Twenty-Five: Grove City (Marshfield to Golden City)

Miles: 86
Total: 1,729

The morning a rum-heavy dark and stormy. Potential rain is paralytic. A string of storms passed through while  packing up. I waited till half-past eight, when antsiness overcame anticipation and hit the road. The skies stayed grey most of the morning, and I got caught in a couple showers but avoided a soaking. Aside the rain, cloudy mornings make for cool, pleasant riding. I was looking forward to wrapping up the Ozarks and moving on to a new state.

Shortly after stopping for a Choco TruMoo in Fair Grove, I ran into Johan, an Ent-like Dutch cyclotourist. Closer to seven feet than six, with the skin the color of an expensive mahogany coffee table, he’s 70 and left Portland, Oregon, 8 May. He says America’s enormous. Enormous mountains, enormous heat, enormous wind and enormous people. He’s enormous. We talk for a little while and compare notes on what’s coming up. He has an interesting perspective, and is curious how so many young people can afford to tour. He also finds Americans very friendly, but superficially so. “Everyone is very nice, saying hello and asking, ‘how are you?’ but they never share anything of substance.”

Past Fair Grove, it’s onto Walnut Grove, and then Ash Grove (sense a theme?), where I break for lunch at Deli Dazzle. Cold lemonade never tasted so good. Enterprising second-graders, take note. I have many quarters.

I was surprised by the number of hills today. My maps show a general elevation trend, and I expected to sneak out of the Ozarks, but Missouri wasn’t finished with me. Eighty-two miles into the day, the route turns north onto SR 37, where what’s been a brutal crosswind turns into a blessed tailwind. I’m ushered into Golden City at 20 mph. It’s no secret that you’ve got to stop at Cooky’s Cafe for pie to have the Complete TransAm Experience, and I’m relieved the cafe’s open till 8 p.m. I had a slice of Dutch apple and a slice of chocolate pecan, and noticed they’ll be open at 6 a.m. Monday morning.

I’m staying in Golden City’s excellent city park tonight. There’s a pavilion with picnic tables to sleep on, electricity, lights, bathrooms and hot shower. The park’s busy, with kids playing basketball and a father giving his son semi-abusive/character-building baseball lessons. I meet April, who lives next door. She teaches third grade and races chuck wagons for fun. The mosquitoes are out tonight.