...In fact, we're approaching what promises to be the most exhilarating stretch of the entire tour and we can hardly contain our bladders (JJ, it's our enthusiasm).
We knew you guys would think this was a cute one ;PSorry it's been awhile, we just haven't been able to get to a com-puter in a long time since we've been busting our humps across the dusty roads of West Kansas and Eastern Colorado!
Right now, we're sitting in the office of our shazaam-tastic hostess, Jenny K---. SHE BASICALLY ROCKS! We're in Pueblo, Colorado where she essentially runs the show in the environmental scene around here in this place that she calls home here in Pueblo, Colorado, USA, The World. We both think it's about time to explain just how we've gotten away with not dropping a penny on accomodations in the near-month that we've spent on this lonely (but often not lonely!) road.
In short, we have relied heavily on a couple little numbers we like to call Couch Surfing and Warm Showers!! These are sites on the 'web where one can locate potential hosts for overnight accomodations. They function based on the hospitality and trust of strangers. For example, as we're approaching any town of substantial size, we can log on to these two websites and search for people who are willing to open up their homes to us couple a dirty and weary dudes. We usually send out a few messages to the people who look the coolest (aka have probably gone rafting in the past month aka love Blink-182 aka are into just chillin' out and talkin to us about different sorts of things and stuff) in the hopes that one may be willing to shelter our stricken and increasingly emaciated bodies.
The agreement is highly casual; guests can expect sleeping space in someone's home for free (which might mean couch, or futon, or air matress, or spare bed, or dog cage, or floor, or musty crawlspace, or boat house, or carriage house, or undercarriage of automobile, or swaddled in arms, et cetera and so on). Usually, however, what you get is a lot more than a place to sleep. Since you're staying with a resident of that city, a "Couch Surfer" (AS THEY ARE CALLED) is often treated to a very rich experience of the place--one that would be hard to find at a motel or under an interstate overpass. Our hosts this past month have been altogether carnivorous in their desire to eat meat and by that we mean be nice to us!!! (Shout outs to Lisa, Anne, Beth/Forrest, Austin, Shawn, Callie-from-Carbondale, Emma/Kyle, Jenny K---). So we suggest you try out those websites and acquire some temporary human pets. Seriously, though, if this sounds cool to you, DO IT. It's a wonderful way to meet wonderful peeps.
Let's get back to our departure from Hutchinson, Kansas. We left pretty late (since we were busy blogging all over your faces!!), and were expecting to reach our destination (our intended destination was L---) after nightfall... a risky proposition, at best. BUT THEN! 20 miles outside of the stoppage point, we encountered this freaky deaky bearded guy smokin a cigarette next to his pickup truck by the side of the road. Alex thought, "It's 'lights out' for us! This guy's gettin' ready to stab!" But it turned out he was wrong. In fact, it was just Terry, a super chill ageing deadhead Kansan mountainbiker who loved what he was seeing!!! Terry gave us this super chill local tip. The local tip was, stop early before dark, hit up this extremely tiny town called Seward (population: roughly 35), and totally eat at Mom's Diner! The dude even busted out his celluar and phone book (srsly) and friggin called the place to prepare them for our pungent arrival!!!! Such a good tip, this is why:
1) The roads in Seward are literally sand (Alex even fell down because of it, hilarious!!)
2) Kids ran out of their home to greet us (how did they know we weren't locals?? LOL JJ)
3) A dude and his sister, visibly inebriated and brandishing Budweisers, together with a couple random children, were driving around a golfcart at dusk and chatted us up big time
4) The mayor of Seward was also our waitress
5) Her mom was the cook and makes the best pecan pie we've ever had
6) The drunk golf cart operator was the husband of the mayor/waitress
SEWARD WAS THE BOMB!!!! Thanks, Terry!
Grain elevators like this one are a fixture of any self-respecting Great Plains town.
The notorious Kansan winds started to become a factor the next day (Day 24 (of our bike trip (did you know that we are on a bike trip?? you should check our blog))). Nevertheless, we made it over 88 miles to our next destination: Ness City, K---. This--a rugged town full of ranchers and oil fieldhands--was the last place in the world we expected someone to make fun of us for having untamed beards, but the moment we walked into the local watering hole, a corpulent drunkard let loose on us. Sheesh! The others in the bar, however, sure were nice and ended up schooling us hard on the ways and means of a Kansan farmer. One fella, in particular, learned us:
1) Wheat sells for $5 a bushel
2) It used to be $11 a bushel
3) One grain elevator moves about 2 million bushels of gran in a season
4) If oil is found on your property, you will pull in $60,000 PER MONTH.
5) Wheat is planted in the fall, and harvested in the spring
6) What we thought were giant crops of wheat are actually crops of milo
7) Much of Kansas was settled by Germans who had gone to Russia when Catherine the Great was looking for farmers; decades later, after being stripped of some of the freedoms promised them, they moved on to the Great Plains to farm
8) Silage is the leafy matter from grain crops and is used as livestock feed
This bar-goer was a great source of knowledge, and our time talking to him was just one example of many agricultural lessons learned in the Sunflower State. This, overall, was interesting to us.
FAST FORWARD TO NEXT MORNING
Everything about this day was pretty much cool, except for the six-plus hours of excruciating bike riding which absolutely sucked due the fact that the winds declared a jihad against our Westward progress. The last 24 miles were especially painful, since the afternoon gusts often broke 40MPH. YOWZA!!!! The night before, we had determined ourselves to put another notch in our belts (by that we mean get another Century don't you understand our cool touring lingo you MORONS???). HOWEVER, just shy of 60 miles, we struggled into Scott City and couldn't make another pedal stroke. Get it? Stroke?
