I'm out on the road, and it looks like I'm here to stay*
The ride out of St. Louis was 100 miles exactly with a heat index of 110. The ride had far more rolling hills than we had been seeing lately, and the suburbs of St. Louis were actually quite nice looking. Overall, I was more pleasantly surprised by the city than I thought I would be. The ride progressed and we had a great lunch in the shade by a church where we decided that we should all do "Mustache Missouri", so Vant and I shaved right there and now have some awesome handlebar mustaches.
The next day we rode 62 miles in 97 degrees; a hilly ride with steep climbs - a few 15% grades one after another were a challenge. However, we soon crossed a beautiful, deep river with a nice blue-green hue, and we went down and jumped in.
The ride to Springfield was 93 miles in a 113 heat index, and I stopped at a smoothie shop that was closing down in Buffalo. The woman who owned the shop was great to us, but she explained how she opened the shop chasing her dreams and just couldn't keep it going anymore. As she told us, you can't fail or succeed if you don't try; still, it made me sing "No More Buffalo" by James McMurtry. We also passed through Halfway, Missouri, which according to the Mayor of the town of 176 people 'is halfway to wherever you're goin!'
Upon pulling up to a street corner in Springfield, we were accosted by a very angry man who approached us screaming how angry he was in harsh terms; I literally thought we were about to be attacked, so my first thoughts were just to get on his side quickly. I screamed back for him to tell us who he was angry with, because we were angry about it also, and he all of a sudden turned and pointed across the parking lot next to us that it was some distant car that was the cause of his anger. He was homeless, he screamed, and they tried to hit him with their car. I explained to him that we had been dodging cars all day long, and that it was tough, but you just 'gotta let it roll off your back.' "You know what," he exclaimed, "I like you. I am homeless - this is all I have." He held out a bag that contained a bag of cheetos, a loaf of bread, and a pack of unrefrigerated hot dogs. "But I like you, so if you want you can have one of my hot dogs." I politely declined, but I much appreciated the slightly ironic fact that he wanted to donate to our affordable housing cause.
The next day we did a build in Springfield - we were taking apart a house that was to be demolished anyway, and instead of sending all the parts to a dump, Habitat was taking the parts to its ReStore, where any of the house that can be reused is used to help rebuild or restore another house. The chapter was filled with great people with some beautiful outlooks on life, and we enjoyed the build very much as a result.
*The Band - Endless Highway