Cheyenne Mt SP-Colorado Springs 20
Colorado Springs-Palmer Lake 25
Palmer Lake-Chatfield SP 38
I left Cheyenne MT SP and headed into Colorado Springs. Once I was downtown, I stopped at the post office to pick up some warmer clothes. Then I stopped at Old Town Bike Shop. I wanted some advice on a route to Denver. They were very helpful and helped me map out a route on the computer. I made my way down to the trail that follows the river through Colorado Springs. If I had a mountain bike, I could take this trail all the way to Denver. I took it to the northern part of town and grabbed a hotel room. The temperature was set to drop into the lower 30s that evening.
The next morning was very cold. I'm glad I got that shipment of warmer clothes. I did have to stop and buy gloves though. The sun never came out. The mountains had a dusting of snow on their peaks. Definitely the coldest weather I've faced in awhile. Most of the day was easy, a lot of it downhill. Towards the end, however, there were some big hills to climb. I made it to Lake Palmer. The wind was pretty strong at this point and I needed some shelter. I set my tent up in the park and crawled inside. Shivering I didn't want to leave the tent to cook dinner, so I went without.
The next morning took me awhile to get moving. I stayed huddled in my tent for warmth. However, it was the weekend and the park was busy with people. I needed to get out of there. I took the 105 north, passed many cyclists and motorcyclists. Fortunately there were very few uphill climbs and easy ones where they existed. Cars were very friendly as well, they must be used to the weekend bike traffic. I stopped for a rest in Sedalia; shared my lunch with Brown, charged my phone, then headed out.
From here the road only goes a little further before you're forced to get on Highway 85. The first mile there was no shoulder; However, it then opens up to become a two lane shoulder. I was on 85 for about seven miles before turning onto a hilly rode that would take me to Chatfield SP. When I arrived I found out the campground was completely full. After staring at the park map for awhile, I scoped out some picnic pavilions that were further out. Unlikely to be occupied for the evening. I rode out towards them. Found one away from the road and trail and set up shop.
I woke up the next morning to the sight of hot air balloons rising with the sun in the sky. I got packed up and rode my bike towards them, then over the reservoir dam. Then down the dam. At the base is a huge dog park. Obviously, we stopped. Probably spent two to three hours there. Brown ignoring me, not leaving the water, swimming after other dogs balls and not giving them back. When finally I was able to trick him to come near me (something he avoids doing at dog parks because he refuses to leave) I was able to grab him. He fell asleep in the trailer as we hopped on the Platte River Trail. We headed north and passed through the greater Denver metropolitan area. When we reached Denver proper, we passed the broncos stadium. Game day vs. The Kansas City Chiefs. Denver broncos have a lot of support from the people of this city. Many use the trail I was on to get to the stadium. I saw an REI and Starbucks on the trail and decided to stop for a bit charge my phone, people watch and appreciate having reached Denver.
A week later I moved into an apartment. A month later I got a job. Made some friends and I'm enjoying my time in Denver. Going to do my best to save up enough money to leave next summer.
Every one I met, every one that has supported me, offered me food, shelter, company, conversation. To my mom for sending out my packages weekly for me. Thank you, my success this past year I owe to all of you.
I can see the mountains in the distance from my bedroom window. I fear and look forward to tackling them next year.
I don't think I will blog for a bit. Maybe to keep you posted on my planning, training progress.
Thank you readers. Thank you everyone so very much.
Sheridan Lake-Haswell 49
Pueblo-Lake Pueblo 17
Lake Pueblo-Cheyne Mt. SP 50
I woke up the next morning and made some coffee inside the church. I headed out and just outside of town met an east bounder. He said he'd probably be the last I'd see for awhile. He jokingly spoke of booming metropolis' ahead. I passed Brandon, population 21. Then Chivington, which was even smaller. I stopped at the church there and had another cup of coffee. I peddled on and took my next break in Eads. I stopped at the grocery store and bought apples, bananas, oranges, canned pineapple and a cantaloupe. I sat in the park enjoying my lunch when two youngsters came over to talk to me. They were curious about my rig. They were bikers too. They had afixed crushed soda cans to their tires to make their bikes sound like motorcycles. After talking for a while I asked why they weren't in school. They said they got out early to help with the fair. I learned the fair was coming to town that weekend. They eventually rode off and so did I.
The remaining twenty miles were so hot. When I finally made it to Haswell I was covered in salt. Dried sweat I think. All I wanted was an ice cold beverage. However, the only store in town closed five minutes prior to my arrival. I found a park and set up. Made dinner and went to bed early as I was exhausted. Fortunately I set up under a pavilion because I woke up to the sounds of rain and thunder. I eventually drifted back to sleep.
When I woke up the next morning I checked my tires to see if they needed air. Of course the trailer tire did, it does every morning. When I checked my front bike tire I brushed off what I thought was a rock. Turned out to be a thorn. As it came off the tire, I could see the puncture and hear the air escaping. I have no more tubes in my arsenal. I tried patching it and hoped that it would hold. There wouldn't be any towns until I reached Ordway. I wasn't even sure if I'd be able to get a replacement tube in town.
I rolled out of town and checked my tires every eight or so miles, adding air as needed. It made for a slow day but at least I had a tailwind. Eventually I made it to Ordway. The hardware store doesn't sell bike tubes. They sold me a can of slime, I realized afterwards that it was for the Shrader valve not the presta, so essentially useless to me. I went into a car repair shop/gas station and they sold me a patch for a quarter. I realized afterwards that it wasn't self adhesive, so essentially useless to me. I went to the grocery store, purchased some salad, avocado, some canned goods, chips, salsa and ice cream. I went back to the park and sat around eating my feelings. Two east bounders from China rolled through. I wanted to practice my mandarin, but was too shy. They offered me a spare tube but they had different sized tires. They eventually left and Brown and I just sat around the rest of the evening. That night the sprinklers went off in the park. I had my tarp over the bike and trailer and I had my rain fly on but had the front flaps tied back. I woke up to water spraying in my tent. I scrambled to untie the flaps and close them. However, one was stuck and I continued to be sprayed. I grabbed my knife and cut off the clasp. I soon drifted back to sleep. Then it began to pour. Rain likes to seep into my tent from the bottom edges, despite the fact that I have a tent foot print. All I could do was cuddle Brown and fall back asleep.
