We have decided to push back our decision making for a couple of days. The big question was: Cleveland or New Orleans. We’ve settled for Kansas City and will see from there on.
Time, we get into the Wild West. Tall yellow grasses line the road and the road drives up and down on the high plateaus. We drive past small historic towns: Kit Carson being one of Papa’s favourites, named after a comic hero from his youth, and Oakley. It is here that Annie Oakley became famous and that Buffalo Bill shot the many buffalos that gave him his name.
Next up on the series of misadventures is Papa. 300 km away from Kansas City, he notices a wobbling feeling when driving. We stop and inspect the back tire. There’s a screw pocking out of the rubber! We’ve planned for this with an emergency fixing kit. But knowing theoretically how to fix it, is something totally different from actually having to fix it. A couple stops by and takes me to the closest garage. As they inspect Papa’s tire, we decide that I should continue on my own towards Kansas City, he’ll catch up with me.
Many hours later, he finally does. Fixing the tire took much longer than expected. But we’ve made it to Kansas City, this city, which is unknown to most tourists, one half located in Missouri, the other one in Kansas.
We head out for dinner at Joe’s Kansas City BBQ, a restaurant built in an old petrol station and known for their ribs, pulled pork and sandwiches filled with those. The queue in front of the restaurant is unlike anything we’ve ever seen. But we’re here, so might as well wait. While waiting, we start talking with the couple behind us, Barb and John as well as their friends. They are amazed about our story and we spend the whole dinner talking about our journey and sharing their knowledge of Kansas City. They end the dinner by inviting us over the following evening: we’re welcome to come for dinner and stay overnight!
For the first time on our journey random strangers welcome us with open arms to their homes.
This is the first time along our journey that something like that has happened to us: random strangers welcoming us with open arms into their homes. So far, we’ve had the incredible chance of being welcomed to homes of people we already knew – but never people met along the road. And just like that, we decide to prolong our stay in Kansas City by one night.
We’re expected at Barb and John’s tonight. But before that, we take a tour through the city. First on the list is City Market where we enjoy breakfast, warm sunshine and idle through the local farmer stands. Our path then leads us through streets of red brick buildings combined with modern glass and steel architecture. And along many, many fountains. It would seem as if Kansas City is famous for those.
The last thing on our list is the Country Club Plaza. I think it is safe to say that both our jaws dropped when we reached this elaborate part of town, where the architecture takes you back to Southern Spain with a hint of Arabic culture.
The evening we spent with Barb, John and their friends is among one of our best memories along this Pan-American road trip. On a journey like ours, it is often difficult to build up a real connection and attachment to people you meet. But the warmth and laughter which filled that October evening are the best example that it can only take an instant for people to embrace you in their heart.
Part 1: Finding the right bike
Part 2: Canada and Jasper National Park
Part 3: The Icefields Parkway
Part 4: The Okanagan Valley
Part 5: Vancouver and the Sea-to-Sky Highway
Part 6: US 101, Washington and Oregon
Part 7: Idaho & Montana, the Lewis & Clark Highway to Denver
Part 8: Denver
Part 9: Kansas City