Tuesday, April 13, 2010

On the road near Ottawa, KS 4/12/10

I arrived in Ottawa, KS one weary hombre after beating into the wind to reach Herrington, KS a day earlier.

The Flint Hills Nature Trail it turns out is a work in progress, some sections of the old rail bed aren't yet surfaced for bicycles. That it exists at all is thanks to the efforts of volunteers like my gracious host Owen Harbison.

Kansas, he explained to me, is not a welcoming place for trails like this. Fear of the unknown is at the root of it. It's a shame because it has so much potential to benefit communities along its hundred mile plus length.

One of the more interesting sections to travel was suggested by Owen. He told me there are indian ruins near the trail that would be worth visiting if I had time. I decided to check them out.

From Council Grove where it begins, near the old Santa Fe Trail, the FHNT heads southeast. This roughly four mile section of gravel trail was challenging, rutted by vehicles using it when it was wet and soft. It's supposed to be for non-motorized travel only. Four wild turkeys galloped away into the forest ahead of me in one part.

The "improved" section ended at the Allegawaho Memorial Heritage Park. Beyond that it was still rough railroad ballast.

This 158 acre tall grass prairie landscape was purchased by the Kaw nation to honor their great Kanza chief Allegawaho. It was he who made an eloquent protest against his peoples being forced once again to move from their beloved homeland in June 1872.

Who of us now can make an eloquent protest and mobilize action against what we are collectively doing to planet earth? In this Memorial Park words etched on the outside edge of a flat, circular monument spoke to me. "Wakanda - Bless all who walk here. May we know and respect all your creation and what you have taught our people, Wiblaha."

It's that sense of the sacred in ourselves and in nature we need to connect with and help others reconnect with if we are to heal and restore right relationships.

On a hill nearby was a obelisk like, older stone monument to an unknown warrior chief. From below the painted north south arms of the newer memorial are perfectly aligned with the older, acknowledging and honoring a deeper, lasting connection. The east west arms align with the rising and setting sun much like life's sacred journey.

A circle is a symbol of unity. In a circle within a circle was a bronze plaque honoring the Kaw people of Kanza.

I'll leave Owen and Michelle's home near Ottawa, KS tomorrow morning. Owen will bike with me to Osawatamie if he doesn't get a call from the Union Pacific RR to take a train somewhere. He also rides the rails as an engineer.

Osawatamie is at the eastern end of the FHNT, home of John Brown of Civil War notoriety I learned from Owen.

And so where may I be this coming weekend? I should be on the Katy Trail closing in on Jefferson City. I will leave my cousin's place near Urich, MO for the trail head in Clinton, MO on Friday most likely. I plan to ride the trail to the end at St Charles, cross the Mississippi River at Alton north of St. Louis, then connect to Hwy 50 and continue east bound. I'll spend a couple of days with other friends in Rochester, Ill.

If there was a reason to spend time in the St. Louis vicinity or the Springfield/Rochester, Ill. area on Earth Day I would be willing to do that.

Peace Rider Don


  1. What an incredible journey you are on, Don! Sending you admiration and blessings -- David Hazen in Oregon

  2. Peace Rider you are amazing!! Greetings from Fairbanks.. where can I send those brownies so they will be waiting for you. Do you have an address???
    Early spring here. geese at Creamers; snow going quickly alas.
    Keep on pedaling,
    Mary Shields

  3. Don,

    It was amazing to meet you yesterday at the N. Jeff City stop on the Katy Trail (I was the one with the Bob trailer, riding with the long haired Nehemiah). I hope you made it to Doug's B&B in Bluffton, or at least found a nice resting spot near the river.

    I will indeed be in D.C. around the 15th, and will watch your progress to see if there is any chance I can ride into the city with you. That would be a great honor! Either way, this is an incredible trip you are on, and I wish you the best.

    Safe and happy trails,

  4. Hello Don....Great Job! Want you to know that we have been following your trek throughout. Fun to read. What an accomplishment for a wonderful cause. I know that you touched many people. If you are ever our way, please make it a point to connect. You never know, we might make it up you way. We are still trying to hookup with the Ritchies. Peace
    Jim and Francene Rizza Fortuna, CA