Ash Grove, Missouri to Pittsburg, Kansas

This morning we had our breakfast burritos which Delores had brought over last night. They were delicious.  Tom had head out around 5:10 AM so I was eager to get going because it was 70 miles ahead of us, and I have to cook tonight.  Still we all left about 7:30 and for a brief while all of us (Norm, Christine, Jim, Bill, Barry, Lew, John and I) biked out together in a long line.

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In Everton we quickly stumbled upon a large sign criticizing the game warden.  Jim, who daily searches for the weirdest or funniest sign of the day quickly declared victory for the day.

"I think I don't need to look further," he said.

"You can shut down that part of your mind," John added.

Setting out from Ashland we were warned (promised) that the first 23 miles would be hilly and that held true.  Twice I needed to walk the bike up.

Right at the 23 mile mark, here was a Farm Supply Store - a welcome beacon because we had been told they sell drinks.  Powerade for one dollar.

Then straight, flat, and prairie as if a switch had been thrown.  It's beautiful country, cattle country, and farming country.

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Proudly protected by the Second Amendment, Cooky's Cafe has served Golden City, Missouri since 1942.  Cooky, if he or she really existed, is long gone now - and no one we asked knew Cooky.

Not even resident Ed Sprague, 92, born in 1925 who was there to eat lunch with his lady friend Gail, herself 90 years old - remember who Cooky was, but the his or her restaurant is award winning for their pies.

Mr. Spague served in the Airforce during World War II flying the B17 Bomber over Germany three times.  He told me that only once did a single bomber ever return completely intact.  They lost 10% of their planes each mission.

Gail, 90 as married twice before.  Once to the Mayor of Golden City who served twenty-two years.

Cooky's for lunch became wildly packed.  Good hamburgers, and brisket sandwhich.  They do pies there - about twenty different varieties.  Despite Mr. Fortner's heartfelt prediction that a Cooky's Pecan Pie with ice cream will solve any problem that ails you - I opted for the vanilla shake.  They do shakes perfectly bringing you not only the shake, but the left over in the metal mixing cup.

Liberal, Missouri

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After leaving Golden City, Missouri five of us (Bill, Jim, Barry, John, and I) headed West along State Highway 128 which, unlike all of the roads we have seen before, went straight, straight along the Earth's shell untrammeled by hills, rivers, or other considerations that bend roads to them.

We are going up, but the grade is so slight that we can keep up fabulous constant speeds in the 15 to 18 miles an hour.  So even though this a 70 mile day we knocked out half of the remaining 35 miles in just an hour.

Still it was sunny and Jim pulled over  under the shade of a tree by the farm and in no time,  we were off bike, helmets off, and lying down in the shade.  We could have slept here easily, but our destination is just ahead maybe an hour at the rate we are going.

But for a brief moment we could have slept there and been very happy.

Kansas!

This new state represents so much.  It is fifth state out of ten.  We are now firmly out of the Ozarks and now the roads and terrain are mostly flat, and hills - to the extent we come across them are b tied and not so steep.  It means wind becomes the new obstacle.  A sad is the geographic center of the contiguous United States, so we are crossing a point where we have cycled over half of the country.

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It also means that shortly we will be in Pittsburg, Kansas and that means we have a rest day.  This will be our fourth rest day and after 70 miles today, I am looking forward to it.

Got into town at about 4PM.  Checked in, showered, and biked over to the Park where the trailer was to make dinner with Philip.  Swedish Meatball and an excellent Spinach Salad with strawberries, mandarin oranges, chopped walnuts, red onion, bacon bits and sesame seeds with a raspberry vinaigrette.  Great raves.

At a prior map meeting about our upcoming rest day here in Pittsburg we were told that we would be camping, instead of staying at either a Hostel or Hotel as had been previously been the case.  Then Philip advised us that the Leader's Notes from prior trips had complained that the park was starting to get overrun from vagrants and homeless, and full blown mutiny erupted as everyone (except Bill) quickly jumped ship and booked their own rooms at hotels.

I asked Gina if she would help me and she booked me a room at the Regency which is just down the street from the Super 8 where everyone else is staying.  Gina's rationale being that the cleanliness reviews were higher at the Regency and it has one floor so I could bring my bike straight in.  They also have an onsite laundry facility and the other one in town is a mile away so that's a plus.

Leading to the next observation that rest days are a bit of a fib, because while we do rest (I slept ten wonderful, stretched out, blissful hours last night) we also do chores.

Laundry is an absolute must because we had eight cycling days since Carbondale.  Despite whatever little ad hoc measures I try to clean clothes in showers or sinks, I have to admit we smell like sweat.  Our cycling gloves, Barry Points out, probably shouldn't even be allowed in restaurants or other places of public accommodation.  The smell could strip paint.

The Bike Shop is another obligatory stop to tweak, tune up or in my case today, to ship back home my old bike so that we are not carrying that, while I continue on cross country with the Mike Bike that I have dubbed the Yeti.  Sad and frustrating to have to switch bikes, but I am extraordinarily grateful and fortunate to be able to do so and continue the ride.

Perhaps some shopping, A Movie (really a pipe dream but one can hope.). A Nap.  Then tonight's dinner at 6 PM.

My hair is still too short to have a meaningful haircut, so that will wait until our next (5th) rest day in Pueblo, Colorado.  In the meantime I have helmet hair - even today when I haven't yet put on the helmet - my hair seemingly has started to grow more, like grass or weeds, in the gaps in my helmet.