We’ve just returned from a six-day biking adventure on the Katy Trail in central Missouri. The Katy Trail State Park was opened in 1990 and is the longest continuous rail trail in the United States at 240 miles. It was built along the rail route of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas (MKT) Railroad, and was commonly called the Katy. The trail itself is crushed limestone, and after riding six days with no rain we found we were covered in a light coating of dust! Many miles of the trail follow the route of the Missouri River with large limestone bluffs towering above the river. We learned much about the history of the area via trail markers telling us of Lewis & Clark’s travels along this route, and information about Daniel Boone and his family who once lived in the region.
We took spur trails into Jefferson City and Hermann, giving us easy access to food and lodging. In other places, like Sedalia and St. Charles, the trail passed right through the commercial areas. We found old train depots and a multitude of bridges of various types. We rode along cornfields and under canopies of trees. We saw cardinals flying across the trail and turtles slowly working their way from one side to the other. With a light wind we could smell the honeysuckle blooming nearby. It’s a popular trail that is shared by cyclists, walkers, and even horses.
Like other cross-state rides we’ve done, it was the perfect way to see the countryside and appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of the area.
It was an early morning in Kimberling City, Missouri. We’d escaped our northern winter temperatures and snow and met up with family and friends to enjoy early spring in southern Missouri. Here the lakes were not frozen and the grass was green.
The colors of a pink and orange dawn gave way to the cool blues of the sky. The tree branches seemed to grasp at the white clouds as they drifted by. Off in the distance I could hear the loons calling as they’re migrating north. The cardinals were high in the budding trees singing their morning songs, and the redbud and dogwood trees were opening their blossoms to the warmer days.
Gradually the world awakened. Other people in the campground started to stir and I could hear boats beginning to head out onto the big lake. The calm and quiet was broken. Now it was time to join others and relish the warm sunshine and fresh air – a perfect spring day!
Our Northern winter keeps coming with record amounts of snowfall and colder days than usual. This year we decided to escape the cold and head south. The morning we left the temperature hovered in the teens with bright sunshine glistening off the frozen ice on the trees. Crossing from Minnesota into Iowa brought us less snow. By southern Missouri we found blooming daffodils, and by northeastern Texas we saw redbud trees in bloom. With each passing state the temperatures were warmer and our smiles were bigger.
We experienced spring thunderstorms with heavy rain, and even a tornado warning. We rode our bikes in warm sunshine and in blustery winds. We sat outside without heavy coats, hats and gloves. We watched the sun set over open water. We reveled in green grass and the flowers and trees. It was a welcome assault to our senses to be surrounded by the colors of spring and the sounds of birds.
Dogwood trees were in full bloom, their blossoms so delicate and bright. We were talking to another cyclist (also from the North) who couldn’t contain her excitement over seeing tulips in bloom. That sent us on a driving trip to Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs, Arkansas. We spent two hours soaking up the colors of tulip blooms – every color imaginable! We would pinch ourselves and then look at the weather app showing the temps back north in the 20’s and yet another snowfall.
After three weeks we began our journey back home. A cold front had dropped way south out of Canada and we had temperatures below freezing for the journey north. Our winter clothes and coats came back out of the closet and as we drove the season reversed back into late winter. We arrived home with more snow on the ground than when we left, but our minds were filled with the beauty of spring and the knowledge that eventually the warmth will return here too, bringing the colors and sights that we had absorbed on our trip.
The big snow storm is moving out of Minnesota. Yes, we had snow and wind and white-out conditions, and now we are left with the task of shoveling. Our world has been very white the past few days as the snow blew horizontally with the gusting northeast winds. The fluffy lightweight snow was easy prey as it was picked up and carried by the wind. It collected along buildings, fences, and previous piles of snow. Our usual demarcations of walkways and sidewalks are now obliterated by the drifts. And yet the white curves are now a lovely contrast to those sharp edges that our eyes are used to seeing. It’s as if the whole world has been softened just a bit.
It’s taken awhile for the lake ice to be “good.” Between freezing, thawing, large snowfalls, and more thawing it has been sloppy, to say the least, on top of the lake. But recently we’ve had some of the best conditions, and the lovers of winter sports have been outside – skiers, sledders, snowshoers, snowmobile riders, and anglers.
The fish house had been set up earlier in the day to capture some of the sun’s warmth and to protect us from the winds. It was cozy inside and even the fish were cooperating too – sunfish, crappies, bass and Northern pike. Slowly the sun dipped further into the western horizon, with a cloud bank on it’s southern flank and a lovely halo to the north where the light refracted through ice crystals in the atmosphere. It was a beautiful ending to a winter’s day.