Day 33: Falls of Rough to Utica

This morning, Crispin and I woke up around 5 AM. After packing, we went to the gas station convenience store next door from the motel. At 6 AM, the waitress opened the door for us. I had two eggs, sausages, and biscuits for breakfast. Crispin chatted with the waitress about our trip thus far. We learned the waitress’s name is Nicole and she’s been working as a cook and a waitress for a long time. I guess there just isn’t much opportunities around the area. She’s probably one of the few people who stayed around.

The morning sun hiding behind the trees

Nicole, our waitress

After breakfast, Crispin and I started riding. The roads are mostly local with the roller coaster hills. They are not nearly as bad as before but I still dislike them. It’s like the terrain is playing a game. Once I spend much effort riding up a hill I get a nice downhill break, but then there’s another hill I have to climb, then another downhill, and the game goes on and on.

On turtle duty again

Riding in the shade feels so nice

About 16 miles later, we arrived at Fordsville. There was a diner so we stopped in. Crispin and I each ordered two scoops of ice cream and the waitress came back with two cups of at least four scoops each. I simply won’t allow leftovers so I ate the whole thing! And so did Crispin.

Four scoops of ice cream!

We kept on riding and we could feel the heat is getting hotter. On a regular basis, we took short water breaks underneath the shades. My bike computer stopped working again for about 8 miles. I don't know what's causing it, but I don't plan on buying a new one.

Crispin and I passed by what seemed like oil rigs in the middle of the fields. When we had a chance to rest and drink some soda at a local grocery store, Crispin asked the store owner about the rigs. The store owner told us that they were from long time ago and some of them are still working. It’s interesting to know that there was oil here.

One of several oil rigs in a field

We arrived at our planned destination at noon. Utica is another small town with just one gas station convenience store. The fire station, where we will be staying, is just across the street from the convenience store. There was no ice cream stocked in the store yet because it was just rebuilt after a fire, so I didn’t get anything. Crispin bought a drink and we sat down. A guy named Glenn started asking us questions about our trip so we started talking to him. As it turned out, he is a farmer who owns 800 acres of land. He’s trying to train his grandson to be a farmer like him. His future goal is to either open a storage building or move into a condo.

Glenn the farmer

After talking to Glenn, we came to the fire station. It was about 1 PM and we realized we were hungry, so we parked our bicycles inside and went back to the convenience store for lunch.

Too much fried foods!

After ordering a bunch of fried foods and a burger, Crispin and I sat down again and started talking about Crispin’s plan of taking a shortcut from here to Iowa to visit his brother. I told him to make a list of pros and cons in order to make a logical decision. The pros of taking the shortcut are the weather is cooler and the distance is shorter. The pros of staying on the TransAmerica Trail are easier finding lodging, riding with me, and mapping of the route that Crispin has already done. After that, it seemed like Crispin was still indecisive. I told him maybe for each reason he can assign weights. After doing that, he realized he should stay on the trail with me until the TransAmerica Trail meets the Great River South trail then go north from there. So it’s decided. I have to put up with Crispin again for the next several days. There goes my luck! I’m joking, of course.

When we got back to the fire station, we each took a shower. There is actually a washer and a dryer to do laundry, so we did that. Afte relaxing for a bit, I decided I’m going to cook three packages of ramen because I’m sick of fried foods we’ve been eating at convenience stores. Crispin really enjoyed the ramen, and so did I. They were simple and quick to make, though not a lot of nutrients. I ended up finishing a bag of beef jerky.

Utica fire station

Outside is 91 degrees, so we are just going to chill inside. Crispin will be sleeping on a mattress and I’ll be sleeping on the couch.

Where I will be sleeping