Hopelessly disheartened, your heroes [sic] rustled up some grub from the local greengrocer. After a blustery dinner in an otherwise pleasant city park, we were riding through town lookin' a little lost we guess, because in swooped KYLE THE REALLY NICE YOUNG BAPTIST PASTOR WEARING SUNGLASSES!! He immediately asked us, from the cockpit of an enormous automobile, if we were looking for a place to sleep. "Y-y-yes!" we blubbered. Kyle led us to his church's newly annexed Youth Center and basically gave us free reign over the palatial facilities, including but not limited to: couches! shower! kitchen! flatscreen/dvd combo! We rented a flick (There Will Be Blood), watched it, and ate some Reese's cups. This was a mega high-five-slapping coup. Zeroes to Heroes, Baby!
The next morning, expecting the same infuriating and time-wasting amount of high-speed wind, we devised a plan to hitchhike out of Scott City as far west as anyone was willing to take us. Call us wimps, but you guys are the ones sitting at your computers reading our stupid blog eating cheese-doodles!!! JK we luv u guyz.
After two-point-five hours (during which one guy actually stopped and gave Alex the best beef jerky of his life!), we hit the jackpot. Rex, which was this guy's name, offered to drive us down the road a spell... but ended up driving us all the way to Leoti (nearly 25 miles) out of the goodness of his heart! On the way, we got some more excellent learnin' about Kansan agriculture and wind power (for we passed 33 massive turbines).
Then, tragedy struck. But don't get too worked up. We're fine. It was like this: we got out of the truck, unloaded our bikes, waved goodbye to Rex, and felt good that we had benefited from his generosity. But our smiles faded as the TRUTH dawned on us: we'd left our bike helmets in the bed of his truck!! DANGNABBIT! This was actually a pretty freaking depressing thing, and no matter how much we tried to stay positive, we were a little bit bummed for the remainder of that day.
But no matter! The show must go on!
The winds were still challenging us all over the place, but we decided to tough it out like a couple a macho-nachos and mounted our steeds (read: "bikes"). Something that happened that cheered us up a little bit was when we got into Colorado, totally out of the blue! Emelio thought it would be fun to approach the sign announcing the border and then climb on it like a child:
So then we got to Sheridan Lake, another sparsely-populated main-streetless town (Eastern Colorado, you might not realize, is a heckuvalot like Western Kansas), and something totally wackalicious happened. Someone called out, as we passed by, "Emelio!"
"BWUH???" Emelio thought, freaking out in his mind about what had just been hollered out to him in this place that was so far from home. But wouldn't you know, he scoped to the right and spied none other than BRENDAN, the great guy we rode with between Cassoday and Hutchinson!!! AMAZING! Turns out, Brendan had broken down a few towns back, was picked up by sympathetic locals, and was hitchin' a ride all the way to Colorado Springs. We exchanged hugs and stories, talked with his lovely benefactors for a spell, and ultimately camped in their backyard after failing miserably to hitchhike further down the road.
THE NEXT MORNING...
...just as we were waking from our slumber and steeling ourselves for another brutal day of wind, Jamey (one of the great dudes who let us camp) offered to drive us down the road on his way to the farm! Alex and Emelio were all, "Okay!!" and it happened! We got a great 8-mile head start on the day, and on the way were able to see an amazing rainbow stretching across the horizon in a perfect 180-degree arc (lifer!). Once again, it was hard to get much of anywhere, and after almost 60 miles we threw in the towel at Arlington, literally the smallest town we've camped in yet. Rumor has it only three houses remain occupied in the entire municipality. Surprise surprise, we failed at hitchhiking for a while before finally eating Ramen and laying our heads down to sleep.
THE NEXT DAY:
the winds had subsided!!! God Above took pity on us poor cyclists, and gifted us the speediest day of cycling we've had yet. It seemed even speedier, given our sluggish pace over the preceding days. We were eating up miles like a llama eats tuna casserole, and on top of that, the freakin' Rockies appeared on the horizon, coaxing us onward the whole way!!! Seriously folks, we couldn't stop staring at those tempting mountainous shapes in the distance. Approaching the Rockies over the course of a full day is really a treat only bicyclists and mule-riders can devour.
A "sweet" cafe in Sugar City!!!!!!!!!! Note the elevator (locals drop the "grain" part!) looming beyond
This day was even more spanktastic because our endpoint was Pueblo, the place in which we had planned well in advance to take a whole day of rest which is TODAY sillies!!!
This cup of coffee from the Sugar City Cafe was fifty cents,
but we had to do self-serve refills because the waitress was lazy. NOT JK!
This is what we've done in Pueblo:
1) Attended the Colorado State Fair! The grand champion steer was auctioned off for $54,000!!!
2) Ate pizza with our lovely hostess, Jenny K--- and her really interesting friend W---!
3) Slept like a couple of freakin babies!
4) Ate a local delicacy: The Slopper!
5) Bought new bike helmets!
6) Wrote this blog entry!
7) Inhaled oxygen!
9) Scratched our itches!
10) Blinked occasionally whenever our eyes felt like it!
11) Tamed a bear!
12) JK on #11!
Alex thinks the car might be ruining the shot here. What do you guys think? Let us know in the comments section.
AND FOR PETE'S SAKE, CHECK THE CONSARNED LINKS