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John Trower's Katy Trail Newspaper Articles

By John Trower

A few years back, John Trower wrote a series of newspaper articles about his Katy Trail experiences.  We could not get electronic copies of these articles; they were scanned from photocopies.  Therefore, they may be hard to read in some places, but they are good articles and definitely worth the effort to read!

Also, you can read John's journal from his Katy Trail trips, just below.

Series for theSt Charles Journal, published May & June 2001
Day 1: Day, Night Katy Trail Bike Trip Ends in a Soggy Tent
Day 2: Beauty Abounds on Katy Trail near Rocheport
Day 2: Beauty Abounds on Katy Trail near Rocheport, continued
Day 3: Trail Passes Jefferson City
Day 3: Trail Passes Jefferson City, continued
Days 4 & 5: Gramma's House Has 'Little House' Feel
Days 4 & 5: Gramma's House Has 'Little House' Feel, continued

Rails to Become Jogging Trails - Article written for Univ of MO newspaper in 1986 about creation of the Katy Trail


John's Journals

Katy Trail Journal:

Date: 1st week of July, 1998

Who/Distance: Dad, Carl and I rode from Defiance to Augusta, MO and back (15 miles). I rode Cathy’s girl bike, as I didn’t have my own yet. We ate at Mt. Pleasant winery picnic area overlooking vineyards.

Date: Labor Day, 1999

Overview: Dad, Mom, Dave and I went to St. Charles and took pictures of Train Depot, train, and caboose on Katy Trail.

Date: October 9, 1999

Who/Distance: Dad and I rode from St. Charles to Defiance, MO and back. (43.7 miles!)

Overview: Ate at a picnic table at General Store in Defiance. Bought chips, Gatorade at store brought our own sandwiches. A black cat jumped on picnic table, caressed me and mooched for chips! Talked to nice man in store and woman at bike rental. Took lots of pix. Was dark last hour of 7 ½ hour trip, as we didn’t allow enough daylight!

Weather: Looked threatening most of day but only got 2 drops and sun was out at times. Kept crowd down. We almost didn’t go ourselves.

Pain: Hands, wrists, forearms most sore, some finger numbness, legs hurt, rear end hurt slightly

Wild Life: Saw 2 deer on way back in distance, took pictures, they ran off, saw a big brown snake right between the 2 bikes as we rode side by side (thought it was a stick until the last second when it wiggled around!), saw a turtle (almost road kill) and a frog.

Interesting Sights: Extremely bright green scummy swamp off Missouri River on left of Trial going westward. Took a pic.

Saw a log cabin with animal farm! Took pic of cabin.

Took pic of beautiful waterfall under a bridge at St. Charles’ Trailhead Brewery

Saw Station Casino

Took pic of brand new Family Arena in St. Charles

Went under highway 70 and 40 bridges (took pix at 40 of new bridge and remains of ancient one!)

Took pix of huge bluffs by Trail and of Missouri River

 

 

SEDALIA TO ST. CHARLES TRIP:

 

DAY 1: SAT. Oct. 16, 1999 (“Meeting the Mooreheads”):

Dad and I got up at 5:30am and drove to the Kirkwood Amtrak Station with Mom. It wasn’t open yet! Mom stayed for a few minutes and then left. The man working at the train station (after it was open) said, “Did they tell you your handlebars need to be parallel with your bike?” (That’s what my Katy Trail Guidebook said but we specifically asked Amtrak on the phone and they said that wasn’t true!) When we told him that wouldn’t be possible with my bike, he didn’t seem that concerned. All they did was have us throw the bikes in the overhead luggage rack!

After Mom left, Aunt Betty showed up to see us off. She asked, “Where’s Nancy?” Mom later said she felt like a bad wife/mother when Aunt Betty saw us off and she didn’t!

 

The train was almost 20 minutes late. When it came, Aunt Betty helped us with our stuff and it is a good thing she did, as they don’t waste any time. Aunt Betty nearly went to Sedalia with us but she got off the train just in the nick of time! I had trouble and needed help from the conductor or whatever he was getting my heavy bike up into the train.

The train ride was sort of neat. We went through Washington, Hermann (where most of the passengers got off because it was an Octoberfest Saturday!), Jefferson City, and an unscheduled stop to change crews. I bought some coffee on the train.

