Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Day 73 ~ “Be a man!”

Last night's accommodations...Linda and Pat's Bunkhouse

Linda rode this Peugot when she rode the TransAm Trail at the age of 34. It now hangs in the bunkhouse that she offers to cyclists via

Steve Tuttle is a fellow Santana owner.

Once again we meet up with our buddy Mark.

Though we entered Missouri yesterday I couldn't resist a chance to take a picture at this sign. This is state #7.

Army Ammunition Plant

At another entrance to the Army Ammunition Plant we met Barbara. She gave us directions and we gave her our blog.

I just love beautiful barns!

Subway #1

Subway #2

Our first glimpse of the Missouri River

Gregory "put the hammer down" to try and catch this train at the end of a 50 mile day...

The Lexington Courthouse (Built in the classic-revival design of architecture) ~ During the Battle of Lexington on September 18, 19 and 20th, 1861 a cannon ball was embedded in the east column. It is a relic of the Confederate victory.

Sunset in Lexington
I took these while Mike and Gregory were in McDonald's asking for directions to a campground.

Guess where we camped?

Date: Sept. 30, 2009

From: Kansas City, Missouri

To: Lexington, Missouri

Route: Back roads mapped out by Mark


Miles Today: 53 miles


Top Speed on this trip: 54.1 mph

Weather: Nice temperature but some wind

License Plates Collected: 5 Montana plates, 8 Wyoming plates (2 motorcycle) and 1 Idaho plate (found in WY), 2 Colorado plates, 1 Kansas plate (gifted from David of Baldwin City)

Today we missed an interview with the Kansas City affiliate for MSNBC! At around noon we met David Nelson at the Conoco mini-mart. He was so impressed with our trip that he went to his car and looked us up on his laptop while sitting in the parking lot. He then called MSNBC and put me on the phone with them. I provided them with our website and cell phone number and they assured me they’d call us if they could get a photographer. The catch was if we made it to our destination for the day, Lexington, we’d be out of their area and therefore they wouldn’t be able to cover our story. Well, guess who called at 6:30 P.M. just as we passed the sign for The City of Lexington? You guessed it, MSNBC! She congratulated us on the number of miles we’d made today but basically said, so sorry.

The biggest chuckle of the day came when we were leaving our Subway stop at around 4:30 P.M. where I had downed a couple of cups of iced tea and a sandwich. We hopped on the bike and started down the road and I said, “Brrrr. I’m a bit chilly.” Gregory’s comeback was, “Be a Man!” Both Mike and I just started busting up. We thought that was just hysterical! I don't know where he picked this up because we certainly don't say it to him. Who knows! Today was definitely a Subway day! We stopped at two. Mike and Gregory ate at the first one and I ate at the second.

We got a really late start this morning after a lengthy breakfast at Niecie’s Restaurant where we met Steve Tuttle a fellow Santana owner. He and his wife ride a polished aluminum Santana Sovereign. He joined us at our booth and we visited all through breakfast. Meanwhile the phone rang and it was Mark. He was hoping to run into us today as he was out on a ride in the area. It turned out that he knew Steve so we put them on the line together for a minute. After various phone calls we managed to get on the road around 11:30!

One of our calls was to Jeff Calaski at Outdoor Research. OR makes our EXPED Synmat air mattresses. Last night all three of us woke up because our mattresses were going flat. We pumped them up, situated ourselves and went back to sleep for a few more hours but awoke to flat mattresses again. Jeff was great. Though he wasn’t sure why this happened he happily made arrangements to have 3 brand new mattresses sent out General Delivery to our destination in a couple of days. Now that is what I call customer service. In the past both Mike and I have worked for retailers who pride themselves on their customer service (Mike was an assistant manager for REI and I was an assistant manager in Men’s Sportswear at Nordstrom) therefore we can really appreciate when a company takes care of their customers.

Such a late start made for a long day and we didn’t get into Lexington until the sun was setting. We pulled into McDonald’s for Gregory’s bathroom break and to ask about camping. It turned out that camping was about 5 miles out of town with at least 2 of those miles on gravel! Once again we had to opt for a motel. It’s nothing fancy but at least we weren’t riding down a dirt road and setting up camp well after dark.

