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Day 2
August 22, 2014
KOA Campground
Eureka Springs, Arkansas


Morning broke warm and sunny in Eureka Springs.  I slept well but woke early, and remained in my sleeping bag for morning light.  At 6:30 I was the only joker stirring about.

I made the short walk to the bathhouse to wash my face and brush my teeth.

Thirty minutes later I had the FJR loaded and was ready to get on the road.  I'm riding a custom route to North Kansas today.  Highlight of the day will be a ride through the Flint Hills.  I'd never been there so was looking forward to it.  There are not many roads/highways in Kansas I've not spent some time on, no kidding.  I had to be creative lining this route out, and I had to make few a edits after downloading it to the Zumo 390.
Unable to get a viable signal on the Ipad from the WIFI, I switched to the 4G on my Iphone (no data plan on Ipad) to get a weather report.  Radar showed a isolated rain patch just west of the Flint Hills.  "Ill probably find that rain out there today."  It was ok because it didn't look like anything serious.

I was making last minute checks, when my phone buzzed with a text from Debbie-

"U up?"

"yeah, just about to head out"

"call me?"

"can't, already got helmet on and earplugs in"

"sleep ok?"

"pretty good feel ready to go"

"Where ya goin today?"

"first thing is big brutus"

"??????"

"its some kinda big tractor, suppose to be biggest drive thing in the world"

"how did U know about it?"

"I just saw in the atlas, if its the worlds biggest it needed checking out"

"ok, call me when you take your mornin break"

"will do"

I fired the 1300 up and reset the trip meters.  I have 4 in all.  Two on the bike and 2 in the zumo.  I use all 4 in some kind of capacity.  The zumo tracks total mileage for trip, Meter 1 on the FJ is distance for the day, meter 2 is from last stop, but now that I have a timer for that, I sometime don't reset it.  The timer gives last time key was off.  Nice to know been 2 hours since last time you were off the bike.  It resets itself when the switch goes off.  I put the Iphone on charge and stuck it in the small box in the fairing wrapped in a sock.  I dislike the fact you have to use the key to get in it, but its nice the bike comes with a built in 12v plug.

The feeder road to the highway was void of any deer on this morning, but that didn't mean none were out there.
A Exxon con store sits on the corner with US 62 so I pulled in to top the tank off.   I let the Zumo calculate my route to the start of the custom route.  One thing I don't like on the 390 is how it does that.  The old 550 would prompt "Would you like to begin at start of custom route?"  Easy.  But the 390 will bring up 3 of the waypoints on the route.  Now I don't about y'all, but I have no idea where 3460 Highway 99 is on the route.
Gas tank overflowing, I went West on Highway US 62, a fine motorcycle road with some great leaning, the only thing wrong with it takes you to Bentonville.

The suspension was still set on sport +2 so no need to tweak it on the curvy road.  The highway has up and downhill sections to keep you honest.  I had no traffic to deal with, allowing me to take the Yamaha through the paces.  "man this bike loves to lean," as I powered out of a tight right hander without a downshift.

The fun ended in Bentonville where I was greeted by the morning commute, most of it locals making their way to the corporate offices of Wal Mart.  I've been through here too many times over the years, it seems all roads in the area lead to Bentonville.














                  
                                           Morning ride.
 
While sitting out a light, an old GL 1200 pulled along side.  It had a Windjammer fairing.  I had a 78 Wing with a Windjammer.
After creeping past snarled traffic, I came to US 71 where I went North toward Joplin.

By the time I arrived in Webb City it was time for my morning break.  I spotted a Mcdonalds and went in for a drink and 2 Oatmeal cookies.  A lady blocked the drink bar for the longest.  She had 7-8 drinks to prepare.  Apparently the office sent her out for everyone else.  
I found a quiet booth and called Debbie filling her in on the latest.  She advised Alabama was already steamy hot. 
A quick radar check told me rain was still holding out near SR 177.

I left Webb City riding West into Kansas on US 160, I knew Big Brutus was not far off.   At the intersection of US 160 and US 400 the Kansas State Police have a small office and weigh station.  A cruiser was parked outside so I stopped to confirm I was near Big Brutus.  The door was open and the officer saw me ride up.  I stuck my head in the door and he spoke to me from behind the desk.  The outpost was just a small white wood building.

"Hey is this the way to Big Brutus?"

"yeah, about 15 minutes away, need directions?"

"nah, I was just checkin, you know what happens if you put ALL your faith in Garmin"

"you came all the way from Alabama to see it?"

"Oh no, I was just passing through.  This looks likes pretty good duty"

"Oh yeah, I stop in to do paperwork, weigh a few trucks, and break up the day"

"Where ya eatin lunch?"  I asked.

"Dunno, ain't got that far yet"

"well ok, have a good day now"

"Sure thing, I'd ya remind to ride safe, but something tells me you know that"

"thanks"

The sign on US 160 informed me Big Brutus was straight ahead.






