Katy Trail Ride – Fall 2014

In the spring of 2004, Deb and I decided to buy bicycles. Neither one of us had owned one since we were kids. We didn’t know anything about bikes. We went to the Schwinn store in Wichita that’s been there for years…..thinking that Schwinn was a quality brand. We wanted to ride on gravel roads and bike paths, so the guy set us up with a couple of mountain bikes. I think we ended up spending about $500 on each bike by the time we got them rigged up with a few accessories. It wasn’t until we got them home that we figured out they weren’t even Schwinn bikes, they were made by Giant Bicycles. Like I said, we didn’t know anything about bikes! I remember the first time we rode around the section (4 miles). I wasn’t sure I was going to make it; it was really hard work! We kept riding and it wasn’t long before my regular ride was a 9 mile gravel road route. We rode the Wichita bike paths and worked our way up to 20 mile rides. After owning our bikes for only 3 months, I came up with the idea to ride the Katy Trail in Missouri. I can’t remember how I found out about the Katy Trail……probably just an Internet search. We rode the trail in August when it was very hot. We averaged 40 miles a day and I remember stopping a lot to rest in the shade. We carried way too much stuff on our bikes. We mailed home 14 pounds of dirty clothes about halfway through the ride. It was hard, we learned from our mistakes, and we had a blast. Those original bikes have been replaced……now I have four different bikes and Deb has three. I’ve since traveled by bike in many different states and Deb and I even biked the west coast of Ireland. This year we decided to revisit the place where it all started……the Katy Trail. Ten years have passed, but the trail is still just as magical as ever. The Katy Trail is a rail trail that runs 240 miles on the former Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad right-of-way. It is the longest rail trail in the United States. The nickname “Katy” comes from the railroad’s abbreviated name, MKT. Sections of the trail are also part of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail and the American Discovery Trail. The MKT Railroad operated from 1865 until 1986. It took 10 years before all sections between Sedalia and St. Charles were completed. The Union Pacific Railroad donated 33 miles of right-of-way from Sedalia to Clinton in 1991. It would be another 8 years before that section opened. The trail passes through some of the most scenic areas of the state. It travels through many types of terrain, including dense forests, wetlands, deep valleys, prairies, pastureland and rolling farm fields. September 27, 2014 We began our ride in Clinton, opting to ride the trail from west to east. Clinton was once known at the “Baby Chick Capital of the World”. Their poultry-raising industry began in 1913 when a high school student received a free set of purebred White Rock chicken eggs. In 1929 they had to build a new post office to accommodate the estimated four million chicks that were mailed from Clinton in 1930. When the industry peaked in the 1950’s, Clinton hatcheries were annually shipping a combined total of 110 million baby chicks. We didn’t see any chickens while we were in Clinton.  We had arrived late last night so we slept in, not leaving our hotel this morning until 11:30am.  The Clinton Recreational Center is a short distance from the trailhead and is the recommended long term parking area for your vehicle. They ask that you fill out a short form with your contact information and vehicle make/model and estimated date of return.  In exchange, you get to park in a well-lighted lot that’s regularly patrolled by the local police.  After taking a few obligatory “start of the trail” photos, we finally got underway at 12:30pm.  We quickly noticed one big difference between riding the trail in the summer and riding it in the fall……..black walnuts!  They covered the trail in spots where they had fallen from the trees.  Sometimes you couldn’t see them because they were underneath a layer of leaves.  Running over one with a front tire wasn’t too bad, but when the rear tire hit one, it would give you a jolt.  It was challenging to dodge the little speed bumps since we had three wheels to maneuver.  I think you’d really have to be cautious on a regular bike; if you weren’t paying attention one of those little nuts could cause you to crash.  We found out later the Eastern Black Walnut was designated as the “Missouri State Nut” in 1990.  The first town we passed through was Calhoun. Founded in 1835, Calhoun is the oldest town in Henry County. Calhoun was once a booming town with eight pottery companies. Clay deposits nearby supplied the thriving business even before the railroad arrived. When the MKT Railroad did arrive in 1870, the potteries expanded their operations and began to ship their products (crocks, bowls, jugs, etc.) to other states, earning Calhoun the nickname “Jugtown”. The town’s prosperity was short lived. The potteries closed in 1910, followed by the Great Depression and two world wars. Other surrounding towns grew, and Calhoun declined. The population today is only 459. The only thing Calhoun had to offer us were the restrooms and water at the trailhead. We continued on to Windsor where we stopped for a late lunch. The caboose at the Windsor trailhead is painted white with an American flag on the side. When the caboose was donated to the town, it was painted the standard MKT green and was identified as #130. When volunteers started sandblasting the caboose, intending to repaint it, they discovered