Unfortunately the news shows thunderstorms brewing for this area. Our plan is to get up early and to try to make 50 miles to Boonville and The Katy Trail. Hopefully the weather will cooperate.

Day 72 ~ Kansas City Mix-up

This photo is courtesy of Natalie and Mark Johnson. Note Mike is wearing a headset on loan from Mark. Mark was nice enough to lead us through 20 miles across Kansas City via the back roads. Thanks Mark!

Our New Friend Mark

Riding in the back of Linda's pickup on a historic tour of Kansas City, Missouri

Linda's dog Bo got to ride in the back of the truck with us!

Our hostess Linda and her dog Bo at a Santa Fe Trail Marker in Missouri

"This farmhouse is one of the oldest standing frame residence in Jackson County. Built in 1844 by Archibald Rice and his family on the Santa Fe Trail, the plantation became a friendly layover for westward bound pioneers, who often camped on the Rice property before striking into the frontier...The old house has seen the rise and fall of the three trails west, the border wars of the 1850s, the Civil War, Reconstruction, the coming of the automobile and the rise of the suburbs." (Taken from a brochure:

"Aunt Sophie's Cabin, a replica of the log home occupied by the slave, Sophie White, commemorates the life of a woman born in servitude and who remained with the Rice family until her death in 1896." (Brochure)

"Cave Spring Historic Site and Nature Center is a 36-acre oasis. During the 1840s prairie schooners and Conestoga wagons traveling west passed by the property then owned and farmed by the Barnes family. Many travelers camped here..." (Brochure:

Gregory makes a tee pee at the bunkhouse while Bo looks on.

We set up the tent inside the bunkhouse to avoid the skeeters...

Date: Sept. 29, 2009

From: Shawnee, Kansas

To: Kansas City, Missouri

Route: Back roads provided by our escort Mark


Miles Today: 20 miles


Top Speed on this trip: 54.1 mph

Weather: Beautiful!

License Plates Collected: 5 Montana plates, 8 Wyoming plates (2 motorcycle) and 1 Idaho plate (found in WY), 2 Colorado plates, 1 Kansas plate (gifted from David of Baldwin City)

We were once again extremely grateful to have Mark, a native of this area, lead us to our next destination which in this case took us across state lines from Kansas to Missouri. He led us through some beautiful tree-lined neighborhoods with enormous homes. He loaned Mike a headset so they could communicate while riding and it really made the ride a breeze. Mark could ride ahead and let Mike know if an intersection was clear. The 20-mile ride seemed to take no time at all and Mark brought us right to the doorstep of our warmshowers host. Or so we thought…

We’d parked the bike next to the house and Gregory and I started wandering around the backyard since Linda told us she’d leave the house open and we could go ahead and set up. All of a sudden a women came to the screen door and said, “Who are you?” We gave our names and explained we were the bikers she’d spoken with. She must have thought we were nuts. She’d never heard of us. First we thought we had the wrong house and then when she told us Linda was her daughter, we thought it a little strange that Linda didn’t tell us her mom lived with her. We thought at least she would have informed her mom we were coming. We finally called Linda and got the whole thing sorted out and she asked her mom to show us to the bunkhouse that was formerly her dad’s shop. Meanwhile she was on her way over.

It turns out that Linda has two host sites, one at her home in Kansas City, Kansas (where she thought we were coming) and one at her mom Pat’s house in Kansas City, Missouri! Well, while we waited for Linda we became fast friends with Pat who informed us she is 93 years old and had two sons and two daughters. Her home is set on an acre of land at the end of a road and surrounded by trees so though you are in the city it doesn’t feel like it.

Linda arrived with her little white poodle Bo and Gregory enjoyed throwing the Frisbee for him. Long after Gregory was finished with that game Bo kept coming back for more and kept us all busy while Linda heated up a pizza, we ate, and we visited for a bit before Linda loaded us into the truck to see some historic sites around town. Linda’s truck seats two up front so Gregory, Mike and I got to lay down in the bed (with a shell) to stay out of sight just in case we might pass an officer. Mike commented that he felt like he was sneaking into the drive in movies! It was quite comfy. There were blankets and I had a bag of cat food as a pillow and almost fell asleep!

