After sleeping under adult-sized baby blankets (big, soft, warm, fluffy awesomeness!), we were feeling refreshed. Well, I was anyway. Nathan said that every time I rolled over last night, my whole bed would rock and the frame would knock on the floor, and it kept him up. I would've moved beds, but he never woke me up to tell me. I felt bad.
While I started loading the bikes, Nathan made breakfast: 12 eggs, 1 lb of sausage, 1.5 lbs of hash browns, and cheese on top. Mmmm, mmmm. I LOVE big breakfasts. :-) This is a picture of just HALF of the hash browns we ate. (This picture kind-of makes me feel like Michael Phelps...)
After breakfast, we looked at our maps and realized that we could definitely make it to Nashville before meeting Nathan's parents in Mammoth Cave, KY next weekend! We have to make about 70 miles per day, and we'll be off of the TransAmerica route (so we have to improvise our route the whole way, and we're not sure how difficult the roads and hills will be), but we think we can do it! Horray! Going to Nashville before Mammoth Cave is our preference because it adds less additional miles to our trip than going AFTER Mammoth Cave. Also, since we're in the last month of the trip, additional miles are getting harder to squeeze in, so going now is our first choice.
We planned to ride to Cape Girardeau, MO today. It's right on the Mississippi river on the border of Missouri and Illinois. We checked WarmShowers.org, and found that Jim and Renate (pronounced "Renata") offered their house to cyclists in Cape Girardeau, so we called and asked if we could stay the night with them. Renate said that there was supposed to be rain and high winds today, and she wasn't sure if we'd be able to make it, but said we were welcome to stay. Her doubts made us a little concerned, but we decided to give it a shot anyway.
Feeling happy that we had a place to stay, but knowing we had a big day ahead of us, we packed up and then ate our last two ice cream bars while we stretched (because we always have room for more food, especially if it's ice cream!).
Before we left, we shot a little video for you of the place we stayed here in Farmington, MO.
As we set out, the land was beautiful rolling hills with shallow grades - at last, we're DONE with the Ozarks!! Well, we hope we are. We'll see what kind of terrain we run into this week while we're off the established route...
We had more dogs run at us - this happens multiple times a day, everyday, now - but we stopped our bikes, and then they stopped, just like always. I don't know why it works, but it works really well, and it's worked every time so far. Must be magic.
Then we stopped for a rest break on the side of the road, and as we were taking a drink, I noticed Nathan's nose was bleeding! While we waited for it to stop, Nathan spotted something in the grass and said, "Is that five dollars?". I went over, and sure enough it was!! A five dollar bill was just laying in the grass! Awesome!
When we left, we were both riding and looking to side of the road for more loose dollar bills!!
Our next stop was at a Hardees where a big poster on the window advertised two double cheeseburgers for $3 - score! While we ordered, the lady behind the counter started asking questions about our trip, and she was so amazed at what we were doing that she went all around telling employees and customers about our ride! We were stunned that she was so stunned, but then we remembered that we were off the TransAmerica route, so people aren't used to seeing cross-country bikers like they are when we're on the route. This was cool! We were excited for more special attention all week. :-)
After our snack of 2 double cheeseburgers followed by a jar of our own apple sauce and two huge yogurts, we got back on the road. We had 50 miles to go to Cape Girardeau. Not much really happened in the last 50 miles. ...Except for the moment we suddenly found ourselves in Africa! Check it out.
It was windy, but it was also beautiful. We saw so many pretty places. Fall colors are out in force, and it was really, really pretty!
We stopped at a gas station for our next meal, and they had ice cream - woot! So after we ate, we got some. Duh. You could get a 12oz cup full (overflowing a little, even) for just $1.59!! We each got a cup, and it was rrreeaallyy good, but I couldn't finish mine. For the first time on the whole trip, it was just too much ice cream for me. Nathan finished his and had some of mine, but in the end, we decided to just throw my remaining ice cream away. Sadness.
Then we called Jim and Renate for directions to their house. They were out on a big bike ride today, and they thought they would get home the same time we arrived. They ended up beating us there, but just by a little. When we pulled into their driveway, we were so happy to be there! It was our first day off route, and we made it, and it didn't even rain!
Jim and Renate are really great. They invited us in and did just about everything they could to pamper and care for us. Amazing! They told us to put our bikes in the kitchen. When we did, we noticed one of their bikes leaning against the wall, and another one above it hanging from the ceiling...in the KITCHEN!
They are hosting another biker right now, too, who is also named Jim. Jim (the guest) and Jim (the host) have known each other for years. They are both extreme cyclists and got to know each other at extreme bike events where cyclists ride something like 200 miles in one day. Woah.
While we were taking showers, Renate prepared bratwurst, pasta salad, baked beans, bread, and brownies for us for dinner! It was delicious! We talked and ate, and after dinner we talked and blogged. All in all, we were up visiting with Jim, Renate, and their big, fluffy cat, Sinatra, until 11pm!!
While we talked, they told us our route tomorrow towards Nashville would be good for the first 60 miles, but then very un-bike-friendly as we crossed the Ohio River and would continue to be very un-bike-friendly as we rode through Paducah, KY. Renate offered to ride the 60 miles to the Ohio River with us, and then Jim offered to drive out after work, load our bikes into their SUV, and drive us across the river, through Paducah, and to a campground where we could stay the night! When they offered that to us, I'm pretty sure my jaw hit the floor. I couldn't believe they were willing to go SO FAR out of their way for us!! They didn't even know us really. It was unbelievably amazing.
We weren't sure if we wanted to accept their offer because we found another route we could ride that seemed to be faster. After talking about the two routes over with them, we decided to sleep on it and decide in the morning.
Before we all went to bed, Jim brought out a plate of ham and bread, and we all ate a bedtime snack while sipping on some of their red wine. It's really just indescribable how great it was.
After feeling totally, totally, totally spoiled, we wandered to the basement where a super-comfortable bed awaited us with lots of warm blankets and puffy pillows. Ahhh...goooooood night.
(I know you're jealous of my tan lines, by the way. I know.)