May 11 - 19: Kansas

5/14 - Eureka (62 miles 1519 total)
someone said it was 39 degrees when we were having breakfast out behind our chanute motel this morning. boy it was brisk! made that delicious 6-grain oatmeal of patty's taste better than ever. the big excitement of the early morning was that it was perfectly still; not a blade of grass was moving. talk about a mother's day gift!
getting out of town this morning was easy--one left turn & we were off to the west along a mostly-deserted country road amidst picturesque kansas countryside. we saw a few oil-drilling arms pumping away in a field or 2...not the big oil-well towers a la texas, but the little pumping arms. i hadn't realized that kansas was oil country.
this photo will give you a feel for how lovely it was; that's judy riding by. i bet that windmill gets lots of use around here....but fortunately not today.
sari & i found ourselves spinning right along this morning. as you know, we're usually at the end of the pack, but today by the time we made our first subaru stop there were 8 riders behind us. we're trying to practice keeping our noses to the grindstone--& our feet to the pedals--so we're not out after dark on the 111-mile day scheduled for this tuesday. everyone had an easy time of it today; the roads were flat, with a few rollers near toronto, & the winds were neglible. & when they did kick up, they were often at our backs. now THIS is the way we pictured ourselves riding to oregon!
eating on the road wasn't easy today. just ask rose. she rode right past the little cafe in toronto, about 38 miles into today's ride. 6-8 other riders found it & stopped for breakfast. sari & i spotted the bikes when we rode into town...a tiny town with an almost-deserted main street early on a sunday morning...& went into the cafe. when we found out there was no pie, we chatted for a few minutes, used the restroom, & pedalled on to another possibility debby had told us about 2.5 miles down the road.
what a find! from the outside, Lizard Lips Grill & Deli didn't look like much more than a very small gas stop on a hill out in the middle of nowhere. but if norman rockwell had driven by today, he would have stopped to paint the scene inside: half a dozen tables crowded into the deli side of the place were filled with kindly local folks enjoying their mother's day dinner. the special was roast pork with copper pennies (sliced carrots), potatoes, applesauce, & spice cake. the women were dressed in their mother's day finery. we mothers in bike shorts & helmets didn't quite fit, but were warmly welcomed. sari, gerrie, & i each had a piece of pie...coconut cream for gerrie & sari, chocolate meringue for me--not homemade there, but very good. gerrie ended up buying a piece of the homemade spice cake to take with her; she stopped on down the road & enjoyed it later.
anne & debby stopped, too. several of us bought t-shirts: "Lizards of Kansas." it depicts 6 lizards & even lists those "not shown" if anyone would expect a t-shirt front to be the definitive source of info on a state's lizards. at the bottom it advertises "Lizard Lips Grill & Deli, Country Junction, Inc., Toronto, Ks." i also get a kick out of them specifying their own incorporated area on the t-shirt...separate from the nearby town. it's a proud little group there in country junction, inc! i bought one of the t-shirts for one of my sons, but i'm wearing it right now & am guessing that neither mark nor scott will ever get it.
in the photo you'll see sari & gerrie in the foreground, & behind them are the business partners at lizard lips. the woman in the greenish t-shirt in the back row is linda geffert.
she's a one-woman chamber of commerce; she told us a lot about the landscape & history of the area. she explained that this section of kansas is a "tension" zone...where the prairie & trees vye for dominance in the landscape. the others in the photo are linda's brother glenn; linda's "stalwart companion," as she calls her, carlene hall; & in front in red is mom.
linda has written a little book that's for sale at the deli: "Slim Chance and Sadie Straightarrow: Continuing the Search for Truth--Do Lizards Have Lips??" along with the story is a section of famous soup recipes from the deli & a "special invitation" to come to lizard lips & "let us cook for you." it's at the junction of highways 54 & 105 approx 90 mi east of wichita. it's open 7-7, 7 days a week; soup is served mon thru fri 11-3. it's worth a trip from wherever you are.
as sari & i were packing up our bikes out front getting ready to leave, a tall, lanky, middle-aged fellow was ambling into the deli, his mother walking ahead of him. she was slim, & was attired for this special mother's day outing in a white frilly blouse & nice pants, with her makeup & hair just so. the fellow drawled, "you're beautiful, ma." she replied without a pause but in such a loving way, "i always knew you thought so." it was all i could do not to let the tears fall onto that dusty gas station parking lot. i'll never forget the stop at Lizard Lips on mother's day 2000.
by this time sari & i had regained our favored spot at the end of the pack. we pedalled west to a historic marker to read about these vast (4-1/2 millions acres) kansas grasslands...the Bluestem pasture region, or Flint Hills. i decided to take a picture of it so you can read for yourselves:
the next picture shows me standing along the roadway with those expansive pastures stretching almost to the horizon.
we saw some cows today but not so many; they haven't arrived yet for this year's fattening. this is really a fascinating & beautiful area. we were on a busier highway at this point, but as you can see, it had some nice shoulders for us to use.
speaking of livestock, i learned today that the animal that chased rose & sarah on the road midday yesterday was a goat, not a lamb. i bet you were wondering about that. also, i haven't seen any turtles for 2 days....whole turtles, that is; i've seen plenty of turtle pieces. maybe the transam turtle transport service will not be needed any further west than missouri. darleene was telling me that she rescued 4 turtles from the roadway this past thursday & one snake. i don't do missouri or any place else.
we're at the bluestem lodge here in eureka, kansas, tonight. out back is eureka downs, a large, area horse racing track. barbara, patty fainer, & sarah went there this afternoon to try their luck....with no luck. darleene finally convinced a few folks to play cards. others are reading, fixing bikes, doing wash, & just socializing. a couple of riders who've gone on these long rides in the past have commented that our group isn't as social as earlier groups because we have lots more computers & pocketmailers. people are busier communicating with the folks back home than with their riding companions.
there are 74 miles on the agenda for tomorrow, which'll put us in newton, ks. judy the weather watcher tells us that it'll be breezy but that winds will be from the southeast...which to us means tailwinds. oh judy judy, please be right!
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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