The next morning was so very cold. The high was sixty five. I woke up to find the tarp had blown off my bike and trailer. It was soaked. I had put some waterproof spray on the trailer back in Buhler. It seemed to be less wet but water got in where the screens are. It was lightly raining on and off. I was cold and damp, I had a flat tire. I decided to go back to sleep. When I woke up again it had stopped raining. The clouds still blocked out the sun, keeping it cool. I packed up, pumped up and headed out of town. I continued to check my tires every eight or so miles, pumping up as needed. It was frustrating but the only way was forward.
I finally made it to Boone. I went into their combination grocery hardware store looking for tire tubes. No such luck. I bought some cookies and canned goods. Then went to the adjacent park to set up my tent. I took everything thing out and let it dry. The park was next to a train track crossing. The train came often and blew it's horn prior to crossing the road. It was loud and probably once an hour or every other. As the sun was setting the temperature was dropping. The nights are getting much cooler. I got into my tent and leaned out the door to cook because I was too cold to sit at the picnic table. After dinner Brown and I snuggled and fell asleep.
The next morning I took my time packing up. I didn't have far to go. I pumped up my tires and set off. I stopped once to fill up my tires again. The highway gets much busier coming into town, however, the shoulder was almost a full sized lane. There were prairie dogs popping out of their holes on the side of the road as I passed. I peddled hard until I reached the bike shop. I purchased six tubes.
Now in Pueblo, I would be leaving the TransAmericaTrail. I was going to follow the American Discovery Trail. However, after close examination I noticed that it goes fifteen miles uphill on gravel. My road bike, towing a trailer would not be able to take that on. So I decided to grab a motel room so I could utilize the wifi to discover a better route. I also needed to do laundry. Two blocks away, I found a motel. Luck would have it, they offer free laundry. No quarters! I had lunch at a sushi restaurant nearby. I haven't had sushi in a very long time. I planned my route to Colorado Springs; with the intent on checking out a bike shop when I got there for info on the remaining distance. Got some good rest at the motel, a warm shower, did laundry and did some planning.
The next morning I made some coffee, didn't have to pump up my tires and checked out of the motel. A short day. I was just going to Lake Pueblo SP for some lakeside fun in the sun. A Sunday funday. I followed the ADT to the lake. The trail runs along the Arkansas river which cuts through the town. On one side of the river it's paved. The concrete wall is painted by artists. Really pretty trail.
Out by the lake the trail got a little steep in places. But I eventually made it to the campground. It's a really beautiful lake. Old juniper trees in a semi dessert like scenery. In the background mountains rise from the earth to touch the sky. Seeing these mountains for the first time is truly breathtaking. Brown and I went down to the water and he jumped in of course. We grabbed a campsite that someone abandoned a day early. The picnic tables at each campsite are covered with paneling to the ground on the west side. This was beneficial when an afternoon shower came from over the mountains. After it cleared I set up my tent beneath a juniper tree, made dinner and went to bed.
I decided to take a day off the next day. I headed to Pueblo West, it looks to be a suburb of Pueblo. It was seven and a half miles to Walmart, where I stocked up on food. Went back to the campground rested, read and walked Brown around the lake.
The next day I decided on another day off.
The following morning was rather cold. I waited until noon to head out of camp. It didn't take long to start climbing. Ups and downs. I took highway 115. Incredibly scenic. It rides through the mountains. I would climb up and turn one way and fly down the other side that would open up to incredible views. I can't get enough of these mountains. After thirty miles I took a break on the side of the road to eat lunch and stare up at the mountains. After fifty miles I reached Chayenne Mountain State Park. My legs were so sore after two days off and fifty miles of hills. At the visitor center I asked where the campground was. Turns out it is one mile uphill. It was a rather steep grade up. I had to walk Brown alongside and push for most of it. Once up there though I was in awe. The campground is in the shadow of the mountain. Overlooking Colorado Springs. As night fell the city lights lit up and a gorgeous harvest moon rose above the city below. The park is adjacent to Ft. Carson, so you can hear the echo of gun fire all night. We lit a fire, something I haven't done for a while. A great evening, after a challenging but invigorating day. Brown crawled into the sleeping bag. It's getting into the thirties at night. A sign, winter is coming.
I don't have many more days to Denver. Nervous and excited for a break.
Thank you readers.
Dighton-Scott City 24
Scott City-Tribune 41
Tribune-Sheridan Lake 30
When I woke up I checked the forecast. Rain until noon. So I figured since I wasn't going far I would wait until the afternoon to get going. An hour past when I checked the forecast again. Cloudy skys, no rain. So I scrambled and got moving. Kansas blessed me today with 10mph tailwinds. I made it to Hesston in no time. Small town with some large agriculture businesses. I obviously found Sonic and indulged in some tots and a lemon slushie. Shortly after I got back on the road. A few hills but with a tailwind, it's as if it were flat. My next stop was in the town of Buhler. I have a resupply box to pick up. I dropped Brown, my bags and the trailer at the park and went into town. The post office is closed from noon to two. I would have to wait. I went into the country grocery store next door. I picked up some oranges, raspberries, grapefruit, cantelope, bananas and a bacon wrapped pork filet. I rode back to the park and gave Brown the raw meat while I ate some raspberries. At two I went back into town and picked up my packages. On the ride back to the park it began to rain. It didn't last long. Brown and I hung out under the pavilion and decided to camp in the park tonight.
After sitting there a bit an older gentleman came and talked to me. He picked up biking when he was sixty one. He biked all over for ten summers. Shortly after he left two east bound cyclists rolled up. Eric and Beckett. Nice guys from long beach, California. We kicked it for a bit, chatted, made dinner and shared our experience and knowledge of the road ahead. An evening shared, it felt nice. It made me wonder what it would be like to bike tour with a buddy. Constant company and compromise. Good life lessons. Maybe I can convince a friend to tour with me next year.
