Tag Archives: bicycle trips

Le P’tit Train du Nord-Day 6 (Sainte-Adele to Mont Tremblant)

16 Jul

 

 

A peek out the balcony door told us it was raining this morning.  To the right of the photo is a mountain in the distance, and it was covered with mist, obscuring the summit.  We got ready, went down to breakfast and hoped the skies would clear by the time we were ready to ride.

We had a special server this morning.  The daughter of the innkeeper was helping her mom today, and as she placed our food before us, she said very sweetly, “Bon Apetit!”

 

We finished breakfast packed up our gear and headed out.  The rain had stopped and the skies were soon clear.  Even though we had begun our trip back to the truck, covering territory already seen, I still took lots of pictures.  There were too many beautiful sights to capture them on the first time through. I took some repeat photos for sure, but I took more photos of scenes I hadn’t captured on the way down.  We allowed ourselves a little more time to explore the areas right off the trail.  In several places, there were pathways or footbridges down to the water level or across a stream.  We took the time to explore those today, seeing the beautiful scenery from a different vantage point.

 

 

 

I noticed more wild blueberries today, though they aren’t quite ripe yet, more wild raspberries which are ripe, so I ate a few, and lots of wild asparagus. As we neared the town of Val-David, we met another couple at one of the depot stops and they told us there was a big farmer’s market at Val-David today with it being Saturday.

We pedaled into Val-David right around lunch time stored our bikes in front of the depot and walked to the farmer’s market in town.  There was such a variety of produce, meats, and cheeses.

 

After walking up and down each row of vendors, we decided to buy some things for our lunch. We bought a smoked French baguette, a pint of fresh raspberries, a chunk of locally made cheese, Jimmy bought some kind of homemade sausage on a stick (which he made into a hotdog by putting it in the baguette) a 3 pack of cocoa balls, and some kind of green drink that the vendor assured would rejuvenate our tired legs and allow us to ride several more miles.  It contained honey, bananas, and spirulina (which I just Googled and found out is seaweed? I had no idea…guess that explains the green color). It was really good. We paid for our selections and took them to a picnic table in a shady spot in front of the depot.

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All of the makings for a fine picnic

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Beautiful fresh raspberries

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Jimmy made a hotdog and I made a cheese sandwich

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Back onto the bikes to pedal the rest of the way to Mont Tremblant, where we will stay tonight. The temperature was warmer today than it has been, around 78 or 80 degrees, but still very nice with low humidity, but we were ready for a break and a cold drink.  We came into a little town with a trailside cafe.  We sat out on the deck, overlooking the bike trail, and the server asked us what we would like to order.  He spoke English very well and immediately switched from French to English once he knew who he was dealing with.  We asked about the cold drinks, not really settling on anything in particular.  Jimmy jokingly asked if they happened to have brewed iced tea. (What is called iced tea in Canada is either a very fruity sweet drink with maybe a little herbal tea, or it’s a can of iced tea that’s about half lemonade and very sweet).  He said, “iced tea? No we do not have iced tea. ” He said, “are you Americans?!”  We said yes, and he said, “I always forget that about Americans.  When I go there and I drink the tea, I say to myself, what is this?  No sugar?” (Obviously he hasn’t drank iced tea in the South)

But he continued, “You know what?  I think I can make you some tea.  I’m going to try it OK?”  He said, “I will infuse some tea, I will use a little lemon, and I will bring you some ice.” We said sure, that would be great.  He left and was busy with a couple of other tables but every time he passed our table, he would say, just a minute, it’s almost done.

Before long, he brought out a tray with a pitcher of tea, two glasses of ice with straws, and presented it with a flourish.

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It was delicious and so refreshing with the ice and lemon.  It wasn’t American style tea, I’m pretty sure he used an herbal tea, but we couldn’t have been happier, and he was quite proud of himself as well. He said that was the first time he’d made tea, and he might suggest to his boss that they add it to the menu…for the Americans!

We finished up our mileage (around 31 miles today) with the boost from the ice cold tea, and arrived at our B and B, a beautiful place in the woods where we have a view of deer feeding out of a trough the innkeeper fills with corn.

