01 August 2012

Confluence Tour

While I bicycle every day in Columbia sometimes my daily commute just isn't enough. I love bicycle riding so much that sometimes I need to take the show on the road and have a bike vacation. That's what happened last weekend when my brother and I toured the Mississippi-Illinois confluence.

Me and my brother on the Illinois Free Ferry. 7.28.2012
Each summer (or each summer that we get our shit together) Heath and I take a trip. It started about eight years ago when our Dad and his wife gave me - at my request - an experience for Christmas. Not wanting stuff I got instead a trip to Smith Center and Downs, Kansas for a storytelling festival and two nights in the Honeymoon Suite at a small town Bed and Bre'-fas'. When Lisa couldn't attend for some fantastic reason I took my brother. We enjoyed professional storytellers in Downs. We shared the Honeymoon Suite. (Nothing happened and I am still a virgin, thank you.)

Heath and I enjoyed ourselves so much that we decided to take an annual trip. Bicycles became the mode of choice a few years ago when money was tight. We had a South St. Louis Urban Bicycle Camping Tour. The next year we went north. This year we went around. Around the confluence of the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers north of St. Louis, that is.

Last Friday, Heath and I met in St. Peters, Missouri at our Aunt Becky's place. Just to delay our departure for the two day trip I planned a Saturday visit for us with my son Quinn who was in St. Louis from New Mexico for a short visit. Heath and I eventually departed from Aunt Becky's house around 2:30pm. We lingered there so long that we were rewarded with a visit from our Aunt Barb and Uncle Larry.

Slathered in sunscreen and loaded down with backpack (Heath) and overloaded rack (me) we maplessly headed north. While we lacked a paper map we had our Rock Solid Mental Maps in our heads to guide us to the Golden Eagle Ferry across the Mississippi. We crossed the ferry around 4:30pm, drank some beers on the Illinois side of the river. Upon leaving we looked up from our bikes to see our Great Aunts Mary, Jane, Charlotte and Great Uncle Jim. We discussed the pending Burkemper Family Reunion. We marveled at how great it was to see and be seen. We smiled and sweated in the hundred-degree-oven that is any average day this summer. We went on our way riding slowly up Two-Story Hill.

Heath and I found a great abandoned house or two Saturday, made a wrong turn into Brussels and finally crossed the Illinois Free Ferry near sunset. The otherwise well hidden Mississippi River Trail presented itself to us immediately.

We rode into Grafton around dark where we obtained lodging by seeming desperate at the BP convenience store. A kind clerk there allowed us to set up our tent in her yard. We slept well above the banks of the Mississippi River.

Sunday was full. We rose early, drank coffee, ate leftover trip food (my first time for hummus and pita and halvah @ breakfast!) and were on our way. We got rained on. We dried off in the eventual and ample sunshine. We crossed the Mississippi River at Alton after noon and cruised the flat floodplain roads of St. Charles County. More abandoned houses, hummus and beer.

We rolled into Uncle Jim and Aunt Becky's house around 4:00pm having covered 84 miles in 26 hours. What is most amazing about this is that while I commute regularly by bicycle my brother does not. He admitted commuting by bike once since he got his bike. Amazing that he rode 84 miles with little complaint.

Here are some pictures.

1 comment:

  1. I have done a bike camping trip every summer for the past 5 years. It is always the best week of the year.