Scenic 150 Ride to Save Lives

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“We conclude that blood lives of itself and that it depends in no ways upon any parts of the body. Blood is the cause not only of life in general, but also of longer or shorter life, of sleep and waking, of genius, aptitude, and strength. It is the first to live and the last to die.”

-William Harvey, 1651

         Of course we understand that’s not true, but Harvey knew something we all intuit. Blood is unparalleled in importance and defining of life; and death. We use it to invoke or posses birth, ancestry, optimism, loss, and passion. American Indian Tribes and Los Angeles gangs adopt it as their title and identity. We have used the word for 500 plus years, and it hasn’t lost its value or vitriol. We understand it to mean life. How pernicious, then, are diseases which pollute and corrupt our most lasting and meaningful representation of life?

           

By the time you’ve read to this point, it is likely someone in the US is getting the news they have a blood cancer. By the time you finish reading this blog, it is likely someone has died from blood cancer. These deaths will likely account for ~10% of all cancer related deaths in 2017. Absolutely appalling. That means, world wide, we will lose enough people to fill Lambeau over 9x in one year. That’s nearly 152x the personnel we lost in combat in all post 9/11 conflicts. They will be our brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and children. Cancer does not care. It is an indiscriminate killer. Due to that, we aim to eradicate it. You can help.


Please donate $1, $5, $20, $1000; whatever you can afford and I will ride 150 plus miles along lake Michigan’s shore caring my tent and gear with me as I go. Those who know me, know this isn’t out of character riding, but keep in mind, those funds will likely save someone you love. They may even save you.

           Please donate even the smallest amount and help us save at least one more life this year. Thank you for your time.

-Dan Roberts

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References

“Cancer Mortality”. Aicr.org. N.p., 2017. Web. 11 Apr. 2017.

“Facts And Statistics | Leukemia And Lymphoma Society”. Lls.org. N.p., 2017. Web. 11 Apr. 2017.

“‘Over 5,000 US Soldiers Killed Since 9/11’ – Marine Corps General”. RT International. N.p., 2017. Web. 11 Apr. 2017.

“Packers.Com | Lambeau Field – Stadium Info – History – Lambeau Expansions”. Packers.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 11 Apr. 2017.

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Ride Oklahoma – Eisenhower State Park to Twin Bridges State Park

Ride Oklahoma

Ride Oklahoma

I rode South to North through the entirety of East Oklahoma covering about between four and five hundred miles between Eisenhower State Park and Twin Bridges State Park (onto Joplin, MO.). This is my review.

Urban Areas:

I spent very little time in large cities due to the lack of them. Muskogee was probably the largest and as

A lot of music to be had in Muskogee

A lot of music to be had in Muskogee

far as I saw there was no bicycle infrastructure. People were indifferent to my presence. Defensive riding was definitely the constant mode. The roads were very bad. I found watching traffic and avoiding large pot holes and missing road sections very tiring. On the upside there wasn’t too much trash and my tires weren’t in peril of punctures for the most part. Unless the city you are riding through has some sort of bike infrastructure like paths or a bicycle awareness campaign I would suggest avoiding them.

Rural Highways:

Oklahoma’s road ways are in desperate need of repair. This sentiment was often lamented by locals I met without me touching on the subject. Pinch cuts are inevitable.

Pinch Cuts result from hitting stones, curbs, or sharp edges of holes in the road surface. When the tire hits a sharp edge hard enough, it compresses so that it bottoms out. The inner tube can get pinched between the rock and the rim. Pinch cuts usually put two small holes in the tube. This type of damage is sometimes called a “snake bite” because the two holes look like the wound made by the fangs of a snake.Pinch cuts sometimes ruin tires as well as tubes, but usually the tire will not be damaged.

The impact that causes a pinch cut can also make a dent or “blip” in your rim.

I had four tubes blow out in three days due to pinch cuts while riding Oklahoma. The best was to avoid this happening is keep your tires well inflated. You run the risk of blowouts due to the tube not taking the pressure, but in my opinion it is the better of two evils.

After my fourth pinch cut casualty I bought some Slime Tubes. They are self sealing tubes filled with a “slime” which seeps into small holes immediately filling them. Some cyclists argue against them because they are slightly heavier (we’re talking grams) while others contend the slime is bad for environment. All I know is I had no more flats after installing them. Worth the weight to be sure.

Traffic is courteous but not expecting or watching for cyclists. Again there is little bicycle infrastructure and no awareness campaign I saw. Ride with your head on a swivel.

Carry a lot of water and enough food for a day. Water stops are few and far between. Locals often will be helpful if you are desperate. Refer to Ride North Texas – A review on the proper way to ask for water.