We are out of town by a few miles, so we used a taxi to get to a restaurant in town, called C’est la Vie.  We were seated outdoors on the deck and presented with menus.  Our server told us they are known for their hot stone cooking, so we had to give that a try.  He explained that we would choose our meat and that it would be brought out raw with a lava stone slab heated to 600 degrees F.  Why not? It was a lot of fun and the server gave us pointers on how to properly cook the meat.  The stone remained very hot throughout the meal.  He recommended that we sear the steak on each side for one minute, then move it off the stone onto the wood and, then cut off bite sized pieces and cook them individually to the desired doneness.  Surprisingly, they cooked very quickly.  Also served with the meal was a selection of cooked vegetables hot enough to eat, or they could be caramelized  on the stone with the meat.

 

It was very entertaining and absolutely delicious.  I asked the server if this was a technique specific to this area, and he said no, to Europe, but specifically Germany. Lol! The meal included dessert and French pressed coffee (of course!).  Tiramisu for Jimmy and sugar tart for me.  I asked the server to describe sugar tart, and he said it is the most famous dessert of the region, he said it is like a brown sugar pie, so I had to try it.  Both were served with a ground cherry on top, something I’d never tried before, but had seen earlier at the farmer’s market.  He said ground cherries grow in abundance in the area. They were really good. Perfect ending to a lovely day on Le P’tit Train du Nord. (The Little Train of the North)

 

The Heavens Declare His Glory (day 4: Mont-Tremblant to Sainte-Adele)

14 Jul

Today, we saw a return to gorgeous blue skies and warm sunshine.  It felt great after the drizzly morning we had on the trail yesterday.  We were seated for breakfast and Jean-Claude, the owner of the inn, set steaming cups of coffee in front of us.  He then brought the cream and sugar right out, and sat it in front of Jimmy.  The little container that held the sugar appeared to be little crumbles of a natural brown sugar.  Fancy!

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Jimmy was preparing to add cream and sugar to his coffee when he asked me, “are you sure that’s sugar?”  I said, “Of course it’s sugar, what else could it be?”  He reached for it, and I thought maybe I should taste it first just to be on the safe side.  I took a little pinch of the granular stuff in my fingers and tasted it.  It was definitely not sugar, but I had no idea what it was.  It tasted like meat, which is NOT what I was expecting.  I stopped Jimmy from stirring it into his coffee, thank you very much, and as we sat there wondering (and chuckling) Jean-Claude came back out with a basket of bread.  He said, “I forgot the bread!” He explained that his wife had prepared a traditional dish of tourtiere for us to try.  He said it is a mixture of meats and seasonings and is somewhat similar to pate.  He said it was very good, and she made it herself from scratch. We thought it was good too, but I’m sure it was much better spread on the fresh French bread than it would have been stirred into hot coffee!

Our breakfast plates followed, we were given a choice of two different entrees and we wanted to try both!

I am not sure how I will return to a life where a gorgeous plate of breakfast is not placed in front of me each morning! Jimmy had French toast with fruit, I had something Jean-Claude described as ciabatta topped with egg, cheese, and veggies.

The section of trail we tackled today was a somewhat shorter distance (33 miles) but had the highest change of elevation on the trail. Also today, wae passed the half-way point of the trip.  We’ve logged 150 miles at this point, and should be at about 250-260 miles by the end of the week. The trail surface changed from asphalt to a crushed hard-pack pea-gravel, still a good surface but a little more effort required to pedal.

The gorgeous scenery we experienced kept us distracted from the feeling of fatigue in our legs. A verse of scripture kept coming to my mind today; “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands”. Psalm 91:1. Boy is that ever true in this place! Words cannot adequately describe the beauty we saw today. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

For lunch, we stopped at a charming place right beside the bike trail in the little town of Saint-Faustian-Lac-Carre’, called La Stazione (the station).  We were seated on the deck in the warm sunshine and greeted by a sweet lady that brought us water (I don’t even try with the iced tea anymore, it’s not gonna happen here) and handed us menus.  We looked at the menu, using Google translate to decipher the words.  When she returned, she smiled sweetly and said in English, “How is your French?”  “Terrible!” I answered.  (Why not cut straight to the chase! Any bit of  confidence I gained preparing for this trip with Duolingo is gone!) She laughed and said, “ok then, so do you have questions about the menu?”  We did, and she answered them all, explaining different menu items and options for us to consider.  Jimmy settled on a pizza and I had soup and salad.  The soup du jour (of the day) was wonton of all things, and it was delicious.  The spinach salad was a work of art!

