Thursday, June 25, 2009


Long time no post, lo siento. :) Internet/time has had its scarcities. BUT! We are now officially in Clinton, Missouri alive and full of amazing people, food, hospitality and sore joints. Gosh y'all, life is delicious. I guess the best way of tackling this is to split things by towns and go from there.

Lindsborg, Kansas (Little Sweden):
This We've dubbed it Pleasantville USA. After a, roughly speaking, tragic morning of hills, wind, and sun, we rolled in to Lindsborg, Kansas. The parenthetical reference is not some snide joke; rather, its actual nickname. About 20 miles or so before we approached the town, we met a bunch of truckers and had a lovely lunch of warm food and tornado talk, upon which we were informed about Lindsborg, a place we just assumed to be another spot on the map, was "a real artsy and international and such place," to put it verbatim. When we finally got there, we soon realized that they weren't kidding. We were greeted by happily painted horses on every street corner, sappy Swedish tunes being projected from mounted speakers on street lamps, and lettering that seemed far too foreign for my eyes to make sense of: IT WAS Kansas. :) After a chance encounter with one of the sweetest ladies around, a local named Peggy Johnson, we were soon being whizzed around the town in her car to the nearest recycling place for a personal tour, housed in our own house by a local church, and invited to taco salad at 6:00 at the Johnson's. Afterwards we were told that the following day was what the Swedes call Midsummer's festival.. After dinner and decorating a may pole with Peggy's daughter, Ronda, who was an avid bicyclist, we all went down to the park for a jazz concert. Dancing, fireflies, and traditional Swedish strawberry desserts, one could say the night was a success.

In light of the festivities, we decided to spare our rest day and stay for the following night. The next day, we discovered that the generosity of the town was not just luck encounter, but a seemingly universal truth. We were invited for dinner at the pastor's house for taco salad at 6:00...again. Beautiful. While we were there we were told that there was a tornado warning coming directly towards, and to take cover. Luckily it didn't hit the town, but was exhilarating all the same.

One last thought about Lindsborg: IT HAS A CASTLE! How amazingly cool is that?

Marion, Kansas:

The hospitality of Kansas continues... After rolling into a totally deserted town due to the entire town partaking in Sunday Mass, we ate lunch in a "God Bless America" gazebo, and ran into another synchronistic friend. As part of the documentary we go around towns and ask cyclists we see about why they ride their bikes. In this case, the biker we asked happened to be Harry Bennett, just about the only local in town who rides his bike. We asked if it'd be possible to chat in the park for a bit after discovering he was not only an avid rider (carrying a running record of 100's of days going without using a car) but also an organic farmer and highly knowledgeable about environmental issues. After having an amazing talk, he was kind enough to invite us to stay the night in his house (meaning a warm bed! YES!) and tour his organic farm. That night we went for a picnic in the Flint Hills (an area of beautiful rolling hills and flowing grass) as part of a Japanese movement to not use electronics for two hours. We met a friend of his who recently got back from his second time working at the South Pole, and were schooled in all of its wonders. Very neat stuff. The combination of organic homegrown food, a shepard's dog I found and adopted as my BFF, and bight pink thunderheads contrasting against the golden was basically of divine proportion.

Emporia, Kansas:

Yet again, Jung would be proud. After meeting up with Remy's sister, Anne Caroline, and finding a safe haven in an air conditioned coffee shop, we happen to run in to another incredible person: Ben Stallings. Ben had recently cycled across the United States for an entire year and fully aware of the blessing that hospitality is, he offered to stay at his house. Interestingly enough he was also an expert about environmental sustainability, permaculture gardening, and minimizing electricity usage. A dinner of fried rice with vegetables from his garden and a bike ride to a delicious ice cream shop- we couldn't be more appreciative.

More so, however, I am personally appreciative of Ben and his wife for their kindness. Emporia was my last hope for a new pannier rack, seeing as mine was dying a spoke snapping death. Unfortunately the bike shop did not have anything remotely suitable and a new trailer was out of the question financially. As a product, Ben offered to let me use the trailer he took with him around the country. It's sentimental value must be vast. Especially considering the trailer is a handmade model originally used as a bicycling recycling carrier in the city, in places cars were unable to go. This particular model was made of the very aluminum recycled by the program. I am touched, thankful, and honored to be able to ride with it. Although my legs are taking a bit to adjust to the added weight, considering the trailer is larger than my bike and twice the weight of my stuff, I am inconceivably thankful. :) There is something to be said about passing on kindness.

