Day 18: Ashburn MO to Foley MO, 50 miles

Morning at Anderson Conservation Area

The Anderson Conservation Area near Ashburn MO is the epitome of primitive camping: you have a class 5 (very coarse) gravel parking lot. And that’s it. No water. No toilets. No services at all. I couldn’t even put a tent stake in the ground, but the price was right (FREE!) so I opened the tent roof vents and tried to weight one side of the rain fly open with my sandals for ventilation.

In the morning a Missouri Conservation officer came by to put up some new sign, and we talked for a bit as I was packing up after breakfast.

Hilltop view

The day was beautiful, with large hills (my slowest climb was 3.3 MPH, walking might have been faster), stiff headwinds, and warm weather like I haven’t seen (70F) since the beginning of this tour.

Mr. Jim E. Davis

I took MO-79 south to Louisiana MO, looking for lunch or a grocery store, and instead I met Mr. Jim E. Davis. He invited me in to his shop, a one-time cafe, that he was preparing to sell (along with everything inside) so he could move to Hawaii. Inside he had a “1938 Flyer” single speed bicycle, a “1973 Triumph” motorcycle, and a collection of paintings he had done (they looked like acrylic rather than oil paint, but I could be mistaken). He put on a CD of instrumental music by Madonna,  “CHURCH AMY” or something like that, as we sat at the cafe’s bar and we talked of cabbages and kings for an hour or so, until hunger motivated me to leave.

Enjoying the warm weather, I rolled on through farm fields and more big hills till I came to a diner in Clarksville. They had a half-pound bacon DOUBLE  cheeseburger, so I got it. Nicely charred, as were the thick-cut fries. Not sure where I was going to end up for the night, I filled my 4L water container and tried to make the most of the warm afternoon.

I found an IGA grocery store in Elsberry, where I stuffed my panniers. I had seen a sign for an RV campground on my way into Elsberry, so I headed back north for that, but dark fell before I reached it. My knee was starting to ache again, so I found a place to camp out of the way and had a cold dinner of summer sausage, sharp cheddar cheese, peanuts and raisins (GORP).

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