Sunday, June 3, 2012

Flint Hills Freedom Ride


For several weeks I’ve been hearing about a 1,000 bike ride through the beautiful Kansas Flint Hills.  It has a name – The First Annual Governor’s Flint Hills Freedom Ride – which will take place on Saturday, June 16, 2012.   Yes, our Governor owns a motorcycle.  Based on information I found on Big Dog’s Biker Forum, the Governor’s bike is a 2001 Big Dog Pro Sport.  In fact, he rode the bike to work in February 2012.  Piffle!  My dear husband rides his bike to work every day except Thursdays, unless there is snow on the ground.  And he rides a minimum of 35 miles to work – one way.  (Not shabby for an old biker.)

Anyway, back to the run.  Imagine what it will take to navigate 1,000 bikes safely through the Kansas Flint Hills.  That’s one BIG parade permit.  In Kansas, if you have a group of 10 or more motorcycles, you are required, by law, to have a permit.  (I’m sure Governor Brownback has that covered.)  The largest bike ride in which we’ve participated was a Muscular Dystrophy Run sponsored by Topeka Harley Davidson.  There were 750 bikes and their riders.  We were escorted by the Kansas Highway Patrol and assisted by off-duty patrolmen on their motorcycles.  I have a cousin who is a bike cop.  I’ll see if he is on duty that weekend! 

Then, of course, there will be support vehicles.  I can’t imagine a group that large that would not have some sort of trailer with parts following them around.  Even when we take our Great American Adventure through the lesser populated western states, THD assists in providing basic equipment for minor repairs.  Of course, if somebody breaks down on the Freedom Ride, they can always come to our house at Lake Wabaunsee.  We have bike tools.

The Freedom Ride sign-up is on the Capital grounds in Topeka, Kansas beginning at 8:00 AM on Saturday, June 16.  Following that, there is a group picture (wide angle lenses required) and then a blessing of the bikes and riders.  I will be saying a prayer for the safety of those bikers as well.   It is a 70-mile ride through the Kansas Flint Hills:  Dover, Eskridge and Alma, ending in Wamego.  I understand that there is one scheduled stop for one hour in Alma during the course of the ride.  The ride ends at 1:30 in Wamego City Park, according to the event schedule at posted at the Freedom Ride website:
https://fhfreedomride.ksoutdoors.com/Event-Schedule

It will be exciting to see that many motorcycles together.  It is not the biggest motorcycle parade on record.  The ride is through the prettiest part of Kansas via the Native Stone Scenic Byway on the sweeping curves of K4 and K 99.  (Over Mill Creek and through the woods to Alma, the city of Native Stone!)  They will even traverse the gravel shoe-fly in the bridge construction area at the K4/99 junction.  Really, it is not that bad.  We ride that way to Alma at least once a week!

Keep an eye out for those motorcycles.  May was Motorcycle Awareness Month and the bikes are always out there!  God bless you and your family until next time!  Vicky

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Kansas Highway 99

Regardless of the construction on Kansas Highway 4 and the inconvenience it causes many travelers from our neck of the woods, the detours are not all that difficult to traverse.  My detour takes me to Kansas Highway 99 and through the beautiful Kansas Flints Hills.  The pre-dawn and early morning hours are a special time, when everything is waking up.  Including me!

However, driving through those curvy roads with the pale sunlight streaming through the trees is a delight.  One particular curve is long and the highway snugs up a steep embankment and rocky outcropping.  On the east side, the Historical Stone Fence - part of the Scenic By-Way Auto Tour of Kansas - lines the shoulder of the road.  It acts as a barrier to a line of mature trees, their branches occasionally dipping over the fence.   It is like driving through a natural tunnel, even though it is only about a quarter of a mile.  For a brief moment you will seem isolated and a world apart from everything else.  The sunshine, filtered and softened by the trees, plays over the rocks.  The stone fence appears damp from the early morning dew.  The green leaves of the tree seem brighter. 