the car was actually #76. The caboose had been painted in a patriotic theme in celebration of the 1976 Bicentennial. They later repainted the car green. The caboose was restored to its patriotic colors and remains so today. About 5 miles east of Windsor we reached the “High Point” of the trail…….955 feet above sea level. Standing at the high point and looking both directions on the trail, the incline/decline is barely noticeable. I decided to conduct an experiment to see if we were indeed on a “peak”. I urinated on the trail at the spot they had designated as the “high point”, wanting to see which direction it would run down the trail. My results were inconclusive, but I sure felt better. We continued on our journey stopping briefly at the Green Ridge trailhead to use the facilities. Green Ridge is another very small town with a population of 445. It is the birthplace of Pearl White, one of the most famous Hollywood silent film stars. After another 10 miles we arrived at Sedalia, our planned stop for the night. The elegant Sedalia Katy Depot, built in 1896, welcomes riders to town. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been restored at a cost of over 2 million dollars. There’s a museum in the depot as well as a bicycle shop that offers repairs/rentals. Sedalia is known as the adopted home of of ragtime music’s Scott Joplin. He moved to Sedalia in 1894 and earned a living as a piano teacher. He began publishing music a year later and in 1895 became famous for his song, Maple Leaf Rag. He later moved to St. Louis where he continued to compose and publish music. He died at the age of 49 in a mental institution, after contracting syphilis. We left the trail at the depot and rode downtown to the historic Hotel Bothwell where we were staying tonight. The Bothwell was built in 1927 and it’s been restored to it’s original beauty. Harry S. Truman, actress Bette Davis, and actor Clint Eastwood are among the many significant guests the hotel has served. We had dinner in the hotel restaurant, the Ivory Grille and enjoyed an excellent meal. We shared a dessert called Gooey Butter Cake. It was a yellow cake with a butter cream cheese frosting, topped with cinnamon ice cream……..it was delicious! Our mileage today was 39.34 miles.

September 28, 2014 We left Sedalia this morning and continued east on the trail. We arrived at the Clifton City trailhead after 16 miles. Besides restrooms at the trailhead, Clifton City has no services. We moved on to Pilot Grove where we left the trail in search of lunch. The only option in town was the Casey’s General Store/Gas Station. We thought we’d have to settle for a cold sandwich, but they actually had a little kitchen in the back. They fried us a couple of cheeseburgers that weren’t half bad. They didn’t have any seating area, so we sat out front on the curb and ate our lunch. Our “weird” trikes draw a lot of attention and we answered questions from the locals who stopped for gas. After leaving Pilot Grove, the terrain begins to change from prairie to rolling and timbered. Three miles west of Boonville, the trail begins to descend “Lard Hill”. In the early railroad days, a pig belonging to a family living nearby wandered onto the tracks and was killed by a train. The woman who owned the pig contacted the railroad and demanded payment for the dead animal. The railroad refused to pay, so she took matters into her own hands. They rendered the lard from the dead pig. Every morning, she sent her children up the hill with buckets of lard. They greased the rails, making them so slick that the train’s wheels spun out when it tried to climb the hill. Day after day this happened, and the train never made it up the hill.  The railroad put two engines on the train, one pulling in front and one pushing from behind, but the train still could not make it up the hill.  The railroad finally agreed to pay the woman for the dead pig.  Since then the hill has been known as “Lard Hill”.  Boonville was established in 1817 and named after Daniel Boone’s sons who had a salt business nearby. Thespian Hall in Boonville is the longest continually operated theater west of the Alleghany Mountains. It was built in 1855 and is still operating today. During the Civil War, the theater served as a hospital and morgue. Boonville also has the longest used jail, the Old Cooper County Jail and Hanging Barn. It was in use from 1848 to 1979 and was the location of the last public hanging in Missouri in 1930. The Katy Depot in Boonville was built in 1912 and is the only surviving Spanish Mission style depot on the MKT line. The depot was restored in 1997 and now houses the Boonville Chamber of Commerce, Tourist Information Center, and the State Park district offices. We spent the night in Boonville at the Hotel Frederick. It was built in 1905 and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The hotel operated until 1964 under the same ownership. The hotel then operated as a weekend restaurant and Greyhound bus depot, and later served as the Boonville Retirement Center. It sat vacant from 1994 until 2004 when new owners brought it back to it’s original splendor with a $4 million restoration. It is a beautiful, elegant hotel and each one of the rooms is a bit different. When you make your reservation, you pick the specific room you want to stay in. One unique feature of most rooms are glass bathroom walls. We ate supper in the hotel bar. It is a very cool place to stay and was reasonably priced. They have a large, secure storage area for bicycles which was nice. This is a great hotel that caters to cyclists. We rode a total of 37.21 miles today.