Busted

Busted

Be careful not to wonder onto the turnpike. OK’s highways sometimes will end at the turnpike and the authorities will stop you.

While the road ways are quite clean of trash there was a staggering amount of dead animals on the road. In some regions it was literally every  ten yards. This makes for putrescent air and dodging bodies by riding into the driving lane. There really isn’t anything to be done about the road side carrion. If you have a particularly weak stomach using a scented lip balm or vapor rub beneath your nose may be effective. In any case keep your eyes on the road at all times otherwise you may find yourself hub deep in armadillo.

Gravel Roads:

Be very wary of your GPS in Oklahoma. Gravel roads are a pretty big gamble. I found a good rule of thumb was: if there is grass growing down the middle of the road, don’t take it since it is likely to be unmanageably rough, and possibly end abruptly even though the map says otherwise.

Make sure you know the weather trends of the region particularly if you are wild camping. While there

This road was on the map as going through, but abruptly ended

This road was on the map as going through, but abruptly ended

is much less traffic on these roads you will find yourself in dust clouds from passing vehicles. Take caution in these situations. If there is another vehicle passing they may not be able to see you. If the traffic becomes consistent wear a bandana around your neck to pull up over your mouth to block dust. Average riding sunglasses should be enough to guard the eyes but contact wearers may want extra precautions. Again carry a lot of water. Push comes to shove you can ask any local farmer and they will likely be accommodating.

Wild Camping:

Oklahoma is very difficult to wild camp due to fences stretching for miles and miles.  If the sun is going down and you see an ideal spot but wanted to make it another few miles, take the spot. It is likely you will have a long way to go before you see another spot. Major highways often have land at intersections owned by the county and state and are less likely to have fences. Do your best not to camp on land posted with signs such as “no trespassing”, “posted”, “private property”, “do not enter”, “keep out”. A fence post or tree painted purple also means the aforementioned so take heed, the owner is not decorating. Oklahomans are friendly and simple. If you cannot find a place to camp go up to a house, knock in a friendly way and step back so the owner doesn’t think you are a push-in robber. Introduce yourself and why you are there. Politely ask if there is a place to set up your tent. More often than not you will get a meal. Possibly even a shower and a couch to sleep on. If they say no, thank them for their time and be on your way. Always be polite. Remember, you represent all cyclists to everyone you meet.

Again pay attention to the weather and season. This is tornado country and flash floods aren’t unheard of, however staying out of flood plains and watching the weather should keep you out of harm’s way. Getting an app to warn of extreme weather takes some of the leg work out. I used weatherbug and it was acceptable, however the weather is often unpredictable and an eye on the sky is better than any app. Learn to read weather patterns visually. “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in the morning, sailor’s warning.” If the sky turns green or yellowish, get to shelter.  Cover your reflectors, don’t build fires (cook stoves are acceptable if you have enough cover), and most importantly leave no trace. Getting a lightweight camo mesh to throw over your tent is wise as well and can double as a bug net in a pinch.

Camping:

There are some camping areas in this region varying in quality, size, cost, and amenities. All will be able to accommodate a tourer. A preplanned route is advisable. Finding, food, water, and lodging was more difficult than I expected. Know the park rules. Read them when you come in or look them up before hand.  Check for burn bans in the area before lighting a fire.

Wild Life:

Cotton Mouth

Cotton Mouth

In general wild life is not going to be an issue. It is wise to hang your food pack at night and never eat in your tent. There are some animals which are very dangerous to humans like, panthers, bears, and venomous snakes, but they want to bump into us as much as we want to meet them. Some precautions to take: Make lots of noise when going off trail or scouting a wild camping area. Carry high-grade pepper spray on your person. It does no good in a pannier bag. A snake venom kit costs few dollars at most sporting good stores. An emergency charger/battery for your phone to call 911. I used a solar charger I got for $20. Again, it is unlikely there will be any issues with the local critters but they don’t call it wild life for nothing.

Summary:

It really stunk

It really stunk

I found East Oklahoma absolutely gorgeous and loved the varied terrain and scenery, but it is the worst riding I have had to date. The stink of dead animals, the invariably poor condition of the roads, the utter lack of bicycle awareness and infrastructure, and vast distances between food and water made it a largely unpleasant experience. I would give it one out of five stars and do not intend to make a return tour.

Oklahoma Bicycle Laws

 

Drive fast. Take chances. Thanks for reading.

-Danger

 

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-Danger


Ride North Texas – A review

 

Sums Texas Up

Sums Texas Up

Texas has several bike coalitions and communities and boasts many terrain parks and trail systems. This review is what to expect when riding roads.

I rode about 150 miles from Joshua, TX to Murrel Park Campground Flower Mound, TX to Lake Texoma Recreational Area Denison, TX wild camping in the spaces between.

