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 town....wow. 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 SWEDEN....in 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?
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 hills...it was basically of divine proportion.
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.