We are now in Clinton, Missouri. Just met up with the two other riders for California, Stephanie and Ryan. After two days of heat, winding gravel back roads, Amish communities and 12 hour days of non-stop peddling...I am pleased to be here. Clinton marks the starting point to the Katy Trail, which is an old railway bed converted to a bike path that spans Missouri. Saying goodbye to paved roads until St. Louis is a little bit sad, especially since I am the only rider with lame-o road tires, but it should be fun.

Anywho...time is running out, my fingers hurt, and you're probably overwhelmed with words, so I will stop. Thanks to all who have donated, we really appreciated your support.

Dirty, gleeful, passion filled, and blessed with friendship, tata for now.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Check out our video so far.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Hitchhiking and Joy

Hoisenburg, Kansas.

Ahhhh *sigh of relief* we are finally safe and snug between the cool (air conditioned) walls of, yet another, public library. I have a feeling this post will be rather unpoetic, since today was by far our longest ride and the first time I experienced what is known in the biking world as "bonking." Bonking basically refers to a condition where your glucose reaches too low of a level your body starts eating up muscle instead of fat. Not fun. Every five miles would seem like 20. Luckily Lucy, being the keen biker lass that she is, saw my fading physique and made me stop for some peanut butter sandwiches below a "Choose Life; Your Mother Did" billboard along the road. It was fascinating though, I could literally feel the sugar hitting my blood stream. And was a delight to be fully glucosed out again. :)

Besides that, things have gotten a little bit wild, and a while-lotta-bit-awesome since I last wrote. Ranging from pseudo-hippy dancing jam sessions in park gazebos, wheat field bodily relief, and a smorgasbord of traditional farming personas. Yesterday when we were riding we saw a massive pickup truck pull off the side of the road in the distance, and a squat 70 year old man waddle his way to our side. As we neared, we could hear him hooting and hollering at himself about how he forgot his money back in his pickup. We gratefully told him we were thankful for his gesture, but it wasn't necessary. Soon after, the tenacious old man, backed up his pickup at about 50 miles an hour and made his way back to us with two dollar bills in hand. We ended up listening to an in detail narration of his family's dating history, and the fact he is the best oatmeal cook in all of Kansas. People are beautiful. When be rolled in to Ness City I bought a lemonade with the dollar. I hope the cycle of giving is perpetuated.

Last night we camped with a big group of tourers going the other way, most of them in their mid-60's. I am impressed how many elderly people cross the country on bike. They all seem to have the motto "if you don't use it you lose it." and it seems to work. This morning we decided to wake up at the crack of dawn (to be more exact, before the crack of dawn) and get going before the heat and humidity of dear Kansas decided to plague our ability to ride. The plan seemed peachy, getting out of camp around 6:00 in time for a magenta and yellow sunrise....but, of course, the universe had a richer plan in mind. Remy's tire, after an evening of fixing the first flat, decided that one wasn't enough. Usually this wouldn't be a problem, except we realized the day before we'd left our only bike pump on some abandoned highway road side. Loaded down with gear and unable to ride, we found ourselves with no other choice but to hitchhike to the nearest town. (DISCLAIMER: before you get all hot and bothered about the dangers of hitchhiking, which I of course am fully aware of and equally concerned, it should be noted the general population here is comprised of gentle, community oriented farmers. It seems like everyone leaves their doors open at night and the kids play care free. It is amazing how safe some places of the U.S. can be). To put a long story short, we made it to the next town, learned about the oil business along the way, and were able to patch Remy's tire to near perfection.

Later on today we found ourselves at the junction point of two major routes that would take us to Missouri: we could turn either North or South. If we went South, we'd stay on the touring route, but lose about a day and a half of riding. But if we went North, we'd go off the route, not guaranteeing camping, but save having to go unnecessarily south. And, on a whim, we turned our bikes North and took off. The ride was probably the hardest so far, tons of little dipping hills and strong headwinds. But when we finally arrived to Hoisenburg, we were lucky enough to stumble upon a community swimming pool. Most of the swimming pools in Kansas have free showers, and we pulled in hoping they'd take mercy on our cause. After a few jokes with the owner, not only did she let us use the showers, she also gave us free admission to the pool. It was hilarious: three totally disgusting bikers in their spandex and jerseys weaving in and out of hundreds of beach ball bouncing children. I don't think I've ever been so pleased.