Five minutes before we arrived in Sedalia, they started getting us ready to get off the train with our bikes. We were standing right at the door as it was stopping. (In fact, the guy had the top of 2 doors already open while train was still at full speed!) The instant the train stopped, they literally threw our bikes and us off and as the train was leaving the station. As it left, the man was yelling something about a bike shop that could direct us to the trail. Suddenly, we were all alone in the Sedalia depot. It was an abandoned ghost town. Not one person was there but us!

We put our bags on our bikes and started looking for the Katy Trail. A cop car stopped and the cop gave us directions. We kept riding on these Sedalia car roads, following arrows to the trail. We even asked one local lady for her help. We noticed the arrows were pointing opposite directions. That confused us until we realized that we WERE on the Katy Trail (at least a detour for it) and the arrows depended on if you were going east or west! That Sedalia part of the trail isn’t developed yet.

Finally, after 4.1 miles, we found the actual Katy Trail proper. The beginning was a lot of barren fields and cows and tended to be uphill (slight but annoyingly consistent grade). We only saw a couple of souls around this stretch. We saw a lot of cows. One cow appeared to be looking at me with an attitude like, “What? You never saw a cow before? Take a picture, it’ll last longer!” So I did just that. I took his picture!

Dad complained a lot on this western end of the trail about all the uphill parts. It bothered me but not as much.

We came to the first Trail Head at Beaman. There wasn’t much there.

Then we arrived in Clifton City. It was at this parking lot that we first met the Mooreheads, a nice, friendly, athletic family of 4 from St. Charles, MO. It was the bearded husband (Kevin), the wife Margaret, and 2 daughters (Kristin, about 12, and Brittney, about 8).

We started talking and realized that we were both doing the same thing: Sedalia to St. Charles. Also, we were both disappointed there was no good way to get to Clinton to truly do the whole trail. We were also both disappointed in the drab fall colors. Normally, the middle of October would be peak colors but 1999 was such a dry summer that I’ve never seen a fall with such drab colors. Having said that, the trail was still gorgeous and there were some autumn colors. It’s just that any other year would have been even more mind bogglingly beautiful!

While we were talking with the Mooreheads, a family of 4 going west arrived. It was a young man, his twin sisters, and the older mother. This was such a jockey family that they usually ride 65 miles per day! One of the twins got a kick out of my bike radio! I almost took a group pic of the Mooreheads, this other family, and us but I didn’t. The jock family then headed west and Dad and I headed east.

We would see the Mooreheads a lot more, them passing us or vice versa for the next couple days. Eventually, we got to Pilot Grove and decided to eat lunch. There were about 3 places to eat but a local recommended Paula’s Taste of Home Café so we ate there. The menus said, “Pilot Grove Café” so it may have changed ownership or something.

Guess who walked in shortly after us? The Mooreheads! We ordered a Mushroom and Swiss burger and fries and so did Mrs. Moorehead! Dad left his antibiotics here (he needed it from a dental visit he just had). (An interesting tidbit, Mrs. Dee Miller, an old neighbor who works at the bakery, is originally from the tiny town of Pilot Grove!)

We then hit the Prairie Lick Trail Head but not much there.

As we approached Boonville, the trail started going downhill which was a welcome change of pace and we were flying along! Just prior to that, a black lab-type dog had chased me from what I presume was his property for miles! We were going about 10 miles per hour and he stayed on our tails! Eventually, we lost him but a few miles later, the Mooreheads caught up with us and guess who was with them? The black lab! He then ran with the whole gang another couple miles and even chased a deer once!

Around this time, we crossed over highway 70 on a bridge.

Near Boonville, all hell broke loose. First, I changed gears and my chain got messed up and my pedals locked. Dad was able to fix it in a couple minutes (even in the slightly fading light) but that was enough time for the Mooreheads to get ahead of us. Then, after the Boonville depot, there was a road detour that was confusing in the dark but we figured it out.

Then we reached the Missouri River. A new bridge carries cars and bikes across. There is a special walkway for bikers. Unfortunately, it was now dark and we could barely see the river. I took a photo anyway. Crossing the bridge, the oncoming cars kept blinding us with their headlights. It was scary.