Suddenly  you come out of the curve and at the end of the tree line and behind the stone fence is a large pasture that extends to the tree-lined Mill Creek.  This year, the field is dormant and appears to be resting.  On the left is the old stone "Poor Farm" of Wabaunsee County, just a stone's throw from the highway.  "Poor Farm" road is immediately to the left and takes you up a small hill that over looks the old homestead.  Another family lives there these days.  I don't know who. 

A marvelous way to begin the morning, don't you think? 



Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Librarians do it better!

Okay, catching title.  I am a Librarian.  Today I helped with the reading program at the library; I love the little kids.  They are always so good for me and I know they love me back.  The Head Librarian runs the show; I just keep them in line.  All preschoolers and all just as cute as a button.

 Michael Moore said something about Librarians being a bunch of subversive plotters, sitting there at their desk and smiling with a knowing smile.  I don't like Michael Moore, but yeah, Librarians are a subversive bunch and I am one of them.  Just a bit conservative, but subversive non-the-less!

"I really didn't realize the librarians were, you know, such a dangerous group. ... You think they're just sitting at the desk, all quiet and everything. They're like plotting the revolution, man. I wouldn't mess with them. You know, they've had their budgets cut. They're paid nothing. Books are falling apart. The libraries are just like the ass end of everything, right?"

Michael Moore
(BuzzFlash interview, 13 March 2002)


Regardless, in the afternoon I disposed of some really, really nasty books that were either withdrawn, unread, unloved, ratty, and smelled like last years socks.  I did my part for the ecology - I recycle books too, so they can be made into other books.  I moved at least 800 pounds of dirty, dusty, nasty tomes twice -- once into the book van and again at the recycling center.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Day One of our Great American Adventure 2011

Smoky Hills (North Central Kansas)

I am sure you have heard of the wild, Wild West.  Well, we did go west on our vacation this year to Wyoming and to several of our favorite places.  We also slipped down into Estes Park, Colorado for a couple of days.  The weather was beautiful; the scenery was breathtaking; and the company was fine.  Of course, my dear husband was my traveling companion over the course of our 11-day motorcycle trip, just as he has been my traveling companion over the last 27 years.

Officially, this was the 12th annual “Great American Adventure” – touring the wild, Wild West of Wyoming!  The trip, which began on August 27th, 2011, was the 11th adventure that my dear husband and I took with the Topeka Oz Harley Owners’ Group and sponsored by Topeka Harley Davidson.  We had 28 participants and 18 motorcycles that ventured in little groups all across the great states of Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, and Colorado.  We lodged at the same motels, dined at many of the same eating establishments, but sought different routes and toured different parks and museums throughout the eleven day trek.

We left home and beautiful Lake Wabaunsee at 7:30 on Friday morning, stopping briefly in Alma, Kansas at the bank and at the post office.  I had a letter to mail to a friend in Missouri and banking things to do.  We then met three other couples at the McDonalds Restaurant in Wamego.  They traveled with us for the duration of the trip, with an addition of another couple later in the journey.

Most of our traveling was on State Highways or secondary county roads.  Friday was cool and there was not a cloud in the sky.  The only thing visible in the big blue dome was con-trails from jetliners winging toward Denver, Colorado.  We rode on Highway 24 through the congested city of Manhattan and eventually passed through Cawker City.  You know, Cawker City is the little town with the World’s biggest ball of Sisal Twine.  The ball of twine is located in "Downtown" Cawker City right along Wisconsin Street (Highway 24) on the south side of the highway. According to http://skyways.lib.ks.us/towns/Cawker/twine.html, Frank Stoeber started the ball of twine on his farm in 1953.  By 1957 it weighed 5,000 pounds, stood 8 feet high, and had 1,175,180 feet of twine on it. Stoeber gave the ball to Cawker City in 1961.  Each year a “twine-a-thon” is held in conjunction with the annual Cawker City picnic, cook-off, and parade, so the ball never stops growing.

