Glow recently rode to one of Illinois’ six remaining covered bridges.
Located 4.3 miles northeast of the junction of Illinois Routes 3 and 150 between Chester and Bremen, the Little Mary’s River Covered Bridge is the oldest bridge in Illinois and the only covered bridge in the southern part of the state.
In the early days the Little Mary’s bridge was opened as a toll span like many such structures in the southern half of the state. It was operated by the Randolph County Plank Road Co., chartered by the state assembly in 1853, and A. E. Hortmon of near Chester was the designer and builder. The turnpike was a single-lane road with frequent turnouts provided to enable traffic to pass and the river bridge was one of the stopping places to pay fares.
Plank roads never became a vital cog in the state transportation system as the coming of the railroad sounded on early death knell for them. For a time the plank road carried a heavy volume of horse and ox-drawn traffic between Chester and Bremen. Plank roads were made by cross-laying eight-foot planks, three inches thick and 12 inches wide, over stringers flush with the ground level.”
Can you imagine riding a motorcycle on this “road”?
Google defines patchwork as “a thing composed of many different elements so as to appear variegated” and defines variegated as “exhibiting different colors, especially as irregular patches or streaks.”
Each year the Chapters of Missouri State Women On Wheels® participate in an annual touring/photo contest to discover new roads and destinations while looking for objects in a theme:
2016: Missouri State Parks
2017: Missouri Historic Sites
2018: Famous Missourians
2019: Military Monuments
2020: Barn Quilts
To me, the interesting thing about the 2020 contest is that the themed objects and roads to find them are both a patchwork of sorts.
This Google Maps patchwork through the farm land that borders both sides of the Mississippi River will take you over a bridge in Louisiana, Missouri, around Calhoun County, Illinois, and back home to Missouri via ferry where I found these (and many other) barn quilts:
On this route (or a small variation of it), I found my first barn quilts. It wasn’t long before I was hooked. Let’s be honest. To find these quilts, you have to ride to where the barns are. Most of the the barns are on scenic, two-lane back roads–the roads I prefer to ride.
As a farmer’s daughter, I have always been intrigued by the architecture of these old barns. Imagine the history they most hold; what stories they might tell.
Yes, the barns are still beautiful, but these days a couple hundred miles of riding without the discovery of a random barn quilt or the purposeful navigation of one of the many quilt trails in America, brings a sense of mild disappointment when the perfect spot to mount some beautiful patchwork remains empty.
What do you get if you combine nice weather, a planned journey of twisty roads, three bikes with full gas tanks, and three women (Cris, Sandy, and I) who are eager to go riding? You get the ride we experienced on Monday, the first of June 2020.
Cris planned and led this ride. Our ride consisted of state roads of letters and numbers such as, A, C, D N, T, Z, KK, YY, 47, 94, 100, and 185 (these are listed alphabetically and numerically, not listed in order traveled). As you can see from the map below, there were many twisties, sweeping curves, and a few straight-aways. I love twisties and I practice outside-inside-outside riding through them. (I was taught this by a motorcop. A link and photo of this technique follows this article.)
Anyway, I rode sweeper this time. As I love twisties I had to remind myself to allow the rider in front of me enough room to “ride her own ride” and navigate the twisties as she saw fit. I think I did well, but there were a few times I got closer than I meant to and one of Meghan Trainor’s songs “All About That Bass” came to mind. With a nod and apologies to Meghan Trainor, I was singing “it’s all about that brake, ‘bout that brake, no throttle” as I tried to keep my distance from the second rider.
It was a good day and we all had a good ride. We even found a barn quilt for photo entry in our Missouri WOW Touring Contest.
After riding about 70+ miles on serene country roads, we stopped at a Dairy Queen parking lot just to talk (social distancing was observed) before heading home.
Mr. and Mrs. Donelson (Carl and Kathy) opened Donelson Cycles in 1962 and have offered a growing list of makes and models since:*
1963 Yamaha (second oldest Yamaha dealer in the country)
1971 Triumph and Rickman
1975 Moto Guzzi
1985 Can Am
1995 Triumph returns! (one of first 50 dealers in the country)
Carl and Kathy are life-long motorcyclists. They rode “two-up” on a 1948 Harley-Davidson “K” model in high school. Carl started riding at 14 and competed in Enduro and Hare Scramble events and gave flat track racing a try.
Kathy is the 1966 24-hour Motorcycle Marathon lady operator class national champion.
Daughter Kim Keen also has a love for motorcycling and has inherited her parents’ gift for kindness.
The shop is a historical timeline of makes, models, and motorcycling mementos and is a “must see” stop at 9851 St. Charles Rock Rd in Saint Ann, Missouri. The Carl Donelson Motorycle Museum features an amazing collection of racing bikes and gear, vintage posters, photographs, and rare documents.
Thank you, Carl, Kathy and Kim, for your hospitality (once again)!
