On June 14th, my sister and I loaded my bike into the car, tossed my still disorganized bags into the back and drove from Ashland, OH to Independence, MO. It was a pretty uneventful drive, calm and sunny, and for hours we read each other stupid articles on Buzzfeed and Cracked until my phone died. Best article of the day? American habits that foreigners find confusing. Medication advertisements? Yeah–I don’t get those either.
We got into the city around 7:00pm, and for the previous hour we’d been Yelping restaurants in Independence and finally settled in on a German place called the Rheinland. I wasn’t too sure I wanted to go there based off the pictures of the food, but when I heard they had beer mixed with Sprite(a very German summer drink) I was all in. So we checked into the hotel first, a cute place called the Higher Ground Hotel and then went over to the restaurant. Too bad we had to come right back. Why? I forgot my I.D. Brilliant! Good thing we went back though because our food was amazing. The best part was definitely watching my sister order things with the German pronunciation and the waitress looking at her like she’s crazy.
“We’d like an order of the käsespätzle (pronunciation: kay-za-spet-zle).”
-Blank stare- “You mean the ‘case-a-petzle’?”
The next morning Gwen took off around 8:00am and left me in the hotel. She had planned to see me off, but a sudden intense thunderstorm delayed me. And since the Weather Channel had it slated to end by 11:00am, we said goodbye and I passed out only to get up two hours later.
I loaded my bike, which was quite difficult as I couldn’t get my (recently) packed bags to sit right and the balance was really off. And I spent about forty minutes in the hotel parking lot repacking my bags and redistributing them on my bike. So just before noon I was on my bike and heading down the road on the sidewalk. I’d decided that if I got caught by a cop for not riding on the street I’d just explain to her/him what I was doing and that I was in fact–an idiot. I was pretty sure that the lunacy of what I was doing would sufficiently prove my point and that the cop would let me go (while probably considering if they should call adult services).
The only thing I hadn’t yet seen in Independence that I really wanted to was the original courthouse. I biked to it and parked outside. Since it was a Sunday, no one was at the courthouse (which is still in use) and I tried to make a video. I had some delusion that I’d be able to make status update videos and post them to Facebook, but that didn’t work out. This time, because people were looking at me like I was insane while I talked to myself into my cell phone camera. In the future it was because, and this is a shocker, as it turns out being sweaty and not showering for three days isn’t the best look for public consumption.
Anyways, the first ten miles were really easy, and that came as a great shock to me. The streets were pretty good, there were lots of trees and I did pass a couple really interesting buildings. The U.N. building was particularly awesome, a huge spiral glass structure that comes to a crooked point. I know, it sounds strange, look it up.
(I’m technically now in Kansas, but I’ve gone very few miles and the following works better here then in my Kansas narrative.) Things started to get rough by the time I hit what was definitely part of Kansas City. I was exhausted and I hadn’t gone more than twenty miles in three hours. Feeling pretty down about this, I decided to take a break in a city park under an overpass that crosses a man-made canal. The bike path went through there and it seemed like a good enough place to rest. Plus I had cell phone reception and there was seating down there. Anyways, I was there for about an hour. I polished off a bag of beef jerky and drank at least a liter of water. It was only until about halfway through my break when I realized that I was burned. Really burned. My face, arms and ankles were all lobster red and the skin of my ankles had started to change texture. And I’d only been out for three-four hours at that point. Nervously, I slathered on a bunch of sunscreen and hoped I could get to a stopping place without it getting too much worse.
Outside of Overland Park I realized that not only was I burned, but I realized what the funny, hazy feeling I’d been having in my brain was: confusion. That shocked the hell out of me. I’m familiar with heat related illnesses after living for four years in Nevada and Arizona. The fact that it crept up on me and I didn’t recognize it until that point was scary. I found a tree, parked my bike, ripped my heat-trapping helmet off, walked to a gas station and bought a pink Poweraid. I chugged it down, both of my hands shaking, while I used my cell phone to find the nearest, cheapest motel.
My best bet was some shady sounding place about four miles from where I was. Frankly, the concept of getting back on my bike given how hot I was was physically repellent, but the reality was that I had no other options. I was alone in a city in which I knew no one, and taxis generally can’t fit bicycles. Plan decided, I stayed in the gas station for another twenty minutes–taking advantage of their air-conditioning, and looked up the shortest distance between where I was and the motel.
About an hour later I made it into the motel. The woman at the desk asked me if I was okay and I knew I didn’t look like I was so I didn’t lie about what was going on. Two customers ahead of me moved out of the way and let me check in first, which I really appreciated. Mostly because I knew that if I didn’t get into a cold shower and drop my body temperature down as soon as possible I was going to be hospitalized.
And wouldn’t that have been just great? Gone for less than eight hours and already in the Emergency Room (but five days sounds about right). Thankfully it didn’t come to that, and when I got into my hotel room and looked at myself in the mirror I could see why those two other guys got the hell out of my way. Fire engine red is a nice color–just not on my face.
The rest of my evening was spent laying on the floor in front of the air conditioner. What a fabulous way to spend my first day on the trail.
Hello, and welcome back to my blog! Its been a fairly silent month of August as far as this blog is concerned. I’ve said in a couple of places that I’ve been recovering and moving back towards a normal way of life. Now that I have a job, a work schedule, and everything is falling back into place, I’m feeling up to sharing what the 46 days of my trip was like. It was an experience of stress, frustration, map errors, gas stations, amazing views, knee pain, hills, headwinds, good food, great people, and unexpected encounters. It should be needless to say that using a month to process all of it was a necessary task of laziness! And realistically, if I thought I had it bad (and I sometimes did), it’s all nothing in comparison to what it would have been like in 1846.
