The goal for today was a big one: 80 miles in the Ozarks. I got up and started making pancakes for breakfast. Since we had a kitchen, I thought the fastest way to make them would be to bake them on a big sheet, so I turned on the oven.
As the oven preheated, I thought I smelled something like warm bread. Odd, we didn't have any bread out.
I opened to oven door to see if something had been left there. Sure enough, I found the bread. I don't know how long it had been "stored" there. A while for sure.
The hills today were very difficult and started almost immediately.
April and I had decided that if we had any shot at making it 80 miles today without destroying our legs, we would have to walk the steepest hills. If you had told me before we started the trip that I would walk for the first time in the middle of Missouri, I would have laughed, but that's where it happened.
Even walking was hard. It used a whole different set of muscles and we really had to push hard to get up the hills. It was crazy hard. But it was totally beautiful.
We stopped on a bridge with a great view to eat lunch and thank some more of our supporters: Carlton and Julia Reinhard, Nathan's mom and dad! Thanks so much - all of your help and encouragement has been awesome!
After about 30 miles we stopped for lunch at a little grocery store in Ellington. They had a huge selection of hay bales out front. Yep. Hay bales. At the grocery store.
As we ate our turkey sandwiches, bananas, cheese sticks, yogurt, cottage cheese, moon pie, and fig newton snack, we started to realize we weren't going to make it 80 miles. I still held out a small hope that we'd make it because we were almost out of the really hard hills and into a more gentle and long uphill and then downhill. But still, 50 miles was a long way to go and it was already 2:00.
After 25 more miles, we were both feeling pretty beat. It was obvious we weren't going to make it to Farmington (or Farmville as April kept calling it), the town we were hoping for. We were, however, at Johnson's Shut-Ins Sate Park. Weird name, but they had a campground.
The signs to the campground were pretty confusing, and actually went the opposite way that our map said to go, but we figured the signs were probably a better bet.
When we finally got to the campground entrance, there was a huge line of campers and motor homes waiting to get in! Then we realized it was probably the peak weekend for the fall foliage so of course the campground would be almost full.
The check-in office was in disarray because the person who usually ran things had left for a family emergency. After a fair bit of confusion and some riding to scout the campground for an empty site, we had a spot one away from a young couple and their little boy and dog. The spots on both sides of us were supposedly reserved, even though they were empty.
We technically met the dog first, who was curious about our bikes (or maybe it was our smell...I like to think it was the bikes). The dog's name was Sable and she "introduced" us to her masters, Jason and Cori, and their son Josiah.
After we dropped our stuff off at our campsite, we went for a walk to cool down and to go see what the camp store had. We found a cool pin and patch for April's and my bags respectively. We also picked up 30 postcards and some ice cream, then it was back to camp.
On the way back we were greeted by Sable again and we stopped to talk to our neighbors and get to know them a little better. They were really nice and even invited us to join them for dinner! Never ones to turn down food, we were pretty excited about the prospect of dinner other than ramen noodles and canned veggies!
Jason said dinner would be ready in about 45 minutes, so we used the time to set up our camp and take showers. Yay for showers!
It turns out Jason loves to cook over the fire and he had made pork chops with sweet potatoes, apples, and pears. It was all super delicious! Yum!
We learned that Jason had been a youth pastor for a while and since then had worked several jobs and was now managing an independent coffee shop. We talked for a bit about that and learned a lot of really interesting stuff about the coffee business.
The conversation then turned to camping with a 2.5 year old and parenting in general. They had some great insights to offer for when we're ready to have kids, like don't make a big deal out of little falls and things like that and the kid will learn that those things aren't a big deal. But if the parent makes a big deal out of every fall, the kid will learn to make a big deal out of it too (ie lots of crying).
Jason had to add wood to the fire several times as we talked late (for us anyway) into the night. Eventually, I was having having too much trouble keeping my eyes open, so I decided it was time to call it a night. What a cool couple! We're really glad to have met them.
Now back to our own campsite and then to bed! Thanks for reading!