Gorillas and Trains

Written by admin. Posted in 2012 Stories from the Road

Okay so the statue wasn’t my brother Bob after all.

It is really Gus. For 30 some years I have known my brother Bob graduated from Pittsburg State University but I had no idea the mascot of the college was a gorilla! I was riding around the town of Pittsburg Kansas looking for a place to eat and these Gorilla statues were everyplace, Crimson and Red Gorillas guarding the bars, liquor stores and pawn shops and even a few in front of the places I wanted to eat. This demanded research on my part, I mean a gorilla for a mascot, who would have thunk it. Turns out there is only one university in the US with a Gorilla for a mascot, I think there should be more! It also turns out that Pitt State as it is called, has quite the football tradition with a recent NCAA division II national championship in 2011. They have the most wins of any NCAA Div II university in history. The school founded in 1903 started their football team in 1908 and they have been successful without any molesters as coaches. Other than my Brother Bob assistant chief of the Kansas Deleware Tribe, famous alumni’s include Gary Busey and H. Lee Scott former Ceo of Wal-Mart.

I have been the Route 66 Hiway from Amarillo to Chicago but there was a small piece of this eastern route missing from my travels. In the past when I got to Tulsa I decided to head straight east to Eureka Springs Arkansas and then went back north to catch 66 again out side of Springfield Missouri. This meant I missed the Kansas part of Route 66. It was time to make amends.

I did it right this time and parked on the most photographed spot of Route 66 in Kansas, the rainbow bridge. I had the place to myself and road back and forth across the bridge many times singing the “Asleep at the Wheel” version of Route 66 song which was also blaring on my ipod. When I got to the verse “Joplin Missouri” I headed north.

It is so dry in this part of the country. I remember it so lush and green but this year’s drought has everything burned yellow. I over hear farmers and ranchers in the cafe’s and gas stops complaining about the price of hay and where it is headed. It also lowered the humidity which is a bad thing when you are riding and it takes away the swamp cooler effect that I enjoy in humid areas. I also ended up in a part of Joplin that had been destroyed by the tornados with abandoned buildings and twisted tree tops that killed the trees. I was crusing down one of the main streets in Joplin praying I didn’t hit anymore red lights that was killing me when I stopped from the heat of the motor, pavement and beating sun on my neck when I started noticing cops parked at almost every intersection and parking lot. This went on for about 6 blocks and I started wondering if there was a sting about to happen and if I was in it? Maybe the president was coming to town? I was about to run a orange light so I didnt have to stop when sirens went off and two cop cars shot in front of me blocking the intersection. “You got the wrong guy! I am just passing through, really I didn’t mean to flip off that truck that cut me off officer!” What the hell, will you look at that!

Hundreds of motorcycles heading for me, its a parade of some sorts or they are just coming to greet me. Nope it was a parade and it had police escort. I still don’t know what it was for, but it lasted 15 minutes as I sat there in the heat waving.

I love trains, even when I have to stop and die again in the heat for them to pass. I have no clue what kind of train this is, does anyone?

I do know what kind of train this is and I also know that the Missouri Pacific Rail line was one of the first lines west of the Mississippi River, 1852 and also the first line in Kansas City, 1865.

Hmmm Mississippi River? Gotta Roll

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