This morning Jeffrey met Professor Pouncey, a Pittsburgh-based photographer known for cat photos. (Google him!)
The good Professor also knows a lot about reptiles, and enlightened Jeffrey about the box turtles we encountered yesterday.
We saw this non-PC lawn ornament in Rolla.
It doesn’t necessarily mean anything in particular about the owner. Ditto for the Confederate flags we saw on several pickup trucks today. These things bring to mind a remark by one of our new Texas friends we met at the Lincoln site in Springfield, IL. She said we Americans haven’t educated our people properly. Some well-meaning Americans just don’t know any better.
Today we heard water flowing everywhere. Rainshowers. Rivers. The gurgle of streams hidden in thick woods.
Jeffrey took a wrong turn. We spent more than 10 of our 69 pedaled miles, on gravel roads. Below you see a good sector. Jeffrey didn’t take photos of bad sectors; he was afraid to lose momentum and get bogged down.
Other roads had loose rocks, the sort you might find in a dry streambed. For good reason: these roads flood!
At one point, under a hot sun, the air damp from recent rain, the gravel road was so steep that our rear tire spun without traction. Jeffrey had to change to street shoes and push our rig a quarter mile (1/2 km) uphill. It was hard work, and a little scary, because while a 2-wheeler will fall over if you lose control, a three-wheeler will roll downhill until something stops it.
We are in the Ozarks proper. Photos don’t convey how long and steep the hills are, nor the lush beauty. A cyclist works hard to enjoy that beauty.
Energy depleted by sun, rain, wind, hills, and gravel, Jeffrey stopped in Richland to swill root beer. Davin came over to ask about the Ride.
After Jeffrey explained, Davin handed him a nice donation, offered us shelter at the movie theater he supervises, and gave us his phone number in case we need help. We took his route advice. Later he passed us in his truck, slowing down to make sure we were OK. From his enlightened management philosophy to his kindness to strangers, Davin is one great guy.
A bridge was out on old Route 66. The detour required us to pedal on the shoulder of I-44 for 5 miles in the rain. It was, um, exciting, with trucks roaring by at 80 mph, and Jeffrey steering around tens of dead armadillos, hundreds of pieces of tire rubber, bits of wood and metal, innumerable rocks and potholes. We made it to Exit 140, returned to old Route 66, climbed hill after hill, and came to Lebanon at sunset.
Just before we reached our motel at the far side of the city (which sprawls remarkably for a place of 14,000 inhabitants), we met Chris and Joann, pastors at a local church.
Their congregation reflects a community in transition. It includes old-line Americans, and people who speak Spanish at home to U.S. citizen children. There are tensions, of course. Chris said we need immigration controls, but not the ones we have; the system is broken. He and Joann brought up the economic contributions of newcomers—even the unauthorized—and agree that in many respects, they are better Americans than the America-born. Chris and Joann are teaching their community that good Christians and good Americans welcome and protect the stranger. We hope the people will listen.