Day: 42; Daily Mileage: 61.5; Total Mileage: 2,212.8; Stopping Point: Tribune, KS
Two things that stick out in my mind when I think of today is heat and crossing the Kansas border. We did the normal picture thing, but the heat, oh the heat.
We started with our water bottles half froze and by midday they had warmed up tremendously. If you can image drinking water hot enough for tea you'll understand what we're going through. We drank it just to survive. Our Gatorade break was quick because the Gatorade was drank really fast. Getting something cool in our systems did us well. When we passed the bank thermometer in Tribune about 1:30pm it read 99 degrees.
The unfortunate thing about the break was it was at the end of the ride. We usually try to take our Gatorade break with 10 to 20 miles left. The problem today was the towns we went through were very small. Some only had a grainery silo in them and no stores. One town early this morning seemed to have more goats than people.
The wind came from the south over our right shoulder. The wind would blow the heat off the hot, dry fields. When we came to green fields, which are few and far between, the wind was cooler. The plants soaked up a good deal of the heat.
Our first stop in town was the county pool, where everyone else in town happened to be. We just sat along the edge and enjoyed the coolness.
Day: 43; Daily Mileage: 50.5; Total Mileage: 2,263.3; Stopping Point: Scott City, KS
Last night as we were eating dinner, I noticed a blue truck drive past the park over and over again. By seven o'clock, many other cars and trucks had joined the cruise. Three girls in a red truck waved at Todd. We crawled into bed and they still were cruising. I woke up at ten and there was no traffic. We figured that they had all found a party.
The only other creatures up at four am were the rabbits. They used the coolness of the morning to play. We watched them run and chase each other. They kept us entertained.
The temperature today reached 103 degrees. We had thoughts of going 70 miles, but the temperature and wind quickly changed that thought.
We crossed into central time zone. Which means we lost an hour and it makes the day shorter.
Day: 44; Daily Mileage: 57.8; Total Milage:2,321.1; Stopping Point: Ness City, KS
No one got much sleep last night. We slept in a TV room in the Athletic Club. The temperature never got down to 80. With changing time zones it was much cooler outside when we started. The sun had not yet risen.
There are fields of corn and a few of hay. Haying season was a few weeks ago and most of the fields have been replowed so they can be planted again. As the tractors drive across the dry fields the dust flies everywhere. Once, we saw the dust covering the road and slowed down to assess the situation. As we got nearer we could see manure being thrown from the back of the truck. We rode as fast as we could through the dust to avoid the smell.
We crossed paths with some bikers for the first time in a long time. It was a couple and there college age daughter. The first thing he said was that Dave (he left us the note at Hoosier Pass) said hi. People up and down the trail know us and keep a look out for us. They asked us if we had seen the messages left by Dave in chalk. Dave has been leaving us Berma Shave type messages. We had noticed one and now are looking for them. Anyway, the people we met have been traveling the TransAm trail, but will cut off in Missoula to go to their home in Washington.
Shortly after we got back on the road, a truck stopped in front of us. We had paused in a field entrance so we thought he wanted into field. He got out of the truck and walked back to us. As he got closer, I noticed four bottles in his hands. When he handed us the bottles of ice cold bottled water he became an angel covered in grease and sweat. It reminded me of the Bible story when God provided water and bread for his people in the desert. We drank the water so fast it gave us headaches, but it was good. The man said he gives out water to all cyclists he sees.
Later on, when we reached town, we experienced Kansas kindness again. We were drinking Gatorade outside of a store. The Lays man was restocking the counter. When he walked out he handed us three bags of chips. They had reached the expiration date, but still tasted fresh.
Day: 45; Daily Mileage: 65.9; Total Mileage: 2,387; Stopping Point: Larned, KS
Right as we were heading to bed last night a group of 14 pulled in to the city park where we were camping. It was a youth adventure program. They were high schoolers from ages 15 to 19 with two leaders. They planned their own route of 3,300 miles. Their schedule was planned out with stopping points. They have seven weeks with five days off for the whole trip.
It was our final day on K 96. We've ridden the same road since before we left Colorado. It was a straight road and made a very boring ride. Most roads in Kansas are straight and form squares of one mile. After we left K 96, we headed south. It proved to be 20 of the toughest miles. We started into some rolling hills, but the wind also blows from the south. It took us four hours to travel those 20 miles.
We visited Fort Larned late in the afternoon. It had been built in the 1860s of limestone to provide protection against Indians to travelers and merchants traveling the Santa Fe Trail from Missouri to Santa Fe, New Mexico. The soldiers carved their names on the stone walls. The fort was bought by a private individual and used for a farm for seventy years. The National Park Service bought it back and was able to restore the buildings from stables and barns back to barracks and other military buildings. Over the years more names were placed on the walls. Some were from the farm family and some are graffiti. It is a great place to take a look at if you have the time. They have on display an original old Conestoga wagon that was common on the Santa Fe Trail.
Day: 46; Daily Mileage: 60.1; Total Mileage: 2,447.1; Stopping Point: Nickerson, KS
Our first day of rain in Kansas was greatly welcomed. As we were getting ready to leave the motel it poured. The rain lasted for an hour, but it cooled the temperature a lot. The temperature reached only 80 degrees with 70% humidity, which made it terrible.
Just as the water bottles were getting low, we found an artesian well. The water was cold and tasted very good after chlorine tasting water.
We've seen some unique forms of decoration along the route. Many things are posts of some sort on the driveways or fence decoration. One house had put cowboy boots on the fence posts (above picture.) It took us some time to figure out what they were, but it looked neat. Another thing we see is stone fence posts. Before barbed wire, when wood was short, they used limestone from the rivers.