Urban Areas:

In urban areas there are trails, but you can count on them to be short lived and most likely stay within

FT. Worth

FT. Worth

a park area. The rest of the time you will be on relatively busy roads littered with litter. Expect lots of trash and many many many broken bottles. Make sure you have tires, Kevlar lined for instance, up to the challenge.

The traffic is considerate however not used to contending with bicycles for use of the road in many areas. Plan to ride defensively. If you are using a GPS it will send you down roads not specifically designated for bicycles which is illegal, however that shouldn’t be cause for concern. The police are indifferent to your presence providing you are not calling attention to yourself.

{Texas Bike Laws}

Rural Highways:

In the country county highways have very limited paved shoulders and the gravelled ones often prove difficult to make good time on. Riding on the road is completely acceptable as a calculated risk. Again drivers are considerate but not expecting to see riders so ride defensively. A good indicator of how well ridden the area: the live stock. If you notice the cows along the road don’t run when motor

Unimpressed steer is unimpressed.

Unimpressed steer is unimpressed.

vehicles go by, but take flight when you silently roll take extra caution. You are an anomaly to the area. Make sure to carry about a gallon of water particularly in the summer since you may not have access and you will be sweating a lot.

Rural Gravel Roads:

The gravel roads vary from reasonable to impassable, and depending on the season you are riding may be completely washed out. Make sure you know the weather trends of the region particularly if you are wild camping. While there is much less traffic on these roads you will find yourself in dust clouds from passing vehicles. Take caution in these situations. If there is another vehicle passing they may not be able to see you. If the traffic becomes consistent wear a bandana around your neck to pull up over your mouth to block dust. Average riding sunglasses should be enough to guard the eyes but contact wearers may want extra precautions. Again carry a lot of water. Push comes to shove you can ask any local farmer and they will likely be accommodating.

Wild Camping:

Use your tent to block your bicycle reflectors from the road

Use your tent to block your bicycle reflectors from the road

A few things to keep in mind. There are many, many, many fences in North Texas. You may have to ride some distance before you can find a place to roll the bike out of sight and set up camp. If the sun is going down and you see an ideal spot but wanted to make it another few miles, it may be advisable to stop then and make the miles up tomorrow. Major highways often have land at intersections owned by the county and state and are less likely to have fences. Do your best not to camp on land posted with signs such as “no trespassing”, “posted”, “private property”, “do not enter”, “keep out”. A fence post or tree painted purple also means the aforementioned so take heed, the owner is not decorating. Remember this is Texas and while most people are professionals at southern hospitality, they are also often armed and suspicious of anyone on their property. If you cannot find a place to camp go up to a house, knock in a friendly way and step back so the owner doesn’t think you are a push-in robber. Introduce yourself and why you are there. Politely ask if there is a place to set up your tent. More often than not you will get a meal. Possibly even a shower and a couch to sleep on. If they say no, thank them for their time and be on your way. Always be polite. Remember, you represent all cyclists to everyone you meet.

Again pay attention to the weather and season. This is tornado country and flash floods aren’t unheard of, however staying out of flood plains and watching the weather should keep you out of harm’s way. Getting an app to warn of extreme weather takes some of the leg work out. I used weatherbug and it was acceptable, however the weather is often unpredictable and an eye on the sky is better than any app. Learn to read weather patterns visually. “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in the morning, sailor’s warning.” If the sky turns green or yellowish, get to shelter.  Cover your reflectors, don’t build fires (cook stoves are acceptable if you have enough cover), and most importantly leave no trace. Getting a lightweight camo mesh to throw over your tent is wise as well and can double as a bug net in a pinch.

Camping:

There are a myriad of camping areas in this region varying in quality, size, cost, and amenities. All will be able to accommodate a tourer. While there are many, it is wise to map to one and not hope you stumble across one. Know the park rules. Read them when you come in or look them up before hand. If you want to drink at state parks, do not let the ranger’s see it is alcohol. While it is illegal to have alcohol on state land in Texas, rangers will look the other way if you are not flaunting it. It does not matter if you are consuming it. Having a bottle sitting out on the table is illegal. If they catch you they will likely have you empty it out. Check for burn bans in the area before lighting a fire.

Murrel State Park.

Murrel State Park.

{Texas State Park Rules and Regulations}

Wild Life:

In general wild life is not going to be an issue. It is wise to hang your food pack at night and never eat in your tent. There are some animals which are very dangerous to humans like, panthers, wild boars, and venomous snakes, but they want to bump into us as much as we want to meet them. Some precautions to take: Make lots of noise when going off trail or scouting a wild camping area. Carry high-grade pepper spray on your person. It does no good in a pannier bag. A snake venom kit costs few dollars at most sporting good stores. An emergency charger/battery for your phone to call 911. I used a solar charger I got for $20. Again, it is unlikely there will be any issues with the local critters but they don’t call it wild life for nothing.