The next morning Eric and I woke up around the same time. Becket slept in. I gave him half of my cantelope, finished up my breakfast, wished him a safe journey, and was off. I took a break eighteen miles later in Nickerson. I ate second breakfast. I used the bathroom in the park and the wifi from the library. The next stretch would be sixty miles of no services so I grabbed a couple of gatorades from the store. After about an hour in Nickerson, I headed west again.
About eight miles outside town I ran into a Dutchman. He was riding his recumbent bike cross country. We chatted briefly and then headed towards different views. The day was cloudy and not too hot. I took my lunch break beneath an information kiosk at the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. As I pulled in a light rain came and just as quickly went. There really is nothing on this stretch of road. Grain fields, cattle pasture, wildlife refuge. I reached a church, ah a place of refuge on this long desolate stretch. Locked. I had already traveled fifty miles and wasn't going to make it to the next town. I thought about just camping outside the church but Eric and Beckett had mentioned a town five miles south. I decided to go off route and went to the town of Hudson. There I found an unlocked church and went in. So much ice cream!
I washed my clothes in the sink camped out on the couch and ate some ice cream. I also downloaded the fifth Game of Thrones book and read the night away.
The next morning I headed to the town of Larned. Just a thirty mile day. There were strong headwinds from the NW. I took a brief rest on the side of the road by a field to eat an orange. Just outside the town is a cattle yard. So far on my trip I've seen cows in pastures with plenty of room. Here there were many in dirt pens. The smell is intense, it grabs you by the throat and chokes you. My first stop was Sonic. It was 50cent corn dog day. We got four. I had one, Brown snatched the rest. Also got a cranberry lemon slushie.
After Sonic we went to the park. I dropped Brown off and went back into town. I purchased a wrench at the hardware store and headed back to the park. The front rack on my bike was installed wrong at the bike shop. It was installed too high and the brackets were put on backwards. This made the rack placement up and forward instead of down and back as it should have been. I took it off and reinstalled it correctly. Mostly read the rest of the day.
The next day I stopped at the grocery store before leaving town. I saw two touring bikes outside the store and knew there had to be some cyclists inside. I bought some apples and dog food. When I went back outside I met two ladies, I think a mother/daughter team. We gave each other advice on the road ahead and parted ways.
I stopped about nine miles later for second breakfast at Ft. Larned. Rested briefly then continued. Roughly ten miles later I met Hugh and Chloie. An English couple riding cross country. Fifteen miles later I reached Rush Center. I ate my lunch in the church and rested before continuing on. Thirteen more miles left until Alexander.
When I reached the town I saw a cool old high school, now in disrepair. I rode through the town and found a church. I went in and noticed a lot of things every where. I thought maybe they are just remodeling. When I went to open the next door a woman on the other side beat me to it. It startled me for sure. I told her I was biking and hoping to fill my water bottles in the church. Well, it's no longer a church but a private residence. I felt bad walking into her home. She pointed me in the direction of a rest stop just outside of town. It's a highway rest stop with bathrooms, water fountains, picnic tables and electric outlets. I met an Australian gentleman heading east cross country. He was eating dinner before continuing on to Larned. We chatted for a bit before he took off. Brown and I made camp behind the restroom building. It's beginning to get colder at night, low sixties, high fifties. Clear nights with bright stars.
The next day I woke up early, expecting tailwinds, I had planned to ride fifty miles. We took our first break in Ness City. Stopping at dollar general for some extra supplies. Then the gas station for some stove fuel. I sat under a gazebo and ate my lunch, rested for about an hour then headed out of town. A thirty mile stretch until the next town. Ten miles down the road I got two flat tires. I broke my pump in the process of trying to pump more air into my tires. Two flats, no pump and twenty miles to the next town. Just when things seemed hopeless my angel arrived. An older gentleman pulled up and asked if I was having trouble. I explained what happened and he told me to head down to the end of the driveway. There was a large garage with farm tractors in it. He pulled out the air compressor and we figured out, what I already knew. The valves weren't compatible. I have presta valves on my bike. Most cars and bikes have Shrader valves. We looked around the shop for adhesive to try and fix my pump but no luck. His son and grandson arrived and we're searching the shop for solutions to my problems. Grateful. When we couldn't find any thing to fix the pump the oldest gentleman offered me a ride twenty miles to Dighton. Along the way I learned that they are cattle ranchers, they've been out here on the land for a long time.
When we reached Dighton, I thought he was going to just drop me off. He brought me to the hardware store and said he'd wait outside with Brown for me. They were closed for Labor Day weekend. He brought me up the road to the gas station where I inquired about other places in town that may be helpful. The lady said to me: "you can use my bike pump, it's sitting on my front porch". She gave me her address and we headed to her house. After pumping up my tires he dropped me off at the park. I thanked him for his kindness and said goodbye.
A few hours later my tires were flat again. I changed out the tubes, went back to her house and pumped up my tires again. I stopped at the liquor store on my way back to the park and purchased a six pack for my troubles. I utilized the goods from dollar general to make burritos for dinner and enjoyed the rest of the evening in the park. I planned a short day the next day, there were going to be strong headwinds. Plus with the small hand pump I used to put air in my tires, I couldn't get them as full as they should be.
The next morning I stopped by her house once more to put as much air in as I could, then headed out of town. On this stretch I met Kat. An English woman cycling cross country to raise awareness for domestic violence. We chatted for a bit, she told me where I could grab a huge margarita in the town ahead. I got to Scott City and immediately hit the dairy queen. It was crowded! Looks like this is the place to go after church. I got a s'mores blizzard and biked up the street to the hardware store. I ate my ice cream outside, then went in. They had bike pumps but only ones for Shrader valves. I bought krazy glue instead. I rode off to the park and glued my pump back together. To my surprise it worked! We spent the afternoon lounging beneath the shade of a large tree reading.
