GRMA Day 6: Flat and Hot
Following a three-day family hiatus, I’m back “on the road again” and today, after six days and more than 1, 600 miles I finally got to see the Rockies, where I’ll spend the next four glorious weeks. Tomorrow I’ll ride roads that go into and up and down the southern part of the range. I’m looking forward to new views and new pavement.
I suppose I should be kinder to the state where I grew up, but Kansas is boring. Straight roads and endless fields planted with various crops (wheat, corn, alfalfa, beans, etc.). And a plethora of pungent feed lots where witless cattle stuff themselves in final preparation for their McDonalds destination.
There’s no other way to describe today’s ride besides flat. Mile after mile I could see harvested and unharvested fields and the shimmering ribbon of road stretching out endlessly in front of me. Yet despite its apparent flatness, I climbed more than 3,000 feet today and find myself at about 4,800 feet in Pueblo which lies at the foot of the Rockies.
The other descriptor for today’s ride is hot. No, make that HOT. The morning ride wasn’t bad but by noon the temperature had climbed above 90, and as I crossed from Kansas to Colorado I saw temperature signs in triple digits. I wore my new, long-sleeve, white shirt today, and I think it helped. It evaporates moisture quickly for better cooling and reflects the sun well. Anyone doing long distance riding in the heat should consider one. I also drank about three times as much water as I usually do. But I was still pretty beat when I rolled up to my abode for the night.
I spotted several small museums and historic sites along the way that I would have stopped to visit had they been open, but all of them were closed on Sunday. At historic Fort Dodge, about 12 miles east of Dodge City, I stopped and walked around briefly but none of the public buildings were open. Initially an outpost on the Santa Fe Trail, the government converted the post in 1890 to the Kansas Soldier’s Home, providing living quarters for retired veterans with limited resources and often no family. Many of the old buildings built when it was 19th century outpost are still used today, and most of them are named for former generals and admirals (e.g. Grant, Custer, Eisenhower, Nimitz, Halsey). I would liked to have spent an hour perusing their museum and walking around learning more about this forgotten piece of history. I think some of the old vets would have stories to tell. Maybe another time.
After two misfires looking for pie, I found a delightful piece of Oreo Pie made by the owner of the Ranchito Cafe in Lakin, Kansas. And the pie was so good I ordered the Sunday special for lunch after I ate the pie. Lunch was also very good. An ice-water refill for my water bottle and I was on my way again headed out of Kansas.
Tomorrow I should end up in Las Vegas, New Mexico, and the weather looks good. Mountains at last.