Summary:

I found North Texas beautiful, relatively smooth, easy to find water, and the people were incredibly kind and accommodating. Besides the occasional unnameable gravel road and fences making it difficult to wild camp I enjoyed my ride through the region. I give it three out of five stars and would happily recommend it to any tourer.

 

Drive fast. Take chances. Thanks for reading.

-Danger


Nauvoo = Stepford or Something else?

Built In 1843
Put off course by the flooding of the Mississippi I needed a different park to stay. Wild camping was ill advised due to flood warnings in my area I thought it better to go to where the people in the know said was safe. Nauvoo State Park came up on Google Maps a mere twelve miles from my position. It was decided.
I rode along the Mississippi marveling at her beauty and might when I started to see historical marker’s with more and more frequency. Upon reaching the park they were everywhere. I assumed it must have been an important trading outpost since it was very close to the borders of Missouri, Iowa, and Illinois and made my way into the park.
It was Saturday and the park was quite full. Despite this there was some vacancy and I found a site without too much effort.
Even though most of the sites had tents, campers, or trailers in them the people were missing. I decided after making camp I would head into town and see what I was missing. I needed groceries anyway.
I rode toward town and was taken back my this monument of a building. Square and white like a greek temple and a golden angle with a trumpet mounted on the top. “What is this place?” I wondered nearly aloud as I rolled by.
On a hill in the middle of no where
Sure enough the town was a bustle with tourists and their cameras. There was small car show, maybe 30 or so entries, doing a fun cruise up and down main street. A late 60’s Chevelle with fat drag tires and air intake protruding from the hood grand standed at the light roasting its tires and sending a flurry of smoke everywhere. The light turned green and the car lurched forward, the back-end striving to out pace the front. It began to fishtail out of control. The driver (not his car and a novice I later found out) didn’t let up and the car zagged and zigged more wildly until came to sudden and crunching stop, nose buried into a concrete barrier. It made my heart ache to see something someone had worked so hard and long to make pristine reduced to rubber and scrap in a moment. The car was loaded on a flat-bed and the driver into an ambulance. Both were carted off and the show continued. I stayed to the end headed back to camp.
People began filtering back into the park en masse. I noticed they all had a similar way of dressing that was decidedly religious. I went to Christian school for a time and we wore a very specific uniform. Because of this I became very interested in self-imposed uniforms, particularly religious ones. The Catholics with the clean and crisp almost business dress, Southern Baptists with bright colors and lite fabric, Non denominational sporting light tattoos and piercing, but clothes free of stain and hole, the glam and glitz of the mega churches… so on so forth. I couldn’t identify this group. It was on the tip of my tongue. A cross between the sensibility of Lutherans and something faintly archaic as though some Mennonites had snuck in a shirt or two. I let it go and dosed off resolving to see what this place was the following day.
I walked into Old Nauvoo. A town erected in the 1840’s and restored quite entirely and nicely. There was the brick yard, post office/mercantile, boot shop, etc.
https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/100986646246584805079/albums/5898008686943343393/5898014539823014418?pid=5898014539823014418&oid=100986646246584805079
There were many houses with placards stating who had lived there and when. All of them said “Community of Christ” at the very bottom. So it was religious. What was Community of Christ? It didn’t ring a bell. I walked hither and thither reading placards and snapping photos until one name made stop. Lucy Mack Smith. I knew that name. I know I knew it. “It’ll come to me.” I thought moving forward.
The other patrons of the town continued to show this unidentifiable cohesion although they were clearly from different parts of the country. I heard all variations of accent and saw many license plates, but they all seemed to be of one mind. One family if you will. It was disconcerting particularly since as I identified them as a group the identified me as not part.
I decided to make may way to the Greek temple when a grave made me stop. My blood slowed and head went light. “Joseph Smith Jr.” Prophet. I was standing in front of the final resting place of the Prophet and founder of the Mormon faith and writer of their holy text, The Book Of Mormon. It was like being on holy ground, but sullied. As if you were standing where an effigy mound had been but was covered over by yard waste. I snapped a picture trying to collect myself. It all came together, the strange clothes and unity of the patrons, the historical site maintained by a Christian group, the mass departure and arrivals, the temple. I was in Mormon Mecca. Just as this realization a very tall, very heavy man who I can only assume played too much World of Warcraft as a youth leaned very close to my face and said, “I like your beard. I always have to shave mine before it gets that long.” Shaken from my stupor but far from collected I mustered a laugh, nodded, and walked away.
Resting place of a Prophet
Needing more info I went and found some women dressed in period garb and asked questions. They quickly identified me as a non-member and gave me the Mormon 101 and were surprised when I actually knew it. I was curious about Nauvoo. I thought Joseph Smith was buried in Utah. They explained the Mormons came to Nauvoo after being driven out of Missouri for various reasons, including a failed church-sponsored bank and turned this swamp land into the next biggest city in Il. to Chicago at the time. They had done this in a very short time, and the locals both jealous and put off by the oddity and separatism of the Mormons had begun to increasly view the region’s control an “us or them” issue. There were also issues within the church particularly around the issue of polygamy.