There was a Pizza Hut next to the park, so for dinner I got a pizza for my troubles. We saved two slices for breakfast. As it got dark I went under the pavilion. I watched lightening dance across the sky and rain beat down on the pavement. A beautiful show to fall asleep to.
The next morning I packed up and noticed that my tire was flat again. Frustrating. I took the tube out and looked/listened for any air escaping. I couldn't find any. I put it back on my bike and rolled out of town. I stopped frequently to check on it and it was holding up. Not too far out of town the cow manure stench choked me. It really makes it difficult to breathe. More cattle yards. Also I was excited to see my first wind farm since West Virginia. I counted thirty two windmills all but one spinning their blades. I thought I would have seen more wind farms in Kansas. It's seriously windy here, twenty mile per hour winds are normal. I took my lunch break in Leoti. Before you enter the town, a billboard reads: "give me your weary and burdened and I shall give you rest.-Jesus" All four churches in town were locked. Including the one advertised on the billboard. I ate my lunch outside of the last locked church in town. Rested, charged my phone and continued on.
Entered mountain time.
Twenty one miles later I reached Tribune. Three of four churches were locked. I set up in the fourth. Made a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner. Read my book and went to sleep on the floor in the children's room. It was the only room with a fan.
The next day my tire was flat again. I pumped it up and on my way out of town I saw a touring bike outside the gas station. I went in for some coffee and donuts. I met a Canadian gentleman named Danielle. He needed to find a bike shop to get new tires. He isn't on the transamerican route, so he did not have maps. Outside I showed him mine and told him of a hardware store and library in town. Then a westbound English man rolled up. He heard about me from a couple of eastbounders and had to see for himself. He headed into town to pick up some food and I rode off.
Sixteen miles later while I was taking pictures at the Kansas/Colorado border he caught up to me. We chatted some more, then he continued on. I ate some peanut butter crackers and then hopped back in the saddle. I reached Sheridan Lake. I saw the English gentleman's bike outside the gas station. However, I went into town to where there is a church that hosts cyclists. I decided to make today a short day so I could catch up on some blogging. I asked the pastor if there was a place in town to buy fresh produce. He said that there wasn't. The next time I saw him he brought me some sliced cantaloupe and a squash! After dinner I set up the tent on the church patio. Since Brown isn't allowed inside the church, I'm sleeping outside with him.
Some one asked me recently what I've learned on my journey. I slept on it and replied, "patience, perseverance and appreciation". I'm sure I've learned much and more but those three stuck out in my mind.
Thank you readers. Sorry for the delay.
Pittsburg- Immanuel Lutheran Church 26
Church-Santa Fe Lake 32
Chanute rest day 0
Chanute-Toronto Lake 41
Toronto-El Dorado Lake 55
El Dorado-East Lake 46
East lake-Newton 7
I arrived at the bike shop just before opening time. However, the owner was late in opening the shop. Thirty minutes go by and he finally comes. He sold me two gently used tires and tubes for only $20. I changed the tire on the cycle tote and get moving. I guess I assumed Kansas would have bike route directional signs like Missouri did. It does not. I missed the first turn and end up having to take gravel roads for eight miles. The worst.
I stopped in Girard for a brief break. Bought two gatorades and refilled my water at the church in town. I headed out of town and down the road. There are large expanses of prairie, soy bean fields, corn fields, hay bails and cattle. Kansas is very windy, by my guess an excellent location for a wind energy farm. This day it was only 10mph winds. The days are getting hotter as well, this day the upper 90s.
Amidst the sprawling fields and seemingly endless road lies a church that lets cyclists in. You can see its steeple as you climb the hill just prior. As you get to the top it comes into view and I race down the hill to the church. Inside is a kitchen with a note to cyclists: "help yourselves to anything in the fridge". So basically my heaven. There were six free range eggs in the refrigerator. I fried up three with a hot dog. They also let you camp there If you want. I decided I would. I watched the rest of Orange is the New Black S2 on the wifi. For dinner, I found biscuits in the freezer; I fried up the last three eggs and had egg cheese hot dog biscuits and a cucumber, carrot salad. For dessert, I found cookie dough, cheesecake and ice cream in the freezer. Went to sleep fat and happy that night.
The next morning I had three biscuits with marmalade. Then hit the road. The winds and the heat were stronger today. The last four miles into town I turned North and had a tailwind which was nice. I sped into town and pulled into the park. I relaxed by the lake the rest of the day. Walmart is two blocks from the park. After the sun went down I walked over and got some salad mix and cookies. I went back to the tent, chowed down then went to bed. The winds are stronger in the evening, making for comfortable sleeping weather.
Rest day. I finally finished my book. I only have one more left in the series. I checked into a local motel. I hadn't washed my clothes in a washing machine since I left. It's also been a while since I've had a proper shower. I rode my bike back to Walmart for laundry detergent. I also got veggie burgers, frozen veggies, a watermelon and six donuts. I washed my clothes and binged. Watched TV, read some news. Then went to bed.
The next day I stopped at the post office on my way out of town. Thanks for the candy! The temperature was 100 degrees with 15-20mph winds. I ran out of water ten miles from my destination in the town of Colville, population 67. The park didn't have a well pump and there was no store. After resting in the park for an hour, I decided to push on. Then a little old lady waved me down and pointed out the community building. She told me I could refil my water bottles and cool off inside. An angel in old lady skin. I stayed for thirty minutes then headed out.
Headed towards Toronto lake. Just ten more miles. However, they were very hilly miles. I finally made it though. I can see dark clouds around me and lightening in the distance. I sat under the pavilion and watched strong winds drop branches from trees. Then a sudden but brief down pour. When it cleared up I picked a spot by the lake and set up my tent. Brown and I went swimming, made dinner and watched the sunset.