September 29, 2014 We had to get around a littler earlier today because we had reservations for a 10:00am tour of Warm Springs Ranch. The ranch is located 10 miles southeast of Boonville and is the breeding farm for the Budweiser Clydesdale horses. We left the majority of our bike bags at the hotel so we could travel a little lighter. We rode on a combination of county and state roads to get to the ranch. Most traffic is carried on nearby interstate 70, so luckily we didn’t have much traffic. It was a very hilly route, verified later by my GPS which showed nearly 1,800 feet of elevation gain. We arrived about 15 minutes before our tour and were greeted at the gate by one of the tour guides who checked us off her list. They had all the vehicles wait in line, just inside the gate, until everyone had arrived. Then they closed the gate and led the caravan about 1/4 mile to the huge barn complex where all the breeding operations take place. The ranch is 340 acres and has 14 miles of white fence. It is the largest clydesdale breeding facility in the United States and Budweiser has the largest herd of clydesdales in the world. They have about 120 mares at any given time. The ranch produces an average of 40 foals per year. About 85% of the foals are kept for brood mares. They keep colts to later become “hitch horses” if they meet the required height, color and temperament. All of their hitch horses are geldings. They use ultrasound to determine when the mares are ready to breed and to monitor pregnancies. When they think the mare is within a few days of foaling, they place her in a stall where they can keep close watch. They also suture a “foaling alert device” across the birth canal. It’s a high tech trip-wire that when broken, sends an alert to the manager and handler’s cell phones. The manager of the breeding program lives on the ranch and his response time to a foaling is a mere 52 seconds. Clydesdales rarely have any complications and labor doesn’t start until the foal is perfectly positioned. When labor starts, it only lasts between 5 and 35 minutes. The newborn foals are quite large, weighing about 150 pounds. Budweiser has three traveling hitches that tour the country. Each hitch travels with ten horses, two more than are needed for the hitch. The two extra horses allow them to switch out horses, allowing for needed rest or injury. Seven handlers travel with each hitch and are responsible for caring for the horses and all the equipment. It takes three 50-foot tractor-trailers and one van to transport everything needed for one hitch. Each of the three traveling hitches make 300 plus appearances each year. They are on the road 10 months out of the year. The beer wagons used in the hitches were made by the Studebaker Car Company. Studebaker went out of business in the 1960’s and no new wagons have been produced. Each of the collar/harness sets for the horses cost $10,000. The driver of the hitch has to have muscles. The lines weigh 40 pounds, and combined with the tension of the horses pulling creates a weight of over 75 pounds. If the parade route is long, they switch out drivers to let them rest. An adult clydesdale can weigh 2,300 pounds. Just one hitch horse consumes 20-25 quarts of grains, 50-60 pounds of hay and 30 gallons of water each day. The ranch goes through 650 tons of hay per year. We got to see a celebrity horse, Andrew. He was in last year’s popular Budweiser Super Bowl Puppy Love commercial. We drank our complimentary free beer after the tour and browsed through their gift shop. When we left, we had trouble getting through the gate. It was closed and had sensors in the road that had to be triggered by a vehicle in order to open. Either we weren’t heavy enough or we weren’t right on top of it, but the gate would not open. There was one car behind us, but they had stopped and were taking photos of horses and didn’t seem to be in any hurry. I backed up and made another circle through the area, and it finally opened. We rode back to Boonville, picked up our bags at the hotel and got back on the trail. We pulled off the trail in New Franklin and grabbed some sandwiches at the Casey’s General Store. The original town here was called Franklin and was laid out in 1816. Due to the town’s frequent flooding, the town was relocated up the hill in 1826…….thus the name “New Franklin”. We stayed high and dry while eating our lunch, watching the local activity from a bench on main street. It has a population of 1,089 and has the designation of being the “Beginning of the Santa Fe Trail”. We arrived in Rocheport about 3:30pm and killed a little time at the Trailside Cafe and Bike Shop until we could check into our lodging. Just before entering Rocheport, we passed through