               
 









"At the intersection of US 160 and US 400 the Kansas State Police have a small office and weigh station"

A short ride later I turned north on SR 7, the GPS confirmed I was on course.  In the bright Kansas light a closed up diner came into view.  It was a white block building with the painted words of "authentic Italian Food" on the wall.  "noway this place ever served any Italian food that came from anything other than a jar of Prego," I thought as I pulled in for a closer look.  "Don't reckon enough of the thousands visiting Big Brutus stopped in for pizza LOL"














 
               
                                   The old cafe on SR 70.


From there I rode a few more miles and turned left off SR 102 toward a community called West Mineral, home of Big Brutus.  The hamlet consisted of a volunteer fire station, and a few houses.  I picked up the last Big Brutus sign and I was on the scene.






















               
                                                Almost there!

Big Brutus sat in a field in the middle of nowhere.  It was impressive looking for sure, the website said it was 7 stories high, "Guys use to drive this thing around?"  A museum housed more memorabilia but I skipped it  Sign said it was 8 bucks to go inside to see Brutus up close.  Not that I'm cheap or anything, but c'mon.  I took the pictures I needed from the dirt parking lot and than rode back out to the highway.























               
                                    The one and only Big Brutus

I tabbed the zumo to pick up my custom route at the beginning on SR 99, which cost me 50-60 extra miles instead of just picking it up nearest point of contact, but who's counting.  I was on 160 a few years ago coming in from California.
 
Riding West I settled in for a long scoot.  It didn't look far from Eureka to Big Brutus in the atlas, but in reality it was 100 miles.  I fought a crazy cross wind blowing out of the south, that beat the life out of me for 30 miles.  
                            
In this part of the country I pay attention to the gas gauge.  I was on 2 bars and started looking.  I found some in a place called Langton.  You don't really ride through Longton, you more like ride past, as the business district is located to the south of 160, you can't see it from the highway.
The old con store use to be a gas station had a sign out "cash only" so I went in.

"Alright how ya do this on a fill up?
"
"just step back out and pump it, I turned the pump on" the man said.

"ok good"

I filled the FJ for 15 and some change, went inside a bought the coldest gatorade of the trip, and after paying with a 20, sat down in the small store, at a even smaller table by the window, that had the morning paper scattered on the top.
The cool gatorade felt good going down while I scanned the sports.  Most of it concerned the Chief's training camp and the Kansas Jayhawks.
The owner told me, "reason we no pay at the pump some joker cut a fiber optic cable up the road.  Have no internet or phone."  And I thought the reason the Iphone had no service was because of the place I was in.
"man that sucks"

"I know it"

"you headin West?"

"yeah"

"just so ya know there is a construction zone up ahead, one lane with a pilot car, if you time it wrong gonna be a 30 minute wait"
"east or west of 99?"

"east"

That news put a frown on my face.



















                        
          Downtown Longton, Kansas.  I sometimes take pictures to remind me of the places I'll never know.

Without much choice I left the Longton Cosmopolitan and rode on to the construction zone where I stopped behind a SUV.  I shut the Yamaha down and was about to remove the Shoei when the pilot truck came into view a half mile away.  "Man I never get this lucky, but I'll take it."





















  
                        
                           
                               Construction zone.   US 160 near Longton, Kansas.

Morning was turning into early afternoon when the zumo directed me to turn right onto SR 99.  Now riding north the awful cross wind became a friendly tailwind.  It was going to be impossible to keep the FJR anywhere near the 65 mph speed limit, I solved that problem with the cruise control.  Air temp was in the 90s, and although humid, it was nothing like back home.  I decided to skip lunch because I wasn't going to be hungry.
I cruised past the endless fields heading north to the much sought after Flint Hills.  I could see rain clouds in the north.

At US 54 I swung back west and battled the south cross wind again.  This time it blew me dangerously close to the shoulder a couple of times.  I countered by riding the left track instead of my normal right.  Thirty miles later SR 177 popped up and the purple GPS line turned right.  I was glad to be in the Flint Hills and SR 177, marked as a scenic highway in my atlas.  I'd say that was a little generous, but after all, this is Kansas, you take what you can get.




















                       
                      Approaching a summer rain in the Kansas Flint Hills.  North bound SR 177.

Not long after landing on SR 177, I was splashing through a rainstorm.  I didn't mind it.  The rain cooled things off, and made the air smell good.  Raindrops landed on the FJ's screen and parted down the sides.  The fairing did a good job of slipping the rain around me. Coolant temp dropped 10 degrees to 155F.  I piloted the Feejer over the hills and past miles of grazing land. Farm houses and barns rolled past, some lived in, some not.  This was one of the better rides of the trip.




















                      
                                        A lonely church in the Flint Hills.  SR 177

I cleared the rain just south of Council Grove.

It was still cloudy when I stopped for a break West of Emporia.  After the blackout in Langton I was looking for a reliable WIFI connection so that meant McDonalds.  I bought a drink and apple pie, and got out my iphone.  I cleared a few emails and had texts from my son, brother, Debbie, and 2 friends.

"u camping tonite?"

"yeah"

"where at?"

"campground in north Kansas"

"I'm meeting some friends for supper"

"where y'all goin?

