West of the Mississippi

Jeffrey here.

Joey is recovering from this morning’s trauma.

We were chased.  By two dogs.  For a mile and a half.  At more than 15 mph, made possible by the happy accident of smoothish pavement, a route briefly perpendicular to the wind, and fear-induced adrenaline.  The dogs barked and growled, but perhaps it was not directed at me.  I seemed to be an excuse for them to egg each other on.

The dogs gave up.  I caught my breath and continued at a sutainable pace over rough pavement and into a strong headwind.

Soon Arthur drove past and, intrigued by the sight, flagged me down.

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Arthur said that in the 1960s, local farms were 160-240 acres; now farmers’ holdings are measured in square miles.  Refugees: Arthur is a student of history and knows whence we Americans came.  Foreign policy: he’s skeptical of efforts to impose E Pluribus Unum American ways on people who have a tribal worldview.  Corn: the same varieties in various fields look different because of planting schedules.  Local ethnicities: Italian and German.  The local economy: in the past, his entire extended family farmed; now everyone is in a medical field.  Arthur too!  He’s “retired” but works as an EMT, and for the water authority.  Arthur warned me that I face several days of headwinds, and said a redhead like me must beware the sun.  We’d’ve kept talking but both of us had places to be.

I stopped at the Union Miners Cemetery in Mt. Olive . . .

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. . . and found, to my surprise . . .

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. . . the bones of Mother Jones, the famous labor organizer!  America’s rich and powerful hated this Irish refugee from the Great Famine.  America’s poor workers, especially miners, loved her.

A scenic relic of old Route 66:

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This place makes great fish sandwiches and slaw.

Tim, a retired veteran, asked questions about the Ride; he and some of the restaurant staff expressed concern for poor refugees who must present their cases without a lawyer to help.

Bad roads were interspersed with fine interurban bike paths on which we went miles and miles without seeing anyone.

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Paved.

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Unpaved.

On a paved path, I met the first fellow bicycle trekker of this Ride.  Steve, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, recently retired a second time, from Boeing.

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He’s biking from California to Albany, NY.  I gave him some advice about the route east.  He told me what to expect as I go west.  We spent some pleasant time trading stories from the road.

Today I saw many animals.  Turkeys, cardinals, a heron, many other birds, woodchucks, squirrels, rabbits, a snake, a lizard, and more.  One wild critter, and several domestics (not including those dogs!), held still long enough for a photo.

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Wind, sun and rough pavement delayed, but did not prevent, our rendezvous with the Father of Waters.  Midway over the McKinley Bridge spanning the Mississippi:

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From the bridge, St. Louis looks inviting.

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Up close, the city’s waterfront needs work.

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Pile of trash.

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Blank wall instead of waterfront.

But I did enjoy a warm welcome at a hotel that wonderful Nancy took hours to arrange (rooms were hard to find because of a baseball game).  The hotel manager, Andrew, is very enthusiastic about the Ride.  He told Sam about it . . .

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. . . and Sam found me at dinner and asked to shake my hand.

It’s not me.  Really, it’s not.  Explain things to Americans and they like the principle: when asylum applicants need help, we should help if we can.

With our help, Human Rights First can.