On June 7, 1844, the dissidents published the first (and only) issue of the Nauvoo Expositor, calling for reform within the church. The paper decried polygamy and Smith’s new “doctrines of many Gods”, and it alluded to Smith’s kingship and theocratic aspirations, promising to present evidence of its allegations in succeeding issues.Fearing the newspaper might bring the countryside down on the Mormons, the Nauvoo city council declared the Expositor a public nuisance and ordered the Nauvoo Legion to destroy the press. In the words of historian Richard Bushman, Smith “failed to see that suppression of the paper was far more likely to arouse a mob than the libels. It was a fatal mistake.”

Smith’s body was shot repeatedly after he fell from the window. Destruction of the newspaper provoked a strident call to arms by Thomas C. Sharp, editor of the Warsaw Signal. Fearing an uprising, Smith mobilized the Nauvoo Legion on June 18 and declared martial law. Carthage responded by mobilizing its small detachment of the state militia, and Illinois Governor Thomas Ford appeared, threatening to raise a larger militia unless Smith and the Nauvoo city council surrendered themselves. Smith initially fled across the Mississippi River, but shortly returned and surrendered to Ford. On June 23, Smith and his brother Hyrum were taken to Carthage to stand trial for inciting a riot. Once the Smiths were in custody, the charges were increased to treason against Illinois.

On June 27, 1844, an armed mob with blackened faces stormed Carthage Jail where Joseph and Hyrum were being held.[263] Hyrum, who was trying to secure the door, was killed instantly with a shot to the face. Smith fired a pepper-box pistol, then sprang for the window. He was shot multiple times before falling out the window, crying, “Oh Lord my God!” He died shortly after hitting the ground. Five men were later tried for his murder, but all were acquitted.

The woman I was speaking with was a former Utah history teacher, and while the information above is primarily from Wikipedia, she painted a different cause for the murder of the founders and failed to mention the unrest within the Church. In fact, she left out the Expositor entirely even though one of the placards mentioned it.
Former history teacher. Full time Mormon

I walked up to the Temple, a grand and beautiful building. with a statue of Joseph and Hyrum at the foot of it. I asked a woman standing in front if I could go inside. She asked me in a rhetorical manner if I was a member, to which I replied, “No.” She explained they would ask for my papers showing me as a member of the church should I try to enter. She asked if I had read the Book of Mormon. I told her yes. I told her I thought it was a good book. She said, “People absolutely believe it or think its a bunch of crazy lies.” While I am the former you don’t mock someone’s Holy book while standing on the steps of their temple built on the land interning their prophet. She explained she was there with her daughter, a performing missionary, and daughter’s new husband for a Celestial Marriage ceremony. She explained it was to bind them in marriage even into the after life. I politely listened and asked questions to those I met doing my best to tread lightly on their holy land. Despite my efforts they often immediately identified me as a non-member and acted defensive to my questions. Hyrum and Joseph on their last ride.
I am eternally grateful for the flooding that put me off course to stay in the funny little town of Nauvoo. It was fascinating to be completely surrounded by a subculture of Christianity. fascinating as it was I was quite happy to be leaving Stepford… Er, Nauvoo.

Couldn’t help myself.

Drive fast. Take chances. Thanks for reading.

-Danger
`


Powell Gardens, Arrow Rock State Park, and the Great Missouri River.


East of Kansas City

Been awhile since I was excited to get behind one of these.

Been awhile since I was excited to get behind one of these.