West of Cawker City, we caught Highway 281to Highway 9 and went west.  We turned north on 183 to Phillipsburg where we stopped for lunch.  Little Chicken Inn sits among shade trees on the west side of the highway and is cool and inviting.  We joined the locals, the truckers, and some of Ft. Riley’s finest to eat hamburgers and ice cream.  At Phillipsburg, we caught Highway 36 to Oberlin, then north on Highway 83 to McCook, Nebraska where we stayed at the Chief Motel.

I know our great adventure didn’t start out very “wild”, but we did have a wild time up in the mountains.  I do apologize for the absence of this column for the last two weeks, but I was having too much fun!  Besides, I was on the road a lot – on the back seat!  Until next time, take care and God bless you and your family.  Vicky

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Another beautiful day in the Flint HIlls

The sun is brilliant in the blue Kansas sky.  Clouds, cumulus clouds with dark underbellies, float on the light breeze this afternoon.  It is in the upper 60s degrees and the grasshoppers are jumping everywhere - on the engine of the motorcycle; on the front ferring, on me - the back seater.   Hint:  never wear a new jacket on the back of the bike in the fall. 

Yup, the sunflowers are gorgeous as well as the white yarrow and the lovely dotted gayflower clumped in the pastures.  A few butterflies flit here and there.  A beautiful yellow and black butterfly hoovered around my Rose of Sharon bush this morning after the rain.

It rained last night, with thunder rumbling in the distant.  A beautiful sound for the dry and thirsty land.  The air is so fresh and clean this day.  Better than any mountain air.

Happy riding, my friends!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Sunflowers

If you don't know, the Kansas State flower is the Sunflower.  Have you checked the sides of the highway and roads lately?  Well, in the country anyway.  The bright shining faces of the wildflower are facing the sun and trace the sun's rays across the sky.  

I grow sunflowers in my flower garden.  I have one about 15 feet tall.  It has several large seed heads now and I am sure the birds will be going after them as soon as it turns cooler and the birds' food sources become more scarce.  Fall is truely here in the Kansas Flint Hills.

When my daughter was little, we used to stop along the highway under the viaduct of Interstate 70 in Topeka, Kansas and pick the sunflowers, take them home and put them in water (in a Mason Jar).  While we lived in the city, I still acted like a "small town girl".  I guess now, after 30 years I still have that heart.  I still love sunflowers and roses.  Actually, roses were imported to Kansas and they are my favorite city flower.  I don't grow them.  

Take a moment today while  in the countryside to look at the flowers along the ditches.   You might be pleasantly surprised!  Take care and God bless.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Snooze Time

Another sunny, wonderful day.  My dad's motorcycle was in the shop getting a tune-up and battery; new wiring on the ignition.  His motorcycle is an older bike - an 1990 Harley Davidson Ultra.  He had over 220,000 miles on it when he had the engine rebuilt in 2010.  OBTW, he is 82 years old. 


He doesn't ride anymore because of his health. When I asked why he was having his bike worked a couple of weeks ago, he said it was because he wanted it to RUN.   He wasn't going to have something that didn't work.


Two years ago he quit riding; two years ago he became very depressed because he couldn't "go".  However, he is doing fine with his new little car.  He has his own routine:  breakfast with the "girls" at 8:00 o'clock; home for a little nap; lunch with his friends at the Emmett bar; home for a while and then later about 3:00, he heads to Mickey's in Rossville to visit with George Love.  Old friends.


Today, my dear husband brought Dad's bike home from Topeka Harley Davidson and then spent the afternoon visiting with Dad.  When I picked up my husband later in the afternoon, Dad looked 10 years younger!  Happy!  I know he can't  ride the bike (arthritis), but it works!  

OBTW, when I took my husband back to get his truck, there was so many detours around the town it took me twice as long to get out of town as it did to get there!  No wonder I hate T-town.  Glad I live in the Flint Hills.