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Leaving KC; Hello Kansas

I’ve technically been in Kansas since I arrived in KC, but today was my first real riding day in Kansas.  I planned to hit two breweries in Lawrence, then ride to Topeka to visit another brewery.  I hoped I’d find somewhere to camp along the way.  As I started to load my bike, I noticed a flat.  Damn it.  It had been full last night, but somehow something had been able to deflate the tube.

Once everything was back in order, I loaded up the Horse and headed out.  I had enjoyed myself to no end in KC, and said my goodbyes to the animals of the house before I left.  It was easy riding to Lawrence and my first stop, Free State Brewing.  The most eventful site was a random club that had a bus parked out front.  All the windows were pictures of women’s backs with panties on.  It’s called the “Booty Bus” and is a traveling strip club.  Sweet.

Free State has a great atmosphere and they produce excellent beers.  I immediately ordered a full pint of pilsner.  If there is a lager on draught anywhere, it tends to be my first beer, even before flights.  Water and a pint lager, then I settle in to try other beers.  Their pilsner was excellent and I almost didn’t try anything else.  The other two beers I had were excellent, but in the end I had another pilsner.

Then I rode to the University of Kansas Natural History Museum, where the only “surviving” member of Custer’s Last Stand at the Battle of Little Big Horn is kept.  Comanche is a stuffed war relic, an adult horse, and really quite creepy.  I had never seen a stuffed horse, but now I have.  It didn’t take much time, and I was thankful there were fossils to look at as well.

On to 23rd St Brewing, where I had met one of the breweries at Boulevardia.  Luck would have it that he was still around after work, so I was able to get a tour.  The brewery is physically above the bar, and is the centerpiece of the place.  You walk in to a semi-circle bar with the brewery open and above the main bar.  It’s a 15 barrel brewery, and they are getting ready enlarge it.  To grow, they are going to have to cut out the tanks and do a lot of physical manipulation and positioning.  The tanks already in the brewery barely fit, so it should be interesting to see how the build out goes.

The beers at 23rd St. were great, although some of them were lackluster.  My favorite was a super hoppy, but not bitter, IPA, called the Bitter Professor (ironic because it wasn’t that bitter. Maybe it should be called the Nosy Professor).

While there, someone walked in talking about a new Boulevard beer released in honor of Sporting KCs championship last year.  I enquired where to purchase said beer, then quickly left for the package store.

I rode on towards Topeka, where I had hoped to visit Blind Tiger.  By the time I got close, I realized it was too late and I was too exhausted.  I had no place to stay and didn’t feel like rolling the dice at Blind Tiger, so when I passed a state park with a lake, I stopped and cruised in.  The nice part about being on a bike is that most campgrounds don’t notice you, especially when there is a line of RVs waiting to get in.  I bypassed the fee area and headed to a quiet corner near the lake.  Hanging the hammock I was overcome with the desire to swim.  Into the lake and on my back floating in a freshwater lake; life was good.

I floated for a while longer then swam towards a Great Blue Heron perched on the shore.  I got within 4 feet before he flew off.  It’s wonderful to interact with an animal so seemingly common place but so infrequently encountered up close.  Magnificent creatures.

While making dinner, I opened the new Boulevard beer.  It was great, although I really wish it could have been sort of chilled.  Either way, I enjoyed the shit out of it while watching the sunset over a Kansas lake.  Tomorrow would be a new day, and I hoped to make a good amount of miles to Milford State Park.

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