to Henderson, KY - 56.57 miles (90.51 km)

It was a bit of an off night. There was a lot of light coming into the room through the venetian blinds. If I would have investigated the church a little more, I would have found a room right off the narthax of the church (the bride's room or robing room) that had a sofa in it. I was also a little wired with the knowledge of having other people be in the building with me. It took a long time for me to fall asleep. I woke up early. I almost did an all-nighter.

The sun was up by around 5 am. I got everything ready to take outside. Nobody was up by the time that I left the church at 6 am. I don't know how far the guys will get each day if they don't take advantage of the coolness of the morning. I hope that they follow my advice of riding US 60 to the Mississippi River at Cairo, Illinois and cross the bridges there instead of following the Adventure Cycling route and not being able to cross the Mississippi River because of the high water and flooding North of Cairo.

I stopped for breakfast at the McD's. It was still around 7 am when I left Marion. There were quite a few hills to get up and between Marion and Sturgis but not as bad as the ones yeserday. Getting up them was a little tricky because there was no shoulder to ride up on. Once I got passed Sturgis, the terrain leveled out. There was also a narrow path of shoulder that I could ride along.

My plan for the day was to stop in Morganfield but it didn't happen. I got into Morganfield around 12:30 pm. I stopped at the McD's there for some lunch. After that I started to check out the churches. The Presbyterian church was too small to have an office and there was nobody around the building. The secretary was in at the Methodist church. She told me that the pastor was out because he recently had some kind of surgery.

The biggest church in town was the First Baptist church. There were quite a few cars in the parking lot. As I was getting into the parking lot, I saw a lady leave the main door of the building. A UPS guy was taking stuff into the building. I wasn't able to get into the building myself. There were electric locks on the door and you had to either be buzzed in or use a magnetic key. There wasn't a security camera. There was an interom box that you had to talk into. Because of the surrounding background noise, it was really hard to understand what was being said. I also had to start over quite a few times because who ever was in the office couldn't understand me. I don't know why somebody didn't either come to the door to talk to me or just go ahead and unlock the door so I could come in. What an uninviting building. I thought to myself that if the Messiah had come to the door without advance notice He wouldn't have been able to have gone inside Himself. After five minutes of frustration, I finally found out that neither of the churches' two pastors were in.

The next town on my route was Henderson about 25 miles away. The ride went okay but there were several hills that I had to walk up because they were kind of steep. I got into downtown Henderson about 4:50 pm. I stopped to get something cool to drink. About a block away was the First Baptist church. There were quite a few cars in the parking lot. There was a guy at the door who smiled at me and greeted me as I entered the building. A family meal was being served and I got to take part in it. I got to meet the pastor and also the church financial administator. I sat with the finanial administrator. After the meal was a bible study/ prayer time meeting. I was invited to speak for a few minutes. This was my 40th church for the year. I've tied the number of churches that I spoke at in 2012 and I'm 20 churches less than what I spoke at last year. Afterwards, a guy behind me slipped me a GH.

Instead of letting me stay in the building for the night, I was taken to a motel a few blocks away and a room was paid for there. The motel was being run by some Patels so there was no internet. The motel was possibly a welfare motel but I was surprised at how nice the room that I was given looked inside. It was 200 percent better than the motel in Paducah.

I'm about six miles (10 km) away from the Ohio River and Evansville, Indiana.

July 10 : Henderson, KY to Patronville, IN - 53.04 miles (84.86 km)

It was an ok night. The room was pretty. It would have been better if there was wifi. I left motel a little 7 am. I was going to try and ride over the bridge on US 41 to Evansville, IN but after getting some advice from a couple of police officers I deided to stay on US 60 and ride to Owensboro, KY. The ride to Owensboro went okay. There was little or no traffic, flat terrain, and no rumble strips. The Ohio River was about a mile to the North.

I got into Owensboro around 11:30 am. There were no fast food places in the downtown area. The ride across the bridge over the Ohio River went okay. Traffic was light so I was able to ride over it except for the expansion joints. The highway in Indiana are so much better than the ones in Kentucky. There was a paved shoulder and no rumble strips.

Eight miles North at the intersetion of IN 66 in Reo was a Wendy's. I stopped for a late lunch. As I was eating, this guy with a Messianic cross nceklace stopped to talk to me. Before he left, he slipped me a GH of $6.

From Reo, it was a two mile ride into Rockport. I rode around the town but I couldn't find anybody around the churches. I stopped at the Law Enforecment center (Sheriff office). I was directed to go to the police station that was in the city hall. here wasn't anybody in the police office so I talked with the city clerk. She made a couple of calls and she was able to contact a pastor in Reo. There was an offer made to ge me a room at a motel that I had passed a couple of miles South of the Wendy's.

I'm just going to do a small ride to Tell City tomorrow.

July 11 : Patronville, IN to Tell City, IN - 31.35 miles (50.16 km)

I had a decent night at the motel. There wasn't any wifi access. Because I had planned not to go very far today, I didn't start out really early. It was going to be in the low 90's in the afternoon.

I left the motel around 7:20 am. I rode back to the gas station in Reo where the Wendy's was. The Wendy's was closed but the wifi access was available. I did a email check using my pda. After about 40 minutes. I rode back into Rockport. My initial intention at the gas station in Reo was to get some milk but it was too expensive there. I decided to stop at a gas station in Rockport to see how much the milk was there. It was a better price so I got some. While I was getting ready to leave, this guy stopped to talk wih me. Before he went into the store, he slipped me a GH of $10.

The ride to Tell City went okay. There were quite a few level spots and then there was some hills. I was getting into an area in Indiana called the "Ohio Highlands". This was also an area where Abraham Lincoln had lived. I rode passed a spot where Lincoln had operated a ferry across a river. Traffic was reasonably light. I got into Tell City around 12:10 pm. I found someplace to have lunch. After lunch, I rode around town to try and find somebody at a church.

I found the secretary in at the First United Methodist Church. The pastor was out having meetings. The secretary called around to see if anybody else was in the other church offices. She didn't have any luck. I went around to the other churches myself.

I saw some activity at the St Paul's Catholic Church. I found the sexton working in the parish hall. The priest was in the rectory. He gave me permission to stay in the parish hall. Around 4:30 pm, a lady came in to tell me that the priest didn't know that there was going to be a meeting in the parish hall at 5 pm. She invited me to stay in a classroom of the school next door. While I packing up my laptop, the parish secretary came over to talk with me. She told me that she could do something better for me instead of having me stay in one of the classrooms. There was an offer to get me a room at the local Days Inn. When I told the secretary that I haven't had a day off the road since Baxter Springs, Kansas (June 30th - 637.54 miles away), there was an offer to get me two nights instead of one night. Before I left the church, the sexton stopped me and slipped me a GH of $20.

The next trip update should be posted sometime between July 18th and July 25th.




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