Welcome signs. As cyclists some signs mean different things to us. The truck going down hill means a glorious descent awaits. The school bus loading area means that a crest of a hill is coming up and (hopefully) the end of the climb.
The Alvey Springs Mill is the poster child of the Ozark Scenic Rivers National Park. It is on our map for this part of the country so I could not help but to stop at the Alvey Springs Mill.
Alvey Springs puts out 81 million gallons of water a day, and the three story red grist mill. As I was crossing the bridge to get closer, I came upon two maintenance workers who told me that I had missed the big event.
"What was that?" I asked.
"The Mill quarter release," they told me.
"You'll have to pretend that I am an idiot when it comes to mills and their releases."
They patiently explained that yesterday the US Mint released the quarter commemorating the Ozark Scenic Rivers National Park. Yesterday and there was a large ceremony here at the Mill.
At the Visitors center I picked up my commemorative copy and the Ranger then rolled back the date stamp on the passport stamp for yesterday and stamped my coin set.
Up on Flat Rock, just before I leave the Ozarks, there is a Fire watch Tower. Up the stairs, leading from dwindling platform to even more dwindling platform I finally reached the top. The top was locked, but it was high enough, and moved ever so slightly enough in the wind that I kept hands on the rails the entire time.
A lovely view all around, and there, etched in the metal beams graffiti signs and dates extending back into the nineties of teens having come up here to drink beer and make out.
Biking we see a number of creatures crossing the road, other than us humans, mostly deer, frogs, birds, frogs, and turtles. We never see live possums or - now that we are in Missouri - Armadillos but we see remnants of them as roadkill.
Roadkill for cyclists is another retrospectively obvious difference from driving a car. In a car roadkill is a momentary visual trajectory. Sometimes Mother and I would cry tears of anticipatory grief over a huddled black mass on the road ahead, only to find that it was a blown tire tread.
There is no confusing tire treads for road kill as a cyclist. In a car there is no smell. On the road you can smell the roadkill, depending upon the wind, ten to twenty feet away. It's unmistakeable. There are times when I can't see what's dead - possum, deer, or armadillo - but it's there somewhere in the underbrush. Now in Missouri, it's never possum, just armadillo.
Occasionally it's a turtle, which is sad and perplexing. It's baffling why evolution or turtle common sense hasn't weeded out the propensity for turtles to start waddling out on the blacktop.
When we see them, we move them along, the general rule being to move them to the side of the road toward which they are pointed.
I found this red scaled little fearless one, crossing the road. Never did he withdraw completely into the shell, even as I picked him and put him on the other side.
Still continuing on the road by myself I arrived in Summerville - the last big town before Houston, Missouri - our ultimate destination tonight. Norm and Christine had already been through and texted that the restaurant was closed, but there was a food truck which might open later in the day.
It was open when I got there. Had a cheeseburger- tasty. Today was Taco Tuesday and they offered a free taco if you wore their sombrero and let them take your picture. By then, John had arrived, so we had lunch together.
The land is flattening out now that we leave the Ozarks behind us. John and I are cycling together now. At one point there was a scary looking dog, but it was quiet - normally a dangerous sign. The ones that bark, typically are harmless. It's the ones that, as Barry described it once, the silent "furry cannonballs" that come at your side.
I just stood still, bike between me and it, and John came up without incident.
In Eunice we met a lady whose husband (former Navy) carves massive sculptures out of logs.
Tonight we pitch camp at the city park here in Houston, Missouri (pronounced just like the major city in Texas). Perhaps deliberately, this smaller version of Houston, population 2,000, is the county seat for Texas County Missouri - the largest county in the State.
We are under the the pavilion, however because of the warm pleasant wind, and the sun - we've pitched our tents and dragged out anything that needs to be dried up after the rain from the day before yesterday, and the massive overnight dew from last night.
Cities along the TransAmerica Bike Route are almost uniformly accommodating to cyclists letting the camp in designated city parks. We're a fairly harmless group of travelers as city park campers go.
The city pool is next to us and it is crowded with young kids, and teenagers. There are a thousand city pools just like it dotted across America. While we (older) cyclists bobbed in the pool, enjoying the change in core body temperature, the cool kids studiously ignore us keeping court in the deep end.
Barry and Bill came in last today bringing with them a self-contained Westbound cyclist, Pat from New Jersey. Pat is thin, tall, sixty-four and recently retired Claimants' Workers Compensation Attorney. Taking my post-pool shower with Lew, Pat was there, and I told Lew that Pat also was a workers compensation lawyers. "What are the odds," Lew exclaimed, "that you would have three workers compensation attorneys from different jurisdictions taking a shower together."