Saturday, June 4, 2011

Wheat, wheat, more wheat, Cows, cows, more cows.

Yesterdays opening city, Tribune is the hub of wheat production in Western KS. The county's 1256, sturdy, friendly and dry

souls, live sixty miles from the nearest Walmart. The mayor announced "Greeley County had jobs ready and waiting for those who favor a high quality life style in Western Kansas."

His Honor didn't define "high quality" but when he quoted the Walmart statistic a cheer arose from a good many of the 800 riders gathered in the Greeley HS gym. Reports of homes going on the market in Kansas City, as cyclists rush to relocate, are as yet unconfirmed. Those anti Walmart elite would have a hell-of-a-time trying to find a latte in Western Kansas.
Riding out to the Colorado state line I passed by the Chatterbox Cafe

I stopped in to see if Garrison Keillor was holding court, nope, I was told, he up in Minnesota fussing about the Republicans and sipping on a latte, Oh well?
The 4-H club provided dinner, along with home made desserts, as well as breakfast this AM, all good.
Today's ride carried us 48 miles East to Scott City, through Cattle feed lot after feed lot.

We,re told 400,0000 head of cattle are fed and finished yearly in Scott County. This would be no place for a vegetarian.

Ag is BIG biz in KA, USA. Bring them in, feed them out to market weight, then off to the "packing house" and on to tables everywear.

We,re camped tonight on the HS football field, food is being offered by some of the local churches and well as the school, no sign of Starbucks here, but.......... the woman ARE strong, the men good looking and the children are all above average. From Scott City, Kansas, so it goes.

Location:Scott City, Kansas.

BAK, Bicycle Across Kansas>>>>>>>

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away folks from all corners of the map came to a place called Kansas to ride their bikes and eat pie. Well now Toto, that sounds like my kinda place. Pam and I have now beamed up to that fair, far away land beginning today for BAK, Bike Across Kansas. www.

BAK is not a luxury cruise with catered gourmet meals, fluffy mattresses, and gentle wake up calls. It can be tough and unforgiving. It can be some guy sleeping in the next tent who snores so loudly he shakes the corn from the stalks. (read bring ear plugs.)

It can be (and often is) an icy cold shower. It can be three days in a row of breakfast burritos and fruit cups. Read be flexible!
BAK is also sweeping vistas and wheat fields from horizon to horizon. Read amber waves of grain.

It is a sky so brilliant blue it will hurt your eyes. Bright white grain elevators will announce each new town.

Green rolling hills will defy the phrase “Kansas is just plain flat.” BAK can be an uphill grind that will test the limits of your endurance and downhill runs that pin your ears back. Biking Across Kansas is about seeing old bicycling friends and making new ones.

It is eating two pieces of pie after dinner and then riding down to the Dairy Queen for a late night treat. BAK, like most of its state ride cousins, is a chance to see your country, up close and personal, from the seat of your bicycle enjoying the views with like minded people.

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Location:Tribune Kansas

Friday, April 8, 2011

Funny thing nostalgia.

"The term nostalgia describes a yearning for the past, often in idealized form.[1] The word is a learned formation of a Greekcompound, consisting of νόστος (nóstos), meaning "returning home", a Homeric word, and ἄλγος (álgos), meaning "pain, ache". It was described as a medical condition, a form of melancholy, in the Early Modern period, and came to be an important topic in Romanticism.[1]"........Wikipedia

Funny thing nostalgia, why is it we, at least some of us, experience a wistful sentimental yearning when we think of or visit some place from our past? Pam, Brdger and I did the Route 66 "thing", the last couple of days, as we drove across much of New Mexico, the panhandle of Texas and Oklahoma. Would I feel any different about the places along that storied road were it

not for the three trips my family made along much of it's length during my formative years? Do you get chocked up when the band plays the alma-mater or some OTHER school? Of course not. It is, I suggest, the longing for something lost which can never come again that bubbles up the sentimentality in some of us. I don't think there's a cure and if there was I wouldn't want to take it. I enjoy ruminating on and visiting many of the places from my past, it helps me appreciate the here and now, being grateful for the people, places and things, that have collectively made me who I am today. So with that I share some photos of Route 66, the mother road of US legend and lore.

