June 27, 2006
There were so many stars in the sky last night. If you don’t live out in the country, you’d never believe the way it looked. Jupiter has been low and bright… the Finleys pointed it out to me the other day.
Today the Ozarks showed some teeth, after all of my gloating yesterday about how tame the terrain has been. They were little teeth though, more annoying than overly strenuous. The riding this morning consisted of short, steep, frequent hills.
It wasn’t long after I left Ellington when I saw a dog trotting aimlessly along the road, looking as though it was away from home. I stopped, and, seeing that it had a collar, decided to take a look. As I walked up to it, the dog rolled on its back and stuck its paws in the air!
The collar had a name and phone number, and said “Ellington, MO.” I dug out my cell phone, but there wasn’t any service, so it was time to embark on a mini adventure. While I did all of this, Buddy waited patiently beside me… and peed on my back tire. I unofficially named the dog Buddy, because I kept saying things like, “C’mon Buddy!” and “Let’s go Buddy!” I never had to say, “Hey Buddy, get out of the road!” because every time a car would come, he’d dart off and stick his head in the grass like a scared ostrich.
He followed along wherever I went, so I walked Buddy to the nearest house. There were some dogs in the yard, and they were all friendly, but nobody came when I rang the doorbell. I started to walk out the driveway, thinking that Buddy might stay and hang out with the dogs, but nope – he followed me out. The next house was more like a farm, and the same deal… nobody home, other dogs outside, Buddy follows me anyway.
There are no other houses in sight, so I get on my bike to speed things up a bit. I coast at 4-6 mph. Buddy lopes along behind. The third house has an old woman home, and she lets me use her phone to call the number on Buddy’s collar. He plops down in the shade. All along I think he knew I was trying to get him some help, and now probably figured he could relax a little.
“Hello?” (A woman’s voice).
“Is Kenneth Lee there?”
“Yes, who’s calling?”
“Are you missing a dog?”
“A dog? What does it look like??
“Well, I have a dog here, and its collar says Kenneth Lee, and has this number.”
“Where are you?”
At this point I hand the phone back to the old woman who owns the house. She gives the address of her house, and describes Buddy – Beagle-looking, black back, white belly, tan head, and hangs up the phone. I basically ask “Well?” and the woman tells me that the lady on the phone said her husband would be over to pick him up later in the day. They live down in Ellington, nine miles away.
So I said goodbye to Buddy, and it made me sad to do so because of the way he loyally followed me, all morning long. It was especially hard to leave him behind. I knew when I’d begin to cycle again that he’d follow, so I had to sprint away on my bike at a high speed. I looked behind and saw him running after me as fast as he could, trying to catch up. 🙁
And I didn’t really understand the deal with the owners. Why would they ask what he looks like? Do they have a lot of dogs? How do you seemingly just misplace one? Was it a kennel or something? All this will have to go unanswered I guess. I had visions of returning a dearly missed, beloved family pet, because that’s surely what Buddy appeared to be. Oh well.
So I went ahead and biked up and down some hills in the Ozarks. I stopped for a break in a town called Eminence. It was originally built in a different location, but a guerrilla band of soldiers burned down the whole town during the Civil War, and they rebuilt it here.
Missouri really has some beautiful countryside, scenic rivers and wooded hills. I never knew it – the only things I knew about Missouri before this trip was that it had St. Louis and Kansas City, and was bordered by the Mississippi. That’s all. That’s a lot of the purpose of this trip… satisfying the curiosity of “What are these places like?”
On top of one of the hills there was an open, old fire tower. I love fire towers, though they can be a little scary at times, but therein lies some of the fun. A sign was posted saying that no more than five people should be on it at once. I climbed up to the top, and felt it sway as the wind blew. I counted fourteen flights of nine steps – 126 total. The view from the top was all green.
Later I took a break in Summersville, another nice little population 550 town. At the gas station I had two Little Debbie honey buns, and a Coca-Cola company energy soda called “Vault” that I had never tried before, and I liked it.
Now get this – tonight I’m staying in a town called Houston, located in Texas County, Missouri. Hmmm. It looks like a picnic bench bed for me, for the fourth consecutive night! Life is good.