A large stone courthouse dominates the town square of Girard, Kansas. There is Vietnam Era Helicopter next to the ever present small town Veterans Memorial.
We switch maps here from Map Nine to Map Eight so we've stopped at the Eastside Cafe. Stocked with fabulously lush and plump cinnamon rolls and a multitude of pies, the small restaurant is the dream and sweet of nineteen year old owner Andrew and Ariana Fawcett.
The restaurant itself had been opened for decades, but when the owners died there were no interested family members to carry it on so it closed. Andrew pooled savings and a successful business proposal to a bank and reopens it four months ago.
The breakfast was great, the pie excellent and switching over to Map 8 (it's a count down. We started with Map 12) is a nice milestone.
Biking in Kansas has been great so long as we are heading North. There is a 20 to 30 mile an hour wind from the South that makes topping twenty miles an hour easily. When we head West the wind comes at our left and it drops our speed by seven to ten miles. But the road is flat, mostly, and a pleasure to bike.
In Walnut for our near obligatory stop for drinks and Gatorade we met up with Mark Royden from the U.K. Barry, who claimed to smells out fellow countrymen, much like the giant from the Beanstalk, started talking and found out they lived in the same area. Once you start talking about specific buildings on specific streets you know it's a small world.
Since Kansas we have experienced a bit of preening accomplishment having started in Yorktown, Virginia. Back four weeks ago we were still interminably cycling through Virginia so it wasn't as impressive. Now we get surprised looks and even we feel, now that we approach our midway point, a sense of accomplishment.
Then Mark crosses our path. He is heading East. He started 279 days ago IN LONDON. He biked through Europe to Istanbul. Through India to Thailand. Australia and New Zealand. Suddenly our 36 days and 1500 plus miles seem a little small.
His blog: http://withersonwheels.tumblr.com/
THE CENTER OF (Google) EARTH
At the crossroads of the downtown Chanute (pronounced Shanute) there is a large geodesic disc on the pavement putting this city at the center of the world. While all major ancient cities indulged in the we-are-the-center-of-world, Kansas at least has geography and math on its side. It is, after all, the geographical center of the contiguous United States.
Now Mac Users of Google Earth in the US have yet more of a reason because the default centers over Chanute.
According to the Google Blog:
If you're in the U.S. and you have a Mac, try this: Launch Google Earth, wait for the zooming to stop, and then press the + button to zoom closer. You'll arrive at the small town of Chanute, Kansas, nestled in the southeast corner of the state. I doubt you've ever noticed this before now. But even if you have, you're probably wondering -- why Chanute?
There are several reasons. The most important reason is that I was born and raised there. I grew up on a small farm, and while everyone else was out feeding the ducks and milking the cows, I was inside making electronic contraptions and eventually programming computers (which would scarcely be recognized as such today, since my first computer had only 256 bytes of memory and a dual hexadecimal LED display).
The second reason I chose Chanute is that it's near the geographic center of the 48 contiguous states. If I had been born in, say, New Hampshire, I never would have thought to tamper with the Google Earth coordinates.
And the last reason is that my co-worker Brian McClendon, who grew up in Lawrence, Kansas, had already positioned the Windows version of Google Earth (which shipped a few months earlier than the Mac version) at his hometown. I guess you could say that Brian's shenanigans inspired my own.
But the choice of Chanute is not without controversy. Because it's farther than Lawrence from the geographic center of the 48 states, and since (as of this writing) the satellite imagery at Chanute is not as crisp, it could be interpreted as a less user-friendly choice, which is not in keeping with the Macintosh tradition. But don't let that fool you -- the people in Chanute are as friendly as they come. Stop by sometime and say hello -- and be sure to tell them Dan sent you."
Posted by Dan Webb, Software Engineer, Google Earth for Mac OS X
At the age of twenty five in 1911 Martin Johnson applied to be on Jack and Charmaine London's ship the Snark to the South Seas. When he was hired as a cook, he convinced a San Francisco Chef to give him four week cooking lessons.
When he returned, he took his photos and put on a vaudeville travelogue show where he met his wife, OSA, the age sixteen. The eloped after three weeks and she became his constant companion in adventure. They travelled the globe to Borneo, the South Seas, and particularly Africa shooting extraordinary documentary footage.
Through the journeys and safaris of Martin and Osa, and until their deaths, the Johnsons were in the public eye.
This couple was the pride of Kansas, although in the early days, people "on the stage" were not considered quite as "decent" as their "stay at home" contemporaries. But their performances, lectures, films, and books made them admired as two small town people who followed their dreams of adventure—and set an example for an entire generation of budding explorers in the United States and Europe.
The untimely death of Martin in 1937 and the onset of World War II, which sent Americans to fight in the same South Sea Islands that had seemed so exotic in the pages of the Johnsons' books, obscured the Johnson legacy and fame.
TONIGHT IN CHANUTE
Cycling back from the hotel we spotted Dick Liquors - the most obscene name for an alcohol store I've seen yet.
It's still windy. So much so that our group has zealously staked out our tents so they don't blow away. On my end I found one place to hang the hammock. So thus far I've avoided the tent.
Showered and then plastered my wet clothing against the fence with the wind. It'll dry in minutes.