i think i was right to be anxious.
but for tonight, we are motelling it, hard. and it's good.
(at the counter, checking into the room)
gary: "where do we get the continental breakfast?"
crabby motel man: "i sell rooms, not food...but it's got an icebox and a microwave."
"oh yeah? is the icebox full of beer?"
"actually, some fellas left a bunch of beers here the other night! i'll go grab them for you!"
despite the rowdy winds, kansas has been pretty good. it seems like each small town we hit is stocked with a diner-boothful of winsome, spirited old timers. they ask questions and respond with adages and belly laughs, jibes and guffaws, pushing us on through the wind.
two older men approached us yesterday afternoon on different occasions while we were scraping our plates at Joey's Cafe in Buhler, KS. The first, Norman Adrian, came in and immediately began the routine questions. Our answers ("Oregon" and "Yorktown, Virginia" and "Brooklyn", respectively) seemed to garner a sort of distant marvel, one that must be the byproduct of living a long life as a plains farmer. It's like you grow up your whole life being able to see for miles in each direction...this is the yeast of imagination, the flatness, i mean. And the imagination is your get-out-of-jail-free card. The prarie is the prison. The farm gets passed down the generations and you can't refuse it. So you take it, but all the while you dream of coastline, islands, bustling cities, snowy mountains. After a few minutes of easy conversation, Norman got up and dropped a business card in front of us. "Well, take care and i hope to see you in heaven." As the door clanged shut behind him, we read the Bible verse on the card. His business was God's work. A get-out-of-jail-free card.
The other guy who came in was less of a mystical figure, but just as important. "Biker Jim" McIvers. He saw our bikes outside. He walked in, got a coffee, and sat right down with us. He's biked cross country. He went from Wyoming to Buhler Kansas in 7 days. At first, his wife didn't like it, but that don't stop him. Did we need anything for our bikes? How many miles did we do? He just wanted to bike all day. Retired around 20 years ago and did his first cross country in '91. He was probably in his 70's. I'd seen his business card at the Pippa Passes Bike Hostel (Kentucky), but i didn't make the connection until he pulled one out for each of us. We waved goodbyes and thanks for the help. About four blocks away, he pulled over in his truck and hopped out. "Well there's some road work over here, so maybe we should get the bikes around this culvert. Then you can get on down this road, let me help you." Thank you, Biker Jim.
But the Clara Bartons of Kansas are not all old men. Two nights ago, after our first 100+ mile day, we arrived at the home of Liz and Heidi in Newton, KS. We walked in to the smell of vegetable lasagna, bread with homemade pesto, and garden greens (courtesy of Liz's folks). We had never actually met these girls, but we felt like we knew them already. They did the TransAm trail from West to East last year. Thus, nick and i started our trip reading the gushing journal entries that they left at the end of their trip (the cyclist logs in the churches and bike hostels in Eastern Virginia). Someone had left their phone numbers in a cyclist log in Kentucky, saying "these girls want to host transam bikers", so of course we had to call them. Not only did they put the three of us up for the night, but they made a feast! and we stayed up way past our bed time, sipping wine and telling stories. It was very tempting to take the next day off, hanging around Newton (loitering at both Liz and Heidi's workplaces), but after gorging at the Bread Basket for all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet, we stepped out into a wind from the east.!!!! so that afternoon we rode the easiest and quickest 65 miles of our lives.
but the winds have changed.
i'm going back to the motel for some TV!