After crossing the bridge, there was an arrow pointing to the left but there were 2 roads. First we took the second one which was just a regular car road with some Katy type gravel on the shoulder. We decided that couldn’t be right so we went back. I then noticed the arrow pointed more to the first road, which looked exactly like the Katy Trail. We took that until it turned into a regular paved road and we decided that also was wrong so we went back again! We tried reading the Katy Guidebook in the pitch dark with my tiny flashlight but it showed it going straight on the highway! Talk about confusion!

We decided to cross the highway and ask someone at the store there. We were on this outer road when Dad suddenly stopped right in front of me! I slammed on my brakes and just barely missed running into him! There was a barrier right in front of him and a drop-off after that! That was terrifying! It was just too dark to see anything until it was right in front of you!

We found another way to get to the store. Dad asked the man for directions and he told him the very first way we tried! (Later, we found out BOTH ways would have worked as the Mooreheads went the other way!) Talk about wasted time! So we went back and took our original road.

It was so dark that 2 or 3 times, I nearly rode into the barricades that are on the trail before road intersections! (The only way to ride through the barricades is to ride straight down the center of the trail.)

By the time we got to New Franklin, it had started to rain. We walked into the Katy Roundhouse Restaurant and I was struck by a) how it was packed! b) People were dressed nice, some even in suits! c) We looked out of place in our bike helmets, bike clothes, old nerdy glasses, rained on, etc. Everyone was looking at us like we didn’t have reservations or meet the dress code! I didn’t realize it was that fancy and that you needed reservations. The décor inside this 100-year-old train décor was classic and it all had to do with trains.

John James, the proprietor, asked what could he do for us. Dad said, “Dinner and lodging”. James said, “Lodging I can do, dinner I can’t, we’re full.” Then he added, “But I’d be glad to order you a pizza and my wife will go pick it up.” !!!!

So we rented a tent, blankets and pillows and he ordered a pizza from Casey’s. We went down to the campsite. Suddenly, we heard a woman’s voice, “Is that our friends?!” It was the Mooreheads!! They said to camp right next to them so we did.

By this time, the rain was coming down hard in the pitch black as we struggled to put up the tent. Luckily, Margaret and her daughter helped us and we got it put up. Then the rain stopped. That was the only 20 minutes of rain we got the entire week despite a forecast of rain all week. Everyday was sunny with a high temperature around 60 degrees. (Except Sat. which was cloudy and 60 degrees)

The inside of our tent was slightly damp and cramped. We went up to the Katy Roundhouse office and met Kim James. Dad asked, “Do you have a pizza for us?” and she looked at us like we were from Mars. Apparently, John forgot to tell his wife the plan. But she found out and Casey’s said it would be another 10 minutes. She was nice and we talked a bit. Then she left to get the pizza and we looked at pictures on the wall of what the depot had looked like 100 years ago!

We ate our pizza in the tent and then tried to sleep in blankets with tomato sauce, etc. on them. Did I mention it was a bit damp and cramped? I slept a tad but mostly tossed and turned. I was very tired but just couldn’t get comfortable. I got maybe 4 hours sleep.

 

DAY 2: SUN. Oct. 17, 1999 (“Tipi”):

We woke up at 6:30am. It was pretty cold but clear skies. We took showers at the Roundhouse and returned our tent/blankets to John James. We had a camper take a photo of us with the Moorehead family. Then we hit the trail.

We wore bike shorts, sweats, bike shirt, sweatshirt, jacket, etc. but we took off layering as the day grew warmer. We repeated that ritual every single day. It turned out to be a gorgeous day: clear, sunshine, and no rain at all. It was a perfect biking temperature of about 60 degrees.

All day, we kept passing or being passed by the Mooreheads. We passed through New Franklin. There was not much there. We saw a deer between New Franklin and Rocheport.

Then we hit Rocheport. Just before the trailhead, we rode through the “only tunnel on the Katy Trail” (there are others but they must be new or too small to count). This tunnel was built in the 1890’s! We ate lunch at the Word of Mouth Café, which was the 1st restaurant ever in Rocheport. Guess who strolled in 15 minutes later just as I joked they would? The Mooreheads!! I ate a grilled chicken sandwich and Dad ate a beef brisket. We visited an antique store. I took pix of Pebble Publishing, which must be the home of Brett Dufur who wrote the Katy Trail Guidebook. The house was on the town’s brochure of things to see! I also took a picture of an old boxcar converted into a Bed & Breakfast cottage! I also took pix of a 150 year old church and other quaint, picturesque places like the Trailside Café and Bike Shop/Rental (where I bought a Katy Trail shirt) and the depot. Dad called and made reservations for the Smokehouse at Gramma’s House in Marthasville. The Smokehouse is a Little House on the Prairie type place with rustic feel and loft beds. (We ended up with other guests the Olsons; remember the family that owned the General Store on Little House? That bratty family was the Olsons! Isn’t that more than a bit odd?) Then we hit the trail again.