We went to several sites along the Santa Fe Trail including the 1844 Rice-Tremonti Homestead and Aunt Sophie’s Cabin (a replica of the log home occupied by the slave, Sophie White) adjacent to the home. We then visited The West Family Cemetery where many of the Rice family are also buried. But the site I think Gregory enjoyed the most was Cave Spring Nature Park and Historic Site. He got to explore the many trails and go into Cave Spring. We found it difficult to see the spring as it is down to a trickle but it used to provide quite a nice watering hole. We found the Santa Fe Trail marker and hiked over bridges and along densely tree lined paths. The museum was closed but docents who where there let us browse around briefly and they gave Gregory a Missouri Queen coloring book. They were super friendly and took time from what they were doing to chat with us a bit.

Our last stop was a Chinese Buffett where Gregory filled up on spring rolls and ice cream. Mike’s plate was piled high with quite an assortment and I think Pat was a bit shocked at the amount of food he managed to get on his plate. I sampled a bit of everything but was thrilled to find fresh steamed vegetables and sautéed mushrooms. On the way home Linda wanted to show us a bit of the route we’d be riding on the way out of town. Mike had to sit up in the back of the truck so he could see, that is until he thought he saw a police officer. We hunkered down and were glad we escaped unnoticed. Back at the house we delighted in hot showers and then settled down in the bunkhouse for a good night’s sleep.

Day 71 ~ Swimming With Natalie & Courtney

I just had to publish this great picture sent to me by Natalie (on the left). She and her sister Courtney came to our hotel for a swim. Their Dad Mark helped us dial in our triple (he owns Precision Tandems and has been a great helping getting us around the busy Kansas City area. These girls have completed at least 3 complete BAK (Bike Across Kansas) rides (on multi-seat bikes) and have done several other partial BAK rides when they were younger. The BAK is 500+ miles in a week.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Day 71 ~ Rest and Repair

Mike and Gregory show how happy they are to have a tuned up triple.

Date: Sept. 28, 2009

From: Shawnee, Kansas

To: Shawnee, Kansas

Route: Hwy 56E


Miles Today: 40 miles


Top Speed on this trip: 54.1 mph

Weather: 80’s

License Plates Collected: 5 Montana plates, 8 Wyoming plates (2 motorcycle) and 1 Idaho plate (found in WY), 2 Colorado plates, 1 Kansas plate (gifted from David of Baldwin City)

The bike is totally dialed in thanks to Mark (of Precision Tandems) and Mike. We have new tires and tubes, new rear chain and cogs, new brake pads, new clipless pedals for Mike and a new pump that will provide higher tire pressure than our old one. We are ready for the second leg of our US journey. As I mentioned before we are currently off of the TransAmerica route and headed towards The Katy Trail, a 200-mile rails to trails in Missouri. We are hoping the gradual grade of this crushed limestone trail will be a more enjoyable ride for us on the triple than the steeper grades of the Ozarks. We will miss the beautiful Ozark mountains that we experienced back in 1994, but are eager to see something new. We will also be taking Gregory to St. Louis including a visit to the Arch and the City Museum (recommended by recent visitors Carla and David, our new friends from Baldwin City).

While Mike “wrenched” on the bike, Gregory wrote a 100-word essay for a National Geographic contest. We’d picked up an entry form back in Oregon at a Subway on our way out to our jumping off point in Baker City, OR. It has been in Gregory’s wallet and we knew the deadline was October third. He found it is really hard to put into words all that he has learned and discovered in the past 70 days and 2,000 miles. Gregory did convey that he is having the adventure of a lifetime with his mom and dad and that he loves camping out and having people invite him to stay. Cycling over Hoosier Pass at 11,542 feet and riding in all kinds of weather has also made a big impression. He feels really good about his entry.

We also had the luxury of the pool and are getting caught up on our journals and reading. We watched some Monday night football and Gregory invited Mark’s girls Natalie (9) and Courtney (12) to come to the hotel for a swim this evening.

We’ve made arrangements with a member of for our accommodations on the other side of Kansas City tomorrow night (only about 15-20 miles away), and may have the opportunity to ride out there with Mark.

Day 70 ~ Two Triples

Gregory enjoys the toys at Carla and David's house.

An Osage Orange ~ Very Bumpy Texture

"Here, and for the next 300 miles west, Highway 56 roughly follows the old Santa Fe trail, and frequently crosses it..."