This series is called “The State of the Trail” and it will be a 6 part series going by each state that the trail went through. They are: Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho and Oregon. And each post will focus on one of those states and what I encountered as I biked through it, and accompanied by slideshows of pictures.
I’m hoping that it will be often funny, occasionally gross, and partly horrifying.
To get you all psyched up for the series, here are some fun stats that I’ve compiled. Enjoy!
Cori’s Oregon Trail Trip Statistics
Mileage: 2200-2300 miles
Average Mileage Per Day: 48.91
- # of Tires Lost: 5
- # of Tubes Lost: 11
- # of Wheels Lost: 3
- # of Liters of Water Drunk: 98
- # of Gas Station Milkshakes Drunk: 13
- # of Gas Station Hot Dogs Eaten: 21
- # of Times Someone Bought Me Food: 9
- # of Books Read: 42
- # of Ticks: 14
- # (aprx) of Mosquito Bites: 200+
- # of Incidents With Snakes: 1
- # of Incidents With Cows: 1
- # of Incidents With the Police: 5
- # Of Times Someone Told Me I Was Crazy: Countless
- # Of Times Someone Told Me I Was Awesome: Countless
- # of Times I Told Myself I was Crazy (Stupid): Countless
- # of Times I Told Myself I was Crazy (Awesome): Countless
- Average Amount of Time It Took To Charge My Solar Charger (When the Package Said 14 Hrs Needed): 8 Days
- Average Amount of Time It Took For Me To Fall Asleep Each Night: 5 minutes or less
I thought I’d let you all know that I’m not dead, and have pretty much gotten over my exhaustion. I’ve been working on a series of posts about my trip in my downtime, and I’m almost done with the first two.
Part of the holdup has been that I want to include photo slideshows that are applicable to each post. And I kid you not, I’m at about hour twenty three now and I’d say I still have at least eight or nine to go. I took something like 600 photos on the trip and culling them has been quite the task. Then from those, I’ve had to decide which ones to publish, which ones need editing, etc. I’m hoping that all my efforts will allow me to put out a good series of posts–ones that both you as a reader and I as the writer will appreciate.
So please, just bear with me for a bit longer.
Well, my trip is over! I made it to Oregon City yesterday and was filmed by KOIN news as I came in.
Right now I’m a bit tired to do much more then let you all know that I’m done. I’ll get a much more detailed set of posts published once I get to Ohio.
(And have time to sort through all these pictures!)
Talk to you soon!
It’s been a while since I updated for two big reasons: lack of cell service/cell battery problems and exhaustion.
So please forgive the delay!
Here are the maps I’m done with:
It should be noted that I’m not quite finished with Map 8, but that I’m close enough to post it, as I’ll be done with it early tomorrow.
Also, I have varied from the maps somewhat to avoid dirt roads (which have destroyed one too many of my bike tubes…) and instead bike on paved ones. This means I have missed out on some markers/things I wanted to see, but I honestly just can’t afford the lost time and extra cash to repair my bike anymore.
I’ll have to catch this stuff some other time!
Forgive this post, it’s a bit choppy but I don’t have enough time to really edit it down into something that reads smoother. Enjoy!
So it’s no secret to those who have been keeping in contact with me that I was in Marysville for a few days. They have an awesome city park that you can stay in for up to a week for free. It has modern bathrooms and electrical hookups–though no showers unfortunately. I spent several days there, one specifically to recover, another to get caught up on business stuff at the library, and another just so I could see all the sites!
I met three awesome people there: Dean Thomas, his wife Jeannie (they’ve been together for nearly 50 years!) and a transient man named Danny Logan. Dean is actually the police chief of nearby Frankfurt and he took it upon himself to make sure I got to see the amazing historical sites in the area (and was well fed!). His wife and him took me to both Alcove Spring (the initials carved in stone were made by pioneers) and Marshall’s Ferry. As well as a drive through all of downtown Marysville so they could show me the other buildings (though not necessarily Oregon Trail related) in the area, including: the Koester House, the Pony Express Home station, several old business buildings, the courthouse, and the defunct train depot.
I’m deciding at this point not to talk much about Danny Logan, except to say that he was supremely nice and helped me with several issues I was having with my bike, because I don’t think he would like it. However, it’s worth saying that Danny is a good example of how the homeless stereotype doesn’t exactly fit with reality. I can only hope that his next stop works out as well as he’s counting on.
While I was in Marysville I ate exclusively from a Valero station and the Wagon Wheel Cafe. The Wagon Wheel is an amazing restaurant that is firmly in the ‘down home’ category. Food is cheap, hot, and completely delicious. I had a burger there with all the toppings plus fried jalapeno for $5. Well worth it if you ask me. I’m quite disappointed now that I think about it that I didn’t get a picture of the food! It was so good it must have slipped my mind.
I think that the building I enjoyed most was the courthouse. It was just so well maintained, and the people there were so friendly, that it sort of eclipsed all the other buildings in Marysville for me. On the second floor is the actual courthouse part (rather than administrative offices) and it’s a beautiful room. The wood is all well polished, the walls painted and in great condition, with huge swinging doors that say ‘Courthouse’ in bold letters. I sat there for at least a half hour in all sorts of vantage points (audience, lawyer, juror, judge) and I could feel all the history that had occurred in that room. Incredible.
Here is the second leg of my route. Enjoy!