I arrived in Kansas City on Sunday, and was pleased to see fairly decent traffic right where I entered the city, a place called the Plaza. I did a handful of shows and made a handful of cash. It’s a very unusual sensation to arrive in a town you’ve never been to and know next to nothing about, and still be able to make a living. Between the farmers markets and the traffic in town, I’m pretty sure I could do alright there if I were to stay. That’s a pretty cool feature of being a street performer, and it’s something my college degree has yet to match.
I’d been staying in KC with a gentleman named Darnell and his thirteen year old son Derionte, whom I met through Couchsurfing.org. It was really one of my first times meeting someone randomly through the internet, and it ended up being a very rewarding experience. It’s fascinating when you’re just injected into someones life with no prior exposure, it lets you get a glimpse at a completely different lifestyle, which can be really refreshing. I crashed three nights with them, and had a blast spending time getting to know them. I definitely look forward to getting more involved with the Couchsurfing scene, as it’s a great way to meet fascinating new people.
My plans have been shifting frequently, and it’s been fun decision making on the fly. I was originally waiting in Kansas City for a carburetor rebuild kit. I’d been leaking fuel, pretty sure it was a gasket somewhere or a misadjusted float bowl. I ordered it from a dealership on Wednesday, and received the call from them yesterday saying my petcock rebuild kit had arrived. Huh? They ordered the wrong part. They said they’d do their best to get it in by Friday, but I was already getting itchy and decided I could do without it. I have a potential week long gig in Telluride, CO, where the resort I’d be performing at would house and feed me while I worked for tips. We’ll see if that comes through or not, but the fellow KLR rider I was going to meet up with at the end of the month also had a change of plans and is going to be in CO earlier than anticipated, so I figured I’d get there as soon as possible to give myself the most amount of wiggle room. Now that I’ve been on the road for over a month, if I hang out in a single area for more than a day or two I start to get itchy for the road.
I said farewell to Darnell and Derionte and left Kansas City this morning, much later than I planned. I had wanted to wake up before light and get on the road, that way I could take long breaks as I tackled Kansas, determined to get it done in a day. I ended up getting out of KC around 10:30, and the first half of the day was smooth running. The road was straight, the sun was shining, and the bike was running good. Not a whole lot to look at though. Slowly the winds started picking up, pushing me from the south towards the shoulder of the road, giving me flashbacks of my crash on Saturday. Most of the distance has been on a two lane highway, so whenever a big cattle-carrying semi passed me going the opposite way, it was like someone grabbing my handlebars and shaking them back and forth. Other than that, it’s been a good day so far.
I am currently 115 miles from the Colorado border, having nearly accomplished my goal of crossing Kansas in a day. The winds were kicking upwards of 25mph, but directly ahead of me they’re predicted to reach gusts of over 40mph. I’ve already been pushing it, riding 30 miles to the next town, checking weather, riding another 40, checking weather. My bike is so tall, with big boxes on the side (with an ukulele tucked behind one of them), along with a tent and sleeping bag on the seat. I would probably be fine pushing through the last two hours to Colorado, but with my setup I am basically a big sail, and (as I learned last week) it only takes one big gust to take you down.
I’ve now been in this McDonalds (I know, but they have free wifi..) for over an hour, and it looks like the worse of the weather ahead has subsided. I’m going to hit the road again, and find some place to camp tonight. Denver tomorrow!