Navigation without in Missouri is very difficult even with a map. In in Wisconsin rural roads typically go in grids so you can make your way in a particular direction without out too much side stepping. Not the case here. Roads wind East, West, North, South all in a matter of ten miles with very few intersections. I would wager that for everyone 4 miles ridden I made 1 mile forward progress. Very defeating on a bicycle. It should be noted this is a none issue in car since their interstate system is amazingly direct. Needless to say I fell behind schedule and my friend Joe had to pick me up so we could spend the weekend together.
*Before everyone freaks out and starts accusing me of cheating, Joe’s house is in Blue Springs, MO. This is about 90 miles off course for me. The plan was always to have him pick me up. I amended the route to head directly towards him to save him gas. When leaving he drove me 60 miles east, still less than the original plan. So, in point of fact, I actually rode further than the original plan laid out so everyone can just calm down.*
I am constantly taken back by the thickness of growth in Missouri. Everything is green and lush this year. Evidence of flooding abounds. Entire parts of back country roads re-gravelled having recently been washed completely away. There are trees three to five feet in diameter washed up on the banks of aggressively gouged out ditches, now dry. Needless to say I have paid very close attention I do not make camp in a flood plain. High ground, high ground, high ground is the mantra in my head as the sun sets.
As I said Joe picked me up. He’s an old friend from High School. We probably hadn’t seen each other in at least six years, but as it is with good friends, you fall right back into your old routine with ease. It was fascinating sitting and talking with someone I had once sat and dreamed with what we were going to do when our band got signed about his children, mortgages, careers, so on… not to say we didn’t discuss the latest comic book films and the merits of rock n’ roll as well.
Joe and his family live in a nice house in Blue Springs, MO. east of Kansas City. He and his wife Erin did her very best to make me feel at home, and the succeeded with flying colors. Erin is a marvelous cook. She and her mother, Rhonda, started my Saturday off with homemade biscuits and gravy. Awesome. Joe and I went to Legacy Park to throw a round of disc golf. The course was quite nice and well maintained. It’s degree of difficulty is hard to assess since we went on a very windy day and I am having a difficulty gripping things due to some minor Ulnar never damage (I had to have Joe open the twist off wine bottle for me, sad) due to cycling (I have made some made some adjustments and bought a second pair of riding gloves to alleviate this issue). Joe beat me by a few strokes and we hurried home to make it to Powell Gardens with the family.
Powell Gardens are the botanical gardens near to Blue Springs. It sports a beautiful wedding chapel, a barn and topless silo giving you a 360 degree vantage of the grounds, a trolley, many paths and waterways, of course the gardens and while we were there Lego land-esk displays. As beautiful as the gardens were I was captivated by the legos. I have been a fan since childhood and it was amazing these works of art pieced together on display. It was like living in an 8-bit world. The boys were equally enthralled by the legos, but at the end of the day the fountain was clearly their favorite. All the kids loved dashing in and out of the jets as the pulsated. It was like watching moths around a light. When the light is on a flurry of activity. When it diminishes so does the activity. So it was the fountain and children.
We left the gardens and went to Holdfast Bikes where I had dropped Ruckus for a little TLC. The mechanic gave me that “you dodged a bullet” look when I said the hubs needed work. I gave him the “I know, that’s why I’m here” look in return. Oklahoma was just so damn tough on the old man those steel rims and hubs needed to be reset. If you are ever in the east Kansas City area and need bike work definitely check out Holdfast Bikes. They were knowledgable, efficient, professional, and fair in their pricing. They even left the doors unlocked after close on Friday so I could drop Ruckus off, and when I got him back they had made some tweaks and adjustments I didn’t ask for and was not charged for. They were equally helpful when I explained my Ulnar trouble and gave me several options to stem further damage. In any case, bravo Holdfast.
We came back to Joes for some family time. They do not have a TV so the boys are always viaing for time on the PC’s and iPad. It struck how much having young children is like living in a college house. Everyone is always screaming. Emotions are swinging wildly. Someone is running about in their underwear. There are arguments about who left dishes in the living room. It’s possible someone releived themself in another room besides the bathroom. Someone probably needs a nap. I loved it. (It should be noted Joe and Erin are awesome parents and I really enjoyed their boys a lot. They were courteous, kind, and funny as hell)
The next day they went to church and very much enjoyed be alone and indoors for the first time in a while. Joe and I loaded up his little truck and headed east. Joe dropped me a at a gas station/fireworks warehouse. Strapped up Ruckus with gear and Joe and I parted ways promising to not let another six years pass between visits.
I now had my phone and GPS back, and it was glorious. I made good time and stopped after fifteen miles to get something to eat. When I came out there was a small group of locals gathered around ruckus the way people in the 1900’s would gather around an automobile or airplane. I’m not sure what all the ruckus was about (pun intended). I walked out and felt as though I should be on a soap box as I answered the small group’s questions. I actually was fatigued by it eventually and made motion I was leaving even thought the inquiry hadn’t ceased. I strapped on the helmet and the common bidding of “good luck” and “be safe” chased after me as I rode away. I returned well wishes over my shoulder looking forward to a quiet night at Arrow Rock State park.
I arrived in good time and good spirits and set up camp. My neighbor, Curtis, saw me dragging wood from the forest and brought me some dry logs from their campsite up the hill. This was a particularly kind gesture since Curtis was missing his left arm just above the elbow. He stayed and chatted about his recumbent trike and differences between that and a traditional cycle. His son Chance stood quietly at his side. After sometime had passed they returned to their camp I gratefully had the night to myself.
Arrow Rock is a historical site having been some type of port on the Missouri River early in the nations developments. Lewis and Clark went directly by that area when mapping the country. They trails were nice and wild life abundant. I even saw a large owl during the day and was mesmerized by the utter silence it moved through the trees.
The park’s sites are nice and large and the comfort stations are very nice, but the park is lacking any wow factor. If you are not a huge history buff or a local I wouldn’t encourage someone to go out of their way to visit the park.
I made a hard push from Arrow Rock for fifty miles against a stiff headwind and got to Thompson Campground at sundown. Located off Rockwell Park in Moberly MO. Thompson Campground is really an RV park. The tent area had only one fire scar, no discernible sites, and no showers. The bathrooms provided were found wanting. Better than a pit toilet, but not by much. That being said the park is very nice and has many activities including a walking path, a lodge, a youth center, a disc golf course, a water park (I believe that cost extra), many picnic and pavilion areas, and even a small train for kids to ride around the park on Sunday. It was a very nice park and you can get past the poor tent accommodations since there is only an $8 fee per night and very little to no over sight.
I enjoyed the disc golf course and went to see World War Z. Good movie. Good twist on the zombie genre. Worth seeing. That night a local named Paula stopped by my camp to chat. She was dead set on going to the Phantom Ranch in the Grand Canyon. She offered me some chinese leftovers, which I happily accepted. When a ferocious cloud burst came up, instead of running for her vehicle she ran over and helped me get my rain fly up. So kind. It absolutely poured for fifteen or so minutes and then passed. Most of gear had been saved by the tent so take down wasn’t too hindered today.
I am riding for Wakona State Park. Should make halfway today.


