During the summer after moving back to the US from Belize, we were taking a break from blogging. Now we're back at it, but this summer trip to Albuquerque and Taos, New Mexico (with side trips to Santa Fe), slipped through the cracks during the hiatus. We thought we'd fill in the gaps a bit and share some of our photos from this trip. We loved this area so much and had such a fantastic time we can't wait to go back.
We stayed in a small Airbnb "casita", essentially a guest bedroom with full bath, microwave, dorm-size fridge, and private entrance in a home in a residential neighborhood. More than a week in such a small accommodation would be difficult, but for a week, we managed. We liked that the neighborhood was quiet and safe, had lots of sidewalks for taking Paisley on walks, and great views right from the main road nearby. We could also ride our bikes to many places from there on bike paths and bike lanes.
For the most part, we had great weather, but there were some pretty severe thunderstorms at times as it was monsoon season. The clouds looked pretty awesome right before or after storms.
While in town we visited the Rio Grande Nature Center State Park, which we'd spent hours hiking and birding in on our 2006 southwest trip. We were disappointed this time; however, as the trails were closed due to drought and high fire danger, so we had to content ourselves with a short nature walk through the gardens and not nearly as much bird-watching as in 2006.
We paid a brief visit to old town Albuquerque but didn't stay long since we'd been there before. We were looking for a restaurant that had moved.
Although we ate breakfast and simple lunches in our room to stay on budget, we had several good dinners out in the city. One of our favorite meals was at Garduno's Chile Packing Co.
We also did some great bike rides exploring the city and two side trips to Santa Fe, so stay tuned for future posts!
Map source = BikeKatyTrail.com
Note: In this post, Barry's words are in italics, Emily's are in normal text.
At last it was the fourth and final day of Barry's Katy Trail adventure. In case you missed the previous day's posts, you can read them by clicking here:
On this fourth day of his tour, I dropped Barry off at the Marthasville trailhead in the morning so he could finish his trek to the eastern terminus of the Katy Trail in Machens. After he reached Machens, he'd have to backtrack 3.1 miles to the tiny, tiny "town" (if you can call it that) of Black Walnut, which isn't even shown on the map above. That's the last place I could park to pick him up as there's no park access or parking in Machens (which is even smaller than Black Walnut, I guess!) The hotel I'd booked for us was farther west in Wentzville (not on map but a bit west of St. Charles) to help us get a head start on the drive back to Kansas City the next day.
As I was riding up to the Greens Bottom Road trailhead, I saw two ladies stopped there, and couldn't help but notice that they were riding Bike Fridays. Since both Emily and I also have Bike Fridays, I had to stop and chat with these adventurous ladies. They were pulling trailers and doing a self-supported tour of the trail. One of them even volunteered to pose for a photo next to her bike!
While waiting to check into our hotel in Wentzville, Paisley and I hung out in a nearby city park. I didn't even take any photos there as it was a nondescript, smaller park, mostly just a couple of ball fields and a kiddie playground. In the 1.5 hours we were there, no one else even came to the park other than a couple of cops talking in their cars in the parking lot. At least I felt safe!
Escorted by a Sheriff in Black Walnut.
Finally we were able to check in, so I changed into my bike gear and hit the road to Black Walnut. Our GPS could not even locate it, that's how small it is. But I figured out the route using google maps before I left the room. The only thing I missed was exactly where the Katy Trail State Park access and parking area was. I figured there'd be a sign pointing my towards it. But when I finally got to a sign saying "Black Walnut", I only saw a couple of farms and no Katy Trail sign at all. Huh? Every other town had had brown informational signs leading directly to the park, but not here.
Once I realized I had missed it, I saw a sheriff's patrol car parked in a gravel area beside the road, so I pulled in behind him and asked if he knew where the Katy Trail parking was. Not only did he know, he escorted me right there! Turns out it was just off the one turn in Black Walnut, and if I'd turned around and gone back on my own, I would have certainly turned down that road and found it, but getting escorted by a sheriff was pretty cool! Wish I could have gotten a photo, but my camera was not easily reachable, so you'll just have to take my word for it.
The Final Stretch.
Barry and I had been in phone contact, so I knew he wasn't too far to the west. I took off on my bike, and sure enough, I met him after about 5 miles of riding. I wish I'd been able to make it to the St. Charles trailhead. It looks charming from the photos Barry took.
Today I hit the lowest point on the trail (436' elevation). You can see the relative flatness of the trail as the high point, which I passed on Day 1, was only 519' higher.
We then continued riding east to Machens and the end of the trail. He did it!
Four day totals: all 237 miles of the trail, plus 15 more miles riding to/from lodging. The weather was great, I met some wonderful people on the trail, and knocked one more item off my bucket list. Time to rest up until the next adventure!
Reward Meal. Mexican of course!
The Super 8 hotel in Wentzville was definitely the least desirable place we stayed on the trip and really needed a facelift. The best thing it had going for it was a great Mexican restaurant almost right next door, so we treated ourselves to a reward meal to celebrate the end of the trail.
That's all for this trip -- stay tuned for our next adventure!
Map source = BikeKatyTrail.com
Today's ride would take Barry from one presidential city to another -- Jefferson City to Washington, Missouri. The Katy Trail does not actually go through Washington, but it is about 6 miles south of the trailhead in Marthasville. Marthasville is but a tiny dot on the map where there's only one small bed & breakfast and no restaurants or other amenities. Since we needed pet-friendly lodging, we booked a hotel in Washington.
