Sunday, 15 November 2015

The Show Me State

Steve and Carolyn lead such hectic lives I somehow never managed to bag a photo of the two of them together, let alone individually.  This is the best I can do for Steve! ..
...while here is a rather blurred photo of Carolyn (in the middle) who has dragged herself away from the office to join an evening cook out..... 
 I have to thank all the others who also gave me such a great welcome at this friendly camp, including Sandy (above right) who provided a tasty buffet, and Gail and Roger to took me to the Dutchman's Store which is a sort of Mennonite Alladin's cave. 

Lady waits patiently on Thursday October 1st while I have a last blueberry pancake and easy over egg at the Bridge Café in Farmington with Ann....
.....before setting off across the bridge over the Des Moines river....
 
The Kokjohns winter some of their three hundred horses on a tract of land which was on my route, and this proved handy as I was able to water Lady at the trough there when I stopped for a lunch break.   Lady attracts a nosy audience...
 
By this time we were over the state border and into Missouri, which is sometimes known as the 'Show Me' state. There are various theories as to the origin of this moniker, but it is generally attributed to State representative Willard Van Diver who in 1899 gave a speech in which he proclaimed "I am from Missouri. You have got to show me".  Perhaps no surprise then that the Missourians did not hit it off with the Mormons.
 
The hillier countryside here restricted the use of large agricultural machinery to a certain extent, and as a result it was a welcome change to see more mixed farming and pastureland.  The cooler temperatures and empty roads through remote and pretty terrain made for a perfect day's riding....
 
Nearly stepped on this little chap crossing the road....
How many frogs in a muddy ditch?...
At least sixteen in this photo, and these were only the ones that had not made a hasty exit.
 
Steve had taken me on a drive the day before to recce the route, as we were concerned that a couple of the bridges in this backcountry area may have been washed out.  But all was OK, and it had the added advantage that I was able to sort out accommodation at a lone Mennonite farm.  So as the sun lowered in the sky, I arrived at the farm of young couple Norman Zimmerman and his pretty wife Laura who is expecting their third child in January. Lady was turned into a field with some rather surprised heifers, and I was invited in for supper and slept in a neat little bedroom furnished with the hand embroidered patchwork quilts typical of Amish and Mennonite households.  It was a treat to drink cool fresh milk straight from their cows.  But of course no photos!
I was up before dawn the following morning Friday October 2nd, and away soon after first light...
 ..the Zimmerman's farm is in the background.
 
Another glorious day of riding in brisk sunny weather along deserted tracks through tranquil scenery..
 
 
Early morning following of curious heifers..
 
 This doesn't look too good!......
 
Is it just me or am I seeing things?....





I had tentatively arranged to stable Lady at the country fairground outside Memphis (Missouri not Tennessee!) but the Midwest horsey network kicked into action, and through the Kokjohns I was kindly offered a place for both Lady and I to stay with Toni Loges.  As she was off competing at River Valley Camp she thoughtfully organised a friend to entertain me that evening.  Which is how I found myself with retired estate agent Don Norton at Ely Ford, one of the places where later parties of Mormons crossed the Des Moines river on the trek west.
I had wanted to visit some of the 'villages of Van Buren county', a series of quaint historic settlements further up the river from Farmington,and happily now was my chance.  Don drove me along the Des Moines river through the little villages of Keosauqua with its lovely old Manning Hotel which served the steam boats coming up the river, Bentonsport, and finally took me for a fabulous meal at the characterful Bonaparte's Retreat, a old converted mill in the village of Bonaparte...
....you can just see Don on the steps.

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