The next day we were up and off. The heat was an intense 100 degrees. Strong 25mph headwinds. I was on the same road all day. Highway 54. There was a shoulder for most of the way. Many hills to take on as well. I took my first break at a church and indulged in some leftover ice cream cake. My second break was in the town of Eureka. Here I had an extra large lemonberry slush. After an hour I set back out into the heat. At one point while struggling uphill I looked back and noticed the tire had come off of the chariot. When I made it to the top I was grateful I had purchased two tires back in Pittsburg. I changed the tire on the cycle tote and again, pressed on. My water bottles are so hot the water just won't quench my thirst. It was a long struggle in the heat this day. I reached the town of Rosalia, thirteen miles from Eldorado lake. I had to stop, I was hungry, thirsty, baked. I found the community worship center and went inside. I made a grilled cheese and some tater tots. Rested, drank so much water and after an hour pushed on the rest of the way. About five of those miles I was headed north and had a decent tailwind.
I reached the campground and set up. Brown jumped in the lake, I took a shower and then we watched the sunset. A nice windy evening beneath the stars. A treat at the end of a hard day.
The next morning I headed out pretty early. Assuming this day would be as bad as the one before. I had a thirteen mile ride with tailwinds in the not as hot earlier hours of the day. I reached Cassoday; had breakfast at the gas station, convince store, restaurant. Biscuits and gravy and a root beer. The next stretch of road is thirty eight miles to the closest town. No services. I set out and while the winds are strong the heat isn't as intense as the day before. Many hills, they're small but every one a challenge when you're hauling a chariot. Halfway there is a church. It was locked, on a Sunday. I was so upset, I wanted AC and cold water. Jesus said: "give me your weary and your burdened and I shall give you rest." I believe churches to be houses of god, not private property. They should never be locked. I found a well pump out back and was able to fill my bottles. I ate lunch then continued on the road.
I reached East Lake just outside of Newton. I decided to camp by the lake, the fourth lake on my five lake Kansas tour. I made dinner, watched the sunset and went to bed early. I woke up in the middle of the night to thunder and lightening. I dozed in and out trying to keep an eye on it. Then rain came and I had to get up and put the rain fly on the tent. As soon as I put the rain fly on and covered the bike and chariot, the rain stopped. I went back to bed.
I woke up and watched the sunrise over the lake. I left the park and noticed that finally, I found the flat Kansas I've been dreaming of. It was nice. I headed into town and went right to the bike shop. They were going to install a front rack on my bike. Not that I needed more storage. However, I was looking to better balance my load. The rack was set to arrive around one on the UPS truck. I mostly hung out outside the shop, talking to strangers. I had a turkey wrap at a local café. Then I met two east bounders. One is biking across country and the other is biking between national scenic trails and then hiking the trail. Finally my bike was all set and I said goodbye. I headed to the neighborhood park where bikers camp. The bike shop has a hostel but they said Brown was too big. The local community center offers free showers, so at least I was able to get cleaned up. Then I made dinner and relaxed with the pup.
Thank you readers.
"You said, "Damn be this wind is still movin' on in, to the bones and the bed of my soul.""
Hartville to Fair Grove
Fair Grove to Ash Grove
Ash Grove Rest Day!!!!
Ash Grove to Golden City
Golden City to Pittsburg
Hartville to Fair Grove wasn't too bad of a ride. I believe in this area I was on a plateau, so the hills weren't killer. I took my first break at a church that had every flavor Capri Sun! I sucked down a few then continued on my way. My next break was in Marshfield. I took a nap under a church awning. The sun was pretty intense that day. The mild summer is fading and temps are rising. After Marshfield I continued on to Fair Grove. A nice little town that lets you camp behind the historic mill. It was a nice evening; the end of the day when I reach my destination is my favorite part of the day. It's tempting to lie down and close your eyes but there's still cooking and tent setting up to do.
Fair Grove to Ash Grove was terribly difficult. Although there was a general decent from the plateau, the hills have returned. As well as ten mph head winds. I pumped up my tires, ate my oatmeal and headed out of town. I took my first break at a church and munched on some cookies and chocolate milk. My next break was beneath a tree in a driveway of an abandoned house. The neighbors saw me and invited me over to fill my water bottles from their well. The well water was refreshingly cold. I had a stomach ache for most of the day. I think it may have been the chocolate milk? It caused me to not eat this day. Other than the ice cream cone I bought at my next stop. I wasn't going to stop but I saw a cyclists' bike leaning against the side of a middle of nowhere gas station. It's nice to say hello to fellow riders. I went in got my ice cream and met a east bound rider. He had heard about me from Jordan and Chelsea, the cyclists I met back in Houston, MO. He was really impressed with the amount of weight I was hauling. After ice cream conversations I headed west. My next stop was in Walnut Grove. I bought another ice cream. Then rode the last eight miles to Ash Grove. The park for cyclists to camp in has showers and a swimming pool! I haven't showered since I left southern Illinois. It was incredible to take a shower. That evening was the high school homecoming football game. I could hear it from the park.
Ash Grove rest day. This rest day was planned. It was supposed to be my one for the week. It ended up being my second because of Alley Springs earlier this week. It rained in the early morning hours. Mostly just a cloudy day. I'm happy I'm not riding today as the winds are twenty mph today. An awesome breeze on a 90 degree day. Today I picked up a resupply box. It got me thinking that I carry too many days worth of food. This was necessary while hiking but I can get to a store far easier now. I'm just relaxing by the pool and resting my legs. Going to wash my clothes in the shower later. Rest days are great.
Tomorrow is my last day in Missouri. Looking at my elevation chart it will be a challenge. Looking at the weather, I'll have 10mph headwinds. Just one more day though. Then flat Kansas! I'm super excited for Kansas. I'm camping by five lakes while there. It may cause me to take extra rest days for some water relaxation.
I headed out of Ash Grove Sunday morning. I rode until I hit Pennsboro, there was a small church there. As I parked under a shade tree, service was letting out. It was a hot day and I needed to refill my water bottles. Most cars had driven away and I asked the last woman there if I may go inside for water. She turned out to be the pastor's wife. She told me that they didn't have running water but had plenty of bottles in the refrigerator. She told me that they keep the doors unlocked and I could go in, help myself and take a rest from the heat. I went inside and was charging my phone, eating chocolates from the fridge when she returned. She brought me a sandwich, chips, an apple, banana and two granola bars! It was so nice. After lunch I headed back on the road. After Pennsboro there were only three more climbs then mostly flat. Almost to Golden City I took a rest beneath a tree and noticed I had a flat tire on the trailer. The treads were showing and the tube inside was flat. I replaced the tube and hoped the tire wouldn't come apart on me. I made it to Golden City, found a church and enjoyed some cookies and ice cream. There was a couch that Brown and I shared that evening.
