Without a doubt, since I've started touring across the country, Kansas has offered the most interesting landscape to date. Interesting in a good way....as in "I'm relaxed when I travel through this part of the country!". Obviously, it's totally different than the mountains, or the ocean, but it's not that it doesn't have great things to offer, the expansive views and wide open landscape are incredible to slowly pass through! The vast wide open views are unlike anything I've ever witnessed, and seeing that horizon span for miles and miles was something that provides a great sense of tranquility.
I also had a great opportunity to cross paths with my cousin Caitlin and her boyfriend Casey that live(d) in Kansas City. It was cool that I had a chance to see Kansas City from the perspective of the locals, and they were able to show me the best parts of the city before they move back to Michigan (ironically the following week). On the first night, we went to Joe's barbecue and had an amazing barbecue dinner. We even had a chance to go to their friends Fourth of July party and go through a pretty thorough brewery tasting session, in which he converted his basement into a a man-cave-home-brew-tasting-room. . It's probably not the right medium to discuss via a blog post, but there were some interesting conversations regarding patriotism and Edward Snowden that ended with a couple of people leaving the party! No harm....No foul!
On my first ride out of Kansas City I cross paths with Frank Dorsey, owner of Frank's bar in Lawrence Kansas. He was awesome and offered to take me out for a beer once I settled for the night, to which I responded "Hell Yeah!". We discussed the local cycling scene, and he told me about some great podcast that have change the trip for me....not sure how I listened to 16 episodes of 'Serial' in three days, but it happened!
As I moved through Eastern Kansas, the heat was incredible. I tried to get an early start (7ish) to get the majority of the riding done prior to when the mid-day heat and humidity settled in. On one of these days, i got lost trying to take a short cut, and I found myself in 'Dirt Road Purgatory' (unable to find pavement). After 15+ miles of gravel roads, I finally found pavement and a place for lunch. As I prepared for the final push to the campsite, I realized I wasn't going to make it before a crazy storm hit. Stranded, I humbly asked a local rancher for a place to camp in his barn, to which he laughed and said, "Come up on the porch and tell me your story". After looking on the "www." we realized the storm was going to be in effect till midnight, So, Bill Bailey and his family took me, and allowed me to share dinner and the celebration of his first Great Grand Childs Nathaniel's 1st Birthday.
I also met Peg & Scott Garber in Council Grove as they hosted me one night as I hauled-ass across Kansas. It was really cool to meet them and spend some quality time with their son Todd (they had a group ride that night, so we only had a few minutes to chat before and after). Regardless, their son Todd took me out to dinner, and helped me restock my food supplies. Come to find out, the family does a really cool thing every year, and they pick a state and spend a week riding bikes through some picturesque areas of the US.
On my last night in Great Bend Kansas, I randomly crossed paths with Chantel Mosher. She's a 20 year old college student / fashion & travel blogger. I ended up spending a couple hours chatting with her on my last day, discussing our adventures & aspirations. It was cool chatting with her. She's takes her blogging pretty serious, and is striving to make a career of it. Not that fashion blogging is really my thing (maybe 'Beard-Vogue' at this present time), but she has some great photos that can be used for inspiration at http://www.wanderingwithc.com. It was eye opening to spend time chatting with her, and seeing how professional she was in seeking an article for her blog. Thanks Chantel for the vision.......you're pretty badass!
On a lonely ride across the plains of Hillsboro Kansas, I had the opportunity to meet Jason Sjorlund, the owner of the Hillsboro Sonic. We chatted while my meal was prepared, and he end up buying me lunch, helped locate a youtube video on how to apply KT tape for an achilles (thats been bothering me for a couple weeks), and sending me off recharged. It was a brief stop, but I exchange contact info with him, not thinking we'd ever cross paths again. He wrote me a great email explaining how I was inspirational as he was having a touch day at work, and was getting pretty irritable with the team. It's easy to go long stretches on the rode and become indifferent to the places and people you meet, but I found an unsuspecting rejuvenation from meeting Jason. Thanks for spicing up the plains of Kansas Jason!