Neither Flooding Nor a Heat Advisory Nor Copperheads and Sweat Bees Shall Deter Me from my Weekly Bike Ride

With today’s heat index forecast to be bumping 105 degrees, I headed out for my weekly bike ride on the Katy Trail bright and early today. 

But – first things first- I made a stop at Panera Bread for coffee and a Bear Claw.  Last week when I visited Panera for my pre-bike coffee, a fellow geezer hollered from the patio that the restaurant was closed. 

“Go through the drive-thru and then come sit on the patio!” he advised.  This week, I hit the drive-thru first, got my coffee & pastry, and proceeded to park and head for the patio. 

As it turned out, the dining room was open and I had the patio all to myself. Usually, I am with my friends Tom, Daryl & Scott. On this day, a funeral, a vacation, and work demands shelved my fellow riders.

Nourished and hydrated, I hit the trail alone. The air was still cool and the trail was not crowded.  A text from my wife offered one possible reason bikers were scarce.  It was a news article with a headline announcing the cancellation of Missouri’s Bicentennial Katy Trail ride across the state due to flood damage.

What would the rugged pioneers who settled Missouri two hundred years ago say about a bike ride being cancelled because of a little flood damage?

I imagine their first question would be “What is a bike?”

My 21 mile roundtrip ride from the North Jefferson Station to Hartsburg and back was not immune to flooding as the following video illustrates.

I know – I made this look easy. I have had my share of experiences on the Katy Trail. Also, I was emboldened by the fact that my friend Tom and I rode thru this same stretch of water last week when it was twice as long and twice as deep. Tom went first. Not because I feared for my safety. I let him go first just in case there was a deep hole where the trail had washed out. I did not want to exceed the 18-foot depth that my iphone is guaranteed to be waterproof and void my warranty, assuming it was transferable to whomever inherited my phone after I drowned.Waiting to greet me on the other side of the water hazard was a representative of 0ne of the three species of venomous snakes found in Missouri.

Mr. Copperhead seemed surprised to see me emerge from the flooded area.

And -as if that wasn’t enough for a single bike ride- when I reached the trailhead at Hartsburg I was swarmed by Sweatbees feasting on the perspiration I had generated making my way to Hartsburg. I managed to take a picture of one. There were at least a dozen but they are so small and so fast it was beyond my photographic skill to capture two of them in the same picture.

One of the sweatbees hydrating on me

The ride back to my truck was uneventful, save for me pausing for a (very short) break at a mosquito filling station. And for one other thing I found strange.

Very strange.

I’m sure there are a million interesting tales that can be told of adventures on the beautiful, normally less hazardous, Katy Trail. But I sure would like to know the story behind this scene I encountered on my ride back to my truck.

Im no detective, but it appears to me that a one-legged unicyclist had a very bad day. If you have a better idea, leave me a comment.

Simple Pleasures

Since I was a kid in Vinita, Oklahoma, where I was born, I have loved going out for an ice cream cone on a hot summer night.  Though that feeling has endured, the locales and the family members present have changed throughout the years.  My grandparents once took me.  Now I take my grandkids. 

The circle of life.

For the past 23 years my family has called the rural countryside just west of Jefferson City, Missouri home.  The landside is beautiful, the people are friendly, and the cost of living is 16% below the national average.

AND – it is home to the Central Dairy Ice Cream Parlor at 610 Madison in Jefferson City.  Grandparents have been taking their grandkids there since 1934.  In the 1950’s they remodeled the parlor and installed wooden booths – the same booths you would crowd into today if you were lucky enough to visit.

Three generations of my family took the short trip to Central Dairy today for a cool treat on a hot July Sunday afternoon.  People were lined out the door and along the sidewalk. 

In the rain. 

We joined them.

The line moves fast. 

A half-dozen employees behind a long counter build up their biceps by scooping dips of 50+ flavors of ice cream into cake cones, waffle cones, or cups.  With all the exotic flavors to choose from my three grandkids all chose sherbet.  The adults chose Rocky Road or (my favorite), Jamocha Almond Fudge.  Six people took their seats in the ancient (same age as me) wooden booths holding the ice cream treat of their choice for a grand total of $16. 

As we enjoyed our ice cream, we also enjoyed a double shot of people watching.  The booths in the compact parlor have big plate glass windows overlooking the sidewalk on one side and a perpetual line of ice cream connoisseurs perusing the heavenly display of ice cream tubs a few feet away on the other.

The view outside through the rain-splashed plate glass
The view inside as patrons make their selections

My nominee for “Father of the Year” and his smiling son paused as they passed by.  They each sported red dye on one side of their face and hair and green dye on the other.  “The wife is out of town, and it washes out” said the dad with a smile as we made eye contact. 

“It is supposed to wash right out.  I hope it does anyway. I have to go to work tomorrow.”

The summer shower had stopped when we walked back outside.  The sun was making another appearance.  It was a nostalgic visit to an old-fashioned ice cream parlor for my wife and me.  My grandkids have grown up going to Central Dairy and take it for granted.

Someday I hope they get to take their grandkids to Central Dairy for ice cream.

And just like I did today, I hope they pause for just a moment and think back to these “good old days” when their by then “long-gone” grandparents used to take them out for ice cream on hot Sunday afternoons in July.

The Story of Central Dairy – a Jefferson City, Mo. icon