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Kansas

570 miles, the biggest state so far and the emptiest. Nearly everyone has been telling us what a nightmare it is to drive across, let alone walk. We are loving it.

Back in Kansas City (sponsored by Pabst Blue Ribbon) with the incomparable Colin and Carly. (Carly not pictured due to unforgivable lack of work ethic on behalf of trip photographer. Apologies.)A rigorous and scientific testing of new stove equipment provides a conclusive result: boys like fire.Walking out of Kansas City.In true walkingthestates style, we managed to lock ourself out of Colin and Carlys house. Fortunately it was reasonably easy to break in. The only problem was that neither Stu or myself are keen on heights. Stuart trumped me by also claiming a (dubious) fear of ladders so I was volunteered for the task.Meeting the alliteratively-named Tabletop Tom. Tom, a scout master, awarded us the boy scout hiking badge for our achievements.Walkingthestates stops for no road closures.Gretchen and Twyla. (Gretchen send us your email address, we cant respond to your text messages due to the wonders of cingular.)

Gretchen was our DeSoto waitress and provider of things Lawrence.Rorys house was walkingthestates base camp in Lawrence Kansas, a great house in a great town.On bass guitar, Russ.Getting to play some music.
Brad in big glasses mode.Rory.Being interviewed for the TV news in Lawrence.Hanging out with Mr Macdonald.Hanging out with Mr. Macdonald.Hanging out with Mr. Macdonald.Mary and Conrad ran Conrads bar in Overbrook. They were hugely generous and treated us to dinner, breakfast and beds for the night.In Overbrook, while Stu relaxed in the bar, I went for a stroll to take some pictures and was picked up by the local police officer, Everett, who took me on a tour of the historic sights around the town. It was my first ride in an American police car. Those vehicles are very armed.Mary and Conrads Grandkids . Textbook big brother rabbit-ear-fingers.

(Mary, send me your email address - I have some pics of the kids to send you)Marcia and Brett Huffman. Amazing hospitality once more. Marcia had offered us beds for the night within 15 seconds of our knocking on her door.
Marcia and Bretts son Neil.The Johnsons under whose porch we sheltered from the rain on our way to Council Grove. We later met up with them at a Memorial Day cook out at their church in Council Grove.Much of the walk in Kansas so far has been under the shadow of storm fronts and huge rain clouds.We stayed with Jeff in Osage City. He was shortly leaving to serve in Kosovo.My house.Daves Bar in Strong City.The luxury of the throne seat at Justin and Scotts in Strong City.Stu preaching to the cow people. They will know the ways of walkingthestates.Our campsite on the road to Marion.Coming through Kansas we have met more long-distance cyclists. We met Julia last week who was cycling to the East Coast. Jon and Joe were on their way from Colorado to Lawrence.
The view from our campsite at the Bait Shop in Canada.Stu posing for me outside the Bait Shop in Canada. The glow from the sunset lasted for an hour far into the West.A water tower. 

And they say Kansas is empty?The weekend of the 1st June we were lucky enough to be picked up by our excellent hosts, Scott and Justin, and taken back to Strong City for the Annual Rodeo. 

Scott and Justin own one of the 2 bars in Strong City and this was going to be quite a weekend.One Saturday afternoon we took our hangovers down to the Rodeo Parade for which most of the town turned out.It seemed that at least half of the towns 700 population were in the parade and the other half and more were watching.It seemed that at least half of the towns 700 population were in the parade and the other half and more were watching.The parade was surprisingly long. Hundreds of horses and all manner of vehicles were invlolved.Watching the parade.A cowboy picking up refreshment along the parade. Bud Light or Coors Light.
Watching the parade.Heading to the Rodeo.At the arena.Cowboys waiting their turn in the spotlight. 
Saddle Bronc. Remember Buckaroo? This is very similar but with a human on top rather than a plastic spade.

Spectacular.Doug, owner of Strong Citys flower store. Dougs relatives helped establish the Strong City Rodeo 70 years ago.Back at the Branding Iron for drinks.The Branding Iron was packed to the rafters. Scott and Justin literally sold out of beer over the course of the weekend.Music was provided by the barnstorming Mr. Pete Gile.

http://www.jaredpetegile.com

Pete is getting married this month. Many congratulations.And the quality Mr Rusty Lovenstein

http://www.loverusty.com

Cheers fellas.
Ladies who rodeo: Jenna, Megan, Mandy and Kristen.

