b'Day 45JULY 12We awaken early to join the monks for morningWait, werent we in a monastic basilica with men of faith just hours ago? This is prayers at 6 AM in the Romanesque basilica. It isdefinitely one of our weirder days.cool, dark, and ornately decorated with the finestThe tanning bed works and by the time we come out for lunch, we are mostly dry and Beuronese murals in the world. The surreal settingdefinitely warm. Also a little crisp!and the soothing incantations of the monks takeApparently the pig farmers have warmed up to us as well, and as we eat lunch, they ask us away from our aches and pains and our road- questions about our trip and living in New York City. One by one, they wish us well and weariness. After mass, Fr. Kenneth and Fr. Joelleave to return to work. invite us to breakfast in the cafeteria. It is a bitRecharged, we jam on another 40 miles in the rain south from Kings City and then east odd sitting among the nine brown-clad monks. Later, we tour the grounds and visit theiralong highway 36 from Stewartville to Cameron. While the hills are not as steep on this sizable printing shop. The Abbey also has its own post office, so we mail postcards.highway, the truck traffic is merciless, and passing semis kick rainwater and road grit Around 9:30, we bid our hosts farewell and set off in a soft rainthe third straight dayonto our bikes, our panniers, and the two of us. of rain! We quickly become dispirited by the relentless roller coaster hills and after twoThat evening we check in at a Best Western in Cameron. I get take-out ribs from an hours, the rain has become a downpour. With the temperature dropping into the low 60sauthentic Kansas City-style roadside BBQ stand and we spend the evening in our motel its time to eat and warm up. We stop for lunch in King City at TJs Caf.room watching the Cubs play the Dodgers on TV and eating pork ribsperhaps grown As we enter the restaurant, the door slams behind us and every single person there by the same farmers we had shared lunch with earlier that day. about two dozen men in overalls and John Deere baseball capsstops talking and turns to look at us. It is like two aliens from outer space had walked through the door. YouBEGIN: Conception, MOcould hear a pin drop.END: Cameron, MOAfter what feels like minutes, the manager comes over to invite us in. She can see weDISTANCE: 61.08 milesare chilled. We ask for tea and she says she can do better than that and takes us to a largeTRIP TOTAL: 2,433.9 milesstorage room in the back of the restaurant, where she shows us a long, metal cylindrical tube that opens like a coffin. Ten minutes in this tanning bed will warm you up just right and by then Ill have your lunch ready, she says as she hands us a menu. EmilieDay 46and I take turns stripping down to our underwear, donning protective glasses, and lying perfectly still in the small tomb-like tanning bed.JULY 13From Cameron, we travel due east on U.S. Route 36. We had gotten advice from a half dozen farmers at lunch the day before that this would be our best route to Hannibal and then from there to St. Louis. It may be a good route for a farm truck, but it is a terrible route for bikes.There is a ton of traffic, probably the most we have encountered so far on the trip. The shoulder is wide, but the semis still seem to nearly blow us off the road, and we find ourselves dodging broken glass, scattered rubber, or bits of metal. As Emilie says in her journal: There is not much to see except raccoon roadkill and banana peels that we later find out are from a cyclist who is about 10 miles ahead of us.A number of drivers lay on their horns as they pass, seemingly irritated with sharing the road. When we stop at a convenience store to use the bathroom and cool off, I wash my face, hair, and arms to remove the grit and road grime.The sun is setting and giving off a brilliant red blaze across the ridge to the north when we stop near the Marceline turn off to figure out where to stay for the night. Darkness is coming quickly. 43'