was the first of a two-confluence trip on a visit to the U.S. in March 2005. My
wife and I had been in Massachusetts visiting our daughter who goes to school at
Hopkins Academy in Hadley. The “Confluence God,” Alex Jarrett, happens to
live in the next town and we both have an interest in cycling (him with Pedal People , me with Bike China Adventures, Inc.),
so agreed to meet at the trendy Hay Market Café in Northampton. I had illusions
of doing a confluence with the Confluence God, but the weather was rather cold
with quite a bit of snow on the ground, and time was way too short to fit one
in. I didn’t get to do a confluence until we went to Kansas City, Missouri.
wife and I were staying in the Hyatt in downtown Kansas City, and I had just
re-assembled my recumbent. My wife had a full day of work ahead of her and I was
free for the day. Looking at the maps it appeared that there were two confluence
points within a day's biking from Kansas City: Linwood, Kansas and Odessa,
Missouri. Linwood was slightly closer, so chose to try for that one first. I
decided that I wanted tackle both of these confluences without reading the
previous reports so that they would totally fresh to me. After I post these
reports, I will read the previous visit reports.
mapping was very rudimentary; I only had a Missouri state map with a simple
detail of Kansas City plus a Mapqquest detail of the CP. I needed to find some
better mapping in-between.
the Hyatt, I headed downtown where I worked for the City of Kansas City as a
traffic engineer from 1986-89. In the 16 years since I left, surprisingly few
changes had occurred. At 9 AM, rush hour traffic was almost non-existent; the
city seemed to be in a coma.
at convenience store to try and get a map, was unsuccessful, so I continued to
8th Street looking for the viaduct into Kansas City, Kansas. The area at the
Stateline border always seemed like a no man’s land to me. Climbing up the
bank on the other side and into Kansas City, Kansas it appeared that here too,
another midwestern city was in the final stages of paralysis.
I spotted the Public Library, and although I didn't bring a lock for my bike,
someone had left a lock attached to the bike rack in front, so I arranged it to
look like my bike was locked. Inside, the sour-faced library staff was
particularly unhelpful and seemed suspicious of my innocuous intentions of
wanting to see the maps. I located a road atlas for both Kansas and Missouri and
made photocopies of the routes I intended to use for the two confluence points.
out of town, I spotted a used computer store and stopped for a broadband cable
to use at the Hyatt (which never did work).
ride was hillier than I expected; everyone knows Kansas is flat, but not so flat
near the Missouri border. As I cycled along, the left crank on my bike came
loose and I had to gingerly cycle to someplace where I could get it tightened. A
transmission shop soon appeared and the friendly mechanic tightened it for me at
no charge. He was shocked to hear I intended to cycle to Linwood, and even more
so when I told him I was going back to Kansas City this afternoon.
towns further down the road, I stopped at a grocery store to buy food for lunch:
a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter and a bunch of bananas.
roads were in good condition, the wind light, and the sun was shining. It was a
great day for a confluence hunt. As I neared the CP, I turned on the GPS and
looked for a likely turnoff. Mapquest showed the CP as being located between the
river and a set of parallel railroad tracks. I was able to get within 300 meters
of the CP from the road. The intervening distance to the CP was a field of corn
stalk stubs that were harvested last year.
saw none of the dreaded "NO TRESPASSING" signs and no houses nearby,
so I took the bike into the cornfield and hid it near some trees next to a small
stream and the tracks. The tracks were actively used by long trains of coal
the tracks and down a bank I headed into a wooded area where the CP was located.
However, getting the GPS to register all zeros was an effort in futility, the
numbers wouldn't hold still for more than a second, and after 20 minutes of
doing the confluence dance, I gave up, settling for a near-perfect reading. I
guess that the U.S. Military had something to do with the shifting GPS numbers,
since this area of the country is known to have a number of missile silos.
I rewarded myself with lunch of peanut butter and bananas sandwiches.
the return trip, I was cycling along and a jogger coming in opposite direction
hailed me down. He was a cyclist too and had owned several recumbents as well.
He expressed intense interest in my Varna recumbent, and I offered to let him
get it a try. He eagerly agreed, and despite being too short for it, managed to
give it a go for a 100 meters or so.
I was cycling along and out of water when I spotted two people outside their
house. They were surprised to see me on the recumbent but were gracious enough
to let me fill up my water bottle.
ride back was smooth and uneventful, until I reached Kansas City, Kansas when a
storm blew in and dumped buckets of rain. I had no rain gear with me and got
thoroughly soaked. Crossing the Stateline again and entering Missouri I got on
the Broadway viaduct and spotted a vivid double rainbow.
to the Hyatt the doorman looked at my drenched figure askance, but didn't say a
word as I wheeled my bike into the elevator up to the 31st floor.
This story continues at 39N 94W.