Monday morning I headed out relatively early. Met an eastbound biker just outside of town and chatted for a bit. He gave me gorilla tape for my tire. I didn't use it because I was pretty sure I could make it thirty miles to the next town and bike shop. With mostly flat terrain and only mild headwinds I made it to town rather quickly. Unfortunately when I got to town I realized that the bike shop is closed on Mondays. So I figured I'd camp in town and go to the shop in the am. Unfortunately they don't open until 10am. Fortunately there's a sonic in town. Lemon berry slushies know how to cheer me up. For most of the day, I just chilled in the park. Sometimes it feels like a waste when you're not moving but sometimes you can appreciate the stillness.
I named my bike today. Kamots (kuh-motz). It means "freedom" in Blackfoot.
Thank you readers.
Saying goodbye to southern Illinois and my new friends was bitter sweet. I was ready to hit the road again though. I've been riding my new bike for almost a week now. It isn't walking but it ain't all bad either.
For an inexperienced cyclist such as myself, this past week has been very challenging. I'm crossing Missouri through the Ozark mountains. Pulling a heavy dog uphill has been killer on my legs. It's been interesting to see new muscles growing each day.
My first night out I slept in the town of Farmington. A bunch of kids were playing in the park as I was setting up my tent. One of them came over to me to see if I was homeless and in need of help. After I told him my story he sat and talked with me for most of the evening. He wants to study philosophy, he questions everything. I was grateful for the company on my first night out.
From Farmington I rode to Centerville. Of course high hills and challenging. In Centerville I camped on the courthouse lawn. In the morning I had eggs and biscuits and gravy at the diner in town. From Centerville I went to a little campground called Powder Mill. A nice small campground on the river.
From there I rode some intense hills to Eminence where I stopped at a watermelon stand and ate my first yellow watermelon since I was eight years old. It was glorious. While eating, I met two other bikers, they were heading east though. However, it was nice to meet other people out there riding. After the watermelon, I rode five more miles to Alley Springs CG. It's right on the Currant River, it was so beautiful I decided to take the next day off for river fun.
As soon as I pulled into a site at the campground, my neighbor campers asked if I wanted to come have dinner with them. They had gone canoeing that day and had been slow cooking a roast all day while they were on the river. After dinner we had milk and cookies, then he gave me a huge bag of orange cherry tomatoes from his garden. I then spent the evening watching the sun set over the river, the bats swooping down at the bugs and eventually the stars dance across the sky. After terrible hills I was grateful for an awesome ending to the day.
The campsite I had chosen backed right up to the river. So the next day I spent hanging out in the water with Brown. The water wasn't cold, it was perfect. I popped cherry tomatoes in my mouth all day enjoying the amazing weather. It's been a very mild summer here, most days it's in the low 80s. Everything was beautiful, such an awesome day off. Later that evening one of the park maintenance guys I had met earlier that day brought me fish tacos for dinner. I had already eaten but I didn't mind having second dinner.
The next morning I headed out with plans to bike to Houston, MO. Just eight miles from town I was on the side of the road resting when two bikers rode by. I called out and they stopped and we determined we were heading to the same place and would camp together that evening. They rode on. After I finished eating I headed out and met back up with one of them in town. We camped at a local park and learned about each other's journey, it was great. They put in some serious miles and are faster than I am or else I would have asked to ride along.
The next day I rode to Hartville. When I got into town and found the court house I saw another biker. He was headed east bound though. He was an older guy, burned out as a lawyer and started walking. He's walked through forty nine states and is now biking them. We had some great conversation into the evening.
So far biking is very challenging but similar to walking, you just gotta keep moving forward.
I'm super grateful for the time I spent in Illinois. Such an incredible experience, a vacation within a vacation. Thank you for helping me during a difficult time in my journey.
Thank you readers. Thank you friends from Southern Illinois. Thank you to the new people I've met in the past week that have shared food and conversation.
There aren't as many pictures as usual since my phone is mounted to my bike. However, as I get a better feel for biking and get into a routine, updates and pictures will come more regularly. I also have a ton of pictures from my time in southern Illinois to upload. Soon...
Monday morning I woke up. After coffee and breakfast I said goodbye before heading out the door. I followed the road up the hill. I made the mistake of turning onto the first trail I saw. Either way it was taking me west through the woods so I followed it for awhile. I reached Hutchins Creek and followed it south until I found the river to river trail. The river to river trail then went back north. I could have stayed on the trail I was on and ended in the same spot. Slight waste of time.
Either way I reached the trail head and the last forest trail for some time. I'll be on roads until St Louis and a bike trail through much of Missouri. Anyway we trekked down a couple of gravel roads to Route 3. I followed that road into the town of Grand Tower. I stopped at the gas station for a root beer and then headed to the campground.
Devil's Backbone is a campground right on the Mississippi River. Despite storm and river flooding warnings, I set up close to the river. Every ten minutes a barge goes by. The wind was rather strong but the rain didn't come until after I fell asleep. No flooding though.
Tuesday morning we woke up and Brown's pad had a crack in it and he was limping. I knew we would have to take the day off. It was frustrating because this was only our second day back on the trail.
I sat around most of the day; reading, tanning, eating, and watching the barges go by.
Wednesday morning Brown was walking better. I put his shoes on and he was clumsy for a minute. Once he got the hang of it he was doing fine. We left Grand Tower and headed out on Rte 3 towards Chester.
We take a thirty minute break every three miles. It's a little difficult to find shade along this road. Often I find myself in somebody's yard borrowing shade from a tree. I passed a small bait/convenience store. I got a root beer and an ice cream sandwich. Brown jumped in the pond out back to cool off.