Location:US Route 66

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Water Bags and Life Insurance

I was one of the lucky ones? Perhaps you've heard tales of tying that canvas water bag to the front of the car, loading the luggage and and traveling Route 66 on the vacation trip of a lifetime? For the Brunk's of Lakewood Ohio in the summer of 1961 "the trip west" couldn't be postponed any longer. Dad, eager to visit his folks who had moved to California, and Mom, always itching for a trip, decided this was the summer to make "that California trip." And so it was, the 58 Ford was loaded, the family pet, Bambi, a black cocker spaniel, taken to the boarding kennel and the kids, that would be, sister Carol and I, installed in the back seat. As Dad use to say, "let's cock her back and let her fly", it was, in short, an exciting time!
But wait......I digress.....there is the afore mentioned WATER BAG!

As a 12 year old I had already heard several adults tell stories of family adventure, traveling across the desert of the American Southwest in an automobile. Nearly all the tales contained the admonition to not go forth without a WATER BAG, a canvas bag about 12"x12", with a rope over the top to allow it to be hung from the car, filled with life sustaining water; just in case!........ Just in case?
That just in case statement had all the elements of western adventure. I could hardly wait until we made it to Oklahoma where these treasured symbols of adventure travel were sold, at the filling stations of that time, for about 25 cents. As we traveled on we saw many a car with this iconic symbol affixed over the radiator. While the uniformed attendant pumped 25 cents a gallon gas into Fairlane 500, and the four of us were being refreshed with 12 once Pepsi's (twice a much, for a nickel too) I was suggesting to Father it was, doubtless, time for us to acquire OUR life sustaining water bag........somehow,?.......somehow, I still don't understand why, Dad didn't share my enthusiasm. My carrier in sales had just begun! "Dad, you know EVERYBODY has one,...... it's simply not safe for us to go on without one,......what, dear father,....just WHAT would people think,...... pleeeeese??..... Finally, and I've always loved her for this, Mom intervened,?...... "Ralph, what possible harm could come from us having a water bag?".........Dad had no answer,......YES, the sale was made;..... well OK,....he wasn't SOLD, sold,......but we did, by crackie, have a water bag, proudly hanging from the front fender of the Ford, and the twelve year old boy, that still lives within this sixty two year old man, was ready to face the adventure of his young life. A cowboy hat, gun, holster and horse couldn't have thrilled me more, and,......and, what I didn't realize at the time, I'd sold my first life insurance policy; a water bag to my Dad! A future life of adventure awaited!......So it goes.

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Location:Shamrock Texas

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Bend in the road........

Following my decision not to continue with Bubba's Coast 2 Coast bicycle tour on March 21, I was a bit bummed for a couple of days. I so enjoy bicycle touring, mostly self contained, and the group of riders were a joy, but I couldn't see myself being content with some of the circumstances which troubled me and over which I had no control. Any way later that week Pam mentioned it was soon time for her semiannual trip to WV for a visit with her Mom, not only that but a certain little lady named Lillian, whom recently entered the world in Arlington Va, was tuggin' at her heart.

It seemed apparent to me, sharp as a whip am I, that a one week trip was turning into two. Those who know me well will tell ya that I don't get on very well when Pam's away, spoiling me as she does. (I once tried to boil a pot of water, scorched it, gave up.) Altogether now.......sigh. LOL.......In any event, I was kind of jazzed for a trip, so I suggested we do a road trip east and visit the whole fam damley. Pam likes car trips and quickly agreed, so this afternoon about three, we, Pam, Bridger & I, pulled out of Sun City crusin' east, with visits planed in TN, WV, VA, NC, before turning for home. In route we are going to try to rediscover old US highway 66, just for kicks, (sorry, I couldn't resist) the storied "Mother Road" of legend and lore, a highway I travelled as a boy with my Mom, Dad & sister Carol, in 61, 63 & 65. It should be fun remembering those childhood memories, and the boy I use to be, as we see what's become of that historic highway. So it goes.