But back to this morning. Since it was cool, Barry wanted to wait to start his ride until 10 am, which gave me time to take the (free!) 9 am tour of the Missouri State Capital building in downtown Jefferson City while he was getting ready.
After a quick breakfast at the hotel, I took off on foot to the capital. Barry's newfound biking buddies were getting ready to start their ride as I was leaving. Today would be the last day Barry would see them on the trail as they stayed in a different town this evening.
When I got to the capital I realized I didn't know where the tour started, so I walked right up the big front steps and inside. There was a beautiful stained glass window on the ceiling of the building as I entered. No one was around on that level, strangely enough, so it was kind of eerie, and I felt very small in such a vast space -- 500,000 square feet!
I finally located the tour guide on the ground floor, and at the same moment, a few other tour participants rolled up. There were only about six of us beside the guide, which was nice -- they allow up to 60 people on these free hourly tours, which wouldn't have been so pleasant. Most of the others on this tour were cyclists in a supported Katy Trail trek (i.e., they would be shuttled to the trailhead on the other side of the Missouri River) but not leaving to ride until a little later, like Barry. I was really glad to see the others. Nothing would be less appealing to an introvert than to be the only person on a tour. Way too much pressure!
The tour was fantastic. I learned much about the state of Missouri as well as the capital building itself. One of the most interesting facts was that after the building was completed in 1917, there were some unused funds that could not be returned, as the building was financed through state bonds. These unused funds amounted to a little over $1M. The powers that be decided that the money would be used for beautification -- mostly artwork, which is mounted throughout the building. Needless to say, you could get a lot more art in those days for your money! No doubt the murals are a big part of why this state capital has been named as having the most beautiful interior of all fifty state capitals, though the architecture is impressive as well.
The vast majority of the art was painted off-site (much of it in Europe) on large canvases that were then shipped to Missouri and mounted in the building. It was amazing to me how they got the panels the right sizes and shapes for the curved spaces where many of them were mounted, like in the dome. For the most part, the paintings depicted scenes from Missouri's history.
There was also a gallery of busts of people who were currently important in Missouri or in the state's history. I had to snap a photo of this one as the tour guide said that when a camera's flash went off, it would illuminate his clown makeup. Sure enough, these colors didn't show up when you looked at the bust in person, but the flash brought them out. Very cool.
But the most interesting part of the tour to me was the huge mural in the House Lounge, described here:
In 1935, the Missouri House of Representatives commissioned Missouri native Thomas Hart Benton to paint a mural on the four walls of the House Lounge, a large meeting room on the third floor in the Capitol’s west wing. The mural at first sparked controversy among the legislators with its bold and vivid scenes of everyday Missouri life. Surviving attempts to whitewash it, Benton’s “Social History of Missouri” is now a source of pride and a popular stop for visitors touring the Capitol.
When we first walked in the room and were enveloped by the mural on all its walls, I thought it was cool but couldn't begin to take it all in. As the guide pointed out parts of the painting depicting Missouri's checkered history over time, it became alive to me. I started noticing so many little details that were pretty amazing. Most astonishing of all, she told us that Benton was paid only $65,000 to paint it. Wow! Here are a couple of photos I took of parts of the huge mural, though it's really impossible to "get" unless you see it in person. The guide told us this was the only painting actually done on site rather than shipped from an artist's studio.
Leaving the capital, I stopped to get a shot of the Harry S. Truman office building across the street, then made my way back to our hotel to see Barry off on his ride. He wasn't the only one having fun on this adventure!
At some point before I'd checked out of the Baymont, Barry called and said that I might see him riding as I drove to our next city. On this stretch, the Katy Trail runs along close to the road I'd be traveling (MO Hwy 94) for much of my drive.
Before I got to that point, though, my route took me on Hwy 100 right through the small 19th century Germanic town of Hermann, which has many times been named the most beautiful town in Missouri. It's full of bed-and-breakfasts, wineries, historic buildings, and restaurants -- no chains. I hope we get a chance to go back for a couple of days to see the town (and visit some wineries!) as Hermann was absolutely charming.
Once I got onto Hwy 94, I kept my eyes peeled for Barry as I could see the Katy Trail not far off to the left side of the road. Sure enough, I eventually saw his bright yellow jersey. There was a truck right on my tail, so I just gave him a couple of quick beeps so he'd know I was passing. I knew that the next Katy trailhead he'd get to wasn't too far west, so I just drove there and parked to meet him. I only had to wait a few minutes before he showed up.
We hung out at the Mokane trailhead talking to a few other cyclists for a bit. One lady was originally from North Carolina!
Once I got to the hotel and checked in, I changed into my bike duds and drove over to Marthasville. I was picking Barry up today at the trailhead as bicycle travel was not recommended on the narrow, busy bridge over the Missouri River into Washington. Once in Marthasville, I hopped onto my bike and took off on the trail to meet up with Barry. I spied him after eleven miles of riding, and we headed back east together.
This was another long day for Barry at just over 69 miles. Although it was mostly flat, the 10 to 15 mph headwind did make it tough going at times. After this ride he was left with a 50+ mile day for his last day on the trail. This was also the longest I got to ride during his tour (22 miles).
We finished up the day with some grilled chicken wraps from Taco Bell (walking distance from the Super 8 where we were staying), then splurged with blizzards from DQ. It was right next door to the hotel, how could we resist?!
Stay tuned for Day 4 (the last day!) -- Washington to Machens, MO!
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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