I sat out front and the guy who worked inside (possibly the owner) came out. He sat and talked to me for awhile. He spoke a lot. Barely a moment of silence between thoughts. My favorite story he told was when he was in Vietnam. I've met a few Vets on my walk; their stories are always very intriguing. After an hour we continued walking.
I made it to Crain Baptist Church. Once there, I took Brown's shoes off and his pads were wet. His pad that had cracked was soft and shedding the cracked portion. There was an additional deep chunk that had come off from being wet and soft. I cannot make a decent pace stopping every other day for healing. I also feel awful for putting my dog through such pain.
I decided that the best way forward is on bicycle. I returned to Alto Pass to stay with the friends that I had made there. They have a family member who does long distance touring rides. I was able to get a wealth of information from him. I'm currently in the process of purchasing a touring bicycle and dog trailer. I wish I could continue on foot. My fear is that I will see less and have fewer interactions on bike. However, it's a necessary evil to continue forward without putting additional strain on Brown. Maybe I'm wrong though, maybe I'll be able to see more by being able to deviate further from the trail.
I haven't owned a bike since I was a child. This will change the dynamic of my journey but I'm going to roll with it. It's important to be flexible in life and accept and adapt to the circumstances that confront you.
Since returning to Alto Pass, I've ordered a bike and trailer; attended the 35th annual Tomato Fertility Party; went blackberry picking; went canoeing/kayaking, bike riding and enjoyed the hospitality of the locals. I hate not moving every day but if this is part of the journey, so be it. I keep myself busy by cleaning the house. One day I rode the bike to a local farmers market. I spotted golden cherry tomatoes, $1.50/pint. These would be $3 or $4 back in DC. So I bought three pints and was popping them in my mouth on the bike ride home.
Today I rode my bike to Bald Knob. Atop sits a giant cross. Peddling up the ridge reminds me that this bike dynamic will be challenging, I look forward to it though. Until I roll out of town, I'll continue to enjoy the amazing summer produce, especially the local peaches.
It's a bizarre sense of comfort and anxiousness to be stationary. It's nice waking up on a soft bed to coffee and a hot breakfast each morning. However, everyday I feel like I should be walking, exploring.
Thank you readers.
"What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us."
Wednesday morning I made coffee then left the church. We had a long walk that day. Got rained on early on, but only for about thirty minutes. Crossed Hayes Creek, it was knee deep. On the other side the plant life was very over grown. I think I brushed up against some stinging nettles or something because I got a painful tingling sensation on my shin. It only lasted for ten minutes but it was intense.
Around 6:00pm I found a primitive campsite in the woods and was gonna make camp. I figured I still had two and a half hours of daylight left and decided I would push on for a campground instead. When I finally emerged from the forest later in the evening, the sun was setting. I couldn't find the Horse Camp listed in my guidebook. I stood on the side of the road looking at the map on my phone for a place to camp when a car pulled along side of me. The man pointed me in the direction of the trail. I told him I was looking for a place to camp for the evening. I told him about my walk as well. He told me of a camp a quarter mile off the trail. He said to go there and tell them Mike Scott sent me and would pay my camping fee. I thanked him and headed towards the campground.
I found a spot and set up. Took a shower to wash the mud off of myself. Made dinner and then crashed.
Thursday morning I woke up and went to the camp office. I was charging my phone and updating my blog. The owner came down and we chatted for awhile. I was telling his wife how low I was on food and needed to make it to Goreville the next day or go without. Fortunately they raise chickens and I was able to purchase a dozen eggs from them. She hard boiled them for me and included a candy bar, two bananas and some pita chips for only $2.00.
I got a late start and got turned around on the trail. I ended up trail blazing through the forest to make up for lost time. Frustrating. I made it to Max Creek, it's a beautiful little creek and has some bizarre geological activity called the Max Creek Vortex. You can only see it at night though. I emerged from the forest for a bit of road walking. I passed Taylor Church and went in for a brief break. Unfortunately, they didn't have any cookies. They had soda though and I always appreciate a little extra sugar in these veins.
I went back through the forest for awhile. Passed over the dam of Dutchman's Lake. I then walked through a serene pine forest. Probably a planned forest as all the trees were in rows. Either way it was silent but for a few birds and the soft rustle of needles beneath my feet. I then came out of the forest, passed a few farms and was three miles from Fern Clyffe SP where I planned to camp.
I walked by a home and the homeowners were outside grilling and called out to me asking if I needed any water. I said yes and we began chatting about my walk. They asked if I needed any dog food. I was completely out and was going to feed Brown dog biscuits for dinner. They gave me a gallon zip lock full! As we chatted more rain clouds began rolling through. They offered me a ride the last three miles and I took it. As he let me out at the campground the rain came. Not too heavy through.
The park is just outside of Goreville. Good thing because I made my last dinner that night and would need to resupply in the morning.
Friday morning I met some thru hikers. They were just walking the 160 miles of the River to River trail. They're training for an eventual Appalachian Trail hike. Since they were headed east and I west, we exchanged insight on the trail ahead. I took a shorter trail into town saving myself five miles. I bought three days worth of supplies and new socks.
We headed out of town and made it to the Goreville Waterfall. It's not where I had intended on camping but it was a beautiful place and Brown was tired. So we ended up calling it a half day here. The waterfall and lagoon below looked like an excellent swimming opportunity. As I began to walk out into the water I noticed a snake swimming towards me. That changed my mind about the swim real quick. It may have been a young water moccasin or a non venomous water snake. I wasn't taking chances. Instead I sat on some rocks and read and enjoyed the sound of water crashing off the rocks into the lagoon below.
After a while I set up the tent and made dinner. Then went to bed.
Saturday morning I woke up and was headed to Giant City SP. I passed a Presbyterian Church and went inside. I had some chips, nuts and soda while my phone charged. I began to feel as though I was looting churches on my walk. Hopefully Jesus is a forgiving man.