"not sure yet, prolly Mexican"

"ok I'm gonna stop one more time today before the cg in case I don't have a signal there."

"when will that be?"

"couple of hours"

"ok"

I bought a oatmeal cookie for later, and stuck in the side pocket of the Motofizz.  A lady and her daughter parked behind me when she came by said, "nice bike."  "Thanks."  It was the first of several nice remarks I got on the FJ.  The candy red paint job, silver side panels, and chrome mufflers just too much to resist.  It is a nicely designed bike if I say so myself.  It hooked me soon as I layed eyes on it.

By the time I rolled into the college town of Manhattan I was over 400 miles for the day.  It was Friday and the place was busy.  K State students were coming back to school and all the restaurants were packed.  City streets were still wet when I came through.

The custom route took me to US 24 just north of Manhattan.  It would be the route for the next 400 miles; all the way across Kansas.  US 24 was one of the few main arteries in the state I've not rode.  That will no longer be the case.  The reserve light was flashing so gassed at a con store in Riley, then went inside for a gatorade to knock back a dry mouth.  I had a 4G signal so brought up the weather map.  No rain in the area, or so I thought.  I made a critical mistake here, that would cost me dearly later. 




















                          
                                       Unique to this area of the prairie is the tall grass.

I called my wife and brother.  It was a 15 minute break.
  
Somehow when I left the store I misread the GPS and was on US 177 heading south?  It took a mile for me to notice it, but I did, and doubled back.  When I got back to the 24 and 77 intersection I got out the map.  I thought for sure I was riding West.  I was, 77 would make a hard turn south in just a few miles.  "oh ok, I gotta go north here and then 24 will make a hard turn west."

The GPS told me I was 80 miles from Glen Elder State Park
.  
With the sun getting low in the west I took the FJR for its final run of the day.  It was time to put the ride in the books.  "Lets see how fast we can do this 80 miles." I told the feejer.  Quickly I was on 90 and then 100.  I passed 2 cars and a truck like nobody's business.  I backed down to 90 and it felt like jogging.  For some reason I did not fear any law enforcement.  Something told me they were all eating supper, and I was right.  The only thing that slowed me down were the small prairie towns so evenly spaced on 24.  They consisted of a grain elevator, a few houses and old shops.  If they were lucky that had a business district of mostly closed stores. The late afternoon ride across the prairies was a good one.




















                               
                                  The FJR 1300 took me across the Plains with speed and comfort.

In Beloit I thought about stopping for supper, but in the end wasn't hungry enough.

One hour after leaving Riley I was at Glen Elder State Park using the night drop to register.  I stuffed the envelope with 11 dollars and proceeded in to find a campsite.  The park is located on a big lake called Waconda.  I found a nice spot on a point and set up camp. I noticed rain off in the distance.  "How can that be? I saw no rain was in the area."   I scratched my head and went about my business of cleaning the bugs off the FJ and the Shoei.  When I bought the helmet I made the promise I'd take better care of it than I did the Arai. When I was done cleaning I placed it a padded helmet bag each day.

I rode 525 miles for the day.

Walking to the showers I could see the rain in the west was moving in, no matter what the radar said.  When I got back to the tent it was dark and the wind was picking up.  "Storm will be here soon."  I could hear thunder and saw lightening flashes popping everywhere.  I got in the tent and zipped up.

It started slowly, and kept building, soon my little tent was being battered in a strong wind.  The rain pounded me.  "This won't last long."  Folks I was soon in the most violent storm I ever been in my life.  Including 2 hurricanes that blew over Prattville while in the fire department.
 
Wind steadily picked up and I knew I was in a hopeless situation to keep the tent up.  I was on my back using my arms and legs as tent poles to keep it going.  I thought about my broken tent pole that was going to give way any second in the 60-70 mile straight line wind.  Suddenly the pole couldn't take it anymore and it broke, ripping up through the top of the rain flap and tent.  I had no wind breaks on this lake point, I was getting it full force.  I heard snapping branches in the trees around me.  I was scared.  Scared a vortex would suck me up, of a lightening strike, or a tree branch snapping and falling on me.  With the rain flap caved in, water was pouring in on me.  It was as if I was being water boarded as I lay on my back, arms and legs splayed to keep the tent up.  This went on for over a hour.  I'd never seen anything like it.

Everything I owned was soaked.  The clothes in the motofizz were soaked inside the bag inside the tent!  Finally, nearly exhausted at supporting the tent, the storm died down.  I had standing water in many places in the Eureka.  My pad, sleeping bag, and pillows were soaked, but I was too tired to care.  I did manage to keep the tent from blowing away.  It was half caved in but still standing on the one good pole.  I timidly stuck my head out to see if the FJ was still upright, to my relief it was.

I waded the wet sleeping bag up and put it in a corner.   I was so tired I dozed off on the wet pad and pillow for a hour or 2.  I was just glad to be ok.  I'd deal with the aftermath in the morning. 
 
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Coming on Day 3-Across the plains to the mountains of Colorado
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
                                                              
                                                                                                                                                                                                 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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