As we were waiting for our food, another couple pulled off the bike trail to eat, and stopped at our table to chat for awhile.  We enjoyed getting to know them as we waited. They were on holiday from New Zealand, and were interested in learning about the States and we about New Zealand.  We may have to plan a bike trip to their country after that conversation!

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Back on the trail for more of God’s handiwork! More photos below, no words needed.

I pulled to the side of a bridge to take a photo and struck up a conversation with a lady doing the same.  I asked her if she often rode the trail, telling her how much we were enjoying it.  She said, ” I get to ride it every day, it’s my job.” I said that it sounds like a dream job to me and she agreed, she said,” I can hardly believe it myself!” She is a riding trail ranger, carrying some first aid supplies, knowledge of the trail, and eager to lend assistance if needed.

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As we neared Sainte Agathe Des Monts, we spotted another restored train station and decided to take a peek inside. These old stations are treasures, each one offering a glimpse of days gone by and offering clean restrooms, a place to refill water bottles, and purchase food and snacks.  We sat on the front porch in big comfortable chairs and ate ice cream, watching the bikers and walkers go by.

We reached our B and B in St. Adele and checked in.  Very common with B and B’s here, is that a number of them offer an evening meal to the guests.  That has been very nice to not have to get back out and find dinner after a long day on the trail.

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The owner of the B and B explained that she offers a French fondue dinnner, and gave us a card to make our selections as to soup, meat and dessert.  We thought it might be fun, and it was! She had a table ready for us when we went down to the dining room and there was another couple already seated at the next table doing the same fondue meal.  They were very personable, and were from Ontario riding the trail for the first time as well. We enjoyed our dinner and getting to know them. It was a perfect ending to a perfect day!

Quebec the Beautiful

10 Jul

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We were excited to get onto the bikes this morning.  We had scheduled breakfast for 8:00 am with the owner of the inn the previous evening.  Jimmy went down a little early to load the bikes and met the owner’s wife.  She spoke very good English, and offered to feed us early if we wanted.  We took her up on the offer and were soon enjoying another hearty breakfast. This one included beans, as is traditional in England, and I guess Canada… We would call these pork and beans in the States.

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In preparation for this trip we had to think carefully about what we packed. It would be necessary to carry everything we needed with us on our bikes.  There would be no vehicle to rely on for extra stuff.  Below is the photo of our bikes fully packed.  Please notice my bike is the white one on the left. Please notice that I’m a lighter packer than Jimmy. (Not really).

IMG_0425Actually, he packs all of our snacks, spare parts such as inner tubes, bike locks, tire pumps, etc and all kinds of stuff we wouldn’t want to do without if the need arose, and I’m certainly glad he is willing! So we set off.  Our destination today was Mont Laurier, a 35 mile ride from where we parked the truck. The scenery was immediately stunning.  I took so many pictures! We saw a profusion of wildflowers and ferns around every bend. The temperature was a pleasant 72 degrees, low humidity and warm sunshine most of the day.

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Other than stopping every 6 feet or so to snap a photo (as I’ve said before, Jimmy is a very patient man) our first official stop was at an old depot on the trail in the little town of Nominingue.

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We went in and talked to the gentleman who was staffing the depot.  He told us a little about the history of the community, and that the community members had gathered old photos of the pioneer families that first moved to the area, as well as photos of the old buildings. They kept these photos in scrapbooks proudly displayed in the depot for all to enjoy.  It was quite interesting to flip through the photos and we enjoyed talking about the community’s history.