The city park we are camping in had no toilet paper when we arrived. Mom and Dad talked to a man that was working near the baseball diamond. He turned out to be the Little League baseball coach. He said we would have to talk to the policeman, and he informed us of the baseball games being played tonight. About half an hour later the coach pulls back up in his car and hands us a package of nine rolls of toilet paper. Another act of Kansas Kindness.
Day: 47; Daily Mileage: 50.9; Total Mileage: 2,498; Stopping Point: Newton, KS
The alarm went off at four o'clock, we rolled over, and heard the rain. We had slept under a gazebo without our rainflies. My first thought was that we were going to get wet. We slid to the center of the tent and waited for the rain to end. At 5:15, the thunder had lessen and the rain had stopped. Everything was wet. We packed up and went out for breakfast. The funny thing was the only time we ourselves got wet was leaving the park through the sprinklers.
In the café, a lady walked in and immediately started talking to us. She figures she has housed over 500 cyclist. She was a seventh grade teacher and was able to guess Todd's and mine ages. About July they start seeing cyclist from both directions.
We got to Newton and stopped to get orientated, when a car pulled up beside us. A lady opened the window and started asking the questions we hear frequently. She was amazed that we were a family. We talked for quite awhile.
Day: 48; Daily Mileage: 43.7; Total Mileage: 2,541.7; Stopping Point: Cassoday, KS
We woke up to the sound of a thunderstorm, again. It finally quit at 7:30 and we got up. Once again, we rolled everything up while it was wet. We left the park at 11 o'clock.
The farther east we head, the hillier it gets. The trees become more plentiful. Where we used to see grain silos from miles away, we now see tree clumps. In western Kansas, trees only grow near rivers and houses.
The city park in Cassoday was not much, so we went looking for another place. While looking for a place we stopped and talked to some people at the senior center. They were setting up for a 60th anniversary on Saturday. We found a sheriff's car parked by a house and knocked on the door. He said that bicyclists stay in the church often. His wife let us in. She told us that a funeral will be held in the church on Saturday also. We wondered how many people will be going to both functions. This town is very small. It's nice to get inside every once in a while.
Day: 49; Daily Mileage: 60.1; Total Mileage: 2,607.8; Stopping Point: Toronto, KS
I guess morning thunderstorms are common. Right as we were leaving the church it started to thunder. We went back inside and laid on the pews. Before we knew we were asleep. When we woke up about 7:30, the rain was just stopping.
It was strange to see Kansas covered in fog. For days I've gotten used to seeing to the end of the horizon, sometimes for many miles. If we could see a couple hundred yards we were lucky. The nice thing was the coolness. At noon when the fog burned off if got hot, really fast. Our reason for being on the road early is to let our bodies warm up and slowly get used to the heat. Today, one minute it was foggy, the next, the sun was blazing down on us.
More unique decorations today. We had been seeing these big balls and wondered what they were. Some were a couple feet in diameter. Often they were laying in the fields. One house had a ball in their front yard. When we took a closer look, we discovered it was barbed wire. We suppose it had been replaced by newer stuff and the farmer just rolled it into balls.
As we get closer to the Ozarks, we enter an area the locals call the Flint Hills. The terrain is basically hillier and more humid.
We stopped three miles short of what we had planned. A sign had advertised showers, so we figured a one and a half mile detour wasn't too much. It's amazing what good a hot shower and a spaghetti dinner will do.
Day: 50; Daily Mileage: 47; Total Mileage: 2,654.7; Stopping Point: Chanute, KS
Just before our alarm went off I was awakened by thunder. It cracked loudly above our heads, and we knew we were in for another morning storm. Though it never stormed hard, it delayed us for awhile. We got up and got the gear packed up in 30 minutes. The rain was threatening a second round, so we ran up to the bathrooms. We cooked and ate in the women's bathroom; it was quite an experience.
The storm front brought another day of headwinds. Some people say that headwinds are worst than hill climbing. When climbing, you always know there's a downhill. When riding into the wind you put in the same amount of effort, but there is no break in the wind to relax.
Turtles line the road, both dead ones and ones hoping to get safely across. We gave one turtle probably the biggest scare. Dad was leading and the three of us were farther behind. We watched as a turtle crawled out in front of him. He swerved, just barely missing his head. The rest of us dodged him as best as we could with the turtle frantically turning circles. After all that a car drove by and scared him again.
I've always had the assumption that cactus are found only in the southwest. Seeing cactus in Wyoming was strange to me. And now, on the eastern side of Kansas, we are seeing cactus again. That's the thing with this trip, how many people driving through Kansas will see a six inch cactus on the road? The only way to experience this country is by bike.
Day: 51; Daily Mileage: 66.2; Total Mileage: 2,720.9; Stopping Point: Pittsburgh, KS
It was our sixth day of morning showers. It's almost getting annoying to have to wait for it to come every morning. Luckily the clouds stuck around for most of the day and the temperature just reached 90 degrees.
Pittsburgh is five miles from the Kansas/Missouri border. Tonight is our last night in state number six. It's been ten days of hot and humid weather, but some of the nicest people on the trail. We figured that Kansas kindness is because no one really visits Kansas. I don't blame them. They are so happy to see bicyclists coming through, also I think they feel sorry for us having to ride in the heat.
Once in town, I realized I didn't have a shirt from Kansas. I've bought one in every state and shipped them home. It will be like Christmas when I get home and open all these packages I've shipped since Oregon. Anyway, we searched all through town before we found one-at Wal-Mart.
Pittsburgh has 17,000 people. The city park we are staying in has a mini amusement park, an outdoor stage, and many baseball diamonds, tennis and basketball courts, besides all the usual equipment. The pool has two water slides, a small kiddy pool, and a river like thing to float tubes around. A campground is also in the same area. I must say that towns out here put a lot into there parks and pool!