Day 27 - Missouri
Heat & More Heat
I leave the Stockton Campground tired and in a huff. A wrong turn doubles the 12 mile drive into the town of Stockton. The day before a state policeman told me Stockton has a food market, so I was hoping they might have a place open for breakfast.
They do, the Country Corner Café. It's on the left heading north on Route 39. There is a large sign and the parking lot is full. I'm greeted immediately by a waitress as she passes by, "Sit anywhere you want. It's all non-smoking. I'll be right with you." I look about. Men wear either dirty farmer caps or straw cowboy hats. Several give me a hearty, "Morning." The place is sunny and there is good energy. I slip into a booth by a window. My mood is improving.
The waitress brings a mug of coffee. It is dark blue and says in white letters,"Vote for Kenny Turner for Sheriff." I look around. Every coffee mug in the place is the same. Just then a fellow appears and asks if I'm the person riding the bike from New Hampshire. I tell him I am and we have a short engaging conversation. His name is Bob. He's visited New Hampshire. We have literary connection too, through Bill Bryson and William Least Heat-Moon. It is a very pleasant encounter. My bad night is nearly forgotten.
The food is very good. The waitress answers all my questions, about the mugs and the meaning of a fellow's t-shirt, he is a bail bondsman. Stockton is the county seat. I go to the register to pay and am told Bob covered my bill. Such generosity. I was am am very moved. Folks in the Country Corner Café made up for my bad night.
I spend the rest of the day heading north and a little east on the lovely lettered roads through endless farm fields. I am drifting east to miss the urban sprawl of Kansas City. It works and by late afternoon I reach Watkins Mill State Park. The temperature has been well over 100 degrees all afternoon. The wooded shade of the campground is very welcome, but it is still very hot and I make several pilgrimages to the shower.
That night I go to bed like the others, hoping the air temperature will drop and I'll be able to drift off. It does not. I go to sleep and am awakened by high winds and thunder. Lightening is flashing in the distance. I get up and put on the rainfly in the dark. The wind is becoming more fierce. The lightening is closer and plentiful. I crawl back in the tent. I count between light and thunder. The storm seems to be holding at five miles.
I can't sleep. I get up and walk about 200 yards to the shower building. It sits in the open and has a clear view to the west. Periodically. the western sky glows and lightening flashes through the clouds. It's majestic and beautiful.
The night heaves wind and rain,but nothing seems cooler in the morning. This is the night the Mid-Atlantic states lost power. I do not know if the storms were connected.