Welcome to the Ozarks!

We’ve been without internet for a few days here, so now that we’re in Farmington, well be able to catch up.
We left Alisa and the little town of Ash Grove on Friday morning and headed off in earnest for the Ozarks, the riding was great, as we passed through a landscape of wheat, corn and hay fields. It is lovely and green here in Missouri, and very wooded. There are lots (I mean LOTS!) of woodlands in this state, far more than in Kansas, even more than eastern Kansas. But along with those forests come hills. The terrain is rolling, down one hill with the next rearing up to greet you. The climbs are never very long- typically less than a quarter mile – but can be steep, sometimes so steep that it is nearly impossible to ride up them. So, we developed a new riding strategy for coping with this new type of riding, that being to use part of the downhill to gather momentum (remember, we’re pulling trailers here….), and then to use that inertia to get up the hill in front of us. Usually the momentum would get you a portion of the way up, maybe 1/3 or so.
So, we had a hilly 84 miles to Hartville, and set up camp on the lawn in front of the courthouse. That night (Friday) a group of partiers blasted loud music (country is the favored genre here…), and practiced launching fireworks on through until about 2 am, at which point I called the police from my tent and within 20 minutes they were all on their way home. Thank you police! Next morning we were on the road by 8, headed for the town of Eminence.
Same kind of riding here. Very hilly, very green, no shoulder, but drivers very courteous and willing to wait for a safe moment to pass on by. Eminence is a river town. That is to say, it is located at the confluence of two rivers, and in the summer attracts loads of Missourians who come to swim and tube and raft. So, Eminence had a much stronger tourist-based economy, and had very few boarded up storefronts so typical of the other towns we have visited. We camped at a private campground (had to pay for the first time in weeks), and were super surprised to learn that the 4th of July fireworks were set for that evening! So, we enjoyed a fireworks show on June 30th.
Here’s the thing – there must have been 3000 people watching this show, most of them having spent the day out on the river (read drinking and partying), but when we awoke the next morning, the park/campground was SPOTLESS. It was absolutely remarkable. So different from California, where crews of workers must arrive next morning to clean up. This crowd did it all themselves, or more likely, never made a mess in the first place. Which reminds me to note here that the quantity of trash and litter on the roadside in Missouri and also Kansas is far, far less than in California. Strange, yes? California – progressive, environmental, hip. – but not so with it to not throw trash out the car window……
So, Sunday we left Eminence early, with the goal of making it to Farmington. Somewhere around mile 65 I abandoned any hope that the hills might fade away, and forced myself to accept the reality that there will ALWAYS be another hill. We made Farmington about 8pm, after a ride of 94 miles with 6200 feet of climbing, some of that through a lightening storm. Our reward was the most swank cycling hostel on the TransAm, complete with leather couches, WiFi, laundry, kitchen and all the comforts of home. Slept like a baby, and are now ready for a relatively easy day of 48 miles to Chester……..in Illinois!
We continue to share all we can with everyone we meet about the demise of the world’s sharks. It’s an even split I would say, in terms of how many people have heard of finning. But nearly eveyone we talk with is appalled by it,and are eager to learn more. In fact the waitress at our dinner restaurant in Ash Grove went and spoke to a couple at a table across the room, and in the next minute or so, that couple was sitting with us. The woman was a writ for the local paper, and did an impromptu interview with us, and ran a story in the next day’s paper!
We feel what we are doing is helping, and hope that along with spreading awareness, some odd the folks are visiting endfinning.com and clicking the donate button.

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Typical roadside scene in central Missouri.

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A rare flat section of road.

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Interesting abandoned barn.

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Stan Cooper, this is your retirement job opportunity!

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Downtown Eminence, MO

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Jack’s Fork, a popular hang out spot in Eminence.

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A sign for wild horses!

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This may not look like a steep hill…but it was a wall!

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Lovely old barn in Missouri!

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