Not so Miserable in Missouri

Perfect Camping Cover.

Perfect Camping Cover.

I woke up in Twin Bridges State Park, the fishing capital of Oklahoma (and not much else), resolved to leave the state. As beautiful as the landscape is in Oklahoma I found the culture, the roads, and frankly the smell to be taxing at best. I smelled road kill in the department store parking lot where I worked on my bicycle. The putrescence of death seemed to linger literally everywhere in Oklahoma. Such was my resolve I took one last look at the map and burned it some satisfaction.

I left Twin Bridges State Park (sidenote:unless you are an avid fisher there is no reason to go to this “park”. They do not even have fire rings. There are a few camp sites on either side of the highway, however the comfort stations were quite nice) and headed east since the dreaded turnpike was north and the Missouri border was closer.

Peddling like a man possessed I have rarely been so happy to see a state border. I stopped and took the customary picture and headed toward 71 N. The roads immediately improved. I even saw a few “share the road” bicycle signs, something sorely missed in Oklahoma. I reached 71 and to my dismay it was a four lane free way. Wikipedia had lead me to believe it had remained unchanged despite encroaching free ways. Not the case. I stopped at a Kum and Go for a Totally Naked, a staple drink by this point, and tried to get directions north without using the free way. No luck. After a short lunch at a high school picnic table covered in scrawling of “call me maybe” proceeding phone numbers I struck out on an access road. After several miles it abruptly ended and I was forced back west. I crossed over 71 once again and determined not to go back into Oklahoma I rolled Ruckus through the tall grass of the embankment down to the free way. I rode to the next exit hoping to procure a map. I stopped at a Phillips 66 and Rhonda the clerk guffawed at the cost of the map. I was inclined to agree but didn’t have other options until the store manager asked if I would like to look it over in the station. Yes. Yes I did.

After about forty-five minutes and two different maps I had my path. I thanked the women and off I went. After sometime I became concerned about my cartography reading skill since my north bound highway had yet to appear. I stopped to get water and solve this route dilemma. The clerk at the station was all of sixteen and no help at all. How ever there was a guy about my age, “Matt” the patch on his shirt said, who told me I was paralleling the road I wanted and gave me directions on how to get there (I found out later the maps I used were out dated and incorrect). I thanked him and as I went to pull out a ladder hanging off the back of a trailer nearly took my head off. I ducked just in time and the truck groaned away. Shaking my still attached head, Matt’s directions rang true and I finally was on my way.

As I neared Joplin, MO. the road threatened to turn back into 71. I had enough of this plan stuff and figured head north. That’s all I had to do. For a time this worked and I enjoyed the ride passing a cemetery so old some of the stones were un legible and others had ending dates in the early 1800’s. I also came across a yard decorated with old farm and war implements including a 500 pound bomb (case I hope) standing on end.

