Sunday, June 29, 2008

Wedding Break

I've decided to take a break from my ride to attend my cousin Kevin's wedding in Puerto Rico. I'm flying standby so it's not certain that I'll make it. If I do, then I should be back on the Transamerica Trail in about one week. If I don't make it on a flight, then I'll be back sooner. So if you're a regular reader please check back in a few days. Regardless, I will be back to tackle my last three states. One additional benefit of taking this break from the Tetons and Yellowstone over the week of July 4th -- I'm greatly reducing the risk of being flattened by an RV driver distracted by the sight of moose, elk, or grizzlies.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Grand Tetons

My first view of the Grand Tetons was the most impressive sight of the trip thus far. These mountains are so striking because there are no foothills. They just rise straight up from the valley. A series of lakes at their base provide a beautiful foreground for the peaks.

Before the Grand Tetons came into view yesterday, I had to climb to Togwotee Pass.

The uphill ride was long but gentle. At 9600 feet, two workers were sholving snow on a side road to clear the way to a fishing lake that was still partially iced over.

At the pass, someone had posted a warning to bike thieves.

After reaching the pass, I had a nineteen mile descent. As I approached the Grand Tetons park entrance, I encountered my second stretch of construction that day. The flagger told me that I would have to be transported through the construction. Complaining that they were depriving me of two and a half miles of my cross-country ride got me nowhere. I'll still claim that I biked coast to coast.

Once in the park, I biked to Signal Mountain campground on Jackson Lake. A ranger directed me to one of the last two available sites. I spent the afternoon and evening down by the lake taking in the view and watching the sun set.

Today's thirty mile ride to Jackson, WY could not have been more enjoyable. The winds were light, the road ran downhill, and the views were amazing. I was slowed only by my many stops to take pictures.

The traffic into Jackson was heavy with a steady flow of RVs. Jackson is the quintessential resort town, full of stores clearly catering to the throngs of tourists. The Snake River Brewery and the people watching made it an enjoyable place to pass the afternoon.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Valley Of Warm Winds

When an eastbound and westbound biker cross paths on the Transamerica Trail, one usually always crosses the road to stop and discuss the trip, share information about the upcoming towns and sights, and talk about the highlights. There is usually a shared excitement about meeting someone else on this adventure. Occasionally though, I've encountered some unenthusiastic downers. Today, I met a group of rather sour folks. Of course, everyone is entitled to a bad day. But even bad days out here are pretty damn good. And they had nothing to be down about as they had 25 mile per hour tailwinds blowing them down the road. I figure these folks aren't long for the ride.

After my rest day, I was ready to tackle the ride to Dubois. On my day off, I fixed a slow leak in my front tire and bought a new rear tire, as the original was starting to shred. Russ called me last night advising me to start early because he faced strong winds on his ride into Dubois. The map should have been warning enough. I was going to be riding past mountains known as the "Winds" onto the Wind River Reservation through more badlands formed by the wind to Dubois in the "Valley of the Warm Winds." And in Dubois every other motel and store has "wind" in the name.

The scenery was a nice distraction from the fact that I was crawling.

Striated hills and buttes rose on both sides of the road and red hills created a stark contrast with the blue sky.

For the last fifteen miles of the ride, the road followed the winding Wind River. Vegetation by the roadside was prickly and in bloom.

In the middle of nowhere I passed a wooden sign for the "Trial Lawyers College." If the side road hadn't led uphill, I would have been tempted to investigate.

There was a contingent of westbound riders on the road today. Menno, Wayne, and Dianne arrived in Lander yesterday and were also headed to Dubois, as was Marc, whom I met in Chanute, and his biking partner Dennis. As we arrived one-by-one in Dubois, we gathered at the Cowboy Cafe for dinner.

Tomorrow morning starts with a thirty mile climb of 3000 feet and then a long descent into Grand Teton National Park. I'm determined to rise earlier than the wind tomorrow, if that's possible.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Rough Day In Badlands

Yesterday I had my first, and hopefully my last, experience biking on an interstate highway. Given the lack of paved roads out here, Interstate 80 was the only available road heading toward Rawlins for thirteen miles. Fortunately, the shoulders were wide. As I navigated through one shredded tire after another, I contemplated how I would avoid the shrapnel if a passing truck blew one of its tires.