This stretch around Rocheport is the most beautiful of all with the river on right and the hugest bluffs on the left. If you aren’t careful, you can so admire the bluffs on the left that you hit a soft shoulder on right and into the river you go! This would be especially easy to do in the dark!

We started listening to the Rams game on the radio as they trounced Atlanta 41-13! They are now 5-0.

We then saw the Lewis and Clark Cave 4 miles east of Rocheport. (We also took pix of 2 Lewis & Clark campsites) We took pix of it and us. There was a running stream inside the cave that runs out the entrance. We even saw the maroon Indian petroglyth of a crescent shape V and a dot, which is said to be an indicator of the water source below (the stream) so I took a pic of that.

The Missouri River appears for the first time (except for crossing it at Boonville) at Rocheport. It is an awesome sight to behold and a mile wide at times! There are now bluffs to the left of the trail and they are about as tall as they get along this stretch. It was gorgeous.

Then we saw the beginning of the MKT Spur to Columbia. That’s 9 miles so it would be 18 miles round trip and we didn’t have time. That journey is for another day. (I did run a lot on part of the MKT Fitness Trail in the late ’80’s when I attended Mizzou but I never took it all the way down to the Katy Trail which probably still had railroad tracks on it then.)

Right after that, we hit McBaine where we saw (guess who?) the Mooreheads at the trailhead.

Then we came into Easely and saw the Mooreheads at Cooper’s Landing (a camping place right on the river). I recognized Cooper from his picture in the guidebook. We bought granola bars and soda and exchanged phone numbers with the Mooreheads. As always, I took photos.

Then we hit the Easely General Store/Camping, which said, “Open” but was closed. There was an adorable sweet shy beagle type dog in front. I took a picture of him with the Mooreheads.

We got back on the Katy and then saw a hawk or eagle fly right in front of us and then over the river. It had a huge wing span whatever it was! There are supposed to be a lot of eagles in this area and one place is even called Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area. (We also saw a black snake today.)

We arrived in Wilton and right away we saw the Riverview Trader’s General Store/Tipi Camping. It was like you come around the corner and suddenly go back in time. Just 10 feet from the trail are 4 HUGE and 1 smaller tipi!! The Mooreheads were already there!! We both ended up staying there. (Even though the Mooreheads said they planned to take until Friday to finish rather than our Wed. they kept going as many miles as us and staying at same places, eating at same restaurants, I told Dad we must have been their idols!)

At first it was totally cool because I had never been in a tipi before and didn’t realize they were so huge! It was much roomier than our tent had been! We had a warm fire going in middle of the tipi. The Indian lady that co-runs the place with her Indian husband rent us some blankets, 2 mattresses and 1 pillow even though they don’t officially rent anything. She said it would cost extra to do that but when Dad asked how much he owed her, she said, “Whatever you think”! He gave her an extra $3.

It started out very cozy. We ate junk food from the store for dinner, as there was no restaurant until the next town. The store is run by Osage Indians and sells Indian jewelry and stuff like that. One guy in the store looked like an Indian that just stepped out of an old Western movie!

I slept well from 10pm until 2am. The temperature had plummeted to 30 degrees! It was the year’s first hard freeze! We could see our breath and there was frost on our bikes! After 2 hours of putting on as much clothing and firewood as possible, I finally feel asleep. The Mooreheads didn’t even have a fire in their tipi and may have been freezing! We never saw them again.

 

DAY 3: MON. Oct. 18, 1999 (“Come On In!” AKA “Is this really happening?!”):

We woke up at 5:30am. We took showers at the Riverview Trader’s Store where there is:

a) only 1 bathroom for campers and all who live there

b) no lock on the door

c) A second door with only a curtain with a room full of Indians chatting away on the other side!

d) A portion of 1 wall where anyone over 6 feet can easily see in!

e) You never know whom you are walking in on or who is walking in on you!

