May 11 - 19: Kansas

5/13 - Chanute (61 miles 1457 total)
what a treat we had with our breakfast today! patty fainer's kids sent us apple strudel from patty's favorite bakery in santa barbara. on it was a sign, "happy (early) mother's day to the biking momma's." patty tells me that apple strudel is her favorite treat for special occasions. we sure appreciate her sharing that tradition with us. THANK YOU, FAINER FAMILY, from all of us.
we left the motel in pittsburg early today thinking that would help us avoid the infamous kansas winds, which are reputed to escalate by midday. it was clear & chilly....& the winds were already more than a breeze. as it turned out, our major impediment today wasn't the wind, it was the route sheet. so much for an early start. trying to figure out the route sheet turned out to be a challenge. anyone flying overhead in a hot air balloon would've gotten a kick out of seeing clumps of brightly-colored ants moving down a road one way, then turning around & heading back, then trying another road & heading back, & on & on. sari & i, as usual starting near the end of the pack, again lucked out, since by the time we catch up with the crowd, they've already tried a few possibilities & have found the right road by comparing with their adventure cycling maps. we gleefully pedalled down that right road....but it soon became all wrong.
in the photo you'll see a picture of dismay as we peer out over a creek with no bridge across it.
that's rose in the yellow jacket with sari behind her. to the left down by the creek are sarah & patty fainer.
they tested the waters & soon convinced rose that the 3 of them could indeed wade across the creek, carrying their bikes, & continue biking down the road on the other side. so that's what the 3 of them did.
sari, judy, & i chose the less adventuresome (& less muddy) option: we waved down a passing motorist, who described a part-gravel route up to highway 7, our destination. after a couple miles or so of gravel we came to a paved road, but since we weren't sure it was the one we should take to hwy 7, we decided to flag down another motorist. the 3 of us stood on the roadside & waved nicely to a fellow passing by....but he neither acknowedged us nor stopped. boy did we feel snubbed. how could he possibly speed by a bevy of beauties like us?? after the way the day had gone, he was adding insult to injury. but soon another motorist came by, a very nice woman who cheerfully stopped & confirmed that we were headed down the right road; she redeemed our faith in kansans.
we arrived at the tiny town of girard. rose, sarah, & patty fainer were already in town having breakfast....having handily survived the bicycle portage. linda was also there in the subaru. we stopped at the subaru for water & snacks & continued on. the day remained cool but blindingly sunny & beautiful. we probably would've thought the winds a problem if we hadn't biked this past thursday. they were out of the north/northwest, so not in our faces most of the time, as we primarily headed straight west. our roads were narrow but pretty & with very little traffic. there were half a dozen hills all day....but they seemed like anthills after what we've climbed earlier on this trip.
in the town of walnut, many stopped at a tiny restaurant for breakfast. sari & i stopped, too, but once we realized there was no pie, we had something to drink & moved on. while we were there, rose told us that she had been pursued by a lamb as she neared the restaurant. here we thot dogs were our only roadway threats.
on down the road the subaru was stopped near a horse pasture. we stopped to fill water bottles & inhale a few chocolates (hershey's nuggets with almonds, reese's peanut butter cups, hershey's kisses...all kept in a small cooler so they won't melt). 3 of the horses in the nearby pasture took a real interest in us. in fact, one of them took a particular interest in patty fainer's bicycle, which she had leant against their fence. first he started nibbling on the handlebars, then the bike seat post, then the bike seat itself.
finally patty felt compelled to fend him off (see photo).
sometime around 2 we turned north & headed into chanute on a more heavily traveled highway. patty fainer & i were riding ahead of sari. when i got up onto a little wider piece of pavement i stopped to wait for sari. all of a sudden, i heard a loud clatter of bicycle parts right behind me & looked back to see patty fainer, feet still in toe clips, falling sideways onto the pavement. she laughed, unclipped her feet, & picked up herself & her bike. as it turns out, mud had caked into the bottoms of her biking shoes during her portage across the creek, & the mud was now so hard that she couldn't get in & out of the clips easily. once she was back on her bike & sari pulled up, we renewed our trek toward the motel. again after a few blocks i decided to stop & doublecheck directions & wait for sari. & again, clatter-clatter-clatter behind me. & again patty fainer laughed & picked up herself & her bike. i told her she was a one-person 3 stooges routine.
poor judy barrett...i'm her roommate again after 2 nights of rooming together in pittsburg. our 3rd tonight is sarah. after we got here this afternoon, judy & i walked down a few blocks toward town to the walmart, then further to TCBY. 4 other bikers were already there; we all satisfied our afternoon ice cream addictions.
patty the chef fixed some sensational stir-fry for tonight's with tempeh, the other with chicken...& also some rice & slaw. as we were finishing up supper, katy lopeman, a local woman who lives across the street, wandered toward us, yodelling! she wanted us to come over to her place to see "something special," so we walked over after the map meeting. (lin sang the map meeting; we like that style of instruction & her beautiful voice!) katy lopeman put on a little reading that she's developing about garage sale hats. she has a tableful of them, all with different meanings for her. she explained them all during her presentation.
then she started singing & playing her tiny banjo & ukelele.....& she threw in some yodelling, too. we joined in on the songs we knew, swinged & swayed, & in general enjoyed a unique after-dinner treat.
here's a picture of katy wearing one of her garage-sale hats.
she's 73 & has a bright twinkle in her eye. & she rides a purple bike that pulls an older burley trailer. each morning she bakes homemade goodies & takes them to local merchants who sell them, then return the profits to her, which she in turn gives to local youth programs. she enjoys meeting any bikers who pedal thru town; they all sign in her spiral notebook. she's another transamerica trail treasure.
tomorrow we pedal 60 miles to eureka. if the weather & roads are as pretty as today's, we'll be happy.
Higher quality versions of the pictures from my trip are available here. If you would like copies of the original, full-size photos, or if you would like text-only versions of these daily reports e-mailed to you, feel free to e-mail my son Mark with your request. Stay tuned....

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