Battle of Black Jack ~ "This "battle" was part of the struggle to make Kansas a free state...John Brown's company then killed five Proslavery men..."

Gregory "helps" his dad repair flat tire #3. Note: He is holding the tube, well sort of.

Supervisor Gregory
Just for the record, I did hold the tire for Mike while he pumped it up.

How would you like to mow this front lawn? Kansas is the most well manicured state we've been in. We are sure that all homeowners in Kansas must own a ride on John Deere lawnmower!

Check out the tree growing out of the top of this old silo.

Driving the fire truck in Edgerton, Kansas.

Fire Captain Williams

Gregory's ready to fight some fires!

I loved this. The library in Edgerton, Kansas is the "Bank Of Knowledge" as are all libraries! Founded 1906.

Two Triples! Mark, Julie and Natalie meet us in Gardner and take us 20 miles back to Shawnee via the back roads.

The Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop, Olathe (pronounced O-lath-a)

Natalie and Gregory riding scooters after a 40+ mile bike ride. These kids never get tired!

Date: Sept. 27, 2009

From: Baldwin City, Kansas

To: Shawnee, Kansas

Route: Hwy 56E & back roads north to Shawnee


Miles Today: 40 miles


Top Speed on this trip: 54.1 mph

Weather: 86 degrees and windy (We finally got a bit of a tailwind!)

License Plates Collected: 5 Montana plates, 8 Wyoming plates (2 motorcycle) and 1 Idaho plate (found in WY), 2 Colorado plates, 1 Kansas plate (gifted from David of Baldwin City)

We spent most of the morning visiting with our hosts Carla and David and bid them farewell so they could get ready for their granddaughter's birthday party. In their front yard Gregory finally got to see an Osage orange up close. We’ve been seeing these along the highway and wondering what they are. The pioneers planted this hearty tree as a hedgerow (or wind break). The oranges aren’t for human consumption but some animals will eat them and if you put them around your foundation they will keep out the varmints like cockroaches. The wood also burns as hot as coal.

One mile out of town we got flat #3. This time it was the front tire. We were going downhill at about 30 mph when the front started to wobble and Mike started to yell, "I've got a flat. I've got a flat." Gregory and I firmed our grips on the handlebars as our captain led us to a safe stop. I patted Mike on the back and congratulated him on a job well done. That was a bit scary. The master mechanic had us back on the road in no time. We had a "snake bite". That is two small slits in the tube where the rim pinches it due to low pressure and hitting something in the road. Though we didn't have the full 145-psi we like, the tire would get us to Mark at Precision Tandems in Shawnee, Kansas.

We thought we’d have a brunch in Edgerton but Mike at the Edgerton Firehouse informed us there was no café. He wouldn’t wash our bike but did let Gregory hop up in the cab of the engine and he suited him up in helmet and fireproof coat. We thanked fireman Mike profusely and rode 5 more miles of hills to the city of Gardner where we got Gregory his Cherry Limeade at Sonic and then ate Mexican for lunch.

Gardner was our meeting place to connect with Mark of Precision Tandems. Mark runs his online business from his home in Shawnee (a suburb of Kansas City) and has been extremely helpful to us in the past. He specializes in multiple seat bikes and though he doesn’t have a retail store or shop we’d heard he helped some other triple tourists in their time of need. Mike made arrangements to connect with Mark and get his expert advice on the parts needed for a complete tune-up of our Santana Triple. He generously offered to ride out to Gardner to guide us into the city and we were thrilled he came on his triple with his racing partner Julie and his 9-year old daughter Natalie. Two triples cruising down the road is quite a sight! We were thankful for a bit of a tail wind so we could try to keep up with these guys! They were kind and gave us a rest about midway. The Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm Historic Site was a perfect stop. We missed out on the special Wild West Show but got to wander around the museum and the festival with its men in civil war uniform on horse back, gold panning and a demonstration of the use of a whip. They even let these 6 cyclists in free of charge with only a half hour left in their day.

Mark led us through back roads and well kept industrial complexes for a comfortable ride into the city and we were extremely happy to avoid the heavy traffic. It helped that it was also a Sunday. Fortunately they just built a Courtyard by Mariott within walking distance of Mark’s place (fancier than we’d usually do but very convenient) and we checked in and dropped the bike off with him for tomorrows tune up. We had a delicious meal at the nearby Herford House (happy hour prices all day Sunday…yeah) and a relaxing swim and soak in the spa. As Grandpa and Grandma Williams would say, “We’re living high on the hog tonight!”

