I've heard Prairie Village, Kansas referred to as "Perfect Village" (somewhat disparagingly), but I prefer to think of it as "Pretty Village". We've enjoyed our time here in this attractive slice of suburbia and exploring the entire Kansas City metro area (mostly on two wheels!) But it's time to hit the road, this time as full-time travelers. Yes, we're going fully nomadic!
The road beckons. Where to next?
First, we're off to see our parents and give them a hand with some yard work and other chores. After that, well, you'll just have to stay tuned to find out! Thanks for reading the blog and following along on our travels -- we'll try to keep making it worth your while....
Saturday was forecast to be quite windy out of the south, so Barry planned out a bike route that would avoid riding too much in a southerly direction. Instead, we'd head to De Soto, Kansas, which is almost due west of Prairie Village. De Soto is a small town of approximately 6,000 people that lies along the Kansas River, and much to my surprise, is actually considered to be part of the Kansas City Metro area, although it is quite rural. There is even a branch of our Johnson County library there, again a surprise to me.
Here's a map so you can get an idea of our starting and ending points (Prairie Village to De Soto and back) and the route we took.
After a short ride up to the Overland Park farmer's market for some fresh greens, riding back and eating breakfast, we headed out. It would be a long ride, so we didn't want to dawdle.
I don't know why I've been having more blurry photos lately with my little digital camera, but it is ancient. Either it's starting to get flaky, or the photographer is!
Once we got into downtown, we saw a sign for the bridge over the Kansas River, so rode down to check it out. The views were great; unfortunately, there was not even a sign for the river. We were amazed by all the swallows flying around. Afterwards, I identified these as Cliff Swallows -- a new bird for our life lists! Seeing them definitely made our ride worthwhile.
Cliff Swallows build their nests in large colonies, and I am sure the underside of the bridge was just covered with them. Wish we could have seen that! Click here to see what the nests look like. Cool, huh?
Next, we headed into the small downtown area. It was very quiet on a Saturday. We stopped for a snack we'd brought along and to stretch our legs. I enjoyed half a baked sweet potato -- an excellent source of complex carbs when riding, and not too sweet. It matched my jersey too!
On the way back, it seemed that the wind had taken on more of a southeasterly direction than pure south, so we suffered since we were now heading east. Between that and a couple of long, tough climbs, it was a doozy of a ride back.
We stopped off to take a photo of this sign we saw going through Lenexa. We both worked at Perimeter Park in Morrisville, NC, for Nortel Networks for many years. We figured our old Nortel buddies would get a kick out of it.
Although most of our route was on the road, we took bike trails for a couple of short legs, when one was in the right place. The new Clear Creek Trail in Shawnee has an excellent water station where we filled up our bottles with filtered cold water. Ahhhhh! This is a rare luxury when out cycling.
What's more, there was even a drinking fountain for canine companions, and a bike tool and air station. Yay Shawnee! You're a rockin' community in our book!
The trail is very nice, and there was even a train going by. Look close in this photo to see it off in the distance, beyond where Barry is riding. It's the grayish thing that looks like a lake!
I tried to get a photo of Barry riding under the bridge with the train above, but I was too late...the train went by right before I could focus.
As you might imagine, it was absolutely necessary to go by Sheridan's Frozen Custard when we passed through Overland Park on the way back for a couple of "wowieccino" iced coffee drinks. The caffeine really helped perk us up for the last miles, and on a hot day, they were cold and refreshing. Ahhhhhh....
We did a few extra miles so I could hit my target of 60 miles for my longest ride of the year, and actually for many years. I have been plagued by right-side lower back pain since a cycling accident in 2005, but this year, thanks to a different road bike modified with a stem extension, I've been able to ride with much, much less pain, which means I can ride more like I did prior to my accident in 2005. I'm slower now since I'm ten years older, but still steady!
Of course, Barry being Barry, continued on and put in many extra miles so he'd get his longest ride of the year as well -- 101 miles! He's amazing!
I haven't posted for awhile because we've been so busy cycling. The weather has been gorgeous, for the most part, and we have been taking full advantage of the springtime. Barry (the animal, or is he a machine?) has over 4400 miles on the year so far, and I have over 2200! This is shaping up to be one of our best years of bicycling ever.
Lately we've discovered some great places to ride that we hadn't been aware of before. One is Lee Boulevard in nearby Leawood. This long street is flanked by beautiful trees, homes, a small park, and has some fun (?!) rolling hills and a decent shoulder in most places. We can ride from the north end down to the Leawood City Park and back, and do repeats if we want more miles. It's a really fun place to ride with fewer stop lights and stop signs than some of the other "neighborhood" rides around the area. Here are a few photos I took of sights alongside Lee Boulevard.
From scanning his KC area cycling map, Barry also found a different route into downtown Olathe. Before arriving downtown, we'd do some serious climbing in Mission. This is one of the areas around the KC Metro that certainly proves that Kansas is not all flat. We had just climbed up this long hill when we turned around at the top and saw this sign. And this was just one of many hills we encountered that day.
Another day, Barry wanted to show me a way he'd found to get out to the "country", or as rural as you'll get around the outskirts of KC. After riding to and through downtown Olathe, we arrived at Lake Olathe, which looked like a great place to paddle a kayak or canoe. It was very quiet on this mid-week day, but I suspect it gets busy on the weekend.
As we rode further out, there was a small airport and some aviation-related industry, but it was definitely rural, with wide-open stretches of road. There were plenty of birds singing and flying about, including an abundance of Meadowlarks.
We also had the incredible fortune to see a pair of beautiful Scissor-Tailed Flycatchers. I wish we'd had Barry's camera as mine only has a 3x zoom, so this is a bit blurry, but you can still see the long tail. They were gorgeous, and this one stayed on the fence a long time as Barry snapped away.
On the way back from this ride, Barry's rear derailleur cable snapped, meaning he couldn't shift in the back. This was most definitely NOT good, since we had hills to face in the miles ahead. Fortunately, our guardian angel must have been riding along with us, as we were only about a quarter mile from a bike shop I'd noticed in historic downtown Lenexa. So, we stopped in. The shop (Velo + KC) is quite unique, and we got to talk to the owner, who also roasts and sells coffee beans, so it smelled fabulous inside! He is a bike builder and has some interesting bikes and unique gear in the shop. They were able to repair Barry's cable quickly and get us on our way. In the meantime, it was fun looking around the shop and dreaming of new bikes. Passionate cyclists believe you can never have too many!
At the end of this ride, we stopped in at Sheridan's for a treat. Barry figured out a back way to get to it, since it's on very busy 75th Street in Overland Park. Now we're in trouble! Fortunately we're burning enough calories on these long rides (this one, for instance, clocked in at 55 miles) that we can eat frozen custard and get away with it. He got his favorite, Mocha Almond concrete, and I got a Mexican Chocolate concrete with whipped cream. Yum!
Another ride took us out on the Indian Creek and Blue River trails to Alex George Lake in KCMO.
And back to Sheridan's for another treat on the way back. This time, Lemon Lush concrete for me and "Mucho Mocha Almond Wowieccino" for Barry. Absolutely delicious and very refreshing as the day was unseasonably warm -- upper 80s by then.
Here are some miscellanous photos I took on other recent bike rides of just a few of the glorious May flowers in the area. Tulips of all varieties are widely grown here, and that's just fine with me as they've long been one of my very favorites!
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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