Katy Trail – Preparation and Planning

In June, 2017, we attended the memorial service for  Warren Humble, a good friend from Rifle.  At the service, his wife mentioned how much she and Warren had enjoyed their rail trail bike trips, starting with the Katy Trail in Missouri.  Gene Byrne, another friend from Rifle, and I talked about it later, and as it turns out, both of us wanted to ride the trail…so we talked over the winter and planned it. Our wives, Georgia and Maggie, agreed to accompany us and be our sag wagons.  We decided to meet up in Kansas City and ride at least some of the new Rock Island Spur to the Katy Trail to St. Louis.  Unfortunately, the trail won’t go all the way, but it is close. 

We decided that we were a bit beyond the camping stage, so I found several AirBnBs along the way, and we alternated them with hotels.

As one of the oldest and longest rail-trail conversions, there’s a lot of material available online and by mail on the Katy Trail.  Almost too much information. 

Sources

Books & Pamphlets

  1. The Complete Katy Trail Guidebook by Brett Dufur is invaluable.  It’s also well written and filled with useful information about the trail and your trip.  It cost about $20 and you can buy it through Amazon or directly from the publisher, http://www.pebblepublishing.com.  Make sure you get the most recent edition, which as of 2018 was the 10th.although the website still advertises the 10th Edition
  2. The Missouri State Parks maps of the Katy Trail and the Rock Island Spur.  These are free, and are the best parks maps I’ve ever seen, full of ideas and tips.  They’re available at each of the trailheads,

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and you can request a copy by mail at  https://mostateparks.com/park/katy-trail-state-park or by writing to Katy Trail State Park, 5901 South Highway 163, Columbia, MO 65203.  Phone 573-449-7402.

Online

  1. http://www.bikekatytrail.com/ has a wealth of information and advertisements including facilities available at each of the towns along the way.  The web style is 1995, and some of the information is outdated, but it’s still by far the best resource available online.  There is also an active message board of others who want to take the adventure.
  2. The Rails to Trails conservancy’s website, http://traillink.com, has maps, photos and reviews of the Katy Trail, the Rock Island Spur, and every other worthwhile bike trail in the US.  Consider joining the Conservancy.  It’s a §501(c)(3) charity, so your membership may be tax deductible. 
  3. Google and YouTube list hundreds of personal blogs like this one and videos of adventures along the trail. 
  4. The chambers of commerce and tourist bureaus of the towns along the route have websites of varying usefulness, and listings of hotels and traditional Bed & Breakfasts.
  5. The ubiquitous AirBnb has listings in many, but not all, of the towns along the route.  We were very pleased with the AirBnB in Hermann and Jefferson City.
  6. The Missouri State Parks website includes information on an annual supported trip along the trail.  If you want someone else to plan for you, and you enjoy camping with several hundred of your new friends, this is a good option. If you don’t, several companies offer shuttle and reservations for a semi-supported tour; I have heard good things about Independent Tourist.  The senior-oriented educational group Road Scholar (formerly known as Elder Hostel) also advertises Katy Trail adventures.

Advice

These are my subjective opinions.  Take them for whatever they’re worth.

  1. We went from west to east in 5 days.  It was just the right amount of time for the trip, and I’m glad we went in this direction since the winds and afternoon sun were favorable, and the trail got much more interesting the further east we went.  We went in early May, and the weather was perfect.  Until the last day, no thunderstorms.  We also didn’t see or hear of any tornadoes or flooding.  But it happens. Same, I understand, for the bugs. I wouldn’t want to go in the heat and humidity of July and August, but September and October sure look appealing.
  2. Bring sunscreen and insect repellent. 
  3. The Rock Island Spur is new, interesting and worth taking instead of the Katy Trail from Clinton to Windsor. 
  4. Our overnight stops weren’t chosen well; I didn’t read the fine print in the guidebook.  If we had it to do over again, I would stop at:
    1. Sedalia
    2. Rocheport
    3. Tebbetts
    4. McKittrick/Hermann
    5. St. Charles
  5. If we’d taken Amtrak to Sedalia, and were interested in a less ambitious schedule,  I would have stopped at:
    1. Rocheport
    2. Tebbetts
    3. McKittrick/Hermann
    4. Augusta
    5. St. Charles
  6. There are, shall we say, better overnight choices than McBaine/Columbia and Jefferson City.
  7. The old Sedalia depot, now a museum/gift shop/bike shop is worth an hour, and is a great place to buy souvenirs, jerseys and T shirts, but it closes at 4.  The museum in the Boonville chamber of commerce (located near the Boonville depot) is worth a stop to learn about Lewis & Clark.  You’ll see lots of interpretive signs about their expedition along the trail.

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Merry Christmas 2016 & Happy New Year 2017

This is our annual Christmas themed blog entry; this year, we’ve taken several trips and most of them are outlined in entries.  Just scroll down and read whatever interests you.  One trip that isn’t mentioned (yet) is one we took to Brooklyn, Iowa to visit a family reunion for members of the family of Georgia’s grandmother Georgiana Kreiss/Mitchell.  It was one of those surprisingly warm and wonderful meetings with people you never knew before with whom you have more in common than you thought.  We combined this with a trip to visit her family in Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas.

Steve has been riding his bicycle a lot – and we even took a trip to Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois specifically so he could ride on rail trails there.  He’s also been working on the family history – click here to see if you recognize anyone.  If you’re related to us, request a user account and you can find out things about yourself and your family and correct any misinformation.

Like many, well be glad to see 2016 in the rear view mirror.   We hope that you and your family have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Steve & Georgia Carter

Hungary

We first flew to Budapest to meet with Gabi Papp, who had stayed with us years ago as a Rotary exchange student when he went to Rifle High School.  The week after my niece’s wedding in Germany in June, 2006, we visited Gabi at home in Debrecen, Hungary.  It was a memorable experience, and when we left we told him that we’d come back either when he was elected Prime Minister of Hungary or got married.  Apparently, (and unfortunately for his country, but good for him) politics are not in his future, but Kitti Karakas was.

We arrived at the bustling and confusing Budapest airport at the same time as his younger brother Balint flew in from a trip to revisit old friends from his Rotary exchange experience in Mexico, and we connected at the baggage claim area.  The Papp family first took us to their vacation villa on the beautiful Lake Balaton, then after a couple of days recovering from jet lag, and touring the wine country, several ancient and historic areas, and a mineral spa, we went to Budapest for the wedding.  Which was remarkable:

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We won the prize for the guests who came the farthest to attend the wedding.

 

 

Gabi, his wife, and their families could not have been more gracious, and except for the heat and humidity in Budapest,  everything was perfect.  We were ready to travel overnight to South Africa.

 

Ready to go?

I think we have figured out what to pack, and where it is going to go.  I programmed my GPS so that we can find geocaches in South Africa. Here’s the list and note how far the geocaches are from Grand Junction:

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The only slightly surprising information is that Lufthansa only allows one checked bag for free, so we’ll have to pay them for the second one.  Darned airlines!

UPDATE:  We learned that since I was a member of Lufthansa’s frequent flyer club, the second bag was free.  Yay!!

 

Gas wars

Scanned DocumentThe collapse of oil and gas prices has been unexpected.  Just before New Years, I filled up our car at the local Kroger’s; with fuel points (enhanced thanks to a 4x promotion for gift cards) at 89.9¢ per gallon.  For my South African relatives, that’s 2.75R per liter.

 

We won’t see that again in our lifetime!