65 miles (105 km) – Total so far: 1,365 miles (2,197 km)
Motels are great because they are easy to get out of quickly. Everything is right there in your room. There is no B&B host to chat to you while they make breakfast. No tent to roll up. Bill and I got on the road early enough to see the sunrise and the cool morning weather. Sunday morning is peaceful and quiet in the foothills of the Oh Zarks. There was a mist covering all of the nooks and some of the crannies. I could get use to waking up to this:

Sunrise in the Ozarks --Houston, MO

Sunrise in the Ozarks –Houston, MO

The hills were rolly-er than yesterday, but still pretty manageable. Bill and I have been wondering, ‘What is the maximum grade of road that is climbable over a long period without extreme stress’. Lots of plotting on Google Earth has yielded the answer that hills with an average slope of 4.5% and variation of less than +- 0.5% for 90% of the hill makes for the perfect ‘tough hill’. Most of the ride today had hills of that caliber, which makes for a challenging but doable ride. Some kind of craziness took over Bill after a great breakfast in Hartville. He was averaging 15-18MPH on the uphills. I was just hammering away focused on keeping up. Bill had a couple of stories on the uphills, which were great. He also asked a few questions. At one point I yelled… “Save it for the top, Bill!” Which made us both burst into a fit of giggles and also made me subject to some gentle macho mocking.

The nice thing about all that gain in elevation is that it brings us up to see great views. There was an awful lot of lollygagging going on round these parts today. Plenty of time to stand around and enjoy the view in companionable silence.

Grand views between Houston, MO and Marshfield, MO

Grand views between Houston, MO and Marshfield, MO

Bill enjoying the Oh Zarks. -- Near Houston, MO

Bill enjoying the Oh Zarks. — Near Houston, MO

Grand views between Houston, MO and Marshfield, MO

Grand views between Houston, MO and Marshfield, MO

The Alice School is 98 years old. This single room school house isn't in use anymore, but is quite well maintained.

The Alice School is 98 years old. This single room school house isn’t in use anymore, but is quite well maintained.

While the frequent stops for the views were nice, I tend to enjoy things that can be experienced while in motion a little more. A deeply ingrained part of me wants to keep logging miles and then get out of the sun. Mile after mile of wildflowers made the ride today extra pleasant. Of course, constantly stopping to take pictures slowed us down further.
Wildflowers between Houston and Hartville Missouri

Wildflowers between Houston and Hartville Missouri

Wildflowers between Houston and Hartville Missouri

Wildflowers between Houston and Hartville Missouri

Wildflowers between Houston and Hartville Missouri

Wildflowers between Houston and Hartville Missouri

Wildflowers between Houston and Hartville Missouri

Wildflowers between Houston and Hartville Missouri

Wildflowers between Houston and Hartville Missouri

Wildflowers between Houston and Hartville Missouri 

Wildflowers between Houston and Hartville Missouri

Wildflowers between Houston and Hartville Missouri

Towards the end of the day we met a couple other tourers. The first was Geoffory from Germany. He was our first Eastbound cyclist. He’s taking a somewhat more direct route up to this point than the TransAm trail, but meandering North soon. The second was Brian, whom we’ve heard about for several days now from Jess, Tuan, and several shopkeepers/restaurateurs/innkeepers. Both encounters were full of smiles and stories. Good stuff. Finally, we met a turtle trying to cross the road. He doesn’t count as a tourer, but I’ve decided to help him across the road in honor of Bill and Kathleen, who are posting so nicely about the conditions ahead, and also have a habit of saving turtles from the tires of pickup trucks.

Geoffrey aus Deutschland

Geoffrey aus Deutschland

Bill from Maryville

Bill from Maryville 

A turtle saved in honor of Bill and Kathleen, who are three days ahed of us and providing great intel for each day.

A turtle saved in honor of Bill and Kathleen, who are three days ahed of us and providing great intel for each day.

The final treat for the day was the Mexican restaurant next to our motel in Marshfield. El Churro Makes a tasty margarita.

Margarita + Guac + Mike is a great combination. Ask anyone.

Margarita + Guac + Mike is a great combination. Ask anyone.