the only tunnel on the MKT railroad. The tunnel was constructed in 1892 and is 243 feet long. A scene from Stephen King’s Sometimes They Come Back was filmed at the tunnel. Rocheport is a small town with a population of only 239. William Least Heat-Moon, author of bestseller Blue Highways resides in the town. Lewis and Clark landed at this site in 1804, noting in their journal the Indian pictographs on the limestone rocks near the river. The pictographs are still faintly visible today. We checked into the School House Dormitory and got settled in. The place we are staying is affiliated with the School House B&B, which is right next door. The Dormitory is kind of a self-serve B&B. The room had a small refrigerator and microwave and a private bathroom. The refrigerator was stocked with soda, snacks and items for our breakfast. They left an envelope in the mailbox with the combination for the keypad lock for the outer door and our room door. They also had a locked shed where we stored our bikes. It was very nice and at $90, certainly cheaper than the $200 and up rooms at their regular B&B. Our mileage today was 35.66. Cycling friends Deb E., Brenda, Charlotte and Colleen were driving down this evening to take us to dinner in nearby Columbia. We got cleaned up and did some laundry before they arrived. Deb E. was our chauffeur, and drove us all to Flat Branch Pub & Brewing in Columbia. We enjoyed great food, the company and sampled several of their tasty beers. My favorites were the Green Chili Beer and the Brown Ale. It was nice to see the girls again…..and Deb finally got to meet them. When they dropped us off in Rocheport, we parted promising to organize a ride together next year…..possibly the Great Allegheny Passage Trail and C&O Towpath, a 335 mile trail ride from Pittsburgh, PA to Washington, D.C.

September 30, 2014 After breakfast we began our ride to Jefferson City which would be our overnight stop. This section of the trail is really beautiful……the river is on your right and the towering bluffs on your left. We saw a tugboat pushing a barge; they made slow progress going against the current. We passed by the town of Huntsdale which has a population of 31. About the only thing in Huntsdale is Katfish Katy’s which consists of a small general store, campground and a boat ramp offering river access. The next big town we came to was McBaine…..population 10. For such a small place, McBaine is the location of the largest Bur Oak tree in the United States. The tree stands 90 feet tall with a canopy stretching 130 feet across. It’s estimated to be over 350 years old, meaning the acorn that the tree grew from took root around the year 1660. We stopped at the Hartsburg trailhead, rested a bit had a snack. Last time we rode the Katy we stayed in Hartsburg at the Globe Hotel. It only has six rooms and is run as a B&B. It’s a cool old place, built in 1893. I remember we ate at a bar next door and most of the locals arrived by ATV’s. Another 10 miles and we could see the dome of the state capital building across the river in Jefferson City. At the North Jefferson trailhead, we connected with the spur trail that would take us into the city. Until a few years ago it wasn’t possible for cyclists to visit Jefferson City safely. The bridge across the river did not have a bike lane, but in early 2011 that changed. Thanks to a $6.7 million project, an eight foot wide pedestrian/bicycle lane is now attached to the bridge. An elaborate ramp structure on the north side of the river raises cyclists up to the height of the bridge, or takes them down to ground level depending on their direction of travel. We arrived at our hotel, put the bikes in our room and visited the hotel bar which was still having their “happy hour”. Since we hadn’t really eaten lunch, the drinks were particularly effective. Deb had been carrying a partial bag of Chex Mix in her bike bag since we left Clinton. She kept asking me if I wanted any and I declined. This morning when we got ready to leave our B&B in Rocheport, she decided to leave the Chex Mix there. As we were getting ready to pedal away, one of the housekeepers came outside with the bag and told us we’d forgotten it. I told her we didn’t want it and had meant to leave it there. The hotel bar had a popcorn machine and I went over to get us a basket. In a big bowl next to the popcorn was Chex mix! I couldn’t resist…….I went back to our table with a basket full of Chex mix rather than popcorn. We got a good laugh over it…….and it tasted really good! It made us wish we still had our bag we’d left behind. We went back to our room and got cleaned up. We ordered Chinese from a place that delivered, relaxed and watched some TV. 39.09 miles on the trail today.

