Really! Yes, really! Driving along Interstate 70 toward the Baltimore Beltway, albeit ~1600 miles away, my job is to keep the rig on the road safely, and keep Marfa running happily. Several over 10,000′ mountain passes behind, I assure Jane that the “World’s largest prairie dog and a 5 legged steer may be our only entertainment for quite a few miles. In fact, here we are wondering what Appalachian adventure to look for and what the weather will give us on official arrival to the East.
We do also so look forward to several possible visits. A favorite who we met in Rosendale, Jason is training in Indianapolis. We really hope to share at least a meal or a few hours with him.
We had wanted to steer North, see Yosemite, The Pacific Northwest, Glacier, the Dakotas, The Upper Peninsula and a host of other wonders around this great country. We have, however, run out of paper towels. Yes, my skimpy rationing has kept Jane laughing with little corners or half-towels all across America. J-P endowed us with quite a few in College Station, TX, some 6 or 7 rolls! But now with the Salida refills running low, we acknowledge we must bring our Voyage to some realistic close. Actually it may be our bank accounts suggesting finding jobs again. But it’s so much more fun to track paper towels and take their lead, money reasons would be SO tiresome…
So driving along, Jane’s job is finding adventures, entertainment and cool diversions. I can always count on her! She used Singletracks.com to find the cool trails in Franklin, NH. She and this little laptop have led not only to coolness, but also contributed to safety. As I must concede to checking weather.com for travel routes and to avoid storms or improve our timing. With an 8000 lb rig I can’t afford to chase powder days or other whims; if snow, we just dust off the solar panel and sit tight. Maybe unhitching Marfa and skiing nearby.
But this day, charged with finding fun in Kansas, I had little hope. I do admit to the stereotype and the I-70 perspective of flat, boring, wide and soul-less land. Yes, I know, according to the sign “an average Kansas farmer feeds 155 Americans”. But I don’t subscribe to such a large-scale mono-culture anymore anyway. Buy local, grow local etc.
Jane was searching the “hometown of two fictitious characters” who will stay un-named. Lawrence, KS is right on the path homeward, can’t be bad detour to get a little “Welcome to Lawrence” pic, right? That resourceful and wonderful wife of mine found MORE! She found a mountain biking trail at a state park and reservoir built by the Army Corp of Engineers! Clinton Lake and Clinton State Park. They offer trail networks for hikers, Mt Bikers and a separate equestrian area.
Not just a trail, but a GREAT trail! 23 miles of dedicated single-track! Flowing, technical, rocky and WONDERFUL SINGLE-TRACK! Maps supplied in the kiosk showed us the basic parallel paired White and Blue Trails leading out to “West End” of the park, following the great rocky-ridge just between the campground and Bluebird Restoration Habitats and above the water level of the lake. We followed the “more difficult” White Trail outward as it crawled up and down delightful dips and rolls of the terrain. The mile markers ticked by slowly. This was a trail that rivals any trail I’ve ridden in my many states of the union! My 27 years of riding and even old racing days carried me from Vermont through the rocky Mid-Atlantic and South into Virginia. This trip did the same, and more…extending my experience into New Hampshire, Maine, Big Bend, Moab and Colorado.
The dancing up and down on this long ridge provided a rolling ride with just enough climb to get ya breathless without a complete downshift, then rewarded with similar bumpy, “bumbling” downhills. Many of these “little climbs” felt truly rewarding as I “cleaned” a bunch of them. The times I dabbed were neither embarrassing nor too frustrating to keep me from clipping right back in and trying again.
We saw the requisite curious herd of deer. At the furthest reaches I thought I’d spied a cactus. Jane saw it too. And later we read the name, “Cactus Ridge” on a detail map. I also happened upon the most self protective tree ever, Honey Locust. Thorns as big as my hand. Don’t lean on that tree; don’t even brush against it riding by.
Watching Jane on the rocks was also a great joy. She learned long ago that rocks have more traction than roots. With aplomb and only a late bit of fatigue she mustered deep into our five hour ride. Conveniently, the park layout allows a bailout at any time to go onto the plateau and refill waters or ride park roads back if it’s ever needed. KANSAS has AWESOME Mountain Biking!
Here’s a link to the Lawrence Mountain Bike Club. They maintain these trails in concert with the Kansas Trails Council. Great job!!