I exited the highway and rode through Sinclair, WY, a true company town. It shares its name with the Sinclair Oil Corporation and consists mainly of an oil refinery. A town hall, police station and former hotel, built in the 1920's in the Spanish Colonial style, make up the rest of Sinclair.

The hotel, which according to a plaque had once set the standard for luxury in the region, now appeared to be a church mission.

After a lunch break in Rawlins, I decided to push on to Muddy Gap, where there was supposedly a gas station and camping. I was barely out of town when the sky darkened and light rain began to fall. Somehow I managed to thread the needle and avoid the storm clouds to the east and west and ride under the brighter skies to the north. In the afternoon, I continued to see many pronghorns grazing.

When I arrived at Muddy Gap, there were no signs for a campground and the clerk at the store didn't know of any official campsites. She directed me to a residence down the road where she had seen people pitch their tents. I rolled up to the house and rang the bell. The woman who answered said I was welcome to camp on her property. It appeared to be a former RV park. There were still a few numbered posts, electrical outlets and outhouses on the property. The only caveat: "We have rattlers, so watch out." I did, but fortunately, I never saw one.

Today, my destination was Lander. The day started off well with light winds during a twenty-two mile stretch into Jeffrey City, where I had breakfast. After not seeing any eastbound cyclists for a week, I passed eight on my way to Jeffrey City, a group of three, a pair of women, and three guys doing solo trips.

Jeffrey City was a former uranium mining site, but now had the feel of a ghost town. The cafe in town served a heaping breakfast and a surprisingly good homemade cinnamon roll. But the glass of milk I ordered was terribly sour. After I asked the waitress to check the date on the bottle, she didn't share it with me but quickly whisked away my glass. As I was finishing my meal, a Wyoming health inspector came in to take a tour with the owner. I heard talk of improper temperatures for food storage. As it's over twelve hours since I ate there and my stomach hasn't revolted, I think I'm in the clear.

The ride through southern Wyoming takes me back to Kansas and eastern Colorado. Wyoming isn't as flat as Kansas but it often provides wide-open vistas and the desert-like vegetation is similar to Colorado. At one point I crossed over the Oregon Trail and Pony Express route.

Not to be outdone by Kansas, today Wyoming showed me what its wind could do. Thirty miles outside of Lander I was blown off the road for the first time. Luckily, I managed to stay on my bike and the ditch by the side of the road was not too deep or steep. As I continued on, storm clouds began to form to the northwest and the winds became more fierce. Some gusts practically held me in place. I stopped several times because I couldn't stay upright. It was almost humorous until I got my second flat tire of the trip. I hurriedly changed the tube as thunder rumbled and lightning flashed around me. Again I lucked out, because the storm was all bark and no bite. Only a few rain drops fell. After what may qualify as three of the toughest hours of the trip thus far, the route turned due north for the last nine miles to Lander, turning headwinds into sidewinds.

Surprisingly, I had a tough time finding a place to stay in Lander on a Tuesday night. I managed to get the last room at the eighth place I tried. From the looks of it, this will be a nice town to spend a rest day.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Roaming Wyoming

Back in Chicago, as I thought about this ride, it seemed like a monumental undertaking. Many people considered it slightly, if not entirely, crazy. Of course, the ride seems far less "crazy" on the Trail because so many others are doing the same thing. There are also a number of people out here who are on adventures that fall on a completely different scale. One Brit, who I have heard much about but missed meeting when I was off-route in Missouri, has been riding a Penny Farthing around the world for over two years. He uses a riding crop for animal control. And yesterday, as I rested at Muddy Pass, I met a German woman on a motorcycle, who told me about her two-year bicycling adventure from Alaska to Mexico City and many places in between.

My trip over the past two days has taken me over the Continental Divide again and into Wyoming. Yesterday's climb to Muddy Pass was gentle, confirming the Rockies' reputation as less strenuous than the Appalachians. The scenery continued to impress. Colorado provided the most striking setting thus far in both its beauty and diversity. From the dry, hot, and brown plains to the snowy, cool, and green mountains.

But just so I provide a complete and honest picture -- Colorado wasn't perfect. It seems the state may be in need of civil engineers with experience in road building because many roads are plagued by long cracks every fifteen feet. This results in a very annoying bump every five seconds. And so my friends in Missouri don't think that I only pick on Missouri drivers, Colorado drivers rate as the second worst of the trip so far. I think drivers ed in this state skips the lesson on the brake, since few seem to understand its purpose.