The Indian lady was still in there when we came in. She said, “Just a minute” and when she came out, she said, “You’re up early!” I think she thought she would beat everyone by showering so early. Wrong!

We got on the freezing cold and foggy trail. Soon my fingers were numb with pain in a frostbite type situation! We were totally bundled up but still in pain finger-wise. It was an emergency situation where we simply had to get somewhere warm to thaw out.

Finally, we got to Hartsburg (3.6 miles from Wilton) to look for a place to get inside and get some hot food and coffee in us (especially since we hadn’t eaten a proper dinner the night before!) It looked like nothing was open yet. We saw the Globe Hotel Bed and Breakfast, a restored Hotel from 1896. We tried the door but it was locked like everything else. Then we saw a lady across the street taking out her trash and Dad yelled, “Miss, is there anywhere in town to get breakfast?” and she says, “No, there should be but there isn’t.” Just then, the door opened at the Globe Hotel and a woman yelled, “Was someone trying this door?” I yelled, “Yeah, we were just wondering if there was anywhere in town to get breakfast?” and in a friendly voice she yelled, “COME ON IN!”

It was the most welcome words imaginable and the turning point of our trip. Within 2 minutes, we were in a warm house drinking hot coffee/tea, OJ, eating muffins and rolls with Jeanette (the nice proprietor) and Dave (her guest). Dad said to me, “John, is this really happening?” We couldn’t believe our eyes. It was like a dream.

We had good conversation and told them about our adventures, especially freezing in the tipi. Dave said, “I was perfectly warm here!” Dad asked what we owed and Jeanette said, “Whatever it was worth to you”! He gave her $12. By the time we hit the trail, the sun had broke and it had warmed up considerably. Later in the day, layers would come off as it again reached at least 55 degrees! It ended up being yet another perfect sunny day for cycling!

We left Hartsburg (where 30,000 people had been the weekend before for the annual pumpkin festival!) and hit the trail. We went through Claysville. There was no trailhead there but there was an abandoned Claysville Store. Another ghost town.

Then we were passed by Dave (the guy from the Globe Hotel). He said, “Beautiful, isn’t it?”

Shortly thereafter, he stopped and as we caught up with him he said, “There’s a picture for you.” It was a bunch of vultures in a tree by the foggy Missouri River. I took it. Dave then asked if we had seen the deer that had run behind us on the trail. We hadn’t as you tend to only see what is ahead of you. Dave went on ahead of us and we never saw him again.

We then hit Jefferson City (well North Jefferson AKA Cedar City to be exact, Jeff City is south of the river) but we could see the state Capital Building and I took a picture of it.

We went through Wainwright and took a photo of an old white church.

Then we went through Tebbets. We went to the Turner’s Store that still says “Bank” and has a bank vault in it though it hasn’t been a bank since 1929! We met Mrs. Turner, the 96-year-old woman who runs the place! We recognized her from the Guidebook and Post-Dispatch articles. She was mentally sharp as could be! We ordered coffee, soda, chips, and sandwiches with her homemade mustard. They were delicious. There was a younger lady working there too and she was very friendly. We asked if they had AA batteries but they only had 1 (?!) and they had no 35 mm film. We took pix and left.

A black cat crossed our path just before Mokane even though we tried hard to pass him on the left. He just stood there in the middle of the trail and at the last instant ran across our path like he was pulling a joke on us!

At Mokane, we found a good general store where we bought film, AA batteries, nutragrain bars, and food for dinner. I also took a photo of Dad looking out the bars of this ancient jail. It looked just like the Silver Dollar City jail but this was real!

Dad’s jacket then got caught in his bike spokes (black cat?) but he fixed it. We then cruised into Steedman. There was no trailhead there but I took a pic of S.O.B.’s (Steedman’s Only Bar). It’s also about their only building!

Then we hit Portland, MO. I took a picture of the Riverfront Bar and Grill.

Then we arrived in Bluffton. We first saw the Rendleman House b/b where Dave said he was staying. The lady at Gramma’s House told Dad it was horrible and it was good we were staying at Steamboat Junction. Jeanette said Rendleman was an old hippie with a lot of Dalmatians. Sure enough, there was a “Beware of dogs” sign and lots of Dalmatians barking like mad when we arrived. Rendleman had a long ponytail and was friendly as he gave Dad directions to Steamboat Junction.