Location:Las Cruces NM

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Summing Up

Well kids, where to start. Last I blogged was Thursday. Friday's and Saturday's ride were good and uneventful. More of the Sonoran landscape we had been riding through. We were able, following Fridays 80 mile ride, to trim 20 miles off a planed 80 mile ride from Cassa Grande to Catalina State Park, by following a route with which I was familiar. The gang were more than happy to get a head start on our first day off.

Saturday evening Pam joined us for dinner at the park and was a hit with three of her pies. One thing cyclists seem to enjoy is PIE! Following dinner we bid the others goodnight and came home.

On the day off Sunday most of the others visited the Desert Museum. I think they enjoyed the experience. I relaxed at home, fine tuned my gear and decided, not with standing some concerns with Bubba, to continue on with the group. What a great bunch, each with their own ambitions and desires for this tour and each a special joy to learn about as friends of the road.
The weather forecast for Sunday night and Monday called for strong winds and rain. I phoned Bubba to determine when we would depart on Monday. He was vague, didn't seem to know. I shared the forecast, suggesting we might want to get an early start and get to Monday camp in south Tucson early as winds pick up as the day goes on. He was not receptive.
Indeed, Sunday night was stormy, none of those camping got any sleep. Some of the tents were torn up, broken poles, dirty from blowing dust.
When Pam dropped me at the park Monday morning at 7:30 we heard all about the difficult night.
We were then told we would not be departing until 9 AM, we would not be given a route sheet, revealing how to get to our destination, rather we would be led, on a group ride, by some guy Bubba knows named Jim and he did not want us in camp until after 4:30 PM. Jim led us out of Catalina Park, kindergarden style, in a slow parade. Some one joked we should have crate paper in our spokes. We arrived at the University of Arizona campus about two hours later.

Jim gave a brief talk about the U of A and dismissed us until 3PM, when he would lead us on. All the while the weather is gathering and the wind increasing. We had lunch and looked about the campus. At three o'clock Jim showed up and informed us he was physically not able to continue but his friend Glen would be here soon to lead us in. Glen arrived and we set off, in what were becoming gale force winds, toward Cactus Country RV park where we were to spend Monday night. Glen stopped on several occasions to lecture on Davis Monthan Air Force Base. All quite interesting, if we were in a motor coach and not looking at the dark skies and riding into the teeth of a storm.

The riders were becoming increasingly restless with all this and by the time we arrived in camp at 5PM were demanding an explanation from Bubba. He stammered around with some feeble excuses. The others really have no recourse but to take what he gives and go on. He has their money, they are stuck out here in Arizona, and of course their desire was to ride cross country. I told Bubba I have had enough of his Bubbaness and was going home. He blanched.
This is the thing. A touring cyclist has need of certain things, given the challenge of such an undertaking.
Clear and accurate route sheets, and milage totals for each day. Most of us would like several days in advance. It helps us plan, to know how far we will be riding. Bubba would give the sheets each day ONLY after dinner.
A cyclist likes to know the menu. Sometimes you would have a larger lunch if the dinner menu was not something you liked. Again, Bubba was always hesitant to tell us anything.
My observation is that Bubba has big control issues. He thinks its all about him. He uses his control as a stage to masterbate his considerable ego constantly. His most often quoted line, " I know what your thinking, How does Bubba do it." .......Indeed, that sort of constant buffoonery, in absence of needed and promised support, becomes tedious and tiresome.

For my part, I am not YET stuck with Bubba far from home, Bubba did not YET have my money for the balance of the trip. And I didn't reckon I was going to be able to get Bubba to respond to our needs. So it was fish or cut bait. I cut Bubba. My hope is that the dust-up, both literal and figurative, last evening may move Bubba to better service for the others. I mentioned in a prior post my feelings for the good kids who work for Bubba. He has good people around him, but as the saying goes, "the fish stinks from the head down".
I'm disappointed I won't be pressing on with the others, to Florida, but I feel good that I had the chutzpah to stand up to Mr. Ego and extricate myself from his oppressive control before it was too late and save six weeks of misery. So it goes.

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Location:Home, Tucson AZ