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We finished looking at the community pioneer books, signed the guest registry, and headed out.  His English was pretty good, but as he bid us goodbye, he said, “you go and I will ring the bell, I will ring the bell when you go”.  I didn’t know exactly what he meant by that, but he bustled off and we got on the bikes.  Just as we approached the street that we would need to cross to continue on, an old signal crossing lit up, flashing red lights, and the signal bell began clanging. That’s what he was trying to tell us!  He wanted us to be able to experience a relic from the old days when trains travelled along this path, long before bicycles did.  Such a kind gesture! We continued on to more spectacular scenery with big smiles on our faces.

 

We came upon a man crouching along the trail not far after the depot.  He seemed to be picking something and, not knowing if he would understand me, I simply said, “berries?”  He stood and smiled real big and shook his head yes, he was picking berries.  I asked him what kind and he said, “raspberries I think you call them”, as he held out his container. He said he was trying to pick enough to make a jar of jam for a guest he was expecting.  He then said, “and now I know why a little jar of wild berry jam is 10 bucks at the grocery store”.  Lol, his English was pretty good after all. We wished him good luck and continued on.

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We began to look for a place for lunch since it was nearing noon and we look for every possible opportunity to eat while we are riding a bike trail!  When we came to the next sign for a town, Lac Saguay, we veered off of the trail and headed that direction.  There were two men nearby, one walking to a vehicle and one doing some maintenance work on the trail with a tractor.  We stopped at the first man and said hello, he nodded and smiled, but I could tell he didn’t understand English.  I made the motion with my hand to my mouth of eating, while saying the word “eat”. He said, “lunch?” I said yes, yes as I nodded in the affirmative.  He held up one finger, as if to say wait, then turned and went to talk to the man on the tractor.

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After conferring with the man on the tractor, they both came over to help us. The second man’s English was a wee bit better, and between the two of them, they tried to give us directions to a restaurant.  Their instructions were delivered by hand gestures and single words,  They said “one street”, “117”, and gestured to turn left.  We thanked them and took off, went up one street, saw a sign for highway 117, and pedaled up a side street that came out beside a grocery store.  Was this what they meant?  Maybe we were to buy a loaf of bread and a package of cheese or something? We decided to look on Google maps to see if there was a restaurant nearby, and just as I was pulling up the map, the first man drove up beside us in his car and motioned for us to go left at the cross-street we were facing, saying lunch, lunch.  It was so sweet!  He was watching us, saw us stop and look around in confusion, and jumped in his car to show us the way to the restuarant.  After that, we found it easily.

The weather was so nice, we decided to eat outside on the deck.  We were handed menus, which were all in French with the exception of two items, Hot Hamburger and Hot Dog.  We both decided a hamburger and fries was just what we needed.  The waitress easily understood that order, though she did not speak English.  And tried to ask (I think) if we wanted everything on the burger.  We attempted to ask what came on it, but finally gave up when she couldn’t find the English words.  We were able to make her understand that we would take it however it came. I did not expect the combination of items on that burger, but I will have to say it was delicious.

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The burger was served with shredded cabbage and carrots, mustard, mayonnaise, diced onion, sweet relish and cheese. I ate every bite!

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After lunch, we continued on, saw more beautiful views and happened upon a couple and their two children riding the trail.  We had stopped at a scenic overlook and enjoyed talking to them.  They were riding the trail going in the opposite direction.  They warned us that they’d just come through a big swarm of mosquitoes, and that we might want to ride fast going through that section.  We offered them some of our insect repellant wipes (which Jimmy had thought to pack) and they gladly took us up on it.  They were very nice and friendly and spoke perfect English, having come from Montreal. Their little boy, who appeared to be about 8 years old, said he had to take French in school since it was required.  He went on to say that he was failing French, other than knowing a bunch of insults in French.  His dad told him to be quiet, lol. We wished them happy trails and were on our way.

 

It was a welcome sight when we rode into the town of Mont Laurier and found our destination for the night. We found our B and B and were shown around by the owner.  The home sits high above a waterfall, but we could not see it, only hear it due to the dense foliage on the trees this time of year.  We were very pleased with our room and again had a balcony.