Day 69 ~ Santa Fe Trail

Shari invited us into her beautiful home (in Osage City) for coffee and a shower.

Jeanne Riggs at the Santa Fe Cafe in Burlingame gets the award for biggest cinnamon roll yet!

We have a hotel in Burlingame?

Gregory "takes the stage" in Burlingame on the Santa Fe Trail.

The Santa Fe Trail Crossed Here
DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) marker is near the site of Baden Post Office which had intermittent existence between 1883 and 1891.
SIMMONS POINT a stagecoach relay station was 2 1/2 miles east on the Old Trail.

Santa Fe Trail Mural

Gregory counted 7 dogs in this truck and 6 of them were large standard poodles!

Guinea Hens

David gives Gregory his one and only Kansas plate.

David and Carla watch their grand kids and have lots of toys for Gregory to play with. Here he is with his marble tower.

Date: Sept. 26, 2009

From: Osage City, Kansas

To: Baldwin City, Kansas

Route: Hwy 56E


Miles Today: 52 miles


Top Speed on this trip: 54.1 mph

Weather: High 70’s with light winds

License Plates Collected: 5 Montana plates, 8 Wyoming plates (2 motorcycle) and 1 Idaho plate (found in WY), 2 Colorado plates, 1 Kansas plate (gifted from David of Baldwin City)

The morning after our worst storm ever, Shari came over to the park from across the street and once again offered us showers and coffee. (She’d come over the evening before just as we were getting in the tent.) We visited with Shari well into the morning and admired her beautiful Victorian home and gardens.

It was a beautiful morning and a short ride to Burlingame where Gregory got to hop up inside a Santa Fe Stage coach that was in the center of the wide Main Street. We were told that this brick-surfaced street was so wide because as a main thoroughfare for the Santa Fe Trail the wagons would park on either side of the street and there would still be room for through traffic. We ate at the Santa Fe Café where owner Jeanne Riggs makes the biggest cinnamon roll we’ve found on this trip. Delicious!

We arrived at Baldwin City and stopped in at Gene’s Sport Cache Bait & Tackle, Inc. to get directions to the police station. Gene didn’t know if they’d let us camp in the park but thought we might try the fraternities or sororities on the Baker University Campus. It’s not likely that we’d do that with a 9-year old, especially on a Saturday night! Although we did see a tent on the front lawn of a sorority house as we rode by on our way to the police station. Mike said, “That’s where the freshman sleep.”

Corporal Mike Underwood of the Baldwin City Police informed us that there was a city ordinance against camping in the park but was very helpful in providing phone numbers for the one motel in town and the B&B and gave Gregory one of his uniform patches. As we left he said, “If you camped in the park no one would kick you out.” Well, of course we didn’t feel we really could do that after finding there was a law against it. We found the motel and B&B were both booked for a wedding leaving our only choice to ride 2 more miles out of town to a lake where we were told there “probably was a port-a-potty”. Ugh!

We decided to eat something and then at my urging we went back to the athletic club to ask for a shower before riding to the lake. We then found the athletic club closed at 3:00 P.M. on Saturdays! This just wasn’t our lucky day! Then, Gregory sees a couple people inside on stationary bikes and starts waving at them. Carla came to the door and explained that members had passkeys for after hours and invited us to come in for a shower. Hurray for Carla! While Mike finished, Gregory and I chatted with Carla and once she found out I was a teacher, (she’s a retired teacher) I think she made up her mind we were good people and invited us home. We had the most delightful stay with Carla and her husband David who live on a beautiful 15-acre property complete with a pond loaded with catfish. They treated us to their delicious homemade salsa, let us do laundry, gave us comfy beds to sleep in and best of all for Gregory, Carla broke out her school toys (Magnetics, marbles, blocks, etc.) and her grandchildren’s things for him to play with. Also, David went downstairs to his workshop (he is an amazing woodworker) and found a Kansas license plate for Gregory. The Kansas shoulders have all been neatly mowed and relatively litter free and we still hadn’t found one. Gregory was thrilled.