I'm in Heat

You know, like hot weather. Some readers have asked how I keep cool. I have a few tactics listed below:
1. I have an inflatable pool with me
2. I carry 50 pounds of ice a day
3. I have an air condition bubble around me
4. I have this superhero power called cold-blooded, temperature doesn't affect me

Ok, ok- all untrue. I drink lots of water, one bottle with Nuun tablets for electrolytes. I wear arm warmers, that are actually for hot and cold. They are thin and white and protect my skin from the direct sun. I keep them wet while I ride with the water bottle without Nuun tablets, except for that one time I wasn't paying attention and started to smell watermelon and see that my white arm warmers were a slight pink. I stop when I see shade if I need to rest, eat, stretch or water the plants. I stop at least once during the day in air conditioning if possible. Even though my appetite has diminished in the heat, I know I need the calories and find food that sounds appealing versus my typical diet habits. So, if a Slim Jim sounds good, I eat it. If an ice cream sounds good at 9am, I eat it. The other day, I wanted a package of blueberries and a full cucumber- so that was my snack! Heat exhaustion and stroke are true risks in this heat especially when adding exercise to that. It's very important to take keeping cool seriously. I may still consider bringing that inflatable pool with me next time...

I left Chanute and biked in hot weather all day. Drank over a gallon of water by the end of my ride. Stopped in Girard to eat a Subway sandwich and enjoy the air conditioning (thanks to MacKenzie at Subway who let me cross street to grab an ice cream and come back over and hang in Subway longer!). I pulled up to Pittsburg KS, about 15 miles later and thought... Do I really want to camp tonight? I'm so sweaty, it's threatening thunderstorms and I would love to be in cooler weather to sleep. It's been hot sleeping the past few nights. So, I happen to be IM'ing with one of my colleagues, Brian Coyle at Dept of Health in Nebraska. He and I both like to connect on cycling, soccer and school health! He mentioned his neighbor is from Pittsburg, so I put it out there... "Does your neighbor know anyone I could stay with?" Within 30 minutes (I had just pulled up to ask the Holiday Inn Express their rates), he IM'd me back to call him. Pat and Terry (and Melinda, their daughter) Pence would host me and they are truly wonderful people. Yes! Always an adventure! Love the relationships/connections we create in our lives.

As I waited for Pat to pick me up (they were 5 miles away, but have a truck and were willing to grab me due to the threatening storm), a few guys standing outside the hotel waiting (for what? I'm not sure) with a couple of coolers. I started chatting with them and they offered a beer, so we drank beer in front of the Holiday Inn while I waited. There's a big Farm Show/conference and they said most hotels in town would have been booked anyway. Thanks to the guys for the beer and conversation! One asked if I actually made the decision to do the trip under the influence. I thought that was funny. I replied, "No, but I was 15!" They said that explained everything!

Pat and Melinda pulled up and I hope they weren't offended I was drinking a beer outside the hotel with 3 male strangers, but it didn't phase them and Pat even said, bring it with you. I declined and explained I didn't need him to get a ticket for having an open container when he just met me and was going out of his way to host me! Pat is a social worker and Terri, a nurse. Both do not do direct care anymore, but work more in administration/support and seem to be passionate about their work. Melinda is their daughter. She is 33 and currently lives at home due to special needs. Melinda is a joy to be with. She has an amazing spirit and she is a fabulous host! She works at Wendy's and has for 10 years!! She has her license and is about ready to make that move to get her own place. Noah was also visiting. He is their grandson and visiting from Lincoln NE. So, full house and I still got my own bedroom, got to do laundry and they cooked an amazing meal for everyone! Grilled chicken wings and hot dogs and homemade pasta salad and fruit salad. Melinda shared a piece of her leftover birthday cake with me... With birthday cake ice cream on top! After dinner conversations were fun and engaging and I fell fast asleep by 9:30. (See photo of the Pence's below.)

As I go east it feels more east. It is incredibly subtle, like describing to someone the light difference between spring light and fall light. It's so subtle that it would be difficult to describe. Some things are obvious... The humidity, the sounds and smells. I left Kansas today. I have a love/dislike relationship with Kansas which literally draws a line between western and eastern Kansas. I didn't like the lack of daisies ;) wind, heat, isolation of western Kansas. I'm disappointed I never had a tailwind-century day like I've heard so many have had. I did, however, like the roads (great condition!), people in eastern Kansas (there aren't any in western Kansas, so I'm not offending anyone), free camping in every city park, the butterflies, the drivers gave me plenty of room when passing, sunflowers and rolling hills of this side (eastern). I had wonderful hosts this past week- Christian Dashiel in Sterling, Pat and Pam Duffy in Newton and Pat and Terry and Melinda Pence in Pittsburg! All three hosts made this trip through Kansas a lot more enjoyable. Thank you all... I feel like I have family in Kansas now.