 

As the owner left us, having shown

us our room, he asked if there was anything he could get us.  Jimmy said it would be nice to have some water, we’d been on the trail all day and we were thirsty.  The owner looked into the bathroom and pointed at the faucet on the sink.  We looked that direction too and saw two little cups on a shelf above the sink. He said the water is good and it comes right out of the river.  We said, ok that will do. Guess we will be drinking river water tonight, and not cold bottled water. Lol!

We got cleaned up, and walked downtown to find a bite to eat.  We walked across the bridge and had a great view of the waterfall that we’d been hearing from our room.

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Mont Laurier is a beautiful town and we found a great meal at a local restaurant called Place Pizza.   Jimmy ordered lasagna and I ordered Greek chicken.  It was excellent. Bon appetit!

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Five Days on the Katy Trail – Day Four – Jefferson City to Boonville, MO

31 Jul

Our last morning to ride the trail began with another wonderful breakfast.  At the Cliff Manor Inn, we had the option of a 7:30 breakfast or a 9:00 am breakfast.  We chose the earlier time, as did the other two couples that were staying there the previous night.  They had driven in from Tucson and Omaha and were just beginning their Katy Trail adventure.  They were on a two week bike trip and were driving to different areas to ride.  Last week, they biked a trail through the Black Hills of South Dakota.  Hmm, something to think about for the future…   We chatted with them a bit about what we’d experienced and wished each other good rides for the day ahead.  Breakfast was cinnamon swirl french toast, ham and fruit.  The Cliff Manor Inn is owned by a man named Steve, and family members do the cooking on a rotating basis.  Sometimes it’s Steve, sometimes his wife, but today it was their son.  He did a great job and we were set for the day ahead.

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The mileage today would be our longest.  From Jefferson City to our next and final stop in Boonville, was about 52 miles.  The weather was even milder today.  I think the highs were in the upper 80s.  We grabbed our saddlebags, loaded our bikes and started off. The morning air was fresh and clean and I took lots of photos.  I love the look of the spiderwebs in the early morning sun!  As we left the Jefferson City spur, I thought it was neat to see the old rails still embedded in the pavement of the crossroad.  All the rail lines have been removed from the trail itself, guess these were stuck!

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Almost the entire route today was alongside the river.  We noticed several stands of cane or bamboo?  Not sure what it was, but it was dense in some sections. image We stopped near one of the Lewis and Clark expedition markers along the trail and chatted with an older gentleman named Charlie.  He had ridden his bike from near Hartsburg and was resting beside the river too.  He was very familiar with the trail and the area.  He told us that it was country music day at Dotty’s Cafe in Hartsburg, and that they were starting up at 9:00 am if we were interested.  He also said that Dotty’s has really good biscuits and gravy.  Too bad we’d already eaten.  We planned to stop at Hartsburg for a water break but decided to skip the country music. image So our next stop was Hartsburg, a charming little town.  A really helpful thing about the trailheads is that at each little town, it gives the history of the area, tells you what services are available, and tells you the points of interest ahead, whether you’re traveling east or west.

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I think Miss Dotty (of Dotty’s cafe) must be a nice lady, we saw this sign she had posted on the info board at the trailhead.

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As we traveled westward, we came upon a sight you just don’t see everyday.  The locals call it Boat Henge. Someone had the idea that the thing to do with boats no longer needed, was to plant them in the yard alongside the trail.  There were six of them in all, and someone had planted lillies around them.  It did make for an interesting conversation piece, and I could not resist the picture.

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We continued on from there and decided to eat lunch at Rocheport.  We passed an area right between the trail and the river called Cooper’s landing.  It consisted of a campground, a little store, bait shop, bicycle rental etc.  I think you could even pay for a hot shower.  The most unexpected thing about it though was the presence of Chim’s Thai Restaurant.  Very unexpected for this remote location in the middle of nowhere!  We passed on the Thai food and pedaled on toward Rocheport. image We had stayed the night in Rocheport on a previous trip to the Katy Trail and really liked the town.  It’s full of old buildings and nice people.  There were several options for lunch there, whether they are open or not depends on the day of the week and the business owner’s schedule.  The first place we tried, was a little trailside outdoor restaurant called the Mulberry Grill and Bakery.  It’s behind a man’s house and he has an outdoor brick pizza oven.  We thought a wood fired grilled pizza would be great! image But he was not open, so we pedaled a block off the trail and checked Main Street.We decided to eat at the General Store on Main Street.  It’s another family owned business and the owner seated us and told us the building was constructed in the 1800’s as a general store and pharmacy.  She went to the back and found an old picture taken inside the store a long time ago, showing women in long dresses and all kinds of medicines lining the shelves (the shelves behind where Jimmy is sitting).

