So I’m not original with this blog title, but hey, when in Kansas, do The Wizard of Oz. AND, to top it off, I think I earned my right to be cliche as we lived through a tornado. A small one, but a tornado nonetheless. More on this later.
Day 34- July 4th
So we entered Kansas and after a couple of miles reached Pittsburgh. A town consisting of about 20,000 people. One of the biggest towns we have been through.
Upon entering the city, we noticed a bunch of gorillas in red and yellow. Either statues or on signs. It turns out it’s the local college’s mascot- Pittsburgh State.
We made it to McDonalds and contemplated how far we came, about 64 miles. After getting large drinks and McFlurries, we booked a room for two nights as we were going to take a rest day, then headed over.
The receptionist at Regency Inn was very pleasant and so cheerful. I really liked her shirt, which read, “red, white, and beautiful.” We took showers and relaxed then headed to the Aldi, grocery store, down the block. It was closed for the holiday. We continued on to Subway.
After eating another footlong Subway sandwich, we hung out in our air conditioned room for the 4th of July fireworks- they were at 10pm.
We weren’t sure we were going to make it, but we managed to stay up and, luckily, we could see them from the parking lot! So we didn’t have to move far. We actually saw this town’s and another one’s firework display as well as a few home ones.
I took some videos, but it doesn’t like uploading them.
Day 35- July 5th
Rest day!!! We still got up at 6:30am……
We had several errands to run, most concerning personal matters. Finally, nothing to do with our bikes!
Pittsburgh is a cool town. Nice downtown with lots to do. Stopped in the bike shop just to see it. They seemed busy!
Day 36- July 6th
Started off with good intentions….set the alarm to 5, then have breakfast at 6 then hit the road at 6:30….well we did 1 and 2, but 3 didn’t happened as it started raining!! We looked at the weather and it said clear skies till the afternoon. But it was raining….we relooked and it changed to showers till 9. So after breakfast we went back to sleep for 2 more hours then hit the road.
The terrain is mostly flat through Kansas, but it does have hills! Nothing in comparison to before, but several small inclines. Other than that, just farmlands with no shade at all. The weather also said this week will hold high temperatures such as 97 degrees.
If you don’t know what’s pictured below….those would be fish heads on stakes…..fish heads….we were just biking along and then we saw this farm. We asked some Kansas folks later on and they said that was pretty weird, but people do put things on their fences like boots.
We made it to Chanute, Kansas, about 60 miles. It has an interesting history with the railroad and the cow industry.
We stayed at the Knight’s Inn due to no showers at the campground and it had a pool. We did more personal errands then stopped at Walmart to get dinner and headed back to the room. After taking a swim, we had dinner.
Day 37- July 7th
Again, it rained. Our good intentions of leaving early were stalled. And after we got on the road, about several miles away from the motel it started thundering and lighting. Not to be out in the open with metal bikes we took cover in a fertilizer factory. It didn’t rain, but the lighting did put on us pause. After 10 minutes the weather cleared and we continued.
We stopped for a 30 mile break in a small town called Coyville.
If you can’t read the sign in the above picture, it says that this town has a bunch of first for the county….one being- first hanging.
We continued on for another 10 miles or so to Toronto for a quick stop then to a convenience store several miles further. This place is called Lizard Lips and it has a bunch of lizard decorations. They also give out lizard toys.
After cooling down and drinking lemonade, we continued on for another 19 miles to Eureka, Kansas. This ride was not pleasant as we were on a state highway that was highly active. Unlike past states, this had a decent shoulder and Kansas drivers have been the most polite and respectful I have seen, but it’s still nerve racking as the speed limit is 65.
There also were more hills and we later found out they are called the Flint Hills, which our map actually warned us about. They were not steep, but definitely long inclines and descents.
We met two bikers from Maryland, going East, along the route who told us about a lady who takes in bikers in her rental home since she currently has no renters. She hosted about 72 bikers last year and currently, as of meeting them, had 42. They gave us her phone number. We called her and she said we can stay at the house. Her name is Robyn and she is super nice and very friendly. She gave us the key and we settled in and after she got off work she dropped by to make sure everything was in order and we sat and talked for a few hours.
The house is furnished with everything even food! And it’s not far from restaurants or the grocery store.
We also had the exciting experience of being in a tornado. We were getting ready for bed when my phone buzzed with an emergency alert. Tornado warning. This was my first tornado experience and I was freaking out. Dad was very calm until the siren sounded then he walked into the bathroom as you are suppose to either go underground or in the bathtub. At this moment, Robyn came back to keep us company. It was 9pm. Meanwhile it was thundering and lighting and the wind was crazy. Again, I have some videos, but it doesn’t like uploading them. It wasn’t until 10:30 when the storm passed and everything became calmer. We lost power and it didn’t return until after we left the next day. Someone called Robyn and told her the nursing home behind her house was ruined. So a tornado actually touched down in Eureka. According to the news, I saw much later, it said the winds were 135 mph. The majority of damage was 6 blocks from were we were at. We didn’t go to bed until 11pm.
Day 38- July 8th
We woke up late- 6:45. No power. The rain was spitting. We got ready to leave. An hour later, Robyn stops by again to make sure everything is OK as well as offer us a tour of the damage. We agreed and hopped in her car. It was surreal. I’ve seen tornado damage on TV, but this close was a sight.
She dropped us back off and we headed on our way already seeing people start clearing the debris and starting a shelter.
We rode again on that state highway (US 54) for another 19 miles and saw a bunch of work trucks and landscape trucks go by. We assumed to Eureka to help. After 36 miles we reached Cassoday. We ran into a biker, going East, who said this town was dead and there was nothing. That was bad news because we needed water for the next leg of our trip (40 miles). But as we went through town, we asked someone and he said there was a store further up.
It had a lunch buffet Monday through Friday with every day being something different. We came on a Friday meaning they were serving Fried Fish- cat fish. It was sooooo good. They also had salad, sides such as potatoes and corn, and 3 types of dessert.
The ladies running the store are super! It’s maybe .3 miles off route. If that other biker only looked left when he turned into town he would have saw it. After an hour and half we filled up our bottles and left for this stretch, which held nothing just farmlands.
We did run into 2 more East bound bikers, one from Italy and the other from California. We chatted with them for a bit about what’s up ahead for us and for them and continued on.
Our next stop was Newton and everyone told us about this really cool bike hostel, in a bike shop, that gives out free beer. Well, the catch is that it’s 25 dollars per person per night and it’s jut mats on the floor- no beds. The kicker is also, the shower isn’t even in the building. You have to go 2 blocks down to the community center (during their hours). You can have your bike worked on (fees not included in hostel price).
We figured it was better to stay at a motel so we didn’t go to the hostel. This was our longest day yet at 75 miles. The last few miles were rough as we wanted to just get there and the head winds picked up. We have had some tail winds, which are awesome, but the majority of the time in Kansas we have had side winds.
So….where’s Dorothy and Toto?