The trail is beginning to dry up, not completely but far better than it has been. I passed through Panthers Den Wilderness area. A nice area with awesome rock formations. I went through Crab Orchard wilderness and then the trail exits onto road. Across the road are signs to continue the trail on an old forest road. However, my guidebook said to make a right and the trail will continue on the left in half a mile. I decided to stick with the guidebook. There was no trail in a half mile and I had to back track on a busy road with no shoulder.
I continued across the road and navigated through an unmarked trail. After a mile or two the trail markers appeared and I felt a little better. However, when I emerged from the forest I must have made a wrong turn because I should have had a two mile road walk to the campground. Instead after I had walked two miles I ended up on a farm road. Seven miles from the campground, at sunset. Grin and bear it, with no other choice I press on.
A mile up the road I found a church. It was locked so I made camp out front. The sun had gone down and I made dinner and turned in early. Church would begin at 9:30 and I intended to be gone.
Sunday morning I continued my walk to Giant City SP. I walked past a vineyard a dozen apple orchards and even a mango orchard (grove?)! Sadly only baby fruit on the branches. I finally made it to the lodge and walked by some cabins. I found the swimming pool. I tied Brown up outside and went for a dip. It felt so good. The day was hot and the pool the perfect temperature. I went back to the bench I tied Brown to and sat there awhile reading.
Later that evening I returned to the lodge for dinner. Since it was fathers day, it was pretty crowded. Instead of waiting for a table, I sat at the lonely bar. The only thing they were serving that night was: "all you can eat chicken dinner". Basically mashed potatoes, corn, green beans, dumplings, biscuits and fried chicken (breast, thigh, wing, drumstick). I had two helpings of chicken and felt really full. You could have rolled me out of there. I watched part of the Heat/Spurs game but gave up hope after the first half. Then I turned in for the night. So full I passed right out.
The Lodge, cabins and trail were built by the CCC. Many of the lodges in the state/national parks I've been to were. It would be pretty cool to have a similar program today. I think it would be fun, I'd sign up to build cabins and trails throughout the beautiful parks in our country.
Monday morning I packed up and headed out. Only a few miles to Makanda, where I needed to pick up my resupply package. Found a church on the way and cooled off inside. The days are getting much warmer as summer is approaching. The post office window doesn't open until 1:45 so we sat around for a bit. I then went down the hill into town, a small village. An ice cream shop and an art welders gallery where there's occasionally live music. Not much else here. I crossed the rail road and a bridge while a dog followed us across to the post office.
I got my resupply boxes but my shoes had not yet arrived. I'd have to wait one more day in this town. As I began to walk back over the bridge a train was coming so I stopped at a picnic pavilion by the river. The dog that was following us did not stop. He approached the tracks even though the train was passing through. I assumed he would stop and wait. However, she looked as though she was looking for a way between the cars to get to the other side. I screamed NO! Come here! It was no use. Something jutting out from the side of one of the cars smacked her across her head. When she went down, I thought for sure she was dead. I ran over but had to wait for the train to pass before I could get close enough. She was still breathing, her body stiff and damp. She was in shock. I began rubbing her ears and a few moments later the stiffness of her body eased. The side of her face was bloody. Some people came over by then and brought over a folding table as a makeshift stretcher. They carried her over to the shops into the shade where she appeared to then grasp the situation and pain she was in. It looked like her tooth went through her lip. It kept getting caught in the hole it made and she would paw at it fiercely. They all seemed to know the dog but it's owner was off at work somewhere. They decided to bring her to the vet. I imagine she cracked her jaw.
A terrible thing to witness. It sends shivers through your bones when you see an animal in pain. After they loaded the dog into the car, I headed back up the hill to the church. I sorted out my supplies and decided I would check back tomorrow on the dogs condition.
My brother was driving from Wisconsin down to Missouri and would be only forty miles from where I was. We haven't seen each other in four years, so he decided to make a side trip to come see me. It was nice to see my brother and niece. They ended up staying the night with me in the church.
Tuesday morning we woke up, had some coffee and said goodbye. I had to wait around town for a bit because the post office window doesn't open until 1:45. I was expecting my new shoes. I trekked down there around 2:00. I inquired about my package. They denied it and wouldn't hold it for me because it was sent by FedEx not USPS. This was so aggravating because my shoes are falling apart. They hurt my feet and knees. They're ripped open on top. I needed those shoes. I couldn't wait around though.
The hikers I met in Fern Clyffe SP told me the trail out of Makanda hadn't been maintained and was tough. I checked it out, it was pretty bad, so I mapped out a road walk to Alto Pass. Passed by a lot of orchards. As well as small migrant worker apartments. I didn't think about it, but I guess it makes sense with all the orchards. I stopped in a church for some juice and cookies. Then continued. The day was hot, around 91 degrees.
We eventually made our way into Alto Pass. A beautiful overlook greets you as you make your way into town. I was looking for water when I ran into Don, the former mayor. He pointed out a good camping spot along the trail. We talked about my walk and it was dark when I began setting up my tent.
When Brown climbed in, he was licking his paws incessantly. I searched to see if there was anything in between his toes or if his pads were bloody but saw nothing. He was reluctant to put pressure on it as well. Hopefully it'll be OK in the morning.
Wednesday morning it was not better. He held it up and would not put pressure on it at all. I packed up and went to the pavilion in the park in the center of town. The man I met the night before was walking by and came over to say hello. When he saw Brown's condition he said he would get his neighbor. She is an anatomy professor and runs a pet rescue.
Unfortunately she was at work but her husband came down to check on us. He called his wife and she knows all the vets in the area and was able to get us an appointment later in the day. Went to the vet and found that he had sprained his middle digit at the knuckle. The vet was awesome and paid for half the bill. Gave Brown some steroids and antibiotics. We also got some tick medicine while there. When we got back from the vet the couple opened their home to me. We had chicken soup for dinner/soul. Afterwards we went out on the porch. Their friend came over and I got a private bluegrass performance! They're incredibly talented musicians. It was nice after a stressful day to relax and listen to music while winding down. After a night of listening to them play, I retired to the futon with Brown. Hoping for a speedy recovery.
Anyway, thank you readers. Thank you to those who have provided help and encouragement, conversation and support this week.