Anyways...lots of love. Have to go beg Churches for a place to stay tonight. Life is beautiful. I am not sure if I've felt this alive for quite some time. Hip-hip-horay for biking and grunge!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Farms and Hippy Cognitions

Three cheers from Scott City, Kansas! Just rolled in after an excruciatingly hot (but ridiculously fun) day. This was actually our first cloud free ride, and I am amazed how much the plains can heat up. The majority of the ride today was road sandwiched in between massive, GMO wheat and corn farms (surprise surprise), accompanied by low flying pesticides planes. If anything shocked me the most, it was the sheer amount of chemical being dropped from the tail end. Tons and tons of synthetic spray, I am amazed that the crops have even enough oxygen to grow. The other part of the ride was dominated by fields of mass producing beef and dairy farms, with cows stacked in between fences like match sticks. There were a few moments as we were stopping along the road I really wanted to pull a "hippy saves animals from zoo" moment. It is so sad that animals, living sentient beings, are being treated like they are already packaged artificial cuts. :( Two big poos on the treatment of animals and the farming conditions of the U.S.

Conclusion: there is sanity in organic foods. I just might be a permanent convert.

Last night we stayed in an incredible park at the end of town, brimming the edges of a vast seascape of grasses. The neat thing about this area is you can virtually see forever. So as the sun set, we watched a massive thunder head pulsating pink against the blackened sky from a fence post. There is certainly something to be said about the humbling power of nature.

Today also marked Kelly's second "I am being a distracted spazz" crash, luckily only cutting up the same knee that was gashed before. I think I may be lopsided to the left or something. :) Either way, it was worth the smancy dance moves that preceded it. I've discovered a new passion: disco via bike seat. Hot stuff.

Anyways...Internet is about to run out, and I am pretty sure my stench is scaring the innocent Amish girl to my right. Besos from no man's land.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Currently I am sitting, sunburnt and haggard, in between two crayon hypnotized children at the kid's corner of the Tribune public library (yes, at one of those mini desks with the mini plastic chairs). It is quite the sight. Welcome to Kansas!

Although we've only been riding for three days now, I feel like months have passed. So much to take in at once. Lucy told me that the areas we'd be going would give me a taste of culture shock in my own country of origin. And....she was right. These little towns astound me that they are standing. The largest town we've passed through had a total population of about 9,00. Most of them have only a quarter of that. It really does seem like we've gone back in time. Rarely can we find a store open past 4:00 in the afternoon, a drugstore, grocery store and or a place with Internet access are all diamonds in the rough. It is as if some of these towns catalyzed in the 1950's and then froze in their tracks only 5 years later. Quite literally, nothing has changed. It really makes me think: this must be how life used to be. No corporations, only locally owned businesses, no Internet, rarely phone service. Although bizarre, it is almost comforting to me. I feel like I am more in touch with reality. Not sucked up in to a web of computer oriented existence. Last night (in Eads, CO) I sat under a tree and watched the moon move slowly, yet persistently, through the brilliant sequences of stars. It was placid. I am relishing in the rawness of this all. We go to bed when it is dark, wake when it is light, eat when we are hungry, and live according to the elements. We've come to the conclusion that living on a bike is much like what it was like to live as a nomadic hunter/ gatherer. We move for food, work in tribes, have temporary homes, and exist in tune with the world around us. It is dangerous how very appealing this way of life is. :)

I guess I should talk about bit about the events that have taken place so far. We started out in Boone, CO...which is just about the most fascinating place I've ever been in my entire life. Hahaha. Wow. A three block strip of deserted buildings with an hourly coal train that runs parallel (which, as we discovered the during the night, might explain the profound abandonment). After only about 5 minutes of avocado sandwich munching, we were accosted by an overly friendly man named Larry (who proved to be our entertainment for the next day and a half). Someday I want to come and write a book about this man's life (as well as his compulsively beautiful lies). He took us on a tour of his house, clad with the finest random auto parts, trinkets, and sand floor, as well as the rest of the 1/3 of the town he had bought since wrecking his motor home there 5 years ago (which adds up to about a block of property). We found ourselves hunched over peanut butter jars listening to our new friend Larry expound stories of personal Korean concubines, miles of king catered food, and hitchhiking across the country in a wheel chair. Each story morphed in to something stranger. Like I said, this personality was beyond book worthy.

The next day we headed off to Sugar City, where we were greeted with a tornado watch, Christan picnics and blaring rap music. Welcomed with open arms we were handed bags with far more nectarines and potato salad than is feasibly possible to consume/carry on a bike by enthusiastic Latino women. We put up camp, played Frisbee and strummed guitar and we watched the clouds for the alleged tornadoes. Luckily the weather passed and we watched the sun set behind a massive yellow caboose haphazardly placed in the middle of the city park.
The next day we rode to Eads, CO (our first 60 miles day) and ended up sitting in a gas station philosophizing about the world for four hours (which if you know me at all was quite pleasing).