October 1, 2014 Before leaving town this morning, we rode down by the state Capitol building. St. Charles was actually the first “state Capitol” of Missouri until 1826 when they declared Jefferson City as the Capitol. The first Capitol building in Jefferson City burned in 1837. A second structure, built in 1840 also burned when the dome was struck by lightening in 1911. The present Capitol was completed in 1917 and features beautiful statues and fountains on the grounds. One of the large bronze sculptures depicts the signing of the Louisiana Purchase by Livingston, Monroe and Marbois. The Fountain of the Centaurs features fierce looking centaurs battling river monsters. On top of the dome is a bronze statue of Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture, chosen to symbolize the state’s farming heritage. After checking out the Capitol, we rode over the bridge again and made our way back to the trail. We left the trail at Mokane and went into town in search of lunch. Mokane’s population is only 185, so there wasn’t a lot to choose from. There is a little grocery store where you can get snacks and drinks. They also will make you a fresh sandwich while you wait. We got a couple of sandwiches and went to the city park to eat. The park shelters had electrical outlets, so we topped off the charge on our Bionx batteries while we ate. After lunch, we continued east, passing through the small towns of Portland, Bluffton, and Rhineland. In the spring and summer of 1993, the town of Rhineland was flooded not once, but four times. After the fourth flood, the residents voted to accept federal funds to move the town out of the flood plain. A 49-acre plot about 1 1/2 miles uphill was chosen as the new town site. Instead of building new homes, the majority of the old ones were picked up and moved to the new location. Thirty-two of the town’s 52 homes were relocated. Those that did not move their houses either built new ones or purchased mobile or modular homes. All but one family participated in the relocation. New buildings were built for the town’s businesses. Seventeen of the town’s 18 businesses participated in the buy-out program . We pushed on Hermann, our final destination for the day. Hermann is another town that we were unable to visit the last time we rode the Katy. It’s across the river and there was no bike lane on the bridge, making it too dangerous for cyclists to cross. They built a new bridge in 2007, replacing the previous one that had been built in 1930. A woman named Florence Mundwiller Kelley cut the ribbon for the opening of the new bridge. Florence had also cut the ribbon for the old Hermann bridge when she was 10 years old. In 2008, after demolition of the previous bridge and some approach construction, an 8-foot bicycle lane was opened on the new bridge. The city of Hermann was founded by German immigrants in 1837. The German settlers came to farm, but found the land wasn’t suited for farming. The agent that they had hired to purchase the land bought the steepest, rockiest stretch of the river. The settlers knew grapevines would grow on steep slopes and in rocky soil. They began growing grapes and making wine. Stone Hill Winery was established in 1847 and Hermann became the second largest producer of wine and distilled spirits in the country. Stone Hill became the second largest winery in the U.S. and by the 1900’s, it was shipping 1,250,000 gallons of wine a year. Hermann has been chosen several times for the title of Missouri’s most beautiful town. There are more than 150 historic buildings, numerous inns and B&Bs, world class wineries, museums, shops, galleries and many fine dining restaurants. The seven wineries in Hermann produce about one-third of the state’s wine. You could easily spend an extra day here and still not see everything. We stayed at the Lydia Johnson Inn, a Victorian style B&B that was built in 1901. It was a beautiful home and the couple that owned it were very gracious hosts. It started raining just after we arrived in Hermann. We wore our rain jackets and borrowed an umbrella and walked to the Black Walnut Bistro for dinner. It would turn out to be our best meal of the trip…….a wonderful restaurant. We rode 49.13 miles today.