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She gave us a history lesson on the old buildings in the town.   It turns out that members of her family owned a number of the buildings, because years ago, her  grandmother moved to town from California and bought up many of the old vacant buildings when no one else wanted them.  Members of her family have repurposed them, bringing new life back into the downtown area.

She ran the restaurant where we ate, her nephew was cooking our food, and her sister ran the antique shop right next door.  It was a fascinating glimpse into the town’s history. When the phone rang and her brother-in-law (who was standing right behind the counter) ignored it, she said, “my family drives me crazy!” Lol.  She excused herself and went to answer the phone, then brought back our food.  I ordered the broccoli and ham quiche, Jimmy ordered the hot ham and cheese. image There are many interesting sights on the trail around the Rocheport area.  We stopped at them all so I could take pictures.  Thankfully Jimmy is very patient with my endless photography!  We’ll be pedaling along at a good clip and I’ll see something I just have to capture!  He’s pretty good at stopping on a dime now, so I don’t miss that perfect shot.

The first thing we saw as we headed out of town toward Boonville, was the old railroad tunnel built in 1893.  A long bridge crosses a large creek that runs into the Missouri right as you head into the tunnel.  We watched some very big fish from the bridge.

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Another interesting thing we noticed as we headed into town, though very hard to see in the photo, were pictographs high upon the bluff.  These were first mentioned in journals in 1819 and were noted by early explorers that traveled through.  Interestingly though, these particular ones were not mentioned by Lewis and Clark, though others in the area were.  The Indians that lived here marked the bluffs in this way  They have faded over the years, but you might be able to spot the red markings on the face of the rock.  The symbol that is easiest to see is one that looks like a red Nike swish with a red dot over it in the left side of the picture.  A historical marker gives info about the Indians and the markings. imageAlso leading in to Rocheport is a cave where Lewis and Clark had camped.  It had a pretty good stream running out of it today, but also had higher ground on the side where they camped.  In their journals, they referred to the mosquitoes they encountered at every stop.  They traveled with mosquito netting to try to keep them off.  We were not bothered by mosquitoes while we were riding, but the minute we stopped, we were swarmed by them!  We traveled with Deep Woods Off wipes! (and I was very glad that Mr. Double Contingency had thought of that little detail!)  The cave is hard to see in this photo because of the dense foliage around it.

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We saw a few other small caves, some high up on the bluffs and some at trail level. image We had to pull off at this stone structure built right into the bluff.  I had read somewhere that it was used by the railroad during construction of the M-K-T line to store explosives. image We saw relics from the old rail lines all along the trail, the chiseled M-K-T logo in the face of the bluff was still visible to passers by.  Right below, was an iron pipe projecting from the limestone with a trickle of water.  Below the water drip was lush foliage all the way to the trail. imageimage

After lunch, we only had about 13 miles to go.  I saw a couple of interesting things alongside the trail, one was this glazed stone silo/building, and the other was something growing on the shoulder of the trail that looked like orange silly string.  It was some type of vining plant that I only saw in this one particular area.  I’ve never seen a totally orange vine before.

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Soon we saw the bridge that would take us over the Missouri River into Boonville, and our last night of our adventure.  I will have to admit, I was feeling a little sad knowing that this great trip was coming to an end.  We pedaled over the bridge and stopped for a photo at the peak.  In the distance over the river, you can see the old iron railroad bridge that was a lift bridge.  The center section could be raised and lowered to accomodate boat heights.  Sadly, it is set for removal and Boonville will lose that piece of railroad history. imageimage

Once again, our Bed and Breakfast for the night was at the base of the bridge and to the left.  We easily found the High Street Victorian Bed and Breakfast. (www.highstreetvictorian.com)