Today we passed in to Kansas and at the end of a 60 mile ride were greeted with a (much needed) cold shower and public pool. Kansas thus far has proved every stereotype I had about it wrong. For one thing: it is gorgeous. My breath is taken away by how multifaceted grass can be. The hues are dynamic. We've seen a slew of wildlife, including gazelles, turtles (I named Milton), rodents, and several falcons/hawks (note: sam legrys). It's been beautiful. I love being able to see the curvature of the earth collide with colbalt sky. Simplicity.

Tomorrow will be a shorter ride, and I am not sure the next time I'll have Internet. But I miss you all and will try my best to stay in touch. In 4 days we meet up with another large portion of the group...which will be wonderful. It is actually amazing how many bike tourers you meet up with (but interestingly enough very, VERY, very rarely women).

Welp...I am almost out of time. But hi from the plains, alive and ecstatic.
Check out our homepage at to see some awesome videos of us so far. We're able to record them from Remy's phone and send them as text messages to the sight. There is already a few posted so far. :) Love to all.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Welp, it is finally here: tomorrow is the big day. Lucy and I will be leaving not-so-bright-and-early (due to temporary tube problems) for the famed city of Pueblo, Co (famed being used rather loosely in this account). Leave it to us to wait until the very last day possible to even begin packing. Knowing Lucy and I, however, it would actually be surprising if it was any other way. :) But I think, or at least pray, that we've got everything we need: stuffed panniers, a trailer, gobs of balance bars and a jar of half eaten peanut butter. What else does a girl need?

It is a strange feeling, packing. Something that is all too familiar, it has now gained a kind of ceremonial feel in my mind. But I approach the task delicately. Condensing the things I own into a few stray bags, lining out my life to embrace the future tenaciously looming ahead. I must admit, it is little bit bitter sweet, but at the time, refreshing. Packing to me more than anything else is a signifier of leaving, and as a product heart ache, yet there is always a little grain of relief hidden in its folds. Maybe it is strange I find sanctity in tenderly rolling up t-shirts and slipping them into their places, but the feeling always hits. It's exciting to think what they'll see and how far they'll accompany me.

I suppose I should enjoy my last few hours of cleanliness and comfort. I must admit though, there is something intriguing about the prospect of perma-dirt..... but we'll see how I feel about that issue come 6 weeks without showering. :) Those of you in Durango,I will miss you all a tremendous amount. The rest of you, I probably already miss, but you are in my thoughts as usual. I guess there is no turning back now..... on a one way track to D.C. TALLY HO!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Hello! Hello! Hello!

Since this is my first blog, I thought I'd relish in the oh-so-exciting world of introductions and pre-adventure musings. Nothing too exciting yet (yet being the pivotal word in that sentence. Yeah!), but relevant in the bigger picture for my own sick pleasures of compare and contrasting. Currently I am perched, as par usual, along the back wall of the Durango Coffee Company slurping an acai smoothie and nursing two wonderfully tender legs from today's ride. It was my first ever 50 mile ride, and having virtually zero experience on a bike prior to about 5 months ago, I was pretty pleased with the accomplishment. 50 miles is the average mileage we'll be doing a day (ranging from 23-80) along the way. Despite the discovery of an impaled hawk in a barbed wire fence and my front brake system deciding to announce its existence by smacking me in the face, I'd say the ride was a success. Two thumbs up for no head wind, balmy, yet placid, weather, and incredible company. The yummy nut and fruit bars toted by the illustrious Lucy Richards added to the overall splendor.

Now on to more juicy, less food related topics (or juice related for clarity purposes). We leave in 7 days for Pueblo (where the Colorado sector commences) to begin peddling the first few miles of a 2,0000 mile journey to D.C. Nervous might be a little too mild of an adjective, but its intent will have to suffice. Despite a few anxious nerve endings rearing their heads then and again, the waves of excitement are hard to ignore. Being able to see the United States in all its glory will be something to cherish, especially with my "ship off to foreign locations" mentality that plagues much of my other aspirations. My mom once told me, and I think is also insinuated in the deliciousness of a book Candide, if you can't find happiness in your own back yard (or garden to be semantically accurate) then you won't find it anywhere. And I figure, since we live in an increasingly expansive and globalized world, the ubiquity of the United States of America, if you think about it proportionally, IS my backyard-reservoir-of-happiness they speak of. So what the hey! Here I come U.S.A! Welcome home.