October 2, 2014 Heavy rain and storms continued through the night and this morning it was still raining. We ate breakfast and watched the radar, trying to determine if there was going to be a break in the weather. It was still raining lightly when we left the B&B about 11:00am. We rode a couple of blocks to Sugar Momma’s, a sweets shop with every kind of candy imaginable, including all the old-fashioned and retro candies of your childhood. They even had apple bacon pie……we did not try it. They had some unusual flavors of salt water taffy and we did buy some of the maple bacon. The rain stopped and the radar showed we had a small break before the next storms moved into the area. We rode a quick loop through the downtown area to see the sights before leaving town. As we pulled back onto the trail on the other side of the river, we met two guys on bikes on their way into Hermann. We spoke to them yesterday on the trail and knew they were riding the same direction we were. Instead of staying in B&B’s and hotels, they were camping each night. Today they were dressed in full rain suits and they didn’t look like they were enjoying themselves. Even with the amount of rain the area received, the trail itself was still in great shape. The crushed limestone surface is almost impervious to rain. We would occasionally slide a bit on wet leaves, but the trail wasn’t tacky at all. The water was high and rolling in every small creek we crossed. A few miles east of the McKiittrick trailhead a large tree had blown over and was completely blocking the trail. We pushed our bikes around and continued on. We were trying to make good time because we knew the rain was moving in behind us. We began to hear thunder behind us and we flew down the trail. We made it 20 miles to Treloar before it became evident the rain was going to overtake us. A short distance from the trailhead the Treloar Bar & Grill promised shelter. We stayed dry inside, enjoying burgers and beer while the rain came down again outside. It took about 2 hours for the rain to move through. The radar showed another break between storms, so we headed out again. At the trailhead, we ran into the same two guys we saw as we left Hermann. They were still wearing rain gear, and still didn’t look like they were having much fun. They said they had a rough night last night trying to ride out the storm in their tent. They had also been riding in the rain for most of today. We had about 18 more miles to go before we reached Augusta where we would stay the night. We kept moving, passing through Marthasville, where the original graves of Daniel Boone and his wife were located. I say “original”, because in 1845, their remains were disinterred and moved to Kentucky for burial. There is speculation that the body of a slave was dug up and sent to Kentucky instead of Daniel’s. We arrived in Augusta about 5:45pm, getting sprinkled on the last few miles. This little town’s population is only 253, but it has two wineries, a brewery, several antique shops, restaurants and B&Bs. We were staying at the Lindenhof B&B tonight…..in the same room we stayed in 10 years ago. Since we ate lunch late, we decided not to venture out for dinner.  We made do with cookies and a small loaf of fresh baked bread provided by our hosts. Heavy rain began soon after we got settled in. We rode 38.07 miles today.

