Newton, Kansas to Sterling, Kansas

Buhler, Kansas

Which is flatter? Kansas or a pancake?

Turns out Kansas is flatter.

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"On the whole, Kansas has never really been thought of as a driving challenge. A glance at a state road map reveals a grid-like layout with relatively few twists and turns. Doctoral student Brandon Vogt knew that from personal experience. He frequently drove the width of the state, making the trip from Boulder, Colo., to Colombia, Mo. And he began to wonder just how flat Kansas really was. Vogt's research now confirms his suspicions: Kansas really is flatter than a pancake. Robert Siegel talks with Vogt about his findings, which are published in the Annals of Improbable Research."

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1370041

We have been skirting larger cities throughout this trip with the exception of Charlottesville, VA and upcoming Pueblo, Colorado.  So we are, for example, skirting between Hutchinson, Kansas in the south and Wichita, Kansas to the north.

Hutchinson isn't that far off and it had two attractions that merited a quick look and deviation.  First there was a Cosmosphere and Planetarium (Second only to the Smithsonian).  Second there was the Strataca - the underground salt mine.

The Salt Mine looked interesting because it goes down 650 feet and 500,000 tons are removed each year.  (Mostly used to de-ice roads).  The temperature and humidity down there are so stable several organizations use space there to archive including several Hollywood Studios for their original films.

Lew and I decided to go for it - it would be an extra hour or hour and half of biking, but worth the deviation.  However heading south out of town my rear wheel went flat so we pulled over to the Nursing Home and I flipped the bike over and went to work.  It was a sharp piece of gravel, still lodged in the tire, so I removed it and pulled out one of the two spare tubes Mike had for his bike.  It wouldn't fill.  It had a large gash in it.  I pulled out the other - it too had a gash.  Fortunately Lew had a spare tube that fit my bike and that worked.

In the meantime the folks in the Nursing Home came out and they invited us to fill up on water and use the restrooms.  Marsha Farr, the Receptionist showed us around, including their Sunny Cafe which is open to the public as a stand alone cafe.  Ms. Farr told us that all the big trucks that we have been encountering on the roads are for the wheat harvest which is going on now.

Bike tire repaired, water filled, Lew and I decided to forego the Salt museum - because the tour would be two hours and it was just too much, so we kept heading west on route.

Near Nickerson, Kansas

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Wheat fields.  We're starting to more wheat than corn along our route.  It adds a khaki hue to the trip rather than the eternal green of the East.

Sterling, Kansas

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Coming into town I see my favorite reward - an ice cream place that makes a wonderful blueberry shake.  It always goes thus - I order the shake and then fill up two bottles of ice water.  If I'm hot enough I'll squeeze one of the bottles on me, and then drink, or nurse, the other bottle to cool the insides.  Then the shake arrives and there really is no better peace.

62.36 miles west today from Eureka, Kansas to Sterling, Kansas.  It's a good ride and today.  We have been staying City Parks mostly since entering Kansas and that has also met town pools with bathrooms and showers.

The Sterling Lake Park Pool is your typically pool with the same characters and things with a few differences.  Three diving boards.  Two small sides - one of which almost everyone tried - and it bangs and slams you around like you owe the mafia money and dumps you ungracefully into the pool.

After dinner we went back for night swim.  One of the lifeguards, Maddy, was funny and nice and judges a "Biker's Tan Contest" and inexplicably she picked Lew - the whitest guy of us all.