Coast to Coast 2022 Adventure Day 30: Dexter, MO to Martin, TN

Alan Gilbert
4 min readJul 22, 2022

This post is part of a series detailing my 2022 coast to coast cycling adventure.

Today was a huge milestone as we crossed the Mississippi River and now have Tybee Island (Savannah, GA) in our sights.

Day 30 Highlights:

Song of the day: Mississippi by Bob Dylan
Start: Dexter, MO
End: Martin, TN (by way of Kentucky)
Distance: 89.6 miles
Total Ascent: 1,145 ft.
Breakfast: Hotel potluck
Lunch: Harvest Kitchen in Hickman, KY
Dinner: Los Portales in Martin, TN

Progress so far: 2,549.5 miles, 83,034 ft. climbed.

The journey so far, with today’s ride in blue

Here are all of the details on today’s ride:

Today was… amazing. Temperatures remain close to 100 degrees at their peak but we are just dealing with it with early departures and lots of ice. Winds are much more manageable now that we have left the Plains.

Also, Dave’s wrist is feeling much better and the swelling is subsiding.

We started with a bit of uncertainty as our route across the Mississippi River, the Dorena-Hickman ferry, had a “20% chance of running” according to the operator. Something about dredging scheduled to happen today. But we decided to take that route anyway. The alternative was to add 30 miles and ride busy freeways, to access bridges in Cairo, IL, over both the Ohio and the Mississippi. We decided that, worst case, we (by “we,” I mean Sue) would drive the 75 miles to get from our end point in Missouri to the corresponding point across the river in Kentucky. And then we could continue the ride from there.

We immediately felt great about our decision as the country roads coming out of Dexter were just beautiful. We were again treated to a gorgeous sunrise.

Another beautiful Missouri sunrise
Sunrise over Bernie, Missouri

The road from Dexter to the Mighty Mississip started with a little downhill and then it was pool-table flat the rest of the way. I’m sure a geologist would have an interesting story of why that is but I imagine it is an ancient flood plain. It was beautiful countryside with lush farmland.

Dave and I cast a long shadow
Missouri soybeans
We were treated to a cropdusting show (but what were we breathing in?)
This long, straight road was built on a clearly man-made berm

We called the ferry operator at about 7:45 AM and he told us that they were running but he didn’t know for how long. That gave Dave and I plenty of mental rocket fuel to get there quickly and avoid the 75-mile drive to the Illinois bridges. When we arrived, the ferry was indeed still running. Our relief of saving 90 minutes and a lot of hassle morphed into giddy joy as it sunk in that we had just reached a major milestone. We have ridden our bicycles from the Pacific Ocean to the Mississippi River. That euphoria made the ferry ride across the river really fun as I soaked it all in.

The sight of the ferry coming to get us was pure joy
Dave, Sue, and I enjoying the ferry ride. Photo credit to our new friend Josh and his daughter Sydney (pictured below).
Celebrating our big milestone with a ferry ride (which was also the only way to get across the Mississippi River)

Interesting geographical tidbit. We took the Dorena-Hickman ferry to get from Missouri to Kentucky, and that is the only way to do it. The Missouri-Kentucky border is the only US state border that you cannot drive across. There is no bridge.

We passed briefly though The Bluegrass State before crossing into The Volunteer State. Missouri was very kind to us.

We celebrated our good fortune at the Harvest Kitchen in Hickman, KY. We planned on a full-on breakfast but they had already switched to lunch by the time we arrived at 10:30. But french fries with bacon, queso, and cheese was not a bad pivot. Nor was Dave’s go-to, a rare burger with a fried egg. We spent only a couple of hours in Kentucky but at least we had a meal there.

Tomorrow we arrive in Savannah! Unfortunately, it is just Savannah, TN but still… we’re seven riding days from the finish line.