Friday, July 01, 2005

Riding Our Way Through Kansas

Today we are in Hill City, Kansas, a thriving metropolis with both a
library with internet and a laundromat.This was somewhat shocking to
us, since it wasn't even bolded on the map in our atlas (yes, that IS
how we decipher whether or not a city we're entering is big or not).
We've been in Kansas, our 9th state, for 5 days now and overall it has
been treating us quite well. The first days were extremely hot with
incredible head winds, but since then the decision to begin waking up
at 430 (no, the sun is not up at that point, but it does begin to rise
right before 6, just when we're ready to roll out onto the road) life
on the flat, shadeless roads of Kansas has been much more pleasant.

Last week we had a week of short spurts in many states. We were in
Kentucky, Indiana, (Kentucky again), Illinois, Missouri, and now
Kansas. Missouri was pretty intense
because I personally had believed that since it was in the midwest, it
should be entirely flat. For the whole state. Flat means (for those
states who are confused) no hills. Apparently when we heard rumours of
some "mountains" called the "ozarks" they weren't really lying. They
do exist. Just a word of advice, if you ever decide to bike across
Missouri and you think it's flat. The worst part about it
was that because the mountains aren't really that big, they don't
waste their time with making long gradual climbs up mountains...
straight up and straight down is the policy there. Needless to say
there were times that i think my front tire actually came off of the
ground because the hills were so steep.

Since entering Kansas we've gone powershuting in Iola, had a work
day/day off in Emporia, took a shower in the firehouse in Gypsum, ate
Mexican food in Sylvan Grove, and had a mail drop in Hill City.
Powershuting was amazing, it is like a motorized parashute from which
we got to see lots of the countryside from about 500 feet above it. In
Emporia we split up into small groups and did different volunteer
activities around the city. Some people helped to clean up and garden
in the public garden areas, some sorted clothing for a local church,
others gave a bike safety clinic at an elementary school, and others
went to a day camp to talk about our experience with the trip so far,
habitat for humanity, and also learned how to do archery. The shower
in Gypsum has been, by far, the most favored shower up until now. It
didn't matter that you had to hold the lever on the end of the hose in
order to have the water come out, the brightly colored tarp walls, the
fact that the water was a wonderful sun warmed temperature, and the
comfort of the giant fire engine right next to you, all made up for
it. Shockingly enough, in Sylvan Grove, they had 2 mexican
restaurants, with incredible burritos and chips and guacamole. Who
would've expected that in a town of no more than 400 people? Today we
arrived in Hill City, greeted by over 60 packages from friends,
family, and even a few from HBC alum. Needless to say, we now have a
giant table of baked goods from which to choose from which we can
sample to our hearts desire. Thank you everyone, for your incredibly
generous gifts, we all greatly appreciate them!

It's officially July now, and we've just ended our 5th week on the
road. It's hard to believe, but we're looking forward to entering
Colorodo in a few days. We're all excited, but I'm sure we will soon
be sorely missing the flat roads of Kansas.