Sunday, September 4, 2011

At Home In Colorado Springs


Not my intention to go so long between journal updates. Our internet connection in Hermann, MO was so slow, it became a test of patience just to check email, so I gave up! The stop in Kansas City (Overland Park) was a quick stopover and there wasn't time. But we are now settled into a wonderful little house in a quiet neighborhood in Colorado Springs where we have a lightening fast internet connection and where we will "live" this week.

On Wednesday, we did ride about 10 miles on The Katy Trail. Enough to whet our appetites that we'd really love to ride the whole thing someday. It is easy riding through beautiful Missouri countryside and the only reason we didn't ride further was that it was just so dreadfully hot. The only negative was the rather large snake cleverly disguised as a stick that we encountered not five minutes after we started. I could've done without that experience! In the afternoon, we did a walking tour of Hermann learning more about it's history, German influence and the many well preserved buildings there. I've been to Germany a couple of times and the village set on the Missouri River really does resemble some of villages along the Rhine in Germany.

Thursday was even hotter and severe storms (which never materialized) were predicted, so we decided not to ride any more of the Katy Trail. We did tour a couple of the wineries. It is very interesting to see how it's done and understand the length of time and patience required to produce a really good wine. The best tour was of
Stone Hill Winery. The only other winery we'd really toured was Biltmore and this one seemed much more real and less like a tourist attraction.

In the evening, we decided to go ahead and load the car for an early Friday morning departure. Severe weather was in the area and predicted to last through the night and early morning. When Bill went out with the first load, he discovered we had a VERY flat tire. Bummer! Good tires purchased less than a year ago and rotated a week ago. Car had been sitting the driveway all day. We called AAA hoping they might be able to find the problem and fix it, but once the tire was removed, the guy couldn't find any problems. Double Bummer!! He put the spare on and left us to decide what to do. I was meeting a friend for lunch on Friday in Overland Park, KS some 200 miles away. With the car fully loaded and bikes on back, neither of us were comfortable trying to get there on that pitiful excuse for a spare tire. Tires were purchased at Walmart (thankfully!!), but the closest was 25.6 miles away. No choice but to get up at the crack of dawn (only one of us had a problem with that) and be there when their Auto shop opened at 7. The tire had a good sized hole in it on the inside near the rim - no explanation other than a fluke. We had purchased the Road Hazard Warranty, so the replacement was free. We headed back to Hermann, loaded the car and were on our way only an hour or so behind the departure time we had planned. In the whole scheme of things, a rather minor setback, but something that had never happened to us before in our travels, so it was nice to see how we were able to handle of bit of adversity without a huge amount of drama!

We took a scenic backroad route from Hermann to Overland Park through Jefferson City, MO one of our favorite state capitals. We much prefer those in smaller cities as opposed to the huge metro capitals. We also looked longingly at the exit to the
Central Dairy Ice Cream Shop as we passed. That is some of the best ice cream I've ever eaten in my entire life! Overland Park, KS is south of Kansas City. Since we were running late, I texted my friend and she met us at the Marriott Residence Inn and we went to a wonderful restaurant that for the life of me, I cannot remember the name of. It didn't matter - this was about conversation and boy, did it fly! After lunch, we took Bill back to the Marriott and I went with my friend back to her house. I didn't get back to the hotel until that evening so we just snacked for dinner and called it an early night.

Saturday was our longest driving day (593 miles) of the entire trip. Although we would gain another hour, we knew we needed to get up and out early. Mission accomplished as we were on the road by 7:30. Plan was to take backroads reminding ourselves frequently that it's a journey, not a destination and it didn't matter what time we got to Colorado Springs, but shortly after lunch, we realized we just weren't making enough time to continue this way so we hopped over to I-70 which we'd been paralleling all along via Kansas state routes 56 and 4. With the bikes on the car, we are not supposed to exceed 68 mph and with interstate speed limits of 75 in Kansas and Colorado, let's just say interstate driving is not pleasant. The wind was fierce and the semis relentless, so the approximately 250 miles of interstate driving were not enjoyable! And then there was my encounter with the nice Kansas State Trooper who insisted that I was speeding. Fortunately, he only issued me a warning telling me that on two-lane roads in Kansas, speed limits change quickly based on shoulders and towns. In this case, it had changed from 65 to 55 because of narrow shoulders on the roadside. He really was generous and could have given me a costly speeding ticket. Ironically, the speed limit went back up to 65 not two miles past where I was stopped. Bill was kind and only ragged me for a few miles, then sternly told me to let it go.

We arrived in Colorado Springs exactly 12 hours after leaving Overland Park. It was raining and cold, but finally, the wind subsided so unloading the car was not difficult. Our home for the week is a lovely little cottage in a beautifully restored district near downtown. We are a couple of blocks from
Shooks Run Park Bike Trail which will allow us to connect to other trails and ride just about anywhere in Colorado Springs we want. Today, we will rest, go get groceries and may do a couple of short hikes in Garden of the Gods Park . Weather is not in our favor with clouds, fog and a predicted high temp of 56. Tomorrow, however, is supposed to be a picture perfect Colorado day.

Thanks for reading!

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