WINFIELD TO ST. CHARLES
Rain overnight. The pavement was still wet and the skies were overcast as I ran south out of Winfield, Missouri down Missouri Highway 79. Roadkill frogs are more frequent now – step aside raccoons and possums. Victoria took over running in Old Monroe and we cut back to toward the River on Dalbow Road. That’s where things got interesting . . .
We’re running bottom lands now. The Mississippi is on our left and the Missouri on our right. This land was under water much of 2019 (and 1973, 1993, 2008, etc.) The landscape tells the story – very few homes and those that remain show stained siding and flood debris. It tells a story of retreat and resilience. The fields are mud flats and there is high water in the ditches. Lingering effects of the flood of 2019.
Our problems were minor but felt big as we tried to get to our appointments in St. Charles, Missouri. Malfunctioning bike pedals, impassible roads, poor cell coverage, private property, shoelaces coming undone, long detour, and walking through muddy underpasses.
Two and a half miles of running along the centerline of the BNSF railroad got us back on track – add trespassing to our list of violations. It was the most problematic day of our expedition, but we recovered for a wonderful experience in St. Charles.
After his railroad run, Tom met me at the intersection with Hwy C for his exchange to bike. He’d be biking the last 13 miles into town, giving me the opportunity to play catch up and make it nearly on time to meet Bob and Marsha Adams at The Frenchtown Inn. Marsha greeted me, showed me where to park, directed me to the York room where we would stay for the night, and then discussed our plans for the afternoon together. She and Bob are not St. Charles locals, but have really invested in the community, especially their Frenchtown neighborhood.
Once Tom arrived in one piece, Marsha and Bob lead us up the road over to their home—a new house built fairly recently in this historic neighborhood, but award-winning for its sensitivity to existing styles and structures. The home won Tom and I over right away as we walked into the first floor “road house” room built out for Bob’s home brewing operation! Not only was his set up a perfect design, but he offered us some of the Kolsch on tap and it might be award-winning as well!
From here we walked back down and over to the Frenchtown Heritage Museum and Research Center—both Bob and Marsha have served on the board over several years and work to keep this totally volunteer operation afloat. We met several locals upon arrival, learning bits and pieces about their stories as much as we learned the story of the museum itself. It’s really inspiring to see a neighborhood rally together around not just its past but its future and work to maintain a space to showcase a story and provide a gathering place.
Just down the street from the museum is Driftwood Music shop and we stopped in there next hoping to find the owner Pete. However, a friend and local musician Rick was standing in for Pete while he went out to run some errands. We learned a bit about the vintage guitars, mandolins, banjos, and fiddles lining the walls, as well as a bit about Rick’s own musical ambitions as a songwriter. As we made our exit, Rick gave us a CD. Another to add to the listening collection as soon as we invest in a CD player(!).
The walk from Driftwood to the Bike Stop Cafe for lunch was longer than expected, and very FULL of tourists roaming the cobblestone streets, in and out of shops and bars and restaurants, as well as the Riverfest happening just a half block toward the river. The food was good and my body was ready for it after a long day of running, cycling, and now walking quite a bit. We still had the walk back to go, and on the way we stopped in at Take a hike Shop. A great local bike and outdoors shop. Joe the owner walked in as we were looking around, and gave us the story behind his custom built bikes and growing online business. He also gave us a couple of bike lights to sample and make us more visible on the road—something we’d never turn down on these questionable roads along the river! Tom also grabbed a few more stickers for his helmet and we walked the few more blocks back to the Frenchtown Inn.
Time to settle in for the night. This girl was beat. And this town held some new friends to look back in on when perhaps we’re more refreshed on the other side of this journey.