Thursday, July 15, 2010

July 15, 2010 – Day 40 Middle America is for real….

The weather Gods were messing with us this morning so David elected to bow out of the ride. His bike is sans windshield and riding bare-faced in the rain ain’t no fun no how. Since I didn’t have a clue which way to ride other than sort of north and more or less west he pointed me in a direction that would make for an interesting ride. I had a great time hanging out with him and Noah so they’re now one up on me for visits; next time they have to come to Bandon.
Man look at all that stuff...

The semi-abandoned town of Farley was my first stop for photos and getting there meant a nice ride through some picturesque countryside. 

David said I’d then go through Leavenworth and could check out the Federal Hotel for Disgruntled Members of the Military and he was right. I took a couple of long-shot pics of the prison; then dodged my way on foot through traffic for a closer look and more photos. About the time I was on my third pic I noticed another sign forbidding picture taking… Stage left Dude, time to haul outta here! Who needs pics of the biggest military lockup anyway?

C'mon down...take yer shoes off & set a spell
Atchison, KS was the birthplace of Amelia Earhart so I tried to chase down a strange sounding place called Amelia Earhart Earthworks. After following a number of signs down some narrow roads the trail finally petered out and I gave it up. At least the horses eyeballing me were worth seeing but the town’s streets were torn up and after riding up and down too many detours I decided to visit Amelia another time.

For a fast lunch I popped into Wal-Mart aka Wally World where there was a Sub Way conveniently located. Complete with an amazing number of short people aka children who seemed bent on breaking both the sound barrier and noise index simultaneously. I think they succeeded.

The small town of Highland was my next stop as I needed to find out where I was and where I was going. Yellow Peril’s fancy Navigation System is a lot more complex than the simple Garmin Zumo 550 I’m familiar with to so it’s taking me awhile to learn how to use it. I stopped at the local Casey’s General Store where I fueled up and bought some cold water; then I rode around until I found a shady spot where I could park and reconnoiter.
Highland KS in 5 easy photos
The end
While I was staring blankly at the map of Kansas a guy stopped by to chat and give me a few suggestions about local highlights; ie, recently flooded areas along the Missouri River. When I asked if the water had completely withdrawn he thought about it for a minute, then agreed it might not be and maybe I should skip that particular point of interest. Good thinking I thought. We talked about his riding experiences during his college days on British bikes that had the shift lever on the right instead of the left. What is it with the Brits anyway, are they a nation of dyslectics? Don’t answer that.

When I finished touring the sights of Highland I set out following a series of highway signs marked “auto tour” or something like that which I interpreted to be some sort of trail to significant points of interest. After awhile I realized that folks in Kansas most likely consider corn as an interesting and maybe even significant site as that was the general view. I actually like corn well enough; maybe it’s the deep shade of green or something so my tolerance level for riding through fields of it is fairly high.

After what seemed like a fair amount of time viewing corn the countryside topography began to change and I came to the interesting little burg called “Home”. Who could resist a detour through a place called “Home”? It was a relatively short tour, there was the post office, café, seed store, and local mill producing whatever is made from corn. (No comments required from my southern readers)
This would be the main drag
Cousin Roy's Seed Shop & Sundries

When your beer is cold your heart is warm
Hard times they's a fallin'
Seeds? Corn?
Free from the clutches of Home I continued on towards my destination of the geographical center of the “Contiguous United States” as it’s called on the map. Rather than go to the actual site I settled for a visit to the point of interest sign which is only a mile or so away from it and I didn’t have to ride YP down any gravel roads.

Just behind the sign on an elevated parcel of land the Sweet Home Cemetery abides and within it there were several shrub-like trees aka Kansas Rest Stops for the weary and aged riders. I appreciate those who plan the layouts (no pun intended) for cemeteries and have availed myself of their conveniences from here to Ireland.
Smith Center was my ultimate destination for the day and it sported 3 motels of varying degrees of decay plus eating establishments equal to them in every respect. I checked into the one recommended by a street person who was enchanted with Yellow Peril as he sounded like he’d had personal experience with it.

The same went for the café next door which was frequented by locals who like locals everywhere seem to understand the quickest way to get service is go for whatever you want yourself as the leaning waitress is stuck to the table and unlikely to notice you.
Please be patient while I lean my butt on the table and ignore you

I ordered the 3-piece fish and chips dinner without the salad bar thank you and it wasn’t bad. I passed on the "all you can eat" salad bar as it seemed to have served as the entertainment center for small children with curious fingers. 

I finished and elected to pass on the variety of pies; in lieu of which I took a short tour of the town. There is a most out-of-place looking bank which evidently is being restored to its original grandeur after which who knows what will be done with it. If nothing else the town will have bragging rights on the most gothic appearing bank in Middle America. It may also garner the most bazaar design award.
I love small towns with huge banks

Oh, did I fail to mention how the Yellow Peril is to ride? She’s comfy, very comfy and also very frisky. The devious people at the Honda place have outfitted the new 1800’s with lots of goodies including a lump that produces 100hp. This requires a very cautious hand when exiting parking lots and stop lights, otherwise you are guaranteed to attract the attention of the local constabulary.

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