Wednesday, July 29
This was supposed to be an easy day and it almost was. I happened to get the extended forecast for this part of Kansas yesterday at one of our soul mind and body stops. Temperatures were predicted to be 10 to 12 degrees below normal for today and more of the same for tomorrow and then gradually warming back up to the normal range. So todays below normal temperature of 84 degrees was a pleasant break. The humidity was still abundant as you could cut the air with a knife, but the relative “cool” air was certainly welcome.
We were awake and moving about before 7:00. While it didn’t rain again after the thunderstorms that welcomed us to town late yesterday afternoon, everything was covered with dew this morning. We managed to mostly dry stuff off by wiping and hanging in the sun but most of the tent was packed up still semi-damp. Pedaling away from Eureka and Lewis’ 2 girlfriends, our initial stop of the day was the Coffee Beanery. An hour was spent enjoying a couple coffees and a cinamon roll for me and a chocolate brownie for Lewis and a scone for Donna. The lady running this place has a big heart and is hoping for grand things but I don’t see the local people stepping up and frequenting this establishment. It is a not for profit enterprise that employs some of the areas developmentally disabled adults whom perform some of the non-skilled tasks in a coffee shop. She admits that the locals have been scared off by the fact that the special ed gang works there. But they aren’t baristas, just table wipers.
We left the beanery (9:45)with plans of riding into Chanute Kansas before nightfall. I have already mentioned the abnormally ‘cool’ temps. What made this day just a bit harder than it might have been was of course the wind! Today the breeze was directly out of the east. That’s where we’re headed! This wasn’t a gale force wind by any means but it was enough to get the flag flapping on the flagpole. We’re talkin in the 10 to 20 mph range. So off we go into the wind! Averaging 9 mph, steady progress was made. We stopped every hour on the hour for just a few minutes until our lunch break which came at about 1:00. Toronto Kansas (27 mile ride)has exactly 1 restaurant and it was pretty busy serving cowboys and the two girlfriend bicyclists of Lewis. As we had just devoured a couple bagels and granola bars and gatorade, no one was really hungry so we just bought some ice cream sandwiches from the freezer and enjoyed these. We’d save our money and go out to eat tonight once we got to Chanute.
The riding got a little easier at this point as the wind totally ceased. This lasted for a couple hours but allowed us to get a few extra miles. So we rode, and we rode, and after 6 hours of riding time, we finally pulled into Chanute Kansas. 67 miles. The wind returned for the final hour or so just to remind us of who was the boss. I felt really tired the last couple of hours and Donna shared my exhaustion. The long summer of bicycle riding is not making us stronger, it’s just wearing us down. But we will persevere and we will ride our bicycles into Washington DC. But today, we rode into Chanute Kansas. This would have been about 5:00.
The library was our initial destination as some pictures needed to be sent to the Saginaw News. This took all of 45 minutes including a while to read a couple dozen e-mails. Good news concerning Andrej our next exchange student! Rose Marie Gray and her husband Paul have tentatively agreed to take him in until we get home in September. While Donna was reading some of her e-mail, I decided to do some research. The last time I went through this area, I spent the night at the home of one Yodeling Katy Lopeman of Chanute Kansas. When I asked the librarian if she had any knowledge of Katy, she knew who I was talking about and even went so far as to look up her address and phone number as she now lives in town instead of on the outskirts. Donna and Lewis agreed to accompany me on an impromptu visit to the house of Yodeling Katy.
We pulled up to her house within a few minutes and just a few minutes after that were sitting inside Katy’s house drinking orange juice and getting acquainted and reacquainted with each other. I was pleasantly surprised that she actually remembered me. For several years she would get 60 or more cyclists staying at her place in a typical 12 months. While she didn’t recognize me without my Charles Manson look, my name immediately brought the response of “You’re the one from Michigan!”. I am certain that I would have been forgotten like so many others who have crossed paths with her had not David Letterman and his crew taken an interest in my Alaskan Adventure. And in doing so, the antics of Yodeling Katy were uncovered and for a short while, an interest was taken in her as well. As far as I know she likewise never made an appearnce on Dave’s show, but she gained just a bit more notoriety after that inauspicious day some 13 years ago, when I knocked on her door.
Katy is just as sharp as I remember her. Unfortunately, she’s not as active. She had a hip replacement 13 months ago and hasn’t been able to ride her bike since then. She is still involved in her youth ministries but now is required to drive a car in order to make her deliveries. She makes cookies and delivers them all over Chanute collecting money that she donates to her favorite Charity. When I met her the first time I believe she was also gardening and selling her produce the same way and for the same cause. While Katy has lost some of her mobility, she can still yodel with the best of them. Just ask Donna. Better yet, take a look and have listen as we recorded a couple little ditties that she performed for our benefit. Lewis and I are going to get these onto the blog so take a moment and relax and imagine you’re one of the uncounted hundreds of cyclists who’ve been startled from a deep slumber by the strumming of her trusty Ukalalee accompanied by the modulating of her vocal cords. Yodeling Katy, you are a Peach! A national treasure to behold. I only wish more people could have the opportunity to get to know you.
As the day was approaching evening we were forced to cut short our visit in order to find lodging and our supper. We took some photos in the front yard and then said our good byes. Our initial plan was to get some fast food, then camp at the city operated campground just a mile or so out of town. Our dinner ended up being McDonalds to Lewis’ delight. While ‘enjoying’ our dinner out, we came to the realization that we would be setting up camp in the dark so we opted to stay at a motel just a bit down from McDonalds. The room ended up being a $45 one which isn’t too bad as we’ve occasionally spent nearly $30 for camping priveledges. That pretty much concludes this day as Donna and Lewis are already sleeping and I’m dozing as I keystroke. Buenos Noches!