Monday, July 9, 2012

John Denver's full of s#*t

Who can forget the classic scene from Dumb and Dumber?

The last time that I checked in I was in Hutchinson, KS which is roughly central in the state.  From my readings, I learned that the Hutchinson area divides the state between the rolling Flint Hills from the true "plains".  My position had been that while my next section of riding would be relatively featureless, there is beauty to be found in such a stark landscape.  Right now I am reading Over the Hills by David Lamb and after travelling through a desolate section of Oklahoma, he writes:

The wind still blew and the land stayed empty, but now that it was nearly behind me, the Panhandle no longer seemed a hostile place.  There is a beauty in its austerity and loneliness that sticks in your mind like a scrapbook photograph.

It's difficult to explain.  Western Kansas and eastern Colorado are truly wide open and empty spaces.  The towns dot the map every 20 miles or so.  Not that a map is entirely necessary.  One picks a road and rides it for nearly 400 miles.  As you pass through a town, the grain elevators of the next one barely appear on the horizon.  The towns' sizes vary from a handful of inhabitants to perhaps 1,500 and the amenities fluctuate along with the population.  With these tremendous expanses travelling on a single road and passing through towns with a single gas station, I find simplicity and harmony.  You can see where you're going and where you've been.  You can ride around town in five minutes.  Your choice of restaurant, motel or campsite are easy because it's either one or none.  Likewise the landscape offers no distractions for the eye or mind.  Some might find it boring or ugly.  I find it a welcome and relaxing change from my otherwise visually and mentally cluttered lifestyle.

I believe this was the ninth day out of about ten consecutive days of 100+ degree heat.
Auto?  I beg to differ.  Larned, KS
Many a mile of this scenery in western Kansas.  Everyone was excited at the prospect of rain.
They don't call 'em "the Plains" for nothing.
IS THERE A RALPH'S AROUND HERE?!?  Yes.  There is.  Ness City, KS
I will give you three guesses as to where the rain might be.  This day was one of running the gauntlet of storms all around me.  There were also some really impressive displays of lightning in the distance.  Despite the lack of proximity, they still scared the hell out of me.
I was really tired one evening and stopped into a food store to grab something for dinner.  A 3lb tub of macaroni salad was not one of my more intelligent choices ever I must say.  Live and learn.  Dighton, KS
Overcast skies and a stiff breeze made this the first cool day I experienced in about a month.  Such a welcome change!
These pancakes were each approximately 3/4" thick.  Very hearty.  While I was sitting in this restaurant, I overheard some locals making some slightly racist and quite misinformed statements about the current president and the presidential race.  As he was leaving, another man said to me quietly "Don't mistake them for the brain trust of Scott County".  I'm quite glad that he cared what a stranger on a bike thought of his town.  Scott City, KS
We said "Mountain Time Zone" not "mountain zone".
Goodbye, Kansas!  Hello, Colorado!
Y'uns got a Starbucks around here?  Like I mentioned earlier, I like the simpler choices that I find out here.  You want coffee?  You get coffee.  Small, medium or large.  Done.  Oh and we're out of soy-oat-banana-gluten muffins too.  Pardon my Styrofoam cup though.  Sheridan Lake, KS
Eastern Colorado is rather flat.  There's also little traffic as evidenced by me laying down on the road to take this photo.


  1. Well done, Tom!

    You make up for a lack of sheep photos with some quite impressive carbohydrate porn.

    1. Unfortunately there are no animals other than myself to photograph in these parts. I hear there's a few sheep in Wyoming though...

  2. First, those pancakes look delicious. Please tell me that they were delicious. Second, I have never, ever seen a rain line like that before. I can see why the storms seemed frightening. Be safe!


  3. I just realized that Google maps has the street view for these roads. I attempted to experience your trip first hand by scrolling my way down Rt96 while a fan blew air from my oven at my face. It made me crave pancakes and late 80's metal music, so I think it was close enough.

    1. To fully approximate the experience, repeat that for a week.

      I'm in Pueblo, CO tonight and I saw the "In & Out Carwash" and thought for a moment that it was an "In & Out Burger". I was really excited for an instant.