Coast to Coast for the FFB: THE ONLINE JOURNAL

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Friday, June 24, 2005

Day 41: Girard, KS to Toronto, KS (90 miles, 1754 total)

Today was absolutely brutal. Both AK and I are feeling terrible and that turned our day into a rough one.

After a less than stellar night's sleep at the Girard city park, we packed up and rolled by 7AM. We stopped at 7:01 to fix AK's flat. At that exact point, we had a blasted a total of 0.06 miles for the day.

After a quick fix we were back on the road by 7:20. There was no water to be found at the city park so we had to stop by a local market to fill our water bottles.

On the way to the town of Walnut, I saved the smallest turtle yet. His shell was about the size of a child's fist. The little guy was such a road crossing rookie that he wet himself when I picked him up. "Nice one," I taunted, careful to let his little surprise leak all over the road and not onto my hand.

A few miles later, we came across the first live snapping turtle of the trip. Previously all we had seen was a big one dead in the road with a tire tread right down the middle of his shell. Since I had never seen a snapping turtle before, AK was trying to explain the difference beteen the snappers and the box turtles we see so very often. "They have a long neck and tail and their shells are flatter than the box turtle's," she instructed. "Did you notice that the shell was flatter on that one?" she asked. The image of the crushed snapping turtle flashed into my head, and I replied, "Yeah, now that you mention it, he was much flatter than the others." I was told to not be such a smartass, which is something I can be very good at under the right circumstances.

Anyway, the live snapping turtle was given the shoe and the slide off the road. The snappers are called "snappers" for a reason, so I wasn't going to risk being snapped. He managed not to pee himself and scurried off the shoulder. They seem to be much faster and less shy than the box turtles.

We arrived in Walnut rather quickly and mailed back our fourth completed map (woohoo!) and a bunch of junk we accumulated during our recent travels. It is always nice to shed a few pounds.

After Walnut, we rode for another 25 miles or so (with an increasing wind from the south) into Chanute. In Chanute we had a less than stellar lunch. The waitress informed us that the local health officials had informed the public that the tap water currently has a high level of bacteria in it. We weren't served water, but as AK pointed out, they were happy to serve us softdrinks with ice in them (freezing bacteria doesn't do anything to kill them).

After lunch we went to the local market to buy a meal for the night and two gallons of water to fill our bottles.

With tempuratures rising, we reluctantly headed out to Toronto. The problem with Kansas is that although it may be flat, the number of of places to stay and services (stores, diners, etc.) are limited and stretched between huge distances. It was too early to stop for the day in Chanute, but we were not eager about the remaining 45 miles to Toronto.

Just after we passed the town of Benedict, my stomach started feeling uneasy. It was weird, whenever I took a deep breath it was uncomfortable, I coughed, and felt the urge to puke. The deep breath thing reminded me of the result of long hours in an over chlorinated pool, but I never felt like vomiting then.

I told AK I was feeling ill and she said that what was left of her Bronchitus was making her feel very tired. With nothing else to do, we pedaled on.

We were treated to a few northward miles which was nice because we suddenly had a stiff tailwind. They never seemed to last long enough.

A few miles short of Coyville, I started dry heaving while on the bike. It wasn't very comfy, but I decided that I'd rather just get to Toronto than sit around on the side of the road. I decided that I'd stop if the dry heaves were to transform into the real deal.

Soon Toronto Lake came into view. It was swollen with 20 feet of extra water which we learned had severely limited the number of campgrounds around the lake. It's too bad, I'm a big fan of snorkel camping.

The last ten miles to the campground were the roughest. When we were finally about five miles away, a ranger from the Toronto State Park Campground stopped and gave us directions to the campground.

She told us to go about 2 miles down the road, crest a hill, and when you see the town (Toronto), make a left. Now, I should know better, but when she said that I imagined cresting the hill and getting a view of a thriving metropolis. Well, had I not known that the city limits of towns are marked with small green signs, I would have missed that left turn because there was nothing else besides that. Nothing.

Anyway, we finally arrived at our campground. $8 Bucks for the night bought us a spot near the overflowing lake (which might explain the swarms of the most annoying bugs ever). Exhausted and hurting, we were slow to set up camp and decided we were just too beat to cook. Fig Newtons and Ritz crackers were the featured menu items for the day.

We decided that we may need to take it easy tomorrow. We have an option of a 60-ish day or a 90-ish day. I have a feeling we'll be doing the short one unless we get the best tailwind ever.



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