I spent my last night in Colorado in the Walden town park. Menno, Wayne, and Diane were also camped out there. We had pizzas delivered to the park's gazebo for dinner. The town was blocking off Main Street and holding a dance from 8 pm to midnight, but I wasn't sure how my Chicago-style moves would go over, so I didn't attend.

This morning began with a twenty-two mile ride to the Wyoming border. At the border, some dissatisfied visitor had shot a bullet through the head of the cowboy on the Wyoming welcome sign. Looked like he also put a few bullets in the cowboy's horse.

The terrain today was rolling. One of the larger hills that had a fairly straight descent allowed me to reach 44 mph. Mountains still rise on the horizon, though most are smaller in scale than those in Colorado.

Rock croppings, like those pictured at the top of the post, dot the landscape. Wyoming is as notorious as Kansas for tough winds, but today the winds were light and for a short time were at my back. I passed several pronghorn antelope running by the side of he road.

I planned on a long day to Rawlins, WY, but the waitress at my lunch stop changed my mind. "Rawlins is the armpit of the West," she told me. She said that I should stop at Saratoga, the next town, eighteen miles down the road. The free, hot, sulphur springs in town convinced me.

Once again, Menno, Wayne, Dianne, and I ended up in the same town, so we decided to split a two-room suite at a local motel two blocks from the springs, where we all headed after unpacking. At 114 degrees, the water straddled the line between pain and pleasure.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Hoosier Pass

Out of pure superstition, I've been hesitant to write too much about the streak of beautiful weather that I've had. I still have a long way to go and the weather could turn at any point. But over the past few weeks, I have enjoyed a significant run of gorgeous days. Yesterday and today were no exceptions. Two weeks ago cyclists were biking through the Rockies in a snow storm. I'm sure that has its charms, but I am glad to be riding in the warmth of the sun.

Yesterday began with unfinished business -- climbing the last twelve miles to Hoosier Pass. With a few breaks to catch my breath and take pictures of the stunning surroundings, the climb was not too taxing.

At the pass, I took a hike up a trail to get unimpeded views of the valley below and mountain ranges in the distance.

I was just above the tree line and had to cross over patches of melting snow. Later I heard that the rapid snow melt from these mountains was causing flooding back in Canon City.

The reward of climbing to the pass was the exhilarating ride down the other side. The eleven miles into Breckenridge went considerably faster than the previous twelve. With only fifteen more miles to ride for the day, all on a bike path, I stopped into the Breckenridge Brewery. I had lunch on a deck overlooking the empty slopes.

I met up with Menno and another couple, Wayne and Dianne, at a campground on the Dillon Reservoir.

I pitched my tent at their campsite and, after a bone-chilling dip in the reservoir, I ate dinner with them. Not long after the sun set, I was fast asleep.

The temperature this morning was in the high thirties or low forties, but it warmed up quickly as the sun rose. I continued to reap the rewards of the past few days of climbing, as my ride today was mostly downhill. Because there are fewer roads out West, they tend to be more heavily trafficked and allow higher speed limits, but for one twelve-mile stretch I was on a road reminiscent of those back in Virginia -- quiet and winding. It took me around the Green Mountain Reservoir and over its dam.

Not ready to tackle a sixty-mile stretch over another pass and without any services, I decided to stop in Kremmling, CO, where I met up with Menno, Wayne and Dianne again. We are all staying at the Eastin Hotel in their "hostel" rooms. The clerk told us that these rooms in the basement, which are simple, but clean, much like those found in a monastery, are where the linens go to die.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Mountain Majesty

Yesterday provided a challenging ride in a beautiful setting. The morning weather could not have been better. Full sun kept me warm as I climbed into cooler air. Unlike riding in the Appalachians, in the Rockies I have a constant view of the mountains around me.

I left the campground before the camp store opened, counting on a breakfast stop 21 miles up the road in Guffey, CO. On the way, Bill, who was driving down the mountain, stopped to see if I was planning on resting in Guffey. He suggested I eat at Rita's Place. By the time I reached Guffey, I was in need of a break. After repeatedly hearing that climbing the Appalachians is worse than the Rockies, I had underestimated the Rockies.