We found it and the nice couple showed us to our cottage, the Sugar Shack. It was really nice and heated with beds! Also, there was a restored red barn with 2 huge showers. The only downside was that the bathroom was a portapotty. Rozanna Benz told us we had the showers to ourselves but Dad almost walked in on a young lady. It turned out 2 campers had arrived after us!

 

DAY 4: TUE. Oct. 19, 1999 (“Little House on the Prairie”):

We got up at 6:45am and had a large delicious breakfast in the main house. It was the best breakfast of the trip with eggs, bacon, French toast, OJ, coffee, tea) with Rozanna Benz (proprietor) and the Olsons (houseguests). Peter and Ariel Olsen were from Texas and originally from Connecticut. They were also headed to Gramma’s House in Marthasville that day. (We were staying in a “Little House on the Prairie” type house with the Olsens who were the bratty family on that TV show!)

I took a few photos of Steamboat Junction before breakfast. It is a great place!

We hit the trail about 9:04am (125 on the odometer.) It was only slightly cool starting out and the day grew into the most perfect weather yet: sunny and a high of 63 degrees! We kept removing clothing layers again.

We came to Rhineland. We got air at Overkamp’s Garage and went to Gosen Store for water, soda & Gatorade. Dad called Mom on the payphone and left a message that all was well. We took pix as always. We hit the trail and somewhere along here saw a deer galloping in the woods.

Then we went through McKittrick. That’s about where a bridge leads to Hermann but

a) We didn’t have time

b) You need a shuttle to safely get across (although the Olsens did it anyway on bikes by holding up traffic! Dangerous!)

The Olsens passed us just before McKittrick. They were to the second half of our trip what the Mooreheads were to the first: the family we kept seeing and staying at the same place 2 nights in a row.

We later saw a couple who looked very similar to the Olsens and Dad asked, “How did you get behind us?” They looked perplexed and we realized that it wasn’t them after all. We explained to them later the misunderstanding but after that we were drinking our water bottles and the man asked, “What’s in that bottle you’re drinking?”

At one point, we finally saw the “Be alert and maintain progress” sign where the adjoining landowner was suing. We stopped and took pictures; I blasted my horn and radio. A good time was had by all.

Then we went to Treloar. This was 16.4 miles away and seemed to take forever! This must have been the longest distance between trailheads. This was the first day I felt the “accumulation effect” in my leg muscles from 4 continuous days of heavy duty biking. I also had a slight headache so I took a lot of aspirin. As usual, the Icy Hot was flowing like crazy.

At Treloar, we ate at Our Place Restaurant and Bar. I got a Philly Steak sandwich and Dad got a double cheeseburger. We both got fries. It was delicious but then anything is when you’ve been biking up an appetite all day!

After we ate, we kind of slept on the picnic tables outside and basked in the sunlight. It was tough but we got moving again.

We hit Peers. The Glosemeyer Store was closed on Tuesdays. We took a pic anyway. There were 3 friendly cats there greeting us in front.

At one point around here, we saw a town called “Gore”! Yes, there is both a Clinton and a Gore on the Katy Trail!! Right by the Gore sign was a huge bunch of haystacks where we took a pic and rested against it. It was so relaxing that it was very hard to get back in the saddle!

But we did and we caught up with the Olsons just before Marthasville. They entered the town just ahead of us and we passed the main drag of town without taking pix or checking out the cool places like Scenic Cycles or the antique shops. We asked the man who owns Scenic Cycles (who we recognized from the guidebook) for directions to Gramma’s House. His son started to answer but the man said, “He asked me! Go back in the store!” Then he whines, “Teenagers!” and proceeds to give us directions that sucked! We should have taken them from the kid! (Scenic Cycles picked up the Olsens from St. Louis airport and shuttled them to Portland to start their trip)

We were lost for a while but we eventually got directions from a young girl on her front porch. We had no idea it was so far from the Trail. We drove on some busy ,hilly and scary roads! Gramma’s House is a mile or so off the Trail on a hill. It’s very close to the Daniel Boone Monument, where he was originally buried before his body was moved to Kentucky. The locals maintain they took the wrong body and Boone is still there!

