Chanute to Eureka, Kansas. (64 mi.) Mile 1769Eureka! It is found!We finally reconnected with our camping gear today upon arriving in Eureka, KS. The post office guy said we were lucky it didn't go to Eureka, CA, or Eureka, MT, or any of the other Eurekas he says their mail sometimes goes to. However, it was with mixed feelings we picked up the 17 lb. box. We have been riding with that much less weight and had to use motels to the point where we are now so spoiled, we got another motel for the night.Picking up our camping gear at the Eureka KS Post Office.Today took us through the Bluestem pasture area of the southern Flint Hills, considered one of the world's great beef feeding regions and home to over a million head of cattle each summer. We read that this region compromises one of the last large segments of true prairie that once stretched across the Great Plains. Though this area is very beautiful, I doubt that this grassland appears the same today as it did when the pioneers first looked upon it. The impact of grazing is apparent everywhere. By the end of the day, I was motivated to have steak for dinner.Flint HillsIf we could only string together all the first 20 miles of every day we ride, we would never want to quit. When we started out this morning, it was almost cool as the sun came up over the horizon, bright pink through the humidity, and the birds, locusts, cicadas, and crickets were still making their early morning racket.Our objective each day in Kansas is to keep our shadows ahead of us as long as possible. About 10-
11:00 am, the heat hits, sometimes with the wind. I cannot begin to count the number of small markets at intersections that we have used to find refreshment since this trip began.The muddy Verdigris River nourishes the Flint Hills prairie land.Seeking a little shade at convenience store stop #5478723: the Lizard Lips Grill and DeliSmall town Toronto, Kansas: "Rednecks and Longnecks"People who live along this route are very used to TransAmerica cyclists. The clerk at our motel, seeing that we were on bicycles, automatically gave us directions to the Laundromat, the library, and the nearest all- you- can- eat buffet without our asking. At dinner, a local noticed our bicycles outside, picked us out of the crowd, and asked, "Which way are you going?". When we said "West", he proceeded to volunteer helpful, detailed information about our whole route the next day, adding that we were "crazy".
Sometimes facing a long, hard day of pedaling may seem tough, but I feel lucky to be able to revisit a level of fitness that I have not experienced since a teenager. Both of us now have hardened muscles and dark tans in funny patterns. It looks like tomorrow will be much like today, only with an added 17 lbs. Though we are in Kansas, the middle of the country, we won't reach our halfway point until Pueblo, Colorado.