We then rode onward to the flattest part of our journey thus far, the Mississippi Levee. It was nice and flat; however, the roads were unsigned and confusing in their layout. In one instance, we stopped to check for directions, only to notice a jeep for sale that we had seen about 30 minutes earlier. I never thought we'd get so lost that we could ride in circles, but my navigating prowess understands no boundaries. Eventually, we pulled into the town of Chester, "The Home of Popeye." In spite of some cute parks and statues, Chester was just another Midwest town with one McDonalds and a Wal-mart. Today was a horrible day for my stomach... I ate fast-food for all three meals and I'm feeling the ramifications as I type this.
Leaving Chester, we found the bridge leading over the Mississippi River and gateway into Missouri. In place of a rewarding feeling of crossing over into another state, we were filled with fear of a narrow bridge riddled with potholes. About a mile in, we received a call from Dowds... informing us that he's already in Missouri and is about an hour ahead of us. Chris and Callum informed me that his goal was to beat his mates across every state border and he was able to accomplish this even with a broken spoke/new rim replacement. Impressive.
The beginning stretch of Missouri was very nice, scenic, and most importantly, flat! Yet, I knew the Ozark Mountains lied ahead of us and within minutes we were peddling up the foothills. We finally pulled into Ozara around 6:30pm and found Dowds waiting for us. We walked over to a truck stop for dinner and the owner said we could eat up in the "trucker lounge." We walked up some narrow stairs and found a room filled with tables, arcade games, couches, and a fully-operational shower. It's good to know that some places have these things, in case we're camping in a town park and need to continue our semi-hygienic practices.
Dowds got us a room at the local "Family Value Inn," but we needed to sneak in two of us. After some covert ops, we were able to get into the room without incident. A few minutes later, a clueless Callum walks in with the owner of the motel to complain that we didn't have any bath towels. Equally clueless, the manager didn't seem to care that he had four smelly cyclists in one of his rooms... in fact, he seemed to be happy to see us. I'm sure he was happy to have paying customers, because the shower looked unused for years and the exhaust fan sounded like a jet airliner. Callum and I are going to get up early tomorrow so we can have a proper breakfast break and enjoy the sights/sounds of the early morning.