Day 47: Friday, August 7, 1981
We had intended to ride only 60 miles today, but yesterday's stormy weather blessed us with northwest winds. The ride along Route 52 through Versailles to Eldon was pleasant and swift. But at Eldon, we joined US 54, the main route from Jeff City to the Lake of the Ozarks. The highway was crowded with tourists headed south. And as we neared Osage Beach, tourist-trap establishments lined the highway.
We ate lunch at McDonald's (only the second time on the whole trip), then transferred to Route 42 toward the state park, where we planned to spend the night. However, the campsites were five miles off the highway, and we didn't want to ride an extra ten miles. So we just headed on.
It would be nice to spend several days in this area. Extensive limestone deposits make for many caves; Ha Ha Tonka, to the south of the lake, is a good example of large caverns whose roofs have collapsed, leaving sinkholes and exposed pits. Eighty years ago, a European gentleman built a castle at Ha Ha Tonka, but it burned in 1942, and today only the shell remains.
|The rolling hills of Missouri|
With the help of the tailwind, we tooled along another 20 miles. In the plains, we could see the next town from ten miles or more away. Today, we didn't spot Iberia until we crested a hill and saw the water tower, church spires, and roofs on the next ridge a mile away. The chief of police said we could camp at the town park, but warned us against the "drunks and potheads" who had made it their hangout. We decided to risk it.
|More rolling hills|
The park wasn't much. But it was surrounded by woods, so there were plenty of inconspicuous spots to set up a tent. And there was an old fire truck there for kids to play on - it was lettered PAW PAW VOL. FIRE DEPT. There's no Paw Paw in Missouri...