I sit here under a tree in Chanute, Kansas, still attempting to absorb the fact that I have entered my fifth state--I'm almost at the halfway-point of this trip, mileage-wise!
Since I last wrote, in Marion Kentucky, so much has happened! James and I rode together until Carbondale, Il., and there we parted ways. It was good riding with him for three weeks, and I learned a lot--but it was time to go our separate paths. Also I ended up staying in Carbondale for five days, and he was ready to go. But anyway, Carbondale was a lot of fun! On my first day there I went into the food co-op there and ended up working for several hours just for fun. I met some neat people there, and Mindy said to me, "I know where you can pitch your tent for a night or two..." and that is how I stumbled upon a community of Sufis in the middle of Carbondale! They are all following a spiritual teacher who lives in Carbondale, and several of them (8) live in a large house together in town. Four others live out of town on a recently-purchased farm (which is owned by the whole community) and then there are lots of others who live in private houses in the city. They also have a community garden (which is where I camped) That is open to the whole city (children and senior citizens, too). While I was there, I met so many interesting and wonderful people, and I was also allowed to attend a "dhicker" (pronounced "zicker"), the twice-per-week community prayer/meditation. Also, I went to one of the morning meditation (at 5:00 AM) and an afternoon one, too. It was so wonderful to have the chance to stay with them, and it was also neat to just FIND them the way I did... Travel by bicycle invites serendipity, I'm discovering...
And on my last day with the Sufis, another serendipitous think occurred: I met Jeff and Wyeth, two friends from Ct. Who are also riding the TransAm rout. We were excited to meet each other, and they had been reading all my log book entries at the hostels along the way and stuff... So we all went out for pizza and talked and told stories about out respective trips, and we decided that we would ride together for the next day or so. And as it turned out, that "day or so" has stretched out into two weeks and we're still together. In Southern Colorado we will have to split up (I have to get to NBTSC before they plan on reaching Eugene), but for now I'm having a great time with them. We talk about all sorts of things as we ride; Jeff tells me jokes on all the difficult uphills; and it's been really fun...
Then, four days ago in Summersville, Mo., the three of us were standing outside a supermarket, when we saw a cyclist approaching. He hopped off his bike and said, "Hello! You must be Sarabeth! And, " he continued, "one of you must be Wyeth..." those log books sure are fun ways to communicate!! Joel Mazure, out new friend, is from the Netherlands (Amsterdam), and we have been riding together for the past four days. He will have to go on ahead tomorrow, but we've been all making the most of our time together. It's fascinating to learn about Europe first-hand, and it's equally fascinating to hear his observations about the U.S.A. I've learned more about international politics in the last four days then I even do in the newspaper! He's taught us a few Dutch words, and we are continually awed by his command of English. ALL those other countries speak two languages, and it must be so neat! As we've been riding in the last week, we keep stopping to rescue turtles in the road. "The Turtle Squad" is out official name now. "Tens and tens of turtles saved." The Turtle Squad rode into Chanute KS. Yesterday afternoon, and today we are taking a layover day, camped in the backyard of "Yodeling Katy" Lopeman. Katy started hosting cyclists in 1981, and she's quite an amazing woman. At 70 years old, she rides her bike everywhere and is sprightly as ever. And she really does yodel! This morning, as I sleepily emerged from my tent, I heard the sound of Katy singing her łGood morning, tired bikers" song, and strumming her ukulele! She served us breakfast, and now I'm enjoying the laziness of having a full day without riding...
The Ozark mountains in Missouri were steep and difficult, much like a miniature version of the Appalachians. But they were fun, too, partly because I was riding with Wyeth and Jeff and partly because they were Gorgeous. And also, partly because I'm becoming stronger every day. Missouri was an interesting state, too, and we met some very nice people.
But, so far it seems to be true, what people have told us: that Kansas has the friendliest people along the rout. Maybe they aren't the MOST friendly-- I don't want to generalize-- but they sure have been very kind so far! Everyone waves from their cars, and the people in the towns all come over to welcome us to their town. Chanute has been no exception, and the people at the "spoke Folks" bike shop (across the street from Katy's) have also been very nice. They let all four of us test out their recumbent yesterday, and it was such fun! A recumbent is a bike on which you basically recline. Your legs are on a horizontal (rather then vertical) plane, and there are many advantages to it compared to a regular bike. The most noticeable to me was that you don't have to crane your neck! But I don't know whether it would be all that great for touring, just because it's heavier and harder to ride up hills... And after having difficulty enough on my regular bike, I don't think I'd be ready to settle for a less-sore neck and more-sore legs!
Food is always a challenge, it seems, especially because people (in some of these rural towns) evidently consider iceberg lettuce the one and only vegetable suitable for eating! But I'm managing okay, and thinking of creative things to eat using whatever I can get-- and I'm getting to be an expert at one-pot cookery.
So I've been having a WONDERFUL time these past two weeks, and I'm looking forward to next week when Wyeth's father and sister will be joining us for part of Kansas. Not only will it be fun to have a longe group, but it will be nice to ride with another woman, too. I haven't met a single female cyclist yet, and although I don't really mind, I would like to meet some!
Anyway, the other members of the Turtle Squad and I have made a date to explore the museum here, and so I will end this for now. Please excuse the handwriting, as I was leaning against a tree for most of the time I was writing!
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