October 3, 2014 We had a leisurely breakfast this morning. We were served Finnish pancakes…..by far the best breakfast of the trip. It was mostly cloudy and very cool this morning. We took our time getting started today, letting it warm up a little bit. We rode through Matson where the Daniel Boone Judgement Tree Memorial is located. Daniel Boone served as syndic, or civil and military administrator under the Spanish from 1800 to 1804. In 1804, under the Americans, he served as a judge. As a syndic, Boone settled disputes among the area settlers. He became famous for holding court under a large tree which became known as the “Judgement Tree”. We pulled off the trail at Defiance to eat lunch. Defiance only has a population of 155, but it was a hopping town. We went to the Defiance Roadhouse to grab a bite to eat. The owner of the bed and breakfast in Augusta recommended it, and the food was very good. About the time we were ready to leave, it started raining……and a front must’ve moved through because it got even colder. We hung out until it quit raining and put on some pants for extra warmth before taking off. About 15 miles outside of St. Charles we passed through the Weldon Spring Conservation Area, near the town of Weldon Spring. This area was once home to the Weldon Spring Ordnance Works, a 17,323-acre U.S. Government facility. The towns of Hamburg, Howell, and Toonerville and around 700 citizens of the area were displaced when the government purchased the land in 1941. A contractor, the Atlas Powder Company, manufactured TNT and DNT during World War II from 1941 to 1945 at the site. The Atomic Energy Commission acquired part of the property in 1955 and uranium ore was processed from 1957 to 1966. The manufacture of the explosives and uranium resulted in contamination of the soil and groundwater. In the 1980’s the U.S. Department of Energy began extensive decontamination of the area, eventually building an enormous waste disposal cell to contain the waste materials. Completed in 2001, the mountainous structure covers 45 acres and stores 1.5 million cubic yards of hazardous waste. Visitors can climb stairs to the top of the cell to a viewing platform. Plaques provide information about the local area, history of the site and construction of the waste disposal cell. There is also a interpretive center housed in a building at the base of the cell that once was used to check workers for radioactivity. The top of the waste cell is the highest point in St. Charles County. Leave it to the midwest to make a tourist attraction out of a radioactive waste site. We didn’t make a side trip to see the disposal cell…….we both get exposed to enough radiation at work!  We arrived in St. Charles and headed straight to our hotel to get warm. They had a fresh pot of coffee in the lobby and it hit the spot. After we cleaned up, Deb did laundry. I walked to a nearby barbecue restaurant and got food to take back to the hotel. We rode 28.15 miles today.

October 4, 2014 The first time we did this ride, we didn’t spend much time in St. Charles. This time around, we decided to spend an extra day here to explore the popular historic district of the city. We weren’t able to get two nights at our hotel, and would have to move to another tonight. They let us store our bikes and bags in a secure area for the day. The 200-year-old Historic Main Street is comprised of a ten-block area. The streets are brick paved and there are more than 125 unique shops and many restaurants to choose from. The first Missouri State Capitol is in the historic district. It is actually a group of several buildings used by early frontiersmen when Missouri was still a territory. In 1821 Missouri was granted statehood and this site served as the temporary capitol until 1823 when Jefferson City was chosen as the permanent capitol. There are over 100 other historic buildings in the district. We enjoyed the day shopping and sightseeing. Our last stop was the Trailhead Brewing Company to sample one more local brew. We retrieved our bikes and bags from the hotel and decided to make a loop through Frontier Park next to the river. My phone rang and it was Deb E. who we’d just seen a few days before. She asked where we were and I told her St. Charles. She said she was in St. Charles and had just seen us ride by. We turned around and rode back to where her and her husband were. They were in town for a 5K run the next day. Funny that we ran into her…..what were the odds? We visited a little bit and then rode about a mile to our hotel.

October 5, 2014 Today we’d arranged for a shuttle service to take us back to Clinton. We used the “Katy Bike Rental and Shuttle” which is based out of Defiance, MO. They also have a shop in Augusta and have some kind of partnership with the bike shop in the Sedalia Depot. When we made the reservation, we had them post the trip online hoping that someone else would need shuttled that day and we’d be able to split the cost with them. No one else signed up though, so we were stuck with paying the full price. We’d asked to be picked up at our hotel at 9:30am and they arrived right on time. They had a 14 passenger van and had removed the last two seats so they could put our trikes inside. The two guys loaded them up and padded them with heavy moving blankets. After we got on the road, one of the guys talked with the owner of the company on his cell phone. He’d planned on taking one of their other vans to Rocheport and then having us swing by and pick him up. He’d forgotten he had to take a rental tandem bike to the Sedalia shop so he wasn’t going to go to Clinton with us. I told the guy to call him back and tell him we didn’t mind dropping a bike off in Sedalia if he’d reduce our rate. He called him and the owner offered to cut our cost in half……so it was a good deal for both of us. We stopped at their shop in Defiance and picked up the rental tandem bike. We then picked up the owner in Rocheport and headed on to Sedalia to drop the bike off at the Depot. They dropped us off at our vehicle in Clinton about 2:45pm and we headed home. We’d ridden 270 miles, crossed 126 bridges, dodged about a million walnuts, and traveled through history again on the magical Katy Trail.

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