We were sitting at a pizza joint in LaCrosse, KS enjoying the 4th of July, when we were approached by Clara and Ginger. It didn’t take them long to figure out that that the 3 bikers sitting at the table were the same girls they had been in contact with for several months. Clara and Ginger eagerly showed us their troop´s Silver Award project, which had been to renovate their meeting room.
The next morning we met several of the troops from Alexander and together we visited a couple local farms. Richard owns several thousand acres on which he grows corn, wheat, and milo (a type of sorghum). He showed us his machinery, and the size of the machines explained how he can manage so much land on his own. We were really interested to hear how he and others follow best management practices in terms of land and water conservation. Richard was sure to give both the pros and cons of chemical usage. For example, when his father farmed, it was common to use aerial spraying to apply pesticides on crops. Now, with genetically modified crops that carry the pesticide within their cell structure, the use of aerial application is not as common, reducing excess chemical usage. Although he uses chemicals on his crops, which are largely grown for livestock feed, Richard was interested in buying organic food and reducing his meat consumption. He indicated that to produce food on such a large scale, it would be nearly impossible not to use some chemical inputs. We really appreciate the time he took to show us around his farm and his work with conservation. Richard’s cousin, Justin, also showed us his alfalfa fields and spoke with us about being one of the younger farmers in the area. We learned about how hard it is to enter the farming industry without coming from a farming family, as the land, knowledge, and equipment necessary can be prohibitively expensive and difficult to acquire. Thank you also to Tess for a wonderful lunch that gave us the energy to bike for the rest of the afternoon! And thank you to Clara, Ginger, and Anne for putting everything together and welcoming us into the Girl Scout community.
Friends on the Road
“We’ve been following you for three days!” This greeting would alarm most people, but coming from a fellow biker we weren’t too suprised. Dean from Virginia and Emil from Sweden had been following our progress in the trail’s various log books for a few days, and had finally caught up. This was just the beginning of our week long journey together across the plains of Kansas. Along the way we shared many stories, introduced Emil to new American “foods” (poptarts, twinkies, twizzlers), and completed our first of three century rides in 100 degree heat. We’ve had so much fun together and we are so grateful to have shared their company. Kansas wouldn’t be Kansas without them. Best of luck guys on your way to San Franscisco. Give us a call if you decide to ride to Oregon…
The last few days we have also been lucky enough to stay with Gillian in Ordway, CO and Mona and Bill in Pueblo, CO. Our map indicated that we should “ask for Gillian” when we reached Ordway, but we had barely rolled into town when we were directed to her farm from a local in a pickup truck. Gillian welcomed us into her home, and her generosity was a refreshing reminder of the trust that people can have in each other. It was inspiring to hear of her adventures at sea and around the world, which eventually landed her in Ordway. In Pueblo, family friends opened their doors and let us stay for two nights. Thank you so much Mona and Bill for showing us Bingo Burger (a delicious burger joint that serves local meat and produce), and for sharing your stories and home. We were suprised and inspired to learn that Bill was one of 4,000 riders who completed the TransAmerica Trail during its inaugural year in 1976. It was neat to compare our experiences so far, as the trail has changed little throughout its existance.
Colorado marks our halfway point on the trail and we look forward to seeing what the West has to offer. We are anticipating more sunrises and sunsets, friendly people, open roads,and experiencing foods from this region of the country.
… Peanut butter jar count: