Friday, August 19, 2011

Onto the TransAm - Girard, KS


How nice it is to actually have a wireless signal from my camping location. Someone has an unsecured home network! This is one of only three posts that have not been written days or weeks later, referenced by pictures and notes.

Powerful winds blew in a storm last night. I'd fallen asleep with the rainfly off my tent, trusting the incoming weather would wake me in time. It did, but what I didn't plan around was trying to stake down and cover my freestanding tent in high winds, without losing it in the treetops. I did manage to get it secure, and just in time. The wind picked up to the point where all I could do was sit up inside and hold the frame in place. I briefly considered taking the tent down and moving into a picnic shelter, for fear of damage to the tent. That was a futile thought; there is no way I could take down the tent without the wind taking off with it, or causing worse stress than leaving it up. So I continued to groggily support the frame, willing the storm to come sooner in hopes the wind would then cease.

I'm not sure if it even rained hard or not. I could see quite a lot of lightening approaching, but I think I may have actually fallen asleep sitting up. Whatever happened, the tent survived with no noticeable damage. Good thing, since I can expect worse wind coming up. With the rainfly on, the sky lightening didn't wake me up as early as usual, and it was 7:30 before I bothered to look at the time. Everything was pleasantly dry, and I packed up fairly quickly. Another look around the park, a conversation with a groundskeeper, and then two gardeners, and I did eventually leave town.

With the exception of the Walmart on the way out of Lamar, which suffered from lack of a bakery, I didn't make any significant stops until Girard. Route 160 was closer to flat than any road I've seen for a while, but the wind kept itself consistently against me. It was a south wind when I was going west, then an east-ish wind while I was going north. For the last few miles into town, I caught a bit of a tailwind. Amazing the difference it makes.

Girard, like Lamar, has a lively town square, and fewer vacant shops than I've seen in many towns. The park isn't so extensive as the one in Lamar, but it's well looked after, green, and shaded. The library here stands out - two floors, with various reading rooms for adults and children, a computer lab, comfortable chairs and sofas, and an overall calming layout. After they closed, I sat out in the small gardened area in front of the building, and used their WiFi, but it was too hot to stay for long. When I got back to the park, the pool had opened and I got a free shower.

So here I am, at 10:30pm. The park is lively and the pool is full of teens. Doesn't bother me - I like the activity, and I'm hardly going to sleep yet anyway. It's exciting to actually be on the TransAm. With all the waiting, reading, and planning I've done, the route has taken on near-legendary properties. It would be nice to run across some other cyclists, but either way it'll be nice to have it easy again - just trust the maps, follow the route, and sleep where it tells me.

Master Gardener Demonstration Garden. Not visible: huge Datura plant.

The big lumpy mess of Missouri is finally flattening out.

Leaving Missouri. Goodbye green hills, shrouded bluffs, and floodplains. Also, route 160 just sprouted a shoulder!

Rest area a little ways from Girard. Shaded, easily accessible, with no onerous 'no camping' signs. We're off to a good start, Kansas.

The accomodations in Girard.

Corn, butter, sugar and salt. Mmm.

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