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We were greeted by our host, and she took us around back to the fenced in garden area where we secured our bikes, then we went inside.  The house was built in 1880 and the present owners had returned it to the style of the Victorian era.  For a period of time, it had been a restaurant, then the present owners bought it and turned it into the bed and breakfast.  All of the light fixtures are original to the house, and they had been gas, now transformed into electric.  The wood floors were cypress, which is unusual.  She said the wood had to be imported into this area because it did not grow here. She had us sign the guest book, then took us up to our room.  We’ve stayed in a variety of places on this trip, and this one was just as delightful as the others.  Our room was very Victorian and very comfortable. imageimage

We changed out of our bike clothes, got cleaned up and decided to walk around the historic district.  We had some time on our hands before our 6 p dinner reservation, and I thought it would be interesting to do the self-guided walking tour of the historic district.  We walked to the old train depot where the visitor’s center was located to get a map, but they were closed, so we just walked around, touring ourselves.

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Dinner was at the old Frederick Hotel, in the restaurant called The Fred.  It was just a couple of doors down from the B & B.  Built in 1905, it has served as a hotel, then a Greyhound bus station with restaurant, then a retirement home until 1994.  It sat empty for 10 years until the present owners bought it in 2004 and invested 4 million dollars in its renovation.  It is absolutely gorgeous.  It sits on the corner at the base of the bridge overlooking the river

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We enjoyed eating in the old dining room with the old wood floors, high tin ceilings and fans. image

Dinner was delicious.  We had a spaghetti squash fritter for an appetizer, I had chicken and he had steak.  Dessert was key lime pie for me and a chocolate bread pudding for him.

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Tomorrow  Boonville to home…

Five Days on the Katy Trail – Day One – Home to Defiance, MO

28 Jul

The first leg of our Katy Trail trip began in St. Charles, MO.  St. Charles is a cool little suburb of St. Louis with great historic district with little shops, restaurants, and old brick streets right near the Missouri River.  We’d arranged to leave our truck at the Bike Stop Cafe, which is located right on the trail across from Frontier Park and the old train depot that operated in St. Charles.  The Bike Stop Cafe also operates a shuttle service all along the trail, and we’ve arranged for them to pick us up at the end of the week and shuttle us (and our bikes) back to the truck.  The cafe has a great little lunch menu, and since we’d arrived in St. Charles at lunchtime, we enjoyed a nice lunch before we hit the trail.

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The temperature was 91 degrees when we got on our bikes around noon.  Our saddlebags were full with what we’d need for the week, and at first I was a little nervous about the extra weight of my bag.  I’d not ridden with a bag before this trip, and I estimate mine weighed at least 30 pounds or so.  I was afraid the bike would be harder to pedal but I really didn’t notice a difference.  What I did notice was that it was easier to lose the bike’s balance, especially when I stopped to take a photo and balanced the bike between my legs.  I had to be very careful to keep the bike upright, because when it began to lean, it was hard to recover.  At the end of the day, I dropped my bike while I was snapping a photo of the path off of the trail to our B & B.  But the saddlebag and all my stuff remained intact, and the only harm was to my dignity.

We saw some beautiful countryside today, and most of the trail was covered with a good deal of shade.  There was a constant breeze which really helped to keep us comfortable in the hot temperatures.  Our original plan for this first day was to be very conservative and ride just 20 miles to our first night in Defiance.  We were beginning our journey after lunch, in July, during the hottest part of the day and we figured that would be about all we could do.

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About 14 miles into that plan, I stopped to take a photo of the limestone bluffs, and a gentleman that was hiking with a tall shepherd’s hook (I’d passed him a short distance back) called out to me when he saw that I’d stopped and asked if I wanted to see a picture of a rattlesnake.  (Not especially, but I didn’t want to be rude)  I agreed and he approached with his cell phone in hand and found the picture of the timbler rattler he’d taken on the trail just a week ago.  It was huge!  And I very much hoped I didn’t see one today.  The “sheperd” then asked me where my accent was from.  I thought that was a funny way to ask, but I told him I was from Kentucky.  He was from Georgia but had relocated to the area and was a history buff.

