Twenty-Six: The One with an H (Golden City to Girard, KANSAS)
“The one in Pennsylvania. With an H.”
“Wow, that’s a ways.”
I was good this morning. I didn’t stop at Cooky’s for a slice, though I was tempted to take one for the road. It was cool, and as I rode out of Missouri, the hills became lower, with slacker angles. In exchange for the flat, I had 20- and 30-mph gusts out of the SSW. There’s not much around to block the wind, and it pushed hard on my left side. Turning right to track north through Pittsburg, it positively pushed me along. It surprised me how silent a strong wind can be when you’re riding with it. From a rustle and roar, 90 degrees later to a soft whistle.
I stopped in Pittsburg for a $5 large pizza, and went to the (architecturally magnificent) library to digest, where I struggled to stay awake in the cool air. I’m working on plans to detour to Manhattan, Kansas, probably just past Eureka, to visit a couple of friends over Independence Day. The hunt’s on for a Kansas map. The hunt’s also on for a WELCOME TO KANSAS sign, because I didn’t get one today. A pair of bare posts hint at a past home, but it’s a serious bummer to skip a state sign. I’ll have to cheat and grab a photo heading into Colorado. Now through Missouri, I’m pleased to note that every single turn’s signed. Kudos to the state for doing that. It’s a pleasure to get lost in the scenery rather than stare at a map. I ran into Adam on my way to Girard. He started in Astoria on May 22 and was calling it quits in Pittsburg after a couple of high-mileage days.
I’m stopping tonight (a short day) in Girard, the end of map segment 10. Tomorrow I’ll start segment 9, taking me to Alexander, Kansas. Home is Girard’s City Park, attached to the public pool. Cyclists can use the hot showers and swim for free. A gaggle of 11-year-olds gave me the scoop on the town. Told me where to go to eat, where the grocery store is, where to buy shaved ice. They were impressed by my load. I was impressed by their bikes and wheelie skills. They also told me that Girard is boring, but pretty safe. But then one kid said someone got stabbed in the neck a few days ago. They’re pretty sure he had it coming. Home tonight is the pavilion attached to the park. The last time I put my tent up was in Murphysboro, about a week ago.