North/south roads ended eventually and I was forced to choose east or west. Intending to stay away from 71 I turned west and quickly found a north bound highway. I cruised down it for a time until I found a suitable camping spot. Through some dense vines I found a love glade made just for wild camping. Perfect cover and soft ground.

Since I did not have a particular plan I road north west knowing there were a few state parks in that direction. After getting directions from an amiable old man in Mindenmines, a town of about 365, who told me he was a state patrol man for 30 years, a post man for 35 years, and preacher of the local church for 25 years which made him a, “postal, pistol packin’, preacher”. Good stuff.

His directions sent me weaving down back roads but got me to the park. Prairie State Park has free back pack sites, but there is no water, toilet, or fire besides cook stoves allowed. I opted for the pay site. Unfortunately they did not have showers but they offered the creek running directly behind my site, which I happily accepted and got my first wash in what felt like forever.

Feeling rejuvenated I struck out on the trails. The park was gorgeous prairie teaming with flowers and wild life. I went on a search for the bison who were supposed to be on the south east corner of the park. The trail spilled me out on the road and intending to pick it back up further down the way I continued on my course. Soon I was out of the park. I decided to walk east a short ways just in case and sure enough there was a bull on the other side of the fence.

I hiked back and realized I was the only person at the park except one other, Chris, who was collecting the yearly data on the prairie for a 20 some year old study. He gave me an apple and some smokes and we sat and chatted. He told me he saw me walk within 500 yards of the entire herd while still in the park. How I missed that is beyond me. I only can guess there was a rise between us. Chris went to the hill to get reception to call his wife of two weeks and I went to bed. The next morning I found an apple, nutrigrain bars, and a pack of smokes sitting on my picnic table. Chris… what a guy.

Despite the food Chris gave me I was incredibly hungry and very tired of gas station food. I stopped in a town of 150 called moundville at a place sporting a Coors Light sign. I walked in and it was one square room 15X15 with a small kitchen jutting out the back. The walls were lined with coolers and shelves and for seating there was a six top in the middle and two two tops on the edges. Initial the tables were full so I was there only for water, but while I waited for the water one opened up and decided to eat. I got a cheese burger, chips, and cottage cheese. Quite good. I spoke with the locals about the hay harvest and my ride and stepped out to get my phone. When I came back and asked the owner what I owed him, he told me it was already taken care of. The man I had chatted with paid my bill. The waitress said, “Welcome to Vernon County.” as I thanked the man. I left a generous tip and thanked everyone again. The owner then insisted I took a powerade. More thanks. I told them I just might stay in Vernon County if this keeps up.

I struck out for Nevada (the first “a” has a short sound), but felt incredibly fatigued all day. I assumed I was just feeling the toll of riding so many days in a row until I got a text from my buddy Joe telling me there was a 110 degree heat index that day. Dear god. I needed to get out of the sun. I reached Nevada just as my spirit was about fold and found the library.

The librarians asked me if I was riding and where I was going. I gave the standard and answer the younger of the two (early 30’s) said she couldn’t do that. “The weather is just too hot down here.” she nearly moaned. I told her most people didn’t have A/C until 20 years ago and I still didn’t have A/C in my house. The elder one said she didn’t have electricity in her house until she was a freshman in highschool. “See, she could take it.” I said smiling at the younger. “Yeah, she’s tougher than me.” she smiled back. I decided it was time to get cleaned up and this heat would not do. I found a room at the Nevada Inn for about $40, stopped at a grocery store for fresh veggies and something to microwave (you have no idea how much I miss those two things) and turned the TV and A/C all the way up. I was in heaven.

The Nevada in was nice enough, and the bathroom was enormous, bigger than some apartments I’ve had. I ate all my veggies and microwave pizza and pot stickers with utter delight and drifted off to the first none sweaty sleep in days.

The next day a north wind kicked up and brought the temp down. More getting lost. More tracking east and west and not North. While I stopped for lunch on a tiny bridge a pretty blonde woman driving a truck pulled up and asked if I was OK. “Yep. Just eating some lunch.” “Do you need water?” I did. Not badly but I was lower than I wanted. She took a cup out of the truck full of ice and water and poured it into my bottle explaining she was on her way back from the post office. She told me to watch out for poison ivy. She was allergic. She gave me directions to the nearest town and water. I thanked her and off she went. In rich hill I got water and talked with a quirky volunteer fire fighter, missing all of his lower teeth due to a car accident who gave me directions north. The road was really bad at parts, but his directions were true and soon reached better roads.

I scared some deer out of there bed in a prairie and took it for myself as they grunted at me from the bushes. I feel asleep amazingly quickly. I am in Butler, MO. Next stop, Blue Springs. I’ll be half way home.