Garrett (garote) wrote,
Garrett
garote

Cross-Country Trip Days 5 and 6: Sat Aug 18, Sun Aug 19

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Here's where I stayed last night. No running water, but very fast internet. I find that amusing.

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This place was only about a mile back down the road, so I had to check it out!

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They have got some amazing stuff here.

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Big things and small things!

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Want three hundred pounds of mica? Of course you do!!

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While you're at it, pick up a few hundred pounds of selenite!

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Stuff in this box is half off!

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The thrill of breaking open a geode ... in your own back yard!

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This had a very interesting texture.

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The information placards were interesting too.

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Tired of looking at minerals? Look at fossils!

I was very excited to be in this store, and I spent over a hundred bucks on rocks, as gifts for my nephews and for myself. I actually lingered for so much of the morning that I began to worry about my schedule, so when I got back on the road I drove nonstop through the rest of Colorado and into Kansas, listening to the end of "Rainbow Mars" and starting up some nonfiction for a change of pace - a book called "Wait: The Art And Science Of Delay" by Frank Portnoy.

The first few chapters were kind of irritating - they suffered from that same affliction that most of Malcolm Gladwell's work has. I call it "Irrelevantitis". It sets in when the author takes a story or an experiment that is generally irrelevant to the theme they claim to be exploring, then finds some way to shoehorn it in using analogy, confirmation bias, or unapologetic brute force. The first chapter of "Wait" was all about the microscopic change in pulse rate that everyone exhibits between breathing out and breathing in, and how variations in pulse rate range measured in human infants can be a predictor of ... something. Portnoy himself isn't quite sure what, but he quotes from several sources who are alternately worried about, or obsessed with, this phenomenon. Okaaaaaay...

The book really does get genuinely interesting, even insightful, in the chapters that come later, but as I crossed from Colorado into Kansas, it was just a slog.

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Welcome to Kansas!

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This is what I remember of Kansas roads from my November bike trip. Roads that stretch forever. Cars so distant that you can see them almost five minutes before you hear any engine noise.

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Carrying electricity over these wires, in such a windy area, seems like such a bad idea that I'm amazed it worked at all.

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Amazing what you can spot by the side of the road!

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Things you need to know when first entering town in Kansas: How many churches, and exactly where they are.

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Off the main roads, Kansas looks dystopian. Massive, featureless grain elevators stand high above tiny, half-destroyed settlements ... or settlements that were only half-built to begin with.

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Interesting structures alongside the train tracks. I assume they're for filling up those big tanker cars.

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A closer look at this fascinating mechanism...

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Sure enough ... hundreds and hundreds of tanker cars being pulled slowly along.

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The plains go on, and on, and on ... In this photo, I am driving under the shadow of a cloud. I would have stopped to take a 360-degree panorama of this, but all you would see is a tiny, detailed horizon line, sandwiched between two huge canvases of sky and dirt.

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This spot doesn't look like much, but it's where my current route intersected with my previous one. About 10 months ago, I was riding a bicycle along this road, out of Colorado, bound for New York.

As if to commemorate this event, I saw a coyote trot warily across the road just after taking this picture!

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Ahh those Kansas skies, going on forever! When I rode my bicycle down this highway, it was night time. I never thought I'd return to see it during the day!

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Some older folks were joyriding slowly ahead of me, but I didn't mind.

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An interesting shot to compare with the previous year...

It's interesting to think about how much the landscape changes with the seasons here. Everything changes color or texture, from the ground on up. Leaves fall. Seasonal vegetation appears and vanishes. Immense fields become tall with crops, then flat again, then covered in snow, then churned over into dark, furrowed soil. Domestic and wild animal populations shift. Streams freeze, then thaw. Insects fill the air with noise, then go silent.

Here, check out the photo I took of this same field, last October:

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Hard to believe it's the exact same place!

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The osage orange tree I photographed on my bicycle trip. Yep, looks the same!

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This handy osage orange fencepost makes a great tripod!

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A nice roadside shot. The weather was amazing. Warm and fragrant.

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Critters buzzing on every leaf! The air was filled with a zillion buzzing sounds. Whenever a car approached, they would fall silent, and then after a delay about about 20 seconds when the car passed, all the buzzing would rise up again, like a conversation resuming after an announcement.

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I don't know what this is, but it looks neat. :)

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Flowers everywhere! I collected a few, but they wilted very quickly in the hot car.

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Spot the critter!

Another neat thing about these fields... With every step forward in the grass, you can watch a wave of insects jumping or flying out of the way ahead of you, like the head of a parade.

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This was a special treat. I got a chance to sneak into the same messed up abandoned house that I found last October.

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This time, though, I had a fancy 360-degree camera mount!

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Weeeooooo!!!

Check out the huge Quicktime VR version of this shot. It may slow down your computer a bit ... but it's worth it. Spooooooky!

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Now I know where the Gravediggaz spent their childhoods.

Yeah yeah, I know, I'm far from the first person to make this joke. But ... I GOTTA!

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The spoooky church I saw last year on Halloween, but this time in daylight.

Here's the shot from back then:

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Woooooooo!!

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Turnpike toll cards! I remember this from Ohio!

I spent a long time hanging around in Kansas, so I had to really make tracks in Missouri, which was fine by me. I didn't have much interest in the state. On last year's bike ride, the terrain hadn't been particularly striking, and most of the people I met had been downright annoying, The contrast with Kansas had been strange. I know it's dumb to reject an entire region based on a handful of chance encounters, but the temptation is particularly strong here, because even my friends and workmates have disparaged Missouri, some of them with great vigor.

I got about halfway across the state before pulling in at a cheapass motel. The woman who led me to the room was dressed in flip-flops and a sun dress, and when we stopped outside my door she spotted a spider under the eaves of the building. It was a big orb-spinner. "That'll catch a lot of bugs!" I said.

She removed her flipflops, stood up straight, and clapped them together over her head, smashing the spider between them. "Not any more!" she said, and laughed. Oh, Missouri. You make it so difficult.
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