“It’s a fact that in the early 1900s, motorcycle manufacturers were in effect nothing more than bicycle makers who found a way to strap an engine to a bicycle frame. This was a bit of a hit and miss affair, as riders ran the risk of the engine often shaking itself loose and falling out of the frame on the move. However, providing you didn’t go faster than 20 mph, which was probably very unlikely as most engines at that time (both cars and bikes) were not that powerful or that fast, you were for all intents and purposes riding the first motorized bicycle that we know today as the motorcycle.
My love of bicycles and motorcycles has now spanned 50 years. The broken leg resulting from a crash on the latter almost five years ago, however, made it uncomfortable to ride up steep hills on the former so I had stopped riding a bicycle.
Last year, Sandy introduced me to the wonders of electric bicycles and today we took our first ride together on the Katy Trail. My bike, with its step-through frame looks so much like the Hildebrand & Wolfmueller Motorcycle of 1894.
Today’s motorized bicycles may come with rear hub motors, lithium ion batteries, and charge cords, but they still use pedals, front forks, wheel brakes, frame tubes, a seat post, and a saddle.
Yes, bicycle technology has changed in the last 120 years, but riding one still brings great joy and off-road adventures if one is brave enough to twist the throttle and test the 20 mph limit of the battery pack and aging knees.
As the snow falls today, December 16, it’s starting to seem like the diagnosis of PMS (Parked Motorcycle Syndrome) may find its way into our garages soon, just as our Chapter Director warned us it would.
Looking back, though, we are grateful that 2019 was another busy year for us. For the most part, our schedule of rides/events went as planned, although three Missouri Women On Wheels® (MO WOW) Ride to Lunch events were canceled and a handful of other calendar items had to be rescheduled due to weather, work, or other commitments.
We hosted one of our two designated MO WOW Ride to Lunch events. Most of us attended the 20th Annual MO WOW State Rally in Bolivar, Missouri, in June and several attended the 33rd Women On Wheels® International Ride-In™ in Casper, Wyoming, in July. Together we accumulated almost 70 points from visits to military memorials across the state for the MO WOW Touring/Photo Contest.
In keeping with the military theme, our charity for 2019 is Little Patriots Embraced, a “non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening the lives of military children and families”.
On December 7, we celebrated our annual Chapter Holiday Gathering with food, laughs, stories, and the gift of each other’s presence.
Looking ahead to 2020, we’ll pull out a paper atlas or log into Google Maps and look for roads to explore, places to eat, and activities to enjoy to help us recuperate from PMS. The view outside the window today makes it likely to be a very severe case this year.
“The eagle that soars in the upper air does not worry itself how it is to cross rivers.” – Gladys Aylward
Timing, they say, is everything.
This year’s annual fall foliage ride was planned for the predicted “peak” weekend–November 9. Our timing was off, or perhaps the trees are just tired this year.
We headed north on Missouri Highways 94 and H. Due to this summer’s slow-to-recede flooding, we passed new pockets of water. As our three motorcycles roared by, cranes, pelicans, and other assorted water fowl took flight.
In a field to our left, the brilliant white head of a bald eagle caught my attention. As I approached, he took off and flew beside me for a few seconds. He was beautiful . . . and big. What a moment!
We continued to West Alton, Missouri. The city has a number of condemned homes because of flooding. It has been a long, wet summer for those living near the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.
Pere Marquette State Park (Illinois) did not disappoint us. As we wound our way along Scenic Drive we were finally gifted with a tunnel of gold-colored leaves.
After Glow left for home, Thomas and I decided to catch the Grafton/Brussels and Golden Eagle Ferries back to St. Charles County. It has been a long time since we visited Calhoun County and we enjoyed every minute of it.
As we crossed the rivers still high with spring melt and summer rains, the eagles and hawks soared overhead–crossing the mildly turbulent river without worry.
“While only one day of the year is dedicated solely to honoring our veterans, Americans must never forget the sacrifices that many of our fellow countrymen have made to defend our country and protect our freedoms.” – Randy Neugebauer
The 2019 MO WOW Touring/Photo Contest commemorated the 80th Anniversary of the start of World War II on September 1, 1939, when German Nazis attacked Poland. The United States entered the war in response to Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
Our challenge this year was to take photographs of 58 pre-selected military monuments in counties throughout the state. While I will not be able to visit all of them, each memorial was a place for quiet reflection and a time to offer gratitude to the men and women being honored there.
I wanted to do something special with these photographs (my favorites) so I finally decided to share the beauty of these places just before Veterans Day. While writing this, I was reminded that these memorials come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and ages–just like the brave people they represent.