Rita's Place was a great oasis -- fresh, homemade food, New York bagels, and premium coffee in a relaxing environment. It's interesting that some small towns get little gems like Rita's, while others are stuck with dumps serving mediocre food. I guess it's just luck.

A large group of motorcycle riders on an organized tour also streamed through the cafe. I lingered long after finishing my breakfast, not quite ready to return to the climb.

Riding through Currant Creek Pass, at 9400 feet, I had a panoramic view of the mountain range with snow-capped peaks across the horizon. The elevation began taking a toll. I was breathing deeper and resting more often. By the afternoon, the weather also made the ride more challenging. A headwind began blowing and clouds rolled in.

Twenty-five miles later, I was ready for another meal, so I stopped in the H.O.B. cafe and saloon in Hartsel. It was the antithesis of Rita's. Inside I learned that the acronym stands for "Heartless Old Bitch." The service lived up to the name. Later in the day, another cyclist told me that after he ate there, the waitress wouldn't fill his water bottles. He thought she was joking. She wasn't.

It felt like I earned my miles today. By the end I was counting the miles to the finish line in Fairplay, CO. There are several other westbound cyclists in town. When I checked into the South Park Lodge, I learned that Menno, a cyclist from the Netherlands whom I met back in Pueblo, was also staying here. And at dinner, I met the Barringer family. Russ Barringer is cycling the Transamerica Trail, while his wife, Mandy, and four kids are traveling in a support van. Impressive.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Colorado Is Gorges (Apologies, Ithaca)

I followed my low-key rest day in Pueblo with an action-packed day today. Several people told me not to expect too much from Pueblo. With a population over 100,000, Pueblo is one of the largest cities, if not the largest, on the Transamerica Trail. Like a lot of cities out West that means a considerable amount of sprawl with strip malls containing just about every restaurant, retail, and motel chain that I could name in five minutes and a few that I couldn't. But it also had a historic downtown, at least one good coffee shop with wifi, and a bike path along the Arkansas River, which provided views like this:

I spent the day riding around town and taking care of a few errands, including replacing my worn brake pads. After 2600 miles, I was concerned that those pads might not stop me from careening over a cliffside during a descent in the Rockies. Unfortunately, I failed miserably in my attempt to try Pueblo's Mexican food -- the recommended restaurants were closed, one for the day and the other permanently.

Rest days can be somewhat of a mixed blessing. I always look forward to the break, but it does make the next morning more difficult. It's akin to returning to work on Monday morning. But it usually only takes about fifteen minutes back on the bike before I pick up the old rhythm.

At the bike shop yesterday, the mechanic suggested that I ignore the Transamerica maps and take a different road to Canon City because the recommended route was circuitous and he had ridden one of the roads and it "spooked" him. I took his suggestion, shaving about 18 miles off my morning ride. The road, a four-lane, divided highway, was busier than the ideal but it had a wide shoulder. As I rode west the Rockies became more distinct and prairie dogs popped their heads out of holes by the roadside and squeaked.

I didn't plan to ride too many miles today because I wanted to spend a few hours at the Royal Gorge, which was only four miles off route. So when I saw a sign for the Holy Cross Abbey and Winery in Canon City, I decided it wouldn't hurt to sample a few wines. Not expecting good local wine before I hit Oregon, I was pleasantly surprised by the Abbey's selection.

Outside of Canon City, the climbing began anew. Although the plains seemed flat, their gradual grade put me at a higher elevation in Pueblo than at any point in the Appalachians. I started the day at about 4500 feet and ended it at 6200. Over the next few days I'll climb to the highest point on the Transamerica, Hoosiers Pass at 11,500 feet.

The four miles to Royal Gorge provided a tough climb as well, but it was worth it.

The gorge was an impressive natural sight and the man-made features lacked the tacky kitsch that often mars these attractions. An impressive suspension bridge spans the canyon. Despite the loose boards and regular gaps, cars are allowed to cross the bridge, but most people walk.

A cable car also takes visitors across the gorge and two railcars take them down to the Arkansas rapids running through the gorge.