Our companions for Saturday evening. Lucky us.Carl.Karen.Dave.No idea who this chap was but I liked his style.Scott, Wendy, Ryan, Stu, Justin, Karen.

Love to you all (Stu excepted) from walkingthestates. 

Strong City was one of the best weekends of the trip. Quality people.Walking through the wheatfields, late evening.We spent a great evening with Stan and Marie-Anne who had put up ADT hikers, Ken and Marcia and Jacob and Tamar in previous years.Can you see it? Can you see the bend?
If its Kansas and you know it clap your hands.With Richard, Tracy and Travis near Lyons, KS. Outside our home for the night - a huge trailor with accomodation for horses and humans.We met Kilimanjaro, one of the McIntyres Watusi Bulls. We had seen their herd earlier that day. The Watusi are a spectacular breed, originating in Africa. Their horns are the biggest of any breed of cattle.We had seen bull-riding at the rodeo a few days earlier. The cowboys had made it look difficult but its surprisingly easy once youve got your technique down. 

My technique is down.

yee, and furthermore, haw.For much of Kansas we were travelling on the Coast to Coast Bike route. One of the first Coast to Coast hikers we met was Steve who keeps a journal at www.grandpalosthismind.comAs we walk through Kansas on the 96 we have a railroad to our North most of the day.We camped on Geralds farm West of Great Bend.Camping out at Dales farm. Our house in the middle of Dales street.Stu making luurrve to the camera.
Dale and Billie Kuhlman and family. Fine people. Fine hospitality.Car?

No. Sorry.Bailey and Aspen. Gregs Sports Bar,  Rush Centre.Bob and Dick. Coast to coast the easy way. 

Pah.Misty Morning Hop (or limp.)Go NCHS.

For the duration of our stay in Ness City we were rabid NCHS fans. 

Unfortunately the season does not start until September.Mitchell Dean Webster, formerly of the LA Dodgers. Now a scout for the Dodgers in the Mid-West.Lovely Linda at the Dighton Liqour store.Grain Elevators can be seen from miles away. Some of the names on the map are that one might hope are towns are simply elevators.In Dighton we saw a huge storm front coming over. The turquoise colour, which was the most intense we had seen, was a sign of a serious storm and, specifically a hail storm. 

Dighton received 2 inches of rain.

Our tents received 2 inches of rain.
The storm front coming over. Dighton.Assessing the damage from the storm. Dighton.The morning after the storm. After staying in the Bible Fellowship Church, Dighton.Curtis and the team from the Kansas Department of Transportation. Fixers of backpacks, saviours of wet people.Apres moi le deluge.Merle Knotts, one of the most memorable of the cyclists we met when we walked on highway 96 and followed the coast-to-coast cycling route through Kansas.

Merle was cycling from his home in Atlanta to his 50 year high school class reunion in Washington State. 

Merle is raising money for MS because he has MS.

Do the math, feel momentarily worthless then be inspired.

An incredible man. A privilege to meet.

http://www.merlesmilesforms.com/Hitching to Dodge was a struggle and we were stood on the road for hours in extreme heat. Finally George picked me up and was kind enough to backtrack and pick up Stu and Martin East of where I had reached.

George often picked up hitchers. He did a massive number of miles with his job and his car had 600,000 miles on the clock.With Jennifer and Nicki on Dodge City.Getting the heck out of Dodge.Martins last day walking with us. Martin walked many more miles a day than we covered on our first days on the walk last year. Hats off.
Lori picked us up on our hitch back from Dodge and we ended up spending a great evening, featuring a bbq and live music, with the Pollocks.Near Scott City, KS.Crossing into our third time zone.Not a great picture due to lack of tripod but the sky recently has been amazing with the moon, Antares and Jupiter lining up perfectly after sunset.Our last evening in Kansas was typical of the trip through the state. We were offered fantastic hospitality from the Moritz family and spent a great evening chatting and eating fantastic homecooked food. A real privelege.Stu with Rhonda Moritz.Mist clearing on our last morning in Kansas.Near the Colorado state border.Kansas gets a lot of stick (and yes it is very flat) but there is a certain beauty about it. I think you can appreciate this more walking through it than from a car.

A typical Kansas scene.
         

E-mail: stu@walkingthestates.com and dave@walkingthestates.com | Phone: (00 1) 301 538 0308