Gramma’s House was great! The proprietor, Jim Jones, was nice. His wife was visiting her sister. The Smokehouse cottage had a classic rustic “Little House on the Prairie” feel to it with loft beds. It had a bathroom with a tub. There was even a fridge in the Smokehouse with sodas in it. There were “Little House” books there. There was a big tree swing over the big hill in front. There was another cottage with a modern look, The Playhouse. Gramma’s House itself is a restored 160-year-old farmhouse.

Jim Jones said another couple was coming and we said, “I know. We met them. They arrived in Marthasville the same time as us and should be here soon.” Jones was nice enough to drive us into town to eat and sightsee. We ate “the best burgers in town” at a bar & grill right on the trail. The name escapes me. I took pix of it, the winery, antique shops, Scenic Cycles, an old caboose turned frozen custard stand called Choo Choo’s Snacks on the Tracks, etc.

We called Jones and he picked us up in front of Loretta’s Restaurant. We rode in his pickup back to Gramma’s House. We ate cookies, drank soda, relaxed, wrote in this journal, took a hot bath, etc.

 

DAY 5: WED. Oct. 20, 1999 (“The Final Day” AKA “The Home Stretch”):

We woke up at 6:30am after a very good night’s sleep at The Smokehouse. We ate breakfast at the main house with the Olsons. We drank coffee and had a delicious omelet. Jones gave us directions for a better way to get to the trail, which happened to go right by Daniel Boone’s gravesite.

We hit the road and took pix of Daniel Boone’s grave and then got back on the Katy. We saw a shape coming toward us in the fog that looked like Big Foot. When we got close, it was just a friendly looking man.

The first town we saw was Dutzow. Washington was across the river but the bridge had no walkway. We took pictures of Dutzow Deli and Blumenhof Winery.

Then we went to Augusta. We saw the Olsens there. We strolled through town and bought more 35mm film at Johanna’s General Store. We also bought donuts at Kountry Korner bakery. I took pix of Augusta and Mount Pleasant Wineries.

In the parking lot, Dad said, “THAT”S ETTY”S CAR!” It was our former neighbor/real estate agent Etty Masoumy’s SUV with the personalized “ETTY” license plate! Dad left a note on her windshield about how she took the easy way and “John & I rode from Sedalia to St. Charles”.

Later, on the trail, Dad said “hi” to a lady passing us the other way (you pretty much always say “hi” to anyone you see) and when I also said hi she says, “Oh, hi John!” Then I realized it was Etty! We figured she was there on business or for lunch or something. We didn’t picture her biking! Then Dad saw Joan Dewey, an old neighbor from Turkey Bend and also a Gundaker agent. It must have been Gundaker Day on the Katy Trail.

We hit Matson and saw Matson Station; a place set up in a small house behind the main house that claims to have “air, maps, cool drinks, souvenir shop, etc.” I couldn’t tell if it was open on this day or not but were anxious to get home.

We rode to Defiance. There we ate at Terry and Kathy’s Bar & Grill. I had a great St. Louis-style thin pizza and Dad had a great grilled chicken sandwich. Dad called Mom and told her to be in St. Charles around 5-5:30pm to pick us up.

We hit the trail and went through Weldon Spring. There were not even restrooms there.

We used the bathroom at Greens Bottom trailhead. There we saw a guy running shirtless when it had been a hard freeze just a couple days before!

On the way to St. Charles, we saw woman galloping on a horse with her 2 dogs running behind her. She kept yelling at her dogs to keep up but they couldn’t! They were trying but they were so tired and 100 yards behind. I felt sorry for them. Besides, horses are not legal there and this one left a huge pile!

Finally, we arrived in St. Charles! After 202 miles, our journey was complete. Mom was there at the finish line even though it was only 4:30pm. We took pix, loaded up the car, and went home where Mom had dinner and a cake waiting for us! The cake was cute. It had 2 bikers, trees, rocks, a “Katy Trail” sign, etc. and said, “Welcome Home Dad and John!”

We called Aunt Betty and Dave. Aunt Mary called Dad.