By this time, Jimmy had doubled back to see what was taking me so long with the photo, and he got in on the history lesson as well.  The “shepherd” told us we were riding into Missouri’s wine country, and that all the vineyards we would pass were planted by German immigrants.  The soil and climate is very good for growing grapes.  He also said that few people realize that cuttings from the old Missouri vineyards are how the famous vineyards in California got their start.  And that even the grapes that grow in France today, suffered a severe blight decades ago, and had to be replanted from the hardy grape stock of the Germans in Missouri.

He was really interesting to talk to, and you could tell he loved to talk!  Before we parted ways, he told us two things;  one was to be careful on the trail ahead because it was heavily populated with snakes and that he’d even seen a bobcat or two on the trail.  Second, when he found out where we were headed for the night, he said we had to try the homemade rootbeer just a short distance past our destination. He bid us a safe trip and we were off.

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I don’t know if it was the heat or the fatigue, but I couldn’t stop thinking about those two things.  As I rode, I began to scrutinize every stick laying in the path to make sure it wasn’t a snake as I scanned the brush along the trail side for bobcats.  Plus I was suddenly very much craving a rootbeer!  It was hot, I was sweaty, and a rootbeer seemed the only solution, especially a homemade one!  When we got to our turn-off for Defiance, it was just 2 pm and we figured it was too early to check in to the B & B, so why not ride the extra little bit for a real homemade rootbeer.

So we did, but the “shepherd” had forgotten exactly how far that rootbeer was.  By the time we’d gotten the rootbeer and come back to the turn off to Defiance, we’d ridden an extra 15 miles, making for a 35 mile day.  But it was a really good rootbeer at a pretty little hillside spot overlooking the trail.

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His predication about the snakes was accurate though.  We were cruising back at about 12 miles an hour and Jimmy was looking down at his speedometer or something on his bike.  I saw a very large black snake in the trail but could not warn him in time, we were going too fast.  He ran over it with his bike (both tires!) but it crawled off so I guess it survived.

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When we arrived back at Defiance, we were greeted at The Inn at Defiance (www.thedefianceinn.com) by our sweet hosts, Jeff and Chris.  They absolutely exude hospitality and made us feel so welcome.  They told us they’d worried about us all afternoon in this heat, and gave us ice cold water bottles as soon as we came in to the wonderful AC!  They have thought of every little detail and comfort here!  They personally showed us around the entire inn, encouraging us to make ourselves right at home.  They were delighted that we were from Kentucky, because they’d never had guests from Kentucky before, so they invited us to walk up to the top floor library, where they had large maps of the US and the world mounted on the wall.  They wanted us to pin our location in Kentucky along with all the other pins that were already on the maps.  Jeff offered me a box of different colored pins, and I chose a blue pin for the Bluegrass state and UK.  Go Big Blue!  It was quite an honor and pretty cool to see all the pins from all over pinned to their map.  And while we got out of our sweaty clothes and got cleaned up, they waited for us in the sunroom with a tray of grapes, cheeses, and German meats.  As we enjoyed our snack and another bottle of water, they got out a map of the Katy trail and gave us some great tips on must see things along the trail as well as places to eat.  Chris and Jeff have ridden the trail since it opened 25 years ago and they were a great source of information.

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We talked to them for over an hour, then knew we better walk next door to dinner and let them get on with their evening.  They don’t live at the inn, but gave us their home and cell numbers in case we needed anything during the evening.  They also offered to come in early to prepare breakfast earlier, so that we could beat the heat as much as possible tomorrow, so we are really thankful for that!

The only restaurant open in this little town happens to be right next door.  So we walked down to Defiance Roadhouse, where the Monday night special was a strip steak.  Jimmy had the steak and I had the chicken caesar wrap.  After reading the signs posted all around the restaurant stating that “Absolutely No Glassware Used on the Weekends”, we were glad that we were there on a Monday night.  Not sure what happens on the weekends, but I don’t think I want to know!  The food was good though,and when we finished, we walked back up the little hill to our room, where we had chocolate chip cookies waiting for us as well as a sticky note on our door wishing us a good night.

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Tomorrow, Defiance to Hermann…