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.

2 thoughts on “West of the Mississippi

  1. Bringing Americans together….Jeffrey for President! Thank you for all you are doing for refugees, and for Human Rights First!

  2. Joey, Clearly the dogs were chasing you and not Jeffrey. Stop winking at dogs as you pass them. Glad Jeffrey has the leg power to outrun the best of them. Keep on pedaling for human rights!

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