The trip was even better than I had dreamed it would be. I may do it again someday. At the very least, I will do the Clinton stretch and the Columbia Spur. Stay tuned…

 

Sun. late June, 2000 MACHENS ATTEMPT:

Dad and I tried to ride the St. Charles to Machens stretch (as we thought it might be open by now). We parked in the lot by the gazebo in St. Charles and rode east a bit. Soon we saw a cyclist heading west and thought that was a good sign. We asked him how far the trail went. He said, “See that sign? That’s the end.” (As he pointed to a sign about 100 feet away!) We rode a bit past the sign, even though there started to be knee-high weeds! Then we rode on roads that were pretty much right by the trail. We saw one huge sinkhole that would swallow a city block! An elderly adjoining landowner drove by us slowly in his pickup, giving us the evil eye! A huge Akita chased us ferociously and almost caught me! We saw an abandoned house with a tree collapsed through it. Eventually, we gave up and rode back.

Tue. July 4, 2000 SEDALIA TO CLINTON:

Dad and I hit the road at 6am. We stopped for an all you can eat breakfast at the Iron Skillet in Kingdom City. Then we reached Sedalia. On highway 70, we passed under the Katy Bridge that we took a pic from last fall! In fact, we also crossed the trail on highway 70 at Rocheport and 40 crosses it too.

We saw the state fairgrounds in Sedalia and that is where we hopped on the Katy and headed west. At first it was overcast and not all that hot. That would soon change. We passed only a few cyclists, usually the same group several times as with the Moorheads. We saw 2 horses, as this is the only equestrian part of the Katy Trail.

The first trailhead was Green Ridge. There we stopped in a ceramics store and Casey’s General Store and got some soda. Then we hit the trail.

I was able to get the Cardinal game on my radio. (They trounced the Reds 14-3!) The next town was Windsor. There we saw the patriotic 1776-1976 American flag caboose. How appropriate for Independence Day! We ate lunch in Windsor.

Pretty soon the sun came out and it was in the ‘90’s(heat index 100). It was humid and we were riding against a wind. I got sun burnt on face and arms (I forgot the lotion!). It became brutal and draining.

Then he hit Calhoun (aka Jug Town), although it was 2.5 miles further west than indicated in the guidebook and, consequently, so was Clinton!

We saw 3 snakes late in the day and I ran over one of them!

We saw 2 kids in some motorized go-cart type thing flying down the trail illegally at high rates of speed!

Finally, we saw the green caboose and knew we were in Clinton. I insisted we go the extra 100 yards or so to see the literal very end, so we did.

In Clinton, we had to ride on a busy highway for 1.5 miles to get to the Day’s Inn. It was dangerous because there was a bridge with no fence or anything and another busy highway far below if a car were to push you over the edge to your certain death.

By the time we entered the hotel, I was almost physically ill from heat exhaustion. We cranked on the AC, ate a pizza and crashed. (Missing Clinton’s famous annual old time 4th of July celebration the guidebook talked about)

Wed. July 5, 2000 CLINTON TO SEDALIA:

We got up at 5am and rode back on another hot day. We talked to a couple of friendly locals in Jug Town and saw about 3 bikers on the trail. We saw a cow standing by itself in the middle of a creek and a cow by itself walking down the side of a road. We were going to get ice cream at this place called Irene’s but they weren’t open yet. They had just changed the hours from 6am to 10am.

We got back to Sedalia, ate lunch at Hardees, and drove back to St. Louis.

Sun. June 3, 20001 MKT Spur Attempt:

Dad and I tried to ride the MKT Spur in Columbia. Unfortunately, the weather forecast was wrong and it poured rain all day. We rode the first mile or so and then we took shelter under a tunnel. We were waiting for the rain to stop but it never did. After an hour or so, we rode ahead anyway to the trailhead. Somehow, we got last from each other. Dad had been ahead of me and he rode past the trailhead for some reason. Then I stopped at the trailhead for a minute and then got back on the trail to try to “catch up” with Dad. Unbeknownst to me, he must have already turned back looking for me and was heading back to the tunnel. At this point, I was literally shaking in the cold miserable downpour. To make a long story short, Dad eventually caught up with me and we agreed to head back.

When I got to the tunnel, I saw it had completely flooded! Dad was walking his bike through at least 3 feet of water and he had only begun to enter the tunnel! Needless to say, we had to turn around and cross over the highway instead. I had joked earlier that in a few minutes the whole tunnel would be flooded and that’s exactly what happened!

We need to pick a nicer day to do the rest of the MKT Spur. As usual, stay tuned...



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