On Sunday, 29 September 2019, I along with four of my WOW sisters rode to Missouri’s National Veterans Memorial in Perryville, MO. I had been looking forward to this trip ever since it was announced earlier in the year. Being the daughter of a U.S Army officer who served two tours of duty in Viet Nam, it meant a lot to me to visit the Memorial Wall. I was very young when he was in Viet Nam, and I knew he was at war and in a very dangerous place. But, I was proud of my daddy then and I am so proud of him now.
years I have heard my dad share stories about his time in the Army. Sometimes
it was at home when I was curious and asked him questions or a few times when I
was able to attend when he was a guest speaker at local high schools and
community colleges during Veterans Day activities.
ride to Perryville was open to others, so I invited my parents to follow us or
to meet us there. Unfortunately they were not able to go. I did ask my dad if
he knew anyone with whom he served that might be listed on the Wall and,
although there were undoubtedly many names on the Wall of people he might have
come across in his 20+ years of service, he gave me two names in particular to
check for: Kenneth Good and Richard Brown Heydt.
the Military Museum there were brochures, information, and a gift shop. The
Memorial Wall was a good walk from the museum, but we were offered a ride in a
golf cart shuttle to the Wall. Our driver asked if there was anyone on the Wall
we were looking for. I gave him the two names and he checked an app (www.vvmf.org/app) that
gave the location of the names. Kenneth Good was found on panel 1E, line 15,
which meant he was one of the early casualties. (From a Missouri’s National
Veterans Memorial Wall Facts brochure, “The names are arranged in order of the
date of casualty and alphabetically on each day, beginning at the center with
panel 1E, down panel 1E, then moving right towards 70E, then 70W towards the
center, and ending in the middle on 1W. The first and last casualties are side
by side at the apex of the Memorial.”) Richard B. Heydt was on panel 16E, line
addition to the two names, I asked Dad to tell me how he knew them. Below is a
little about the two men as written by my father. He mentioned that he did
verify Kenneth’s and Dick’s names on the wall when he first visited the
Memorial Wall in DC.
KENNETH NEWLON GOOD, CPT USA (Inf), (USMA, 1952)and I had been fellow company commanders in the 2nd Battle Group, 34th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division in Korea in 1959. He had D Company: I had B Company. About the time I moved up to Operations Officer for the Battle Group, Ken was pulled out of the unit as part of the first major build-up in the advisory effort and sent to Viet Nam. He was one of the very early advisor casualties in 1961. His entry in the USMA Register of Graduates indicates he was KIA in Viet Nam as a member of MSAG-RVN on 2 Jan 1963.
RICHARD BROWN HEYDT, MAJ USA (Inf), was a fellow company commander in the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment (Cottonbalers), 3rd Infantry Division stationed in Aschaffenburg, Bavaria, Federal Republic of Germany in 1965. He followed me to Viet Nam. I left in March 1966 to go to the Military Advisor Training Course at the Special Warfare Training Center, Fort Bragg, NC, then to Viet Nam in May of 1966. Dick took the same route and arrived in Viet Nam 21 Feb 1967, assigned to MACV Advisory Team in I Corps. He was killed by hostile fire 11 Mar 1967. He left a wife and two sons, and was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA. I returned to the USA in May 1967 to an assignment at Fort Dix, NJ. We met with his wife and children while we were there. Dick and I had been close friends and our families knew one another in Germany.
the many names on the wall brought the reality of that war home to me. It will
forever shape my view of war and its impact on the men and women serving, as
well as the families at home hoping, praying and waiting for a safe journey
home for their loved one. Often when I think of what my dad may have gone
through or what could have happened to him I tear up. Even now in 2019, I can
get tearful despite knowing that he has been safe at home with his whole
This memorial, like all memorials, is so much more than names. They are fathers, sons, brothers, and, yes, even mothers, daughters and sisters as there are eight women listed among the 58,276 names*. (*Wall Facts brochure) As in the case of Major Heydt and Captain Good, there are also good friends – but heroes one and all.
By Alice Jones Stewart
Proud daughter of Major Ronald W. Jones USA (retired)
a female who has one or both parents in common with another
a member of a women’s religious order (as in nuns or deconesses)
a girl or woman regarded as a comrade (an intimate friend or associate)
The August Missouri State Women On Wheels® Ride-to-Lunch was hosted by the Heartland Chapter at Thee Abbey Kitchen in Arcadia.
According to the Abbey’s website, the “Arcadia Valley Academy began educating students in 1846. From 1861-1863, the site served as a Union hospital. The Academy also served as a convent until the last nuns were moved to St. Louis in 1985. Rules for the girls were very strict. They were asked to be silent except during recreation.”*
Today the site consists of a restaurant, bakery, creamery, candy/gift shop, bed & breakfast units, and event venues popular for weddings. Baked and frozen edibles are made from scratch, including cinnamon rolls the size of dinner plates.
Silence. The Heartland Chapter is “old school”. We use hand signals and do not communicate via CB radio or blue tooth when we are participating in two- or three-wheeled recreation. This way there is always plenty to talk about before our rides or when stopped for meals. On this day, a short bit of pre-ride chatter uncovered that our Chapter Co-Founder and our newest member went to school together–receiving their diplomas from Fort Zumwalt High School seven years after the Arcadia Academy graduated its last class in 1971. Additional conversation about this impromptu reunion was shared with all at lunch.
Whether you share the same parent(s), are real nuns (not those portrayed in ceramic figurines tucked away in a cabinet), motorcyclists enjoying a day of riding, or comrades laughing over lunch, try to enjoy the time with your sisters.