Day One: Clinton to Windsor
Well, the big day is finally here!
Theresa and I stayed with my Aunt Liz and Uncle Jack Lowe the night before at their house near Warsaw. The next morning, Sept. 2, they shuttled me out to Clinton to start this trek. I got a rousing send-off .
The trail at Clinton starts out pretty flat -- not surprising since you are traversing what is known as the Osage Prairie. There is a fair amount of shade along the trail, but the countryside is pretty much pasture land interspersed with corn or soybean fields. There are lots of thistle and other wildflowers along the trail. I kind of like this picture. I am no photographer, that is for sure, but I think this one turned out OK.
About half way through the day, I hit Calhoun. The town at one time was a center for pottery in the region, but that has played out. There are quite a few empty storefronts, and two of the places that trail-users sing the praises of, Jugtown Food and Feed, and Whistlestop ice cream were locked up tighter than a drum. However, the Bullseye gas station seemed to be the center of economic activity in town. They had a nice, shaded picnic table next to the store that I took advantage of.
I was just about to write off Calhoun as being a thoroughly unremarkable place, when I stumbled into their trailhead. Of the seven or so that I visited on the first leg of this hike, Calhoun's wins the best trailhead prize hands down. It had water, shade, clean flush toilets, the works! It is surprising what will make your day when you are walking across the state.
After leaving Calhoun, I was trudging my way toward Windsor, when two men rode past me on bicycles. One was about my age, and the other one was older. We exchanged greetings, and I thought nothing more of it. A little later, the older man came back from the opposite direction and pulled up. After asking me the standard "Where are you going; Where did you start" questions. He told me that next fall, he is planning on riding the trail end to end to celebrate his 80th birthday. Wow! I just feel 80 after walking each day.
After walking along for a few more miles, I finally had the day's destination in sight. You get almost giddy when you get ready to stop for the day. That Bicentennial Caboose sure looked great to me! I waited at the trailhead for about 20 minutes, then Theresa, Liz and Jack pulled up to take me back to their house. The shower sure felt good! All in all, it was a good first day.