Tonight I have a great view from my tent window.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

But It's A Dry Heat

Back in Kansas I met an eastbound cyclist on the road who was visibly concerned about the amount I was sweating. I assured him it was perfectly normal. Now that I've spent a few days riding in Colorado, I think he just got used to riding in this dry heat. Being from the humid Midwest, I find it unsettling to ride in 95 degree heat, as I did yesterday, and not sweat. But I guess that's why people are so crazy about this dry heat. Unfortunately, when the heat is dry, so is everything else -- your skin, throat, mouth, and lips.

Despite the heat, yesterday was a beautiful and clear day. Two low-hanging white clouds highlighted just how blue the sky was. As I crested a small hill I got my first look at the Rocky Mountains. Seeing the snow-capped Rockies on the horizon made me appreciate just how far I have traveled.

My destination for the day was Ordway, CO. In April, a deadly wildfire spread through the area leaving the charred trees pictured above. Just east of town, I passed a sprawling cattle stockyard. Workers drove between the pens checking on the animals. The scene reminded me of black and white photos I've seen of Chicago's stockyards in the era of "The Jungle."

When I arrived in Ordway, I headed over to the Ordway Hotel, which I had heard offered clean rooms at hostel rates. I walked into the hotel lobby and rang the bell at the desk. No one appeared from the back office so I took a seat in the air-conditioned lobby, welcoming the rest after my ride. I figured that the manager wouldn't be gone long because you don't just leave your hotel open and unattended. Two hours later I realized that in Ordway maybe you did leave your hotel open and unattended. My only other option for lodging was a rather depressing RV park with no showers or services, so I was really hoping someone would return to claim the hotel.

I had learned that in small towns like Ordway, often nothing is open after 8pm, so I left the lobby to get dinner at the local cafe. I placed my order just before the kitchen closed at 7:45 pm. When I returned to the hotel the lobby was still open but there wasn't a guest or a clerk anywhere. I contemplated sleeping on one of the lobby couches, but thought better of it. I pitched my tent in the gloomy RV park just before sunset. As dark settled in, the winds shifted, filling the town with the smell of the stockyards and turning the sky hazy with dust.

This morning I was up early and in Pueblo by noon. Between Ordway and Pueblo, I met three eastbound cyclists. Dennis, one of the bikers I met, was traveling with a support van that carried all his gear including a second bike for climbing the hills and mountains.

We exchanged information about some of the highlights of our respective trips. He talked up some of the craft breweries in the northwest and I told him not to expect much of that for the next 2200 miles, especially in Kentucky. As we talked, a voice came over the two-way radio strapped to his back. His support team was wondering about his ETA in Ordway.

One final thought. As a political junkie, I've used this trip as a form of rehab. Nonetheless, when I've stayed at motels on Saturday nights, I've always tried to catch "Meet the Press" the next morning. So I was sad to hear about the death of Tim Russert. Unexpected deaths of public figures like Russert always remind me of the simple truth that tomorrow is promised to no one. It's why experiences like this can't all wait until some future retirement.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


The landscape changed dramatically over the course of my ride yesterday. As I moved west, farmlands disappeared, green vegetation changed to brown, the grasses turned dry and prickly, and the air lost all humidity. Lakes and rivers marked on my map were nothing but dry beds. By the time I reached Eads, Colorado, the land was all dust and patches of dry grass.

Before leaving Scott City, KS, I stopped in the local donut shop and had my first fresh donuts of the trip. Fueled by the raspberry-filled and blueberry cake donuts, I began my trek. Because one sixty-mile stretch ran through tiny towns with no services, I had no choice but to put in a long day.

In Western Kansas I rode through Greely County, named after Horace Greely, a champion of agrarianism in the mid-1800's and the Socialist editor of the New York Tribune.

Though he had no affiliation with the area, the local residents, named their county and two of their towns (Horace and Tribune) after Greely because of his support for the farmer. I've never read Thomas Frank's book "What's the Matter with Kansas?" but I wonder if he explains how you get from Greely to G.W.

By 11:00 am I had entered a new time zone and soon thereafter I entered a new state. I wasn't in Colorado more than two minutes when a tumbleweed blew across the street as if on cue. Forty-two miles later and I was in Eads.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Irish of Rush Center

I planned a short ride yesterday because I wanted to stay at a bed and breakfast for cyclists in Bazine, KS. I spent the day taking in the vast landscapes. It's easy to understand how tornadoes build up their force when you travel through these lands. I know Montana is officially big sky country, but there is a lot of sky down here too -- more because no mountains break on the horizon. A regular stream of cattle trucks passed me on the road, each one leaving a wake of stench.

I passed a British cyclist heading east. I have now met more Brits biking east on the trail than Americans. Strangely, the guy was being followed and attacked by a swarm of flies, so we didn't talk long.

Rush Center was my scheduled lunch stop. Entering the town I saw a sign announcing that it was home of the largest St. Patrick's parade. Curious about whether an influx of Irish immigrants started this tradition, I asked a clerk at the town gas station about the parade and whether there were many Irish in the area. “No, just a lot of drunks,” she said.

I arrived in Bazine to find that Tim and Perry had passed me earlier in the day. They were concerned about making it to Denver in time, so they biked over one hundred miles the day before. As they headed on to the next town, I biked over to Elaine's Cyclist B&B.

Elaine was shaking ripe mulberries out of a tree when I arrived. When I told Elaine that I grew up in Detroit and now live in Chicago, I added, “I'm a city boy.” I think she took it as an apology because she said, “That's OK, everyone has to be from somewhere.”

Elaine and her husband, Dan Johnson, have run this relaxed B&B for about five years. In addition to the B&B, they raise cattle, farm wheat, do contract work cutting alfalfa, and breed golden retrievers. As luck would have it one of their dogs had given birth to a litter of ten puppies seven weeks ago. Elaine said that once people see her puppies they sell themselves. They were irresistible. Rambunctious and playful, the puppies were constantly running, jumping, and falling down. When they tired from play fighting, they would burrow into one another and create a big puppy pile. It was great fun to watch. (I'm submitting that paragraph as my writing sample for K9 Magazine.)

Over dinner, Elaine and Dan told me about the oil prospecting in the area. Oil derricks have dotted the landscape throughout Kansas. It sounded like the mere anticipation of oil money had created tension in this town.

After Elaine's home cooked meal, I walked outside to watch the last of the sun's color fade from the sky. An old barbed wire fence held together by limestone posts (a substitution required due to the lack of trees) penned in the Johnsons' cattle. A calf ran so playfully among the steers that from afar I thought it was a dog. As usual this week, a storm was rolling in and hail drove me inside.

Today was a fast ride. With very light winds from the north and west, I was averaging the highest speeds of my ride thus far. My directions for the next 300 miles are simple -- head west on Highway 96. During the ride, I learned that even buildings in the middle of nowhere don't escape graffiti.

When I reached Scott City, I had a difficult decision to make: check into the town hostel where I could spend the afternoon relaxing by the pool and hot tub or continue on to take advantage of the beautiful day and easy miles. I opted for the pool and hot tub, and, in all honesty, I guess it wasn't that difficult of a decision.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Kansas Kindness

Before I left on this trip I bought my tent online from a guy who had done some bike touring. When he shipped my tent, he included a note that simply said, "Try not to go crazy in the plains states." Most people warn about the Appalachians or the Rockies, but I'm starting to understand why he warned me about the plains.

Fortunately, there is much that is good about Kansas: the roads, the drivers, and the people. Kansans have been very friendly. Yesterday, I met June and Jim Gladden when I stopped in Nickerson for breakfast. These two retired schoolteachers were regulars in the diner. They were taking a break from sanding down cabinets in a house that they bought to flip. "Something to do in retirement," June explained. They asked me about my trip and told me that when they lived in town they lodged bikers regularly. They started in 1976, the first year of the trail. One night that summer they had 28 cyclists at their home because of a bad storm. Hosting cyclists, many of whom were foreigners, led them to start hosting international exchange students. They have hosted 48 students for a full school year.

As the Gladdens were leaving, they stopped to talk with an older woman who was walking home from the grocery store. They offered her a ride. As I said goodbye, the older woman rolled down her window to tell me proudly that her house (pictured above), which I would pass further down the road, was featured in the movie "Picnic" with Kim Novak and William Holden.

The remainder of my ride took me through the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. Unfortunately, I didn't see any interesting animals. Panoramic views of cattle pastures changed to panoramic views of wheat fields.

I rolled into Larned in time to hit a laundromat, eat at a recently opened Mexican restaurant (I'm looking forward to the increasing availability of authentic Mexican food), and take my first swim of the trip in the motel pool.

Finally, I had my first full moon yesterday. Out the back window of a black SUV.