The brute force attack

Last night's campout came with a bit of a scare. Sometime before midnight I heard the leaves crunching and lights. I unzippered the tent quickly to find a guy with a flashlight on one hand and the meanest shotgun I ever saw on the other. It turned out to be the owner of this patch I had selected to sleep the night. He quickly apologized for having startled me but his wife had told him she saw something funny around the corner so he had better check it out. We spent the next ten or fifteen minutes chatting before I headed back to bed. He was very kind and offered me water or a cup of coffee if I wanted but I declined. All I wanted to do was get a little rest for me tired bones.

On waking up I was to find a dozen cows silently lined up across the dirt road all of whom were intently watching my every step as I broke camp. When I finished and started pulling my bike out they stormed away as though I was the Grim Reaper coming for some steaks. I can't explain what must have gone through their minds that they found me so menacing. I was just very glad that there were no bulls around looking to confront me on this perceived outrage to their domains.

I thought I had seen the highest of Missouri yesterday but I kept trending upwards before topping out somewhere around 2,000 feet. The rolling hills continue to be hard but today it was the wind that made it a monumental struggle to put any distance behind me. On a couple of occasions the wind was so vicious that I had to pedal, and pedal with difficulty, to move downhill. In conditions like this I kept expecting a presidential motorcade to stop by to hand me a congressional Medal of Honor but was disappointed in this regard. Luckily, if that's the right word, the winds were coming mostly from the south while I was attempting to make progress westwards. It's the reason I achieved forty something miles as opposed to be blown backwards several dozen.

This is the double-edged sword of what I call the brute force attack path to Seattle. When studying the map for the next day's course I always pick the shortest possible route. While the benefit is clearly less miles to ride (which also translates into a cheaper and faster trip) the downside is that I'm taking roads which are not necessarily the ones recommended for bicycling due to grades, traffic, scenery, bike-specific facilities, etc. So far I can't complain except that I wish I had the luxury of a more leisurely approach which allowed for sightseeing local landmarks and, heh, plenty more days off for resting!

I stopped to have lunch at a KFC and several of the customers engaged me in conversation and offered me their route suggestions along with the usual good lucks and prayers. I never mind talking to strangers who show an interest even when it takes away from prime riding time. Everyone seems to have an interesting story of their own or a useful anecdote. Many jot down my web site or give me their business cards and express an interest in keeping in touch. That's a great side benefit of the trip: new friends!

Day 30