Day 11 (47 mi.) West of The Mississippi!

Last night ended with us helping Bubbles at the FOE stock the beer cooler, and a great evening it was.  The highlight was a man named Pat Martin.  He sat down as the St. Louis Cardinals game was concluding and had apparently won $50 from the bar for selecting the correct box with the final score of the game. As we spoke he eventually asked why I was making this journey.  Among other reasons, I informed him about St. Luke’s.  He immediately opened his wallet and gave me $5 for the cause.

Fast forward to this morning.  After our first massive climb we stopped at the first place we could to fill up on water, which just so happened to be “Our Place”, a convenience store and gas station.  As I was checking out the attendant asked about the bike ride.  Per usual, I did my best to explain what St. Luke’s is doing in Haiti.  When I finished the story, without asking a question or saying a word, he opened the register and handed me $20.  I was in shock!  I immediately reached for my wallet to show him the $5 bill wrapped in a piece of paper with the name Pat Martin.  He then handed me his business card.  His name was also Pat Martin!  If anyone knows a Pat Martin, be sure to let him know about the St. Luke Foundation for Haiti!

Going back to the start of the day, we began in Chester, Illinois – the home of Popeye.  Of course we had to make a stop at the only museum and gift shop dedicated to the Sailorman.  At the shop we met Debbie who told us about about the famous cartoon character and his creator.  Oddly enough, this is one of the highlights of the trip thus far.

A few miles out from Chester we said hello and goodbye to the Mississippi River and crossed in to Missouri.  Everyone we spoke with about this part of the trip mentioned that the next few hundred miles would be like a roller-coaster.  They were not kidding!  Lots of climbs and lots of descents.  It was also the first time I felt like I was not at home or somewhere familiar.  I spotted an armadillo.  The West must be close.

As we made our final run for our final destination for the night, Farmington, we ran across Crown Valley Brewery and Distillery.  There I had a sample of their absinthe and moonshine, as well as a wheat beer. Our bartender Sadie assured me that I would be ok to bike after the mixture.  And in fact, that was just the fuel we need for our last 10 miles.  We made great time getting in to town and found our hostel with no problems at all. Tonight the lodging is an old jail in the center of town that has been converted in to an amazing hostel called Al’s Place.  We are sharing the space with three other bikers.  Sebastian from Germany and his fiancee Lexi from Pittsburgh (they met in China and are now biking across the United States to find a place to settle down) and Jenny from Quebec (she is doing the ride solo, incredible!).  Everyone I have met thus far has been amazing, gracious, and inspiring in their own way.

Today was a good day.

Until tomorrow . . .

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