We are in lovely but poor country. The industries of the small towns we passed through were cattle ranching, dairy farms, forestry and depending upon the teller, meth or welfare.
We see lots of cows, a near constant since east Virginia with the exception of Western Kentucky where it was too hilly and mountainous. Here they graze in wonderful expansive grass meadows, and when its hot they congregate under trees, or, my favorite, several hang out in the local pond.
Almost universally they ignore the cars, but will look up and regard us cyclists passing by somewhat noiselessly with great interest. Whatever lies in the secret life of cows is unknown to me, cows would make great poker players as they watch me pedal by.
Grueling bike ride today more so because of the horrible pavement around Hartsville. It was so bumpy, pocked, and laden with potholes that the jarring sensation did a number on my hands and my rear. Usually one thing hurts, and the rest fades until the next day. Today it was the bum and the hands.
Lunch today at the LJD Cafe - named after the initials of the owner - Linda. It's funny how we all start out at different times, but inevitably seem to end up at the same places at more, or less, the same time.
I started with Tom at 630 in the morning. When we hit the Country Store at Bendavis we met up with Jim, saw Norm and Christine go whizzing by, and then left and saw Jim, Barry, John and Lew.
Getting into Linda's cafe, Jim was still there. Norm and Christine had just left, and then as Tom and I got our food - Barry, John and Lew came in.
There are four universally acknowledged great bikers in our group: Norm, Christine, Jim, and Bill. Then there is Barry, Lew and Tom. Then John and I. But we're close enough that the four of us - Barry, Lew, John and I typically coalesce for the ride and getting into town.
The roads are better west of Hartsville and the roads are lined, for a long time, with a pantheon of wild flowers.
After 65 miles, much of it up, we're home for the next fifteen hours. Marshfield, Missouri is a bedroom community for nearby Springfield, Missouri. Tonight we are in the Webster County Centennial Building, put up in 